So today, my kids overheard something on the radio and asked me what gay marriage was and if that was different from what me and their dad have. I knew that things like this would come up eventually, but still felt a moment of hesitation before answering them. I told them that gay is a word for a boy who wants to kiss another boy or a girl who wants to kiss another girl, and that gay marriage is for two girls or two boys that want to live together and take care of each other. Initially, the kids were a little nonplussed. Alana laughed and said, “all the girls I know are married to BOYS mom, I’ve never heard of a girl marrying another girl.” I told her that I knew girls that married other girls, and that not everyone was the same, and just because no one in our family is gay that doesn’t mean that being gay is weird.
My daughter thought about that for a minute and asked me if she knew anyone that was gay. I had to pray about that for a minute, because unbeknownst to Princess her godmother is gay, and I didn’t want to say anything that would change the very special relationship they have. Fighter was sitting off to the side with his arms crossed and a very serious look on his face. Okay, I trust my kids. They are the best people I know. They can deal with this. So I tell them that their godmother is gay, and I would really like for her to be able to be married and have someone to share her life with some day. What do they think of that?
Fighter shrugs, says that he once had a dream about two boys being married and why not? If you love someone and want to take care of them that’s good. Princess, always one to have to think about things more, asks if two girls can have a baby if they want. Well, they can always adopt a baby. “Not everyone wants babies I guess,” Princess continues. Her eyes light up, “OH, I wanted to talk about frogs. Can I have the computer?”
“Sure,” I say, wondering if this conversation is actually over.
“ME TOO,” says Fighter.
“Hold on one second,” I say, “because you should know that sometimes people say really hurtful things to people who are gay, or ask them questions that are really hard to answer like why don’t they just act like other people. I want you to know that you can talk to me about that kind of stuff. But be careful who you talk to, and if you hear people saying mean things don’t be afraid to just walk away. You need to be careful, and understand that it can be painful for some people to talk about.”
“I get it,” Fighter says, and Princess is still talking about this one time she saw a video of a squeaking frog. Apparently this conversation really, truly was over.
And then a few minutes later I get a text message. The kids have been on Facebook, letting their godmother know that it’s cool if she marries a girl. But, more importantly, what superheros is she into? And does she know about the frogs that don’t say ribbit? Because, when it was all said and done, they could pick up the relationship where they left it with nothing changed.
Nothing changed, except wanting their godmother to know that her life was cool with them.
And I think, I wish that it was always that easy to love and accept someone. And it could be, couldn’t it? If we, like kids, pushed all of the other questions out of the way and just worked at preserving the relationship. Like kids, realizing without even thinking that what really matters is the connections we make with each other. I asked my daughter if it bothered her that her godmother wasn’t the same as her. Princess shrugged and said, “I already knew she was different because she doesn’t do hair.” Well, that’s true.
“If it bothered you, you could tell me.”
“People are different from each other,” Princess says in her straightforward, life-is-a-constant-lesson way, “what matters is if you’re loving. If you want to be friends. If you want to learn about each other’s things.”
I’ve heard people say, “what will we say to the Children?” as if there is simply no explanation for the existence of gays that can be made. Maybe we shouldn’t be worried about what to say to the kids. Maybe we should be worried about our own capacity to understand what they say in return. In this case, the lesson couldn’t be clearer. Their love for their godmother wasn’t based off of their idea of who she was, it was based off of what they shared with each other. Why should her sexuality change that?