Since having a son, I have felt myself repeating “real men wear pink”, internally as well as aloud, more often than I ever expected.
I have thought about writing this post many times in the past few months but felt it served no purpose than to appear to be searching for controversy. A few weeks ago, I put up this photo on Facebook of Jack captioned “Don’t mind me…just getting into trouble”.
Moments later I posted this photo captioned “Entranced by Elmo.”
Littered among the comments of “So cute” and “Look at that gorgeous smile” there were comments of “He is all boy-a manly man-no pink diapers” and “Get that pink off of him. He’s a BOY baby.”
Let’s not beat around the bush here: the meaning of those comments is simply: don’t make him gay.
There is a firestorm burning through blogosphere at the moment over the bullying of 9-year-old Grayson Bruce because he wore a My Little Ponies backpack to school. Many people have come to his defense while other are blaming him and his parents for wearing the backpack to school knowing that it would incite bullying. These people, the victim blamers, are the same as the people who tell me not to put my son in pink diapers. They believe that this little boy is different and that difference is a dirty word.
The idea that a color or a backpack can completely represent a person’s personality or sexual preference is absurd. The idea that at the age of ten months my son could have a sexual orientation or preference is absurd. Even more absurd is the idea that I or any other external factor can influence his sexuality. I think that facet of our identities is instilled in us from conception. I don’t believe that anything aside from genetics makes you gay or straight or any variation in between. It’s with this belief that I am terrified of the implications that could arise from telling my son “pink is for girls” that being attracted to things girls like is wrong and makes him less of a man, defective even.
I don’t pretend to know the struggles of what it means to live as a gay person in our society. I cannot imagine what it must be like to be told your innate self isn’t within the societal norms and that you, as a person, are wrong. I cannot imagine what it feels like to be reduced to a color or a backpack. But I also know that attitude and bigotry won’t continue to spread because of me. I don’t care what color either of my kids wear or who they love when they are older as long as they are happy and loved equally in return.
So yes, real men do wear pink and real women do wear blue and real men and women don’t make such sweeping and demeaning judgments based on such superficial things as clothing color and accessories.
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