Since joining our family, the boys have been caught using the phrase “you’re so gay” or variations of that, toward each other about three times. The first time it was said we had a family meeting around what that phrase means and why it’s inappropriate, especially since it was used in a derogatory manner. After talking with them, we came to the conclusion that they were saying it because, well, that’s what they hear at school and on TV. And believe you me, it's used a lot! We talked to them about how certain words and phrases can be hurtful and they should think carefully about what they say and when they say it.
A few weeks later, I was reading a nursery rhyme that had the word “gay” in it. This rhyme was written well over 100 years ago and the context of “gay” was happy, which I wouldn't expect them to know. As soon as I read the word “gay” they started to laugh. I stopped reading and asked them what was so funny. And being little boys, they said something to the effect that I said “gay” and I shouldn’t have. This is apparently quite funny.
I used this opportunity to ask them, “What does gay mean to you?” The answer I got was something like “When adults do dirty things to each other.” (Hell yeah, I thought, but that's another post!) I know that kids find anything about sex to be gross, but I have to wonder if they have the same impression of what non-gay people do? I regret not asking them at the time.
Anyway, I decided to ask them if they knew that Daddy and Papa were “gay”? Based on their expressions, they obviously didn’t. Even though they know we’re married (which they thought was hilarious, too), I think they think we are just really good friends. Who happen to share a bed. And kiss. So I basically repeated what we told them before and to watch what they say.
Since then they’ve been caught using the phrase a few more times. Each time we have more serious discussions with them and tell them there will be repercussions around using that phrase. That seems to have done the trick… for now anyway. We get the impression that they are starting to understand why that phrase can be hurtful, and the last thing we want is our kids to be the “those kids” on the playground.
Since joining our family, we have had a number of discussions about “what/who makes a family.” We have said most families have a mom and dad. Some have two moms. Some have one mom or dad. And some really, really lucky ones have two dads. But ultimately it doesn’t matter who their parents are as long as they feel loved and are safe. And have a full belly.
I know we still have some work to do in this field, but we truly want our boys to understand the power of words. Not just around the infamous “You’re so gay”, but all words.