Op-ed: Children of the Rainbow - A Celebration of Individuality and Alliance
His eyes are hazel. Different times during the day change the hue to green, seafoam, light blue, deep blue. Each time I look at his eyes, I am in awe. Disbelief that this person with such captivating depth was a creation of my wife and I. The eyes. They are the story he is writing. We only provided the canvas. The rest is up to him.
He is our son. A boy.
HE. He. he.
It has taken time getting it right by us. We must get it right because it is him. It is his life. He is him. His body, his brain, his thoughts, his every second of every day. He is him.
The canvas. It started out different by no choice of his. Had it been his way, it would have been him from the beginning. Not her.
She was born beautiful. She grew into a they. As they grew, they flew out of the cocoon.
Him. He. His. Beautiful as the boy we see now. His eyes. Changing hue, but always consistent because change is part of who he is.
The change was not him. He has always been him. His road, frightening probably. Nervous. He didn’t change. He has always been him, as his eyes have always changed hue.
We love him.
We loved them the same as we love him.
We loved her as much as we loved them.
He is our child. We will always love our child.
Our son’s story is unique to him. Others. Their stories have a different blueprint. Some not so eloquent. Some not comfortable.
That is not what this article is about.
Celebration of our children. Encouragement of their individuality. It is a cleaner sidewalk to traverse than the filthy fucking trail of backlash that is the reality of the Children of the Rainbow in Oklahoma.
Enough shit happens in their lives, the lives of the young adults who have stepped off of the adolescent lily pad into the pond of fear that surrounds their identity.
This is me, a parent with a catalogue of imperfections writing about my child, about people I know whose lives are beautiful and simultaneously fraught with worry. They need us. The parents.
Over fourteen years and the growth of my son into the man he is becoming, it has changed me.
At one time, before him, I was a wall. Impenetrable. Angry. Affixed to the ground because, as much as I wanted to admit my openness I still stood on old hang-ups that I could not get past. Behind that wall was where I stashed my catalogue. It took my son to start a metamorphosis in me. A change that covered the wall. Demolishing it. Rebuilding it.
Through him, I became a lighthouse.
I think about him. My heart swells.
Others out there. They need a beacon welcoming them, celebrating who they are for being them. Honoring their strength in a state that would rather assimilate them and harm them before welcoming them.
The Children of the Rainbow. People. Humans. Beautiful. Captivating. Unique.
A big, menacing, terrible man writes this.
That is what I was.
That is what…I was.
“Son.” I asked him, “What do your pronouns mean to you?”
“It’s hard for me to describe in detail, so here’s a simple explanation.” At fourteen, the wisdom of this boy is decades ahead. His soul, its honesty, timeless without boundaries. He says it the way he knows how. It is confident. The confidence only a person who is self-aware can have. “For me, She/Her sounds wrong when referring to me. They/Them is okay and I am neutral to it. Finally, He/Him feels right and makes me happy. This is how I feel, but it is different for others.”
An artist. A model. She is a They. Identifying as Her and Them. She/They came to Oklahoma for school. Transplanted from the East Coast to bring Tulsa another ladder upward that chases the pot of gold.
A Child of the Rainbow.
It was still early in the day when we met for coffee. Hers/Theirs, iced. Mine, hot. Both of our drinks representation of the sublime appreciation of our personalities.
I had to interview Madison. She/They are a representation of what we celebrate. As a Cisgender parent, Madison is the compass that points in the right direction. She/They are from whom lessons are learned to brighten the lamp on top of the lighthouse.
I asked her/them about their experiences. Our conversation was long, wealthy in the time we shared.
The question that stuck was one of alliance. Madison is confident in the person she/they are. Madison’s instincts are sharp, deserving of a question that represents the loyalties of the Children of the Rainbow. They have skin, more than the cisgender can ever have in a lifetime.
“You’ve experienced discrimination. Have you not?” My coffee was still hot. I should have waited to ask this question before burning my esophagus.
“Seeing my friend…” She/They, their eyes. A depth of consideration. Thought before she/they spoke. “One of the dearest, most genuine, authentic, kind-hearted people I know got put down in front of his peers. It was disgusting.” Madison emptied her/their expression. The replacement was pointed. Her/Their eyes had storm clouds gathering below her rainbows.
“How did you handle it?” I asked.
She/They were stoic.
One word. “Blackout.” Madison said it, powerfully and honestly. A reaction that is natural when a person is attacked. I did not press any further as I could see that a memory holds knives.
She/They got quiet. Again, thoughtful with her/their follow-up. “People have a sense of entitlement when it comes to their views. Pride and Celebration are beautiful. People in masks hiding is scary.”
My eyes watered.
A lighthouse. An island of courage. These are the Children of the Rainbow.
Who they are is vital. Their pronouns are real. You love your child. Love their pronouns.
Parenting is alliance.