Chasing Rainbows is here!

So, this arrived: P1030300


And it’s beautiful. I’m biased, obviously: I have an essay in Fiona Joy Green and May Friedman’s Chasing Rainbows: Exploring Gender Fluid Parenting Practices, and I’m pretty thrilled to be included in this anthology, which does a great job of straddling the divide between academic and personal essay.

Here's a taste of my contribution:

Let me be clear about something, just in case. For the record, I’m not worried that either of my sons is gay. I’m not worried that either is transsexual or transgendered. I’m not worried about the prospect that one or both of my sons might get off by wearing girls or women’s clothing.

I will clarify further: when I say that I am “not worried,” I do not mean that I don’t believe my sons are or will turn out to be gay or trans. That’s their business. What I mean is that if, in the event that they are gay, or trans, are unable to pin down neatly into an identifiable gender category, then I don’t see this as a worrisome prospect.

Actually, let’s make this absolutely crystal clear: if one or both of my children is gay, transsexual, transgender, I will not “still love them,” or “love them anyway” or “love them in spite of.” If one or both of my sons grows up to somehow queer the boundaries and binaries of sexual identity, gender, I will be thrilled. For them, for the world. I will be elated with the fierce kind of joy of the parent who watches her child discover and pursue his or her or hir passion. That’s what I tell myself.

But in the hallway of my son’s elementary school, the circle has widened beyond the point where I can guarantee his safety. Here, he’s one of 800 kids, the eldest of whom are bona fide teenagers. Here, I cannot follow him around like a one-woman PR firm, putting a positive, protective spin on his outfit. Here, I don’t dictate the social codes, cannot pre-screen each interaction to ensure that no one taunts him, baits him, spits on him, pisses in his locker, beats him up.

And while I know that junior kindergarten is generally a pretty safe space, that my son’s school is generally a pretty safe space, my mind keeps flashing to the spate of suicides by queer teens, by those perceived to be queer. I think of 14-year-old Lawrence King, wearing high heels and makeup to his California junior high school, shot to death by a classmate in February 2008. I think of the “It Gets Better” project, and I don’t want my kids to know that it could get worse, much worse. And yet, I don’t want him to hide his joy, to spurn the bright red centre of his self. I think of Shiloh Jolie-Pitt and Constance getting to take her girlfriend to the prom and of how much I am rooting for that girl in her suit and that boy — this boy — boy in his dress.

But that morning in that elementary school hallway, I desperately want that girl, that boy, to be someone else’s kid.

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I’m thrilled to be in the writerly company of people like Kathy Witterick — co-parent to Kio, Jazz, and baby (now toddler) Storm, who stood up against boatloads of vitriol and smallmindedness when she and her partner, David, decided not to reveal Storm’s biological sex to the world in an effort to let the child come to her or his own conclusions about the matter. And Damien Riggs, always so clever, who has a piece in my own anthology. And fellow (former) Thunder Bay resident Jake Pyne, who writes about the possible worlds of trans parenting (and who doesn’t know it yet, but is the object of a secret plot afoot in my head to organize some kind of reading or launch up here in northwestern Ontario around the book — I mean, how often are two queer Thunder Bay writers represented in the same collection?). And trans dad and Torontonian (and VillageQ contributor) j wallace, from my Toronto stomping-ground days, and his nuanced reflections on “having a Stanley.” And Sarah Sahagian, who makes the compelling argument that the future of our collective ethnic heritage will depend upon gender fluidity. And more, and more, and more.

Thank you to Fiona and May for asking me to participate, and for creating such a beautiful book.

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I am taking part in NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month, which has me posting a blog entry every day throughout the month of November.