“That’s SO Gay.”

“That’s SO gay.”

Do you remember that saying? “That’s so gay” was used to describe anything that was negative or gross or undesirable. I used this saying growing up, I heard it daily until Hilary Duff taught me that it was really hurtful to use that language.

I remember once a friend of mine went to a wedding where two women were married. She came back and told us about how GROSS it was – they had the AUDACITY to KISS in front of everyone at their own wedding.

Like many people my age, I was raised in a house where homosexuality was really even talked about. Those were the times. That’s the conservative Midwest.

The first character I can remember being openly gay was Kurt from Glee. I will never forget the episode where he came out to his Dad. That was such a pivotal moment in the series. It was so well done. It was the first moment I felt empathy for an LGBTQ+ person and I was a 9th grader. I didn’t personally know anyone who was gay or what they might struggle through. This was in 2009 and 2010.

Times have changed since then. Some of my best friends fall into the LGBTQ+ category. They’ve taught me so much about what love can look like. I’m so grateful to call them my friends.

I’ve been extremely intentional about conversations I have with my 5 year old son. Carver came home from preschool the other day. He had gotten in an argument with a classmate. His classmate insisted that boys could not marry boys and girls could not marry girls. Carver said that’s NOT true “because my mom said” that anyone can marry anyone.

I explained to Carver that some people think it isn’t right for boys to marry boys or girls to marry girls. Carver was baffled. He didn’t even register that it could be perceived as a “bad thing” to be gay. He’s always known it’s an option. It’s hard to believe that gay marriage has only been federally legal for 6 years (some states it has been legal much longer.)

Just a side note – In prepping for this post, I sent it to one of my dearest friends, Jen. She and her wife Dawn have two little boys around my boys’ age. When Jen was pregnant with their oldest son (who is now almost 7), they lived in Wisconsin. At the time, Iowa (surprising to me) was one of the most progressive states in the country, even more so than California. They packed up and moved to Iowa so they could both be on their son’s birth certificate. Had he been born in Wisconsin, Jen (who was carrying their son) would have had to surrender her rights and together they would have to pay thousands of dollars to readopt their own son.

Carver and Gannon have had a baby doll, my nephew Jasper has a doll and LOVES to play with his baby. When I was growing up, it was NOT cool for boys to play with dolls, and I specifically remember it was because “it might make them gay” as if that’s the worst possible outcome. What if they love to pretend to be a Dad or an Uncle?

He came home after wearing a pink shirt and was frustrated because someone at school told him pink was a “girl color.” Carver didn’t know that boys “aren’t allowed” to like pink.

When I ask him about his future, I ask if he thinks he’ll marry a boy or a girl.

Sometimes I ask Carver if he thinks he will take a dance class or want to wear makeup someday. Carver LOVES to do my hair and makeup. He loves to paint fingernails with the girls at daycare. Carver doesn’t like to get his fingernails painted but he does like to paint his cousins Georgia’s fingernails!

I’m intentional to introduce Carver to transgender and non binary individuals on instagram (my favorite is Jeffery Marsh!) for him to see and hear from people who look different than us and understand their experiences.

These conversations aren’t always easy for me. It doesn’t come natural for me to introduce these topics. It’s awkward sometimes. It’s not how I grew up, these conversations weren’t happening at my house. Craig sometimes gives me some side eye when I ask Carver if he has a girlfriend or a boyfriend.

We didn’t grow up in this world, but Carver will be.

I’m not raising Carver to live in my generation, I’m raising Carver to be a part of his generation.

I’m raising Carver to live in a world where it’s common practice to ask someone their preferred pronouns.

I’m raising Carver to live in a world where there isn’t a “coming out of the closet,” just loving who you love.

Of course I want Carver to know he is loved and supported no matter who he loves or how he lives, but most importantly, I’m raising Carver to learn to love others.

I don’t want him to be confused the first time he sees two men holding hands in public.

I don’t want the first time he sees a man wearing makeup or a dress to scare him.

I imagine a day where his classmate with two moms is just his classmate.

