Friday, January 12, 2007

Boyfriends and boy friends

Sometimes I think that there is only one real difference in parenting GLBT kids and straight kids. There are lots of issues that you have to cope with with GLBT kids. Some of those are societal, some have to do with whatever the kids have internalized about who, what, and how they should be, and of course there is the on-going internal growth.

But there is at least one thing, maybe only one thing, that seems to be objectively different with at least gay boys: the pool of people from whom they find their friends and their lovers is the same group.

If you are raising a kid, let's say a boy, who you believe is straight, it is easy to make rules like: only boys may spend the night; and if a girl is visiting you must leave your door cracked. Though it may be incorrect, it doesn't seem wildly outrageous to assume that any visitor of the opposite sex is a possible temptation. It is a rule which seems reasonable to most people. And it does not inconvenience most youth horribly, because most of their friends with whom they might want to talk privately, are of the same sex. They are welcome to close their door all they want.

The thing is, once my boys start being out and being involved with the youth group for GLBT kids, they start making more friends and many of those friends are also gay boys.

It took a while for me to figure out what I wanted to do about that. I wanted to be fair. I wanted a way to sort out friends from "friends with privileges" and lovers. It turns out that there was no way that I could do that. It wasn't just that I can't tell the difference; it is that they are not always sure either.

The boys have had relationships in which they seem to genuinely move from just friends and something else. I used to joke that Carl's pattern in making friends seemed to be to go on a date, make-out and then break-up. It was almost as though he needed to test to see if there was any boyfriend potential there before he could relax and just be friends. I know that straight people have cross-gender friends and that sometimes friends become lovers, or the other way around, but not nearly so much. And the difference does not seem to be one of degree, but of what is typical.

If a straight girl told me about some boy she wanted over, "We dated and were all hot and heavy for a while, but then we decided to just be friends" I would reply, "Right. You can't shut your door when he is over." When Carl told me that, I was inclined to believe him.

I gave up on it. I finally just told the boys, "If you have a boy over, keep your door open."

They were suprisingly okay with it.

1 comment:

  1. This made me think of my days in college. I went to a small church offiliated school that had gender segregated dorms and limited visiting hours for opposite gender. My roommate hated the fact that I the rules that kept him from having his girlfriends overnight did nothing to keep me from having all the fun I wanted.

    We both learned to knock before entering.


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