Millennia ago, there was a woman who in a hut labored for a night and a day; in the end, into her arms was given the fruit of her labor, and on beholding him, she said (so I’m told), “With God’s help, I’ve made a son.”
What she said second isn’t recorded by history, but eighteen years ago, as I beheld my son (quite ugly, to be honest), the first thing I said was “Is he always going to look like that” but the second (or so I remember, I was very goddamn high for a while after that) came after–much like I’m sure it did to Eve–where she took stock of the world in which her son lived (hut, cow, whatever) and said, “Yeah, no. We can do better than this.”
It wasn’t fit for him, this world, but to make him fit for it would be a degradation of what he was and all he could be. So for eighteen years, I made him fit to be exactly who he was, is, and wanted to be, so he would be able to change it.
Five years ago, my son came out to me, and upon such a revelation, the first thing I said, “It’s midnight, you have school tomorrow, what the hell are you doing on AIM?” Also something like, “I love you, I loved you before I met you, now go to bed or you’re grounded” (dude, five years ago and around midnight, do I look like a wizard)? Then I thought–as did Eve and the me who thought her child looked like an extra from Coneheads becuse she was so very stoned (and seriously, he really did)–as I beheld the world again, “Yeah, no. You gotta be better than this.”
Like every mother in the world, when my son leaves my sight, I know he’s at risk of being harassed, threatened, assaulted, or killed because this world has that.
Some mothers carry this burden as well; our child is at risk for being harassed, threatened, assaulted, or killed simply for being who they are.
You see, the world into which I bore my son, the one he would have to live in, was one in which legal provision had to be made to place him in protected class, not for what he’s done but for what he is. Because murder of my gay son would not be given the same weight in the courts as one who was straight; because my son was in a class of people who would be deliberately and systematically sought out for harassement, threat, assault, and murder, crimes committed against him because of who he is are classified as hate crimes.
Some mothers have carried this additional weight from the moment they first felt their children move within them, before they even first saw their face or heard their first cry; that’s forever. I’ve only carried it for five yeasr, but it feels like so much longer.
This year, my son turned eighteen, and my work isn’t done, but my right to ground him is pretty much at an end (he doesn’t know that; don’t tell him; he thinks it’s twenty-one, like drinking). In January, by right of birth in this country, he could vote, be drafted to join the army, to be deciding voice in the course of his life, but he wasn’t guaranteed the rights I was given, denied them not by age or sex, but sexuality. The law of the country would not allow him to marry the partner of his choice, adopt a child, be protected against workplace discrimination, the list goes on.
On June 26, 2015, my son is still a protected class, at risk of being the target of hate crimes; he can be harassed, threatened, assaulted, even killed, for being gay. He can still face discrimination in the workplace, and the legal adoption of a child is sketchy, but I have hope that last part may not be for long; however, one thing changed.
He turned eighteen in January, and six months later, the Supreme Court confirmed a right he should have had then; in the country of his birth, he cannot be denied the right to marry the partner of his choice. No one–not individuals or states–can take that away.