I imagine a world where homosexuality is not strange or weird or unnatural as it would have been presented to me in my day. It’s not a topic of conversation, it just is.

For this to happen, these conversations have to start with us. If they are raised knowing there are LGBTQ+ people in this world, that’s all they know. It isn’t shocking or scary or confusing or traumatic, it just is a part of life.

The first time I showed Carver a video of a man doing his makeup, it was weird for me. I had to fight the thought of, “Men don’t wear makeup. Men don’t wear dresses. Men are masculine. If I show this to Carver is he going to want to do his makeup?” Carver didn’t pick up on any of that. Now, for as long as Carver can remember, he knows makeup is for girls OR boys.

When I showed Carver a video of a man wearing a dress, it was weird for me. I had to fight the thought of “Dresses and skirts are for girls. He’s too young to understand this. Men don’t wear girly things or wear high heels.” Carver didn’t pick up on any of that. Now, for as long as he can remember, he knows anyone can wear any clothes and it doesn’t take away from their value as a human.

When I ask Carver if he has a boyfriend or a girlfriend, it’s weird for me. I have to fight the thought of, “Am I encouraging this? Why am I talking to my preschooler about this?” But now, for as long as Carver can remember, he knows that everyone has the option or choice of loving who he wants to love.

I hope he can carry that understanding through his life when his friend tells him they are gay. I hope he carries this understanding when his classmates are making fun of someone who dresses more feminine. I hope Carver can remember this when he’s struggling with his identity or questioning his own sexuality one day. I hope he carries these “awkward for me” conversations with him through his life to know he is loved and everyone is worthy of love.

I’m born straight, I refuse to hate. I’m raising my babies to love your babies. I hope you can do the same.

I know I mention Carver a lot in this post, of course these conversations will also be had with Gannon however Gannon’s world only revolves around tractors these days. He hardly notices anyone else in the world exists but we will be sure to include him in due time.

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  1. Anne+Simonot
    November 15, 2021 / 3:01 am

    As a mom of adults who fall into some of those categories, you rock!! You’re a much better mother than I was. Now I wish I could go back in time & do a better job. Good work, Kalissa!

    • thepinkshoelaces
      November 16, 2021 / 6:55 am

      When we know better we do better. Thank you for sharing Anne, please forgive yourself. We are all doing the best we can with the information we have and I’m certain I don’t have it all figured out either.

  2. Pat
    November 15, 2021 / 2:12 pm

    You are doing a wonderful job!

  3. Gwen K
    November 15, 2021 / 3:09 pm

    This is lovely. And loving. Thank you.

  4. Elle
    November 15, 2021 / 4:34 pm

    Congratulations on having these hard (for you) conversations with Carver. Because of you, stereotypes are unlikely to happen for him. People will be people..period.

    I have gay friends, lesbian friends, lesbian relatives and a newly trans-niece just 2y ago at age 14. Fortunately for her, she lives in a progressive metro area yet life will hold many challenges for her. Sad to say in 2021 isn’t it?

    My lesbian married friends first married in California when it became legal. They have a signed marriage certificate and all. When they applied for something (I don’t recall what), the agency reached out to CA to assure the marriage was legal. Well guess what? The clerk who issued the marriage certificate never filed it so in fact, they were NOT legally married. 🙁 So they quickly married in their home state where gay marriage had just legalized thanks to the Federal courts, as this is an extreme conservative state.

    Good job Mom!!!!! Wishing you a fabulous week to follow last week’s craziness 😉

  5. Jill
    November 15, 2021 / 6:05 pm

    I’ve seen in some of your posts that you take your boys to church. Yes, we are taught to love everyone but the Bible clearly states what is right when it comes to marriage. Even though we see society stating their views for marriage it is up to parents to teach right from wrong based on what is biblical. Just because something is legal doesn’t make it right. My point is that if you are taking your boys to church, you should be teaching them based on what God says about marriage being between a man and a woman.

