Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Coming Out

DISCLAIMER: If you are a homophobe, this is not for you! Thanks.
“I hate God, I don’t know why he would make me a girl,” says my seven year old cousin, Isabella. I am not exaggerating when I say, Izzy is the most intelligent and brave seven year old I have ever had the privilege of knowing. When I talk to her, it is as if I am talking to an educated adult. As young as she may be, she has the gift of being not only a great listener, but also the gift of understanding complex concepts that even I struggle with comprehending. Furthermore, when I ask her a question, she doesn’t respond with a monosyllabic answer like most seven year olds do, rather she responds with an answer that leads to an open ended conversation. She also uses words and phrases that I have just begun to master! Moreover, her intelligence brings about her sassiness. She is such a character!
Isabella is from my dad’s side of the family, which is much smaller than my mother’s side. My dad only has one sibling, a sister named Liza, who is the mother of Isabella. My tia Liza has fair skin and Isabella’s father is a white man; therefore, Isabella is fair skin with blonde hair and blue eyes … nothing like her primas (cousins). When she was born she had “silver” eyes and light blond hair, she was (and still is) a beauty. Around her toddler years, her hair grew out to be perfect little curls. In fact, there is a picture of her that I have on my refrigerator with her “goldilock curls” in cute little pigtails. When she was around three years old, she began wearing more “masculine” clothing, wanting to only shop in the boy section at stores. She sure loved her Marvel t-shirts, and her Star Wars jackets. At around five years old she cut her own hair, giving herself a bob cut with slanted bangs. Shortly after, my tia took her to get her “Elvis Presley” haircut she had been asking for. It was such a cute cut, that definitely fit her personality! Furthermore, in February of 2015, Isabella had her baptism. Her mom sent me a picture of the shoes that Izzy chose for herself: sparkly silver flats with a purple bow. That was quite a surprise! But when we entered the chapel and I first saw Izzy I understood why she chose those shoes … it was because they matched her silver tux and purple bow tie! She looked so spiffy!
Last year Isabella entered a new, private school where her class size was rather small. She began Kindergarten with her “best friend” from preschool. However, that friend of hers began to torment her throughout the school year, causing others to bully her because of her “tomboy” appearance. My sister said that one day she was reading “Pete the Cat” to Isabella. (If you are unfamiliar with these stories, they are about a cat that stays positive despite the fact that he is “different” from others.) Thus, after my sister finished reading the book, Izzy told my sister that it wasn’t okay for him to be different. She said this because at school, through the bullying, Izzy was learning that it wasn’t in fact okay for her to be “different.” She later said, “I hate God, why would he make me a girl.” When my sister told me this, it hit me like a ton of bricks, because at that point in Izzy’s life she truly hated God. She couldn’t understand why he would make her a girl when she had always identified herself as a boy. I began thinking, “Why would God do that? It’s going to bring about not only external, but also internal conflict that no child should go through. However, I am grateful that Izzy has been raised around a family that accepts her for who she is. My grandma, despite being a dedicated Catholic, has supported Izzy’s genderqueer identity.
This pass Monday, my tia told me that two months ago Izzy saw a movie where two womxn were kissing. Initially, Izzy said, “That’s so gross!” Her mother explained to her the concept of various sexual orientations, saying “It’s not gross Izzy, you can love whoever you choose to love, be it a boy or a girl.” Thus, on Monday morning Izzy went up to her mother and said, “Mom, do you remember that movie where two girls were kissing? Well, I think that was pretty cool.” That evening as I was helping Izzy with her homework, I brought up what she had said to her mom, and I told her that I thought it was pretty cool too. She responded with, “Yah I know right! I’m already planning to date my friend in 8th grade (mind you she’s currently a first grader) and then we can get married and then I’ll become a mechanic!” All I could say was “Wow.” The fact that Isabella is so sure of herself at seven years old is so beautiful to me. She’s smart enough to understand that she’s going to go through “hell and back” for being “different.” But I don’t worry too much for her because 1. She has a supportive family 2. I believe that when she grows older she will be instilled with more confidence 3. She is and always has been a tough cookie.

It’s crazy and yet amazing to say how much Izzy (despite being seven years old) has impacted my life and my way of thinking. She has taught me to embrace who I am in spite of those who will not “accept” me. So here it goes …  I am bisexual. Yayyy! If you are uncomfortable with that, well… you gotta live with it. Until next time.

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