Lesson #1: Let Your Haters Be Your Motivators
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I should know that when a post gets a lot of play it is going to attract at least one negative commenter. That's the nature of the beast, and even though I'm a fairly new blogger, and even in such a supportive environment as BlogHer you have to expect that not everyone shares your opinion. Since I love a good discussion it never occurred to me that this would be a problem. I have starved the trolls on political blogs, held my ground with my polar opposites, and kept a level head with people who I felt just didn't get it. I never expected a negative comment to even put a hitch in my stride.
But I took a chance, and I wrote a very personal, very telling post about my family. My Rainbow Thing was from my heart, and I was on cloud nine when BlogHer's Family Editor emailed to say it was going to be featured. I was nervous...not everyone has a family like mine. I'm married to a cross-dresser and we are raising three kids of varying gender identifications. But I didn't think it would really get to me. As I watched the facebook and twitter shares go higher and the reads exceed my wildest expectations, I also was warmed by the supportive comments under the post. On Saturday I was delighted to see a new comment. I scrolled down, and there it was. An angry little blurb. Someone wondering what the country was coming to, and surmising that my kids would need therapy. Telling my husband to "man up." I didn't realize that comments about my Rainbow Family would bring out my inner mama-tiger, or make me want to claw someone's eyes out in defense of my man. I also didn't realize that it would make me want to explain.
I've never felt it was anyone's business but my own how I raise my kids or what my husband and I do in our free time. But then came the comment, and I wondered "are there really people out there who don't understand this?" Ok, part of me doesn't give a damn if you understand. But a very small, minute part wants to set it straight (no pun intended, believe me.)
Yes, my husband is a cross-dresser. It took him close to 15 years to come to that conclusion, and I have had at least 8 of those to see gradual changes in his wardrobe, and in small ways, his personality. It changes nothing important. He is still the guy who can make me laugh at any given moment, still the guy who loves politics, and bad movies, and too much coffee, and crappy beer (sorry, honey, but let's face it, Rolling Rock is winning no awards.) He is still the father who teaches his kids about records and instills a love of music in each of them. And he's still the guy who holds my hand and makes me tea and can turn me on with nothing more than a touch on my shoulder. It's just that now, sometimes he does all that in a dress. He is not gay, or trans-gender, or a Drag Queen. He just likes pretty things. Since he was raised by his mother and sisters, who were and are all damn strong women, I would be surprised if he didn't.
My son, Happyboy, is also a cross-dresser, but to the commenter, who was so concerned that I was raising him in "that environment", he has actually never seen my husband cross-dress. And he didn't start out in "that environment." When he was 2 years old, his sister refused to let him use her dress-up dresses. An hour later, I found him curled up, crying silently, and when I asked what was wrong he revealed that he wished God had made him a girl so he could wear pretty dresses. He was so sincere, and so distraught, I bought him his own dress, and I haven't looked back since--which is why his name is Happyboy instead of Repressed Boy.
And ahhhhh, Punkgirl. Punkgirl is 12 years old, and she is the shit. She knows who she is, she owns it, and if I allowed her to read these blogs she would, no doubt, answer that misguided comment far more eloquently--and in kickass fashion--than I ever could. In a time where gay teens are killing themselves every day, Punkgirl is going to have every iota of support that Coffeeguy and I can provide. And if you don't like it? Tough. My kids aren't allowed to roam the neighborhood, or surf the Internet, they don't have Facebook or Twitter, and they have pretty strict rules on how long they can use video games or tv. They aren't allowed to talk back to me or disobey a house rule. But they are surrounded by love, they are allowed to be their own person, and they are allowed to be a cross-dresser, or a lesbian, or even straight. Your Puritanical views won't change any of that.