    • thepinkshoelaces
      November 16, 2021 / 6:53 am

      Love is love <3 I'm not going to be mean or discriminate someone based on a paraphrased book written 3,500 years ago.
      Above all else, God is love. God would want me to love and accept our brothers and sisters.
      God didn't turn anyone away from his love. So many more times in the bible Jesus loved and stood up for the outcasts and "unworthy."
      These are God's children, these people are absolutely loved and known by God.
      The one time that it condemns homosexuality is miniscule compared to all of the times he told us to love each other.
      Thank you for your comment, I hope even if you disagree with me that you can take sometime of value from the post.

      • Jill
        November 16, 2021 / 4:42 pm

        You assumed I am mean and discriminate against gays and lesbians. I do not. No matter how long ago the Bible was written, it still stands true today. I never said I didn’t love gays and lesbians. You assumed that. I love everyone but I don’t have to agree with them. It’s ok for them to voice their views on marriage but I am accused of hating them because I disagree with them. I am to be silent about my views but I won’t be. My comment to you was that if you are raising your boys in church, then you should teach them based on what the Bible says about everything not just pull out the parts about love. I taught my children to love everyone at the same time teaching them right from wrong. If you are raising your boys in a Christian church that teaches from the Bible, then teach them based on what God says and not what the world says. That was my point and you missed it.

        • thepinkshoelaces
          November 16, 2021 / 6:22 pm

          I can see that I did make some assumptions. What would you recommend I teach my children?

          • Jill
            November 17, 2021 / 1:42 am

            Raise your children how you want to. That’s the great thing about freedom we have.

    • Lynne Nicholson
      November 16, 2021 / 9:57 am

      Jill I suggest you read your bible. Search your heart. Then put down those stones. I’m sure you’re not “without sin”.

      If you believe in God as fully as you state then trust him to sort things out.

      • Jill
        November 16, 2021 / 4:08 pm

        I never said I was without sin. I repent daily for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Just because I don’t agree with the gay lifestyle doesn’t mean I’m prejudice. The difference is they can voice their opinions and I cannot. Are they not throwing stones at me for having Christian values.? What’s the difference. Not one time did I say I hated anyone that is gay or lesbian, I don’t. They are free to disagree with my view based on marriage between a man and a woman but I am silenced and accused of throwing stones and not living everybody which is what I expected. But I will continue to base my views on what is biblically correct.

        • Sheila
          September 15, 2022 / 1:26 pm

          Part of the problem is the phrase “gay lifestyle”. It isn’t a lifestyle, it is who God made them. Please don’t take the Bible as literal words. There is so much in the Bible that people would not consider doing these days – would you participate in stoning? My views and you have yours. I will not debate you.
          Kalissa – I am so proud of you and how you are raising your sons!

      • Jill
        November 17, 2021 / 1:36 am

        I fully trust God in every aspect of my life. He is a loving, merciful God for which I am thankful. His word is my guide in knowing right from wrong. The views I state on here are not based on what I think, they are what I know is the truth. But I’m being accused of a lot of things on here that are not true. Anyone that knows me and I realize that no one on here does, knows that I treat everyone the same and show God’s love to everyone I know regardless of their color, religion or lifestyle. But just as others with different views aren’t silent about what they believe, I won’t be silent either

    • Elle
      November 16, 2021 / 4:13 pm

      Wow Jill. Please give the citation for the scripture verse that says we are to judge the decisions of others. I don’t recall ever reading that verse. And how exactly does a gay couple negatively impact YOUR life or put you in harm’s way?

      I’ll wait for the answers.

      • Jill
        November 17, 2021 / 1:23 am

        Again, assumptions. I am not judging anyone, simply disagreeing and stating my views. Never implied that gays and lesbians negatively impact my life. Never said I hated them. Do you hate everyone you disagree with? I doubt it. Same here. Why is it that Christians are being silenced for stating what we believe?

        • Elle
          November 17, 2021 / 5:53 pm

          If you have no judgment why do you criticize how Kalissa is raising her children and telling her to do different?

          Telling someone to be different IS JUDGMENT! I made no assumptions.

          I am a Christian as well. I don’t judge those who are different from me nor do I tell them what they should do instead.

