Mother Lori Duron wrote an emotional essay for The Huffington Post about her 11-year-old son’s best friend ‘dumping’ him because he’s gay.
She describes comforting her son, C.J., who cried in her arms all night after his best friend at school ‘broke his heart.’
C.J.’s best friend at school was a girl named Allie.
‘My family doesn’t hang out with gay people, so I’m not going to hang out with you anymore,’ Allie allegedly told C.J. after school one day.
C.J. was shocked and confused, and couldn’t say anything in response.
‘We’ve known Allie’s family casually for nine years, in the way you know a family when you raise children together in the suburbs. C.J. has gone to school with Allie for half his life. She’s always known that he’s a gender-creative boy who likes “girl things,”’ Duron wrote.
‘It turns out that while Allie and her family had apparently been (at least somewhat) OK with C.J.’s gender creativity, they aren’t OK if he’s gay.’
‘She just said it. She said her family doesn’t hang out with gay people, so she can’t hang out with me. She says I’m the only gay person she knows, and she doesn’t want to know me. She says that all of our friends will be her friends now because she is more popular than I am,’ C.J. explained to his mother while crying.
‘At this point in his life, C.J. doesn’t talk much about his sexual orientation,’ Duron writes. ‘He’s not yet a romantic or sexual being; he’s an 11-year old boy with lots of time to figure out who he is attracted to while having our unconditional love and support. When he does talk about it, sometimes he says he’s gay. Sometimes he says he’s half gay and half bisexual. Sometimes he says, “I’m just me!”’
‘Whatever his future sexuality, that day, homophobia turned my son into devastation personified.’
‘Like almost all LGBTQ and gender-expansive people, C.J. has learned to live life ignoring the stares, snickers and snide comments of strangers. He can brush off invasive questions and critiquing quips from classmates with a certain amount of ease. But facing hostility from one of the most important people in his life ― one of his best friends ― was something he’d never had to deal with. It put a gash in his heart that may never heal completely.’
Duron recalls her gut impulse being to ‘lash out.’
‘I wanted to send Allie’s mom questioning texts. I wanted to point out Allie’s flaws to C.J. and return the birthday present she handed him with a smile a few days earlier. I wanted to erase all the play dates they’d had and the crafts they’d made. I wanted to delete the pictures they took with Santa at Christmastime,’ she wrote.
‘I knew I wasn’t thinking rationally with my brain; I was feeling with my heart. I reminded myself of the lesson we teach both of our sons: We can’t let hate breed hate. But that’s easier said than done.’
C.J. and Allie’s friendship
‘C.J. doesn’t feel shame about liking makeup or thinking boys are cute. Allie had seen more of that this school year. A few months ago, she was the first person outside of our family whom C.J. had told he might be gay. She was a little uncomfortable, but their friendship carried on. After the movie “Wonder” came out, they discovered they both had a crush on the male co-star. Allie thought it was weird, but also totally understandable because the boy was so cute.’
‘I guess there had only been little hints of gay up until just before the big breakup. Then, Allie got in trouble when her parents caught her reading my blog about raising a gender-creative child on her iPad. Days later, she attended C.J.’s birthday party and there were gay people among the partygoers. During the party, C.J. randomly told her that he couldn’t wait for OC Pride (our local Pride event) and that she should go, because Pride is so much fun.’
‘Either Allie decided she was too uncomfortable with C.J.’s non-heteronormative identity to be friends with him, or her parents made the decision for her, because the next day their friendship was over ― but C.J.’s physical and emotional pain had just begun.’
Duron continues her essay describing C.J.’s heartbreak and having to console him. She told him she wished she could take his pain away. He responded saying, ‘I know. But you can’t take away the gay.’
‘I wished Allie and her parents could witness that moment. Would it prompt them to reconsider their phobias? Would they change their minds? Would they see that my tender-souled boy is a great person to have in their lives? Would they see that I’m teaching my child to love while they’re teaching their child to hate?’ Duron wonders.
‘At times, C.J. was inconsolable. I watched him shivering on the couch and struggling to catch his breath between sobs. This is one of the reasons why some LGBTQ and gender-expansive kids kill themselves. This is why some of them sink into depression, turn to drugs, drop out of school and participate in unsafe sexual situations. This is why some mothers with children like mine find their arms empty one day.’
A mother’s worrying
‘I worry that C.J. can’t take this kind of pain and rejection for years on end. He can’t have nights like this multiplied by seven more years of school and an infinite number of classmates who will hate him for who he loves and what he wears.’
Duron dropped C.J. off at school the next day and watched him enter the building with his head hung low. She teared up while driving to work, wondering who would befriend her son.
If you or someone you know is being bullied because of their LGBTI identity, the following hotlines could help.
LGBT NATIONAL YOUTH TALKLINE: 1-800-246-7743
The Trevor Project: 866-488-7386
The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender National Hotline: (888) 843-4564
Resources by State by Lambda Legal
LGBT Youthline: 1.800.268.9688