Monday, November 8, 2010

Pink is just a color.

I hope you've already seen this post from Nerdy Apple Bottom.  If not, go now, and read it.  She writes about her son choosing to dress up as a female character for Halloween.  He's 5. The moms of the other children did not take this well.

My favorite quote:

If you think that me allowing my son to be a female character for Halloween is somehow going to ‘make’ him gay then you are an idiot. Firstly, what a ridiculous concept. Secondly, if my son is gay, OK. I will love him no less. Thirdly, I am not worried that your son will grow up to be an actual ninja so back off.
 It's a pretty powerful post in light of recent months with topics of bullying and homosexuality being on everyone's radar.  I appreciated it as a mom of a little boy whose favorite color is pink.  I admire this woman a lot.  She did what I have strived to do but not always succeeded.

I handmade my son a hot pink bird costume because that's what he wanted to be for the school play.  But, I'll be honest, last year when he wanted to be a princess for Halloween, I steered him in another direction.  Why?  Because, it was easy to do.  Easy because he was little and didn't mind.  Easy in that I didn't have to figure out how to deal with having a son dressed up like a princess.  If he had pushed, if he had really wanted to be only a princess, we would have worked with it.  But instead, I gently steered him into what he was supposed to want to be.  What the hell?  Why? 

For quite some time, I've struggled with where do I draw this line.  Am I allowing him to make his own decisions without forcing societal norms on him?  He loves pink.  He loves Tinkerbell.  He loves sparkly stuff.  And when he outright asks for stuff like that, I don't say no.  He can have pink stuff.  We own Tinkerbell's movies and watch them often.  I'm not one of those parents.  You know the ones.  The ones who will only let their boys play with trucks, dinosaurs, and boy stuff.  We had family members comment when B got a kitchen for his 2nd birthday... and when they see him the pink doll stroller that we got free off of freecycle.  They weren't being rude or mean, they were just surprised that we would do those things.  So, see?  I'm not one of those people.

Or am I?  When I am at the store looking at something I'm going to buy for him and there's a blue one with dinosaurs (which he does love) and a pink one with Tinkerbell (which he also loves), which do I buy?  The dinosaurs.  Why?  Because I'm supposed to.  Maybe he would have liked that Tinkerbell one more.  Maybe I should have bought it.  But he was pretty darn happy with dinosaurs because didn't know Tinkerbell was an option.

I don't know the answer.  I hope that the fact that because we are aware enough to care and open enough to welcome our son whoever he is, we're not screwing this up entirely.  Because, c'mon, loving pink has pretty much nothing to do with being gay.  Pink is just a color.  And even if it was more than a color, it doesn't matter.  Because whether he likes pink, hates pink, is gay or straight, we love and accept our son for the amazing person he already is at the age of three, and we get immense joy out of getting to know him (and ourselves in the process).

Who knows, maybe it will be a very pink Christmas around here.  Whatever B wants.


  1. Jamie (a) I too saw that blog and was moved to comment (b) have a boy who love love love loves to wear his sister's high heel play shoes while he runs about roaring like a dino and (c) follow abother blog who posted this (and it is beautiful)

  2. Oh yes, the shoes... oh how he loves heels! Thank you for that link - wonderful interview and story!!!

  3. One of the reasons why I love you girl! We think in the same way!

  4. I loved that story, and that mom. Thanks for posting about it. We just have toys over here - no toys just for girls and other toys just for boys. If they all three want to be princesses or play with the doll house, then that's what they do (and they do it all the time!). Even before Madelyn was born I bought Elijah a dollhouse and dolls because he wanted to play with them, and the Strawberry Shortcake movies because he wanted those too. I love you blog - I need to read it more regularly. Subbing now!

  5. I've actually been meaning to write a blog about this since I had 9 friends share this on Facebook. I had mixed feelings about the article. I guess to me it didn't seem like a gay issue and to me by turning it into one it seemed to take away from the real point which is to let our children grow and express themselves without stifling them. I think the issue of letting our kids be kids, and nurturing their sweet, innocent, uninhibited spirits should have been the focus. Especially since so many parents are trying to turn their kids into mini-adults from birth. I think she really missed the main issue at hand by creating a gay issue where there wasn't one. I guess I was just baffled as to why it was titled "My Son is Gay" and she said, "If you think that me allowing my son to be a female character for Halloween is somehow going to ‘make’ him gay then you are an idiot. Firstly, what a ridiculous concept." Did I miss something? Who said he was gay or would turn gay?

    I'm glad she encouraged him to be himself, but it kind of concerned me when he wanted to back out, but she wouldn't let him. Did she cross the line between being an encouraging mom and somebody who wanted to make a statement? I honestly don't know. It made me question myself though and wonder if I have ever put my need to be an activist over what is in the best interest of my kids.

    Overall, I do applaud her for letting her son be himself and for standing up to the moms who were giving her a hard time.

    I'm also a mom to a little boy who wears my heels, plays with his sister's dolls, wears pink and purple, has long hair, still nurses and loves to help in the kitchen.

    And anybody who dares to try to make him feel ashamed of himself is going to have to deal with this mama!

  6. Erin - Thanks for the thoughtful response. I think you bring up some important issues. But, I also think our culture lifts up this is 'pink is girly, and if you're girly, you're gay' idea which is how she easily made that jump. Dressing up like a girl is unsuitable because you don't fit the mainstream idea of what being a boy is, and for many people, that leads to such derogatory remarks as "that's so gay" "what a fairy" or "you're going to turn him gay." I've heard these when letting my son play with pink things or play with a kitchen and dolls. So for me there are two issues - that straight men can do all of these things and that I don't care if my son is gay (and for that matter, it is derogatory to think these things could turn him gay).


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