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Thanks to mombian, I got a reminder about this day. There’s nothing that can make me blog, but this day, each year…it does. I like raising up my voice as a part of this community…this community creating family, creating queer families, creating love in oh-so-many ways. It’s nice to have a reason to “come around” to the blog. To pay a visit, so to speak.

I find myself not coming around so much mostly for the sake of privacy. Q is 12. W is 4.92. Life marches on. We spend our days in the realm of the mundane: school, music practice, swim practice, nudging, coaxing, recovering from overwhelm, laughing. And we still spend our days in ways that few others do: navigating bathrooms, considering pronouns, protecting, preparing, choosing just the right outfit.

Coming around here means I get to retrace the evolution of conversations in our family — a family where three of us readily embrace our unique queer identities. Where the fourth one of us is only almost 5 and has an ever-changing identity, moving from “almost a kindergartener” to “a really good monkey bar-er” to “a really good draw-er.” We talk now, a lot and still, about all the ways the world boxes us in. But three of us now trace, together, all the changes we’ve seen, even as we’ve been together figuring out life: social media sites that offer many pronoun choices and identity choices, surveys we get that have three gender boxes instead of two (I think our family would vote for more. Or, actually, we’d vote for none.), schools that are willingly proactive and inclusive of trans kids, gender non-conforming kids, non-binary kids, gender creative kids, etc. We have come far. So coming around here feels good. Clearly, there is further to go. But for now, I’ll sit back for a moment — just a moment, I promise — to mark the change that I see from all the years that I’ve been coming around. Thanks, mombian, for the invitation back to these parts.

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My daughter’s favorite colors right now are pink and purple. Fine by me.

My son’s favorite color right now is purple. Fine by me.

Though these choices have remained static for both of them for a while, they could very well change tomorrow to something like yellow and green or blue or silver or teal.

Great! Perfect!

Because…they are colors. Favorites. Whims. They mean nothing at all. To me.

Yet, to others, they mean so much. My daughter likes pink and purple. Obvious choices, think many people. And, that must mean that she also likes princesses, and dress up, and baby dolls, and sparkly things. And, while she likes many of those things, she also likes climbing and rough housing and SWIMMING, perhaps most of all. One preference indicates nothing about her, really.

My son likes purple. Strange and unacceptable choice, think many people. That must also mean….so many things about him. But, like my daughter, one preference indicates nothing about him, really.

Why is it okay, still, to assume things about my son — and about the parents who are raising him — based on his color preferences. Really?!? I sit here writing this post realizing that I asked many of the same questions over six years ago when I started this blog. Colors are for everyone. Colors mean nothing. Colors are….colors. My mantra. Our mantra. And yet, so very hard for so many folks to wrap their heads around.

Ours is a family created out of love. And we love each and every ounce and preference of our kids, whether “outsiders” see their preferences and interests and habits — and our family as a whole — as normative or not (either way is of no matter to me). To me, the best thing we can do for each other, as a family, and for the world, is to love. To love hard, and deep, and passionately — to love ALL of it.

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…there are so few models for what it means to grow up genderqueer?

Why is it so hard for young people to chart new pathways in the world?

…there are more questions than answers?

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When you live according to the idea that labels are for jars, but most of the world thinks labels are for people? And the labels bring with them boxes? And the boxes are intended to contain you?

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10-year old Q said to me yesterday: “I’ve been working for YEARS to not just see the boy and girl boxes.” 

I wasn’t quite sure what he meant, so asked him to explain. “You know, like when I’m looking at people.”

Me: “Oh, so when you’re out in the world, you try to just see the person and not put them into a box?”

Q: “Exactly! I keep thinking about it and thinking about it. And I have myself mostly trained.”

We noted how interesting it is that what he hopes from others — that they just see him as himself, as opposed to someone who fits in a particular gendered box — takes years of self training, even for him. 

Here’s to wishing those boxes were not so deeply ingrained in all of our minds, or that we had as much discipline as Q to work to erase them.

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Thanks to mombian for once again hosting this lovely celebration of our families.

This seemed like the perfect time to write about the amazingly expansive notion of family that often exists within queer communities. We see it in relation to Q, when he talks about our “love family” — those folks we include as family, even if they don’t have a formal/formalized relationship to us. He so easily falls in love with adults, particularly those who are similar to him, gender non-conforming in some way. And we’re happy to add these folks to our love family.

Perhaps luckiest of all is that for the past year or so, a little part of our love family has been under the same roof as us. Dear friends moved into the other apartment in the little two-family house that we rent in, and the result has been a raucous, joy-filled time. We call it, at various times, the unintentional lesbian commune, the queer commune…whatever we call it, there are four moms and three kids around, which is a great ratio. 

Living so close to other queer folks, to folks who know and understand Q and all of his intricacies….well, it’s amazing. There’s a sense of holding my breath that I get, sometimes, in public. Will someone understand Q? Will they judge? Are they judging and I don’t even know it? Home is meant to be a safe place. A place where we are understood, in the deepest way possible. This little community that we have here, part of our love family, provides just that. And the ability to breathe, to breathe deeply, when we are at home — to be known? That is priceless.

ImageQ, after MC’ing the Pride event at his school

 

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As Q gets older, life becomes more complex (of course). I’ve found that it’s become harder to advocate for him as his challenges have become harder to pin down, more subtle, and sometimes more ambiguous. For instance, Q has expressed a feeling of invisibility at school and the sense that folks just “don’t get” him. But it’s subtle. He’s not down and out there at every turn. And many have said he seems happier this year than last. But something isn’t right for him. He has a hard time articulating it (after all, he’s only just 10), and that leaves me having a hard time trying to rearticulate it. Or to make meaning of it. And then, harder still, to try to help others make meaning of all of this. It’s no longer just watching out for my little boy in a dress. With growth comes change, and complexity, and navigating the more complex layers of life with and for Q has been quite something (something of a challenge? something of a heartbreak at times?).

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