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How My Four-Year-Old Son Came Out to Me: As Straight

Tommy has two moms and one gay biological dad. But at the age of 4, he had an announcement: He wasn't like us.

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For Tommy, it is not he who is the “other,” it’s his family. Unlike many of my well-intending straight friends and family members, I don’t try to delude Tommy into thinking his family  isn’t different. It is. I would also never tell him that being different doesn’t matter. It does. And he knows that. There are a lot of wonderful things about it, of course — most of all, he gets three parents and three families who love him dearly. But being different can also be a burden. I know that as much as any other gay person. Tommy already knows that as much as any kid growing up with a gay parent. Trying to tell him otherwise would only be a lie, and when he grew older and — with the aid of friends, television, and the Internet — discovered this lie, I fear I would lose his trust forever.

Who knows what Tommy will be when he grows up? I only know who he is now, and  he only knows who he is now. This is an ephemeral time in his life, and like most parents, I am amazed to watch him take what he learns at home and in the larger world and combine them to develop his unique perspective.

Two weeks after Tommy came out to me, he and I were picking out an outfit for him to wear to his cousin’s house, where he sometimes runs into his other crush, a girl twice his age named Jordan. Tommy explained that he wanted to wear a pink shirt but worried that Jordan wouldn’t think it was “cool” for a boy to wear that color. I tried to tell him that a lot of boys wear pink, but that didn’t reassure him.

“I got it!” he said at last. “When I get there, I’ll go up to Jordan and just explain to her that this shirt really isn’t pink. It’s  magenta!” He ripped off his Batman pajamas, threw on his pink shirt, and checked himself out the full-length mirror. He didn’t need to wait to see if I approved.

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