If someone wanted to debate with me last week whether or not people are born gay, I probably would have given them the side eye. Even though I have several family members who specifically identify as trans, lesbian, and bisexual, who each say that they've had feelings for the same sex since they were kids, I still had trouble accepting that people could be born gay.
Now here I am, 100 percent believing it, and how I realized it was eye opening. It happened the day my seven-year-old son came home from school with a bad behavior mark. With tears and confusion in his eyes, he handed me a note from his teacher. I opened it and read, in red ink,
Your son threatened to smash crayons in another student's eyes.
My husband and I were floored as I read the note out loud. We've always tried to teach our son to walk away from conflict or call a teacher unless he's defending himself. As I asked him more questions about why he threatened another child, my husband happened to ask who the child was.
It was his very good friend, Bryson*, which left us even more confused. Bryson is a brown-eyed boy with lots of laughter and who always has a positive word to share with our son. We've met his parents before and they are great people. His dad is active in his life, and loves his son to pieces. His mom is a stern woman whose heart bursts when she sees her well-mannered child being the natural leader that he is. Even at seven-years-old, my husband and I have always known Bryson to be a wise, positive soul, so you could only imagine how confused we were. We probed our son more until he finally revealed that Bryson cornered him in the boys bathroom, and tried to kiss him. Multiple times.
My son was sad because he loves Bryson, and he couldn't understand why he wanted to kiss him. "Kissing is gross, and Bryson wouldn't leave me alone" my son said as he turned up his nose in reflection of the incident.
My husband and I sent our son to his room so that we could talk about the situation together and develop a plan of action. My husband was more collected about the incident than I was. I was beside myself, because I never expected to be addressing the subject of a little boy possibly having a crush on our son. Several little girls have professed their love for my child in his first grade class, and we handled those situations rather easily. But for us, this one was a doozy.
Even before we become mothers, most women seem to have their parenting situations figured out, and sometimes in detail. I know I was one of those women, until my son told me about his incident with Bryson. I had no clue what to do or say to my son. After several minutes of chat time, we easily came up with a plan on what we would teach our son about other people respecting his boundaries, but we had no idea what to tell our child about his friend, who possibly has a crush on him.
After discussing what we would tell his mom and their teachers, we thought about Bryson. A lot. What if Bryson already knows what the rest of the world doesn't? What do we tell his parents, who were raised in our super conservative community that often acts like gay people are only good enough to direct school plays and church choirs? The last thing we wanted was for his parents to lose their minds over a feeling that Bryson didn't feel like he could control.
I can't say for sure one way or another, but this situation makes me believe that there's a possibility that some people could be born gay. I was mind blown.
I decided to see if there was any scientific evidence to support this theory. I read in an article in Live Science,
No studies have found specific "gay genes" that reliably make someone gay. But some genes may make being gay likelier. For instance, a 2014 study in the journal Psychological Medicine showed that a gene on the X chromosome (one of the sex chromosomes) called Xq28 and a gene on chromosome 8 seem to be found in higher prevalence in men who are gay. That study, involving more than 400 pairs of gay brothers, followed the 1993 report by geneticist Dean Hamer suggesting the existence of a "gay gene." Other research has found that being gay or lesbian tends to run in families. It's also more likely for two identical twins, who share all of their genes, to both be gay than it is for two fraternal twins, who share just half of their genes, to both be homosexual. Those studies also suggest that genes seemed to have a greater influence on the sexual orientation of male versus female identical twins.
Then there's also the possibility that Bryson hasn't "discovered himself." Maybe he saw one of his sisters kiss a boy, and he wanted to mimic the action? Or maybe someone is hurting Bryson? You never know what a first grader is going to tell you, which scares us even more.
We have meetings set up with Bryson's parents and our child's teacher, which has temporarily put our minds at ease. Regardless of the outcome, we've decided that if Bryson knows something about himself that the rest of the world doesn't, it doesn't change the fact that he's an amazing kid. To be honest, we probably won't have the answer to whether or not Bryson actually has feelings for the same sex until years from now. We can only tackle what we know now, and right now it's important that both children thoroughly understands the subject of boundaries.
After I talked about boundaries with my son, he still wanted to know why a boy would want to kiss another boy. To him, kissing in general is a rather disgusting act, but to see a boy kiss another boy was weird. So with love, I sat him down and told him the truth - kissing is not a weird act. I found myself delving deeper into the, "Sometimes boys likes boys, and girls like girls," conversation, and telling him how some things come natural to others, including a boy wanting to kiss another boy.
Before my son asked me, I had never pictured myself having this conversation with my him. But here I am, faced with the fact that my son's good friend may be aware of himself and his feelings at an early age, and he was probably born that way.
Still, I don't want Bryson putting his lips on my kid. Truth be told, I don't want anyone's kid, boy or girl, to kiss my son. That's how germs are passed along, and they're really hard to get rid of.
Have you ever had to address a same sex crush with your child? What did you tell them?
*Bryson does not reflect the person's real name, which has been changed in the writing of this article.