I had a friend in college who joked "My mother doesn't know I'm gay, she just thinks I'm well groomed." It didn't take long for "well groomed" to become our code for "he likes boys," and in writing this I'm surprised that we still seem to need a code for that. It seems like an in-joke that everyone's in on. But as with Orwell's Animal Farm, some are more in on it than others.
A certain youngster on Jack's side of the family, for example, was listening to me and Jack talk about my boss and his partner, i.e., domestic partner, and the kid goes, "So they're Fruit Loops?" And I said, unthinkingly, "They're homeowners."
"Light in their loafers," said Jack.
"A couple of fine fellows having a swell time together!" I shouted with glee, and then I looked at the mixture of horror and fascination on the kid's face and I thought, Okay! Time to stop, this is a sensitive, curious, fussy, possibly-gay child who lives in an aggressively heterosexual, male-dominated household, and our amusing-to-us list of euphemisms is the closest thing to a tolerant conversation about gay men this boy may ever get around here, so maybe we should try to raise the bar a little? But then I thought, Okay, if Jackson was at a Very Catholic Relative's house and someone decided it was time to tell him how the only thing that will keep him from a demon-sucking afterlife is drinking the blood of Christ I would have to set that person's wig on fire, sorry. So I decided to keep my mouth shut about the Bean Queens.
But later, when Jack took everyone to the toy store? He and the kid had a long talk about who the kid liked better, Versace or Chanel or Burberry.
Not that all gay men love clothes! Not that all men who love clothes are gay! If the latter were true, my marriage would look something like this, which is fascinating, but if you don't feel like reading yet another obituary I've linked to I'll just boil it down to this: gay man loves straight woman, writes gay mystery novels, stays married for 51 years, they produce a daughter who grows up and has surgery to become a man. Truth, fiction, stranger than. Yes.
Anyway, my point is that we'll follow the kid's lead on this one, because you just don't want to start getting between a child and his parents on an issue that could result in death threats and running away from home. All we can do is make sure that the boy knows our couch is always open, and we'll still love him even if he grows up into a big, fat whoopsie waffle.