  6. Sharyn
    November 15, 2021 / 10:24 pm

    Thank you for this. We need more moms like you.

  7. November 16, 2021 / 10:21 am

    I’m 60 and unlearning many prejudices I was taught as a child.

    Yes it can be uncomfortable to find you absorbed society’s prejudices and some that your parents had also learned.

    Personally I try to treat others how I would like them to treat me, with respect and kindness.

    This may seem “off topic” but I lost most of my sight 5 years ago once I started using a white walking stick, then a long white cane people started treating me differently. It was as if Blind Lynne was a different person from Sighted Lynne. I’d raised 3 children solo after an abusive marriage yet suddenly I wasn’t seen as capable to live an independent life. Yes I needed training in using my white cane. Yes tips and some extra kit were needed to help me do the tasks I took for granted. Now 5 years on my life is just as full and “normal” as it was before my sight loss diagnosis. My sight continues to deteriorate so it won’t be long before I cannot recognise what’s in photos and will have to rely on screen readers when using my iPhone and iPad as I lose the clarity I had four inches from my nose, yet I walk 4 or 5 miles in the local countryside (in the UK we have public footpaths that go through farmer’s fields (normally around the edges) so I relax as I don’t have to worry about crossing roads).

    Since Blind Lynne and Sighted Lynne are basically the same person it’s easy for me to see all people as people who like me want respect and kindness.

    Continue doing the “uncomfortable” as your helping spread love.

  8. Carolyn
    November 16, 2021 / 3:27 pm

    Very interesting conversation and I congratulate you on your open mind. It is strange for me because I am 74 and my mother raised us to be open minded and everyone created equal. (she was way ahead of our time). I am not sure if it is because she was a teenager in Britain during world war 2 or because of her religion but she accepted everyone as they are. She did not consciously teach us to be accepting, it was just the way it was and I never questioned anyone who was different than me though I am sure my eyes bugged out of my head the first time I saw a very dark skinned person when we were at the world’s fair in Seattle. My mother didn’t even blink or act any differently and so from her I learned that skin colour doesn’t matter. I was actually very shocked as I grew up that people have hatred and dislike for people who are different from themselves including different religious beliefs. So, conversations are good… your boys will learn from your actions, words and from how you react and behave in a variety of situations that may be difficult for you but they will feel your acceptance and that it is ok and others aren’t really different, they just make different choices. Good for you and I wish more adults had your attitude to being of a different race, religion, or sexual orientation. Interesting conversation.

  9. Kim J LeMere
    November 16, 2021 / 6:09 pm

    Carver and Gannon will be better people because you have put yourself in an uncomfortable position to explain these things to them. I hope it helps them to be more accepting of themselves and of others. I have friends who live alternative lifestyles than me but my love for them is just that, love.

  10. Catherina
    November 16, 2021 / 6:52 pm

    Not all love is love. Certainly most people would agree that adultery, incest, and pedophilia are not acceptable in God’s eyes, and according to the Bible, neither is homosexuality.
    God is love, it is true. But we are human, and He gives us boundaries for our own happiness, and knows what is best for us.
    And He loves homosexuals, just as He loves me. But His desire is the same for homosexuals as it is for me—that we repent and let Him transform our lives.
    Years ago, a friend of mine who was a social worker commented that some professionals in her field promoted pedophilia as normal sexual behavior. I didn’t believe her, but now I see that attitude becoming more common, thankfully, still not totally acceptable in our culture.
    But if the Bible is not the authority when it comes to sexual behavior, who decides?

    • thepinkshoelaces
      November 16, 2021 / 7:06 pm

      Big oof. Pedophilia and incest has absolutely no place in this conversation. It is not comparable, it is not similar, that’s extremely offensive to the LGBTQ community and it hurts my heart to even read this comment. Absolutely not acceptable.

    • Elle
      November 18, 2021 / 3:28 pm

      Crimes are not love, they are violence. Incest and pedophilia have nothing to do with the LGBTQ communities. I would suggest that some reading/learning is in order to prevent these huge assumptions. So sad.

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