By Chris Crass
“If anyone says ‘boys can’t wear dresses’, tell them that everyone can wear dresses and lots of boys in your family wear dresses,” I explained. My son, River, picked out one of his dresses to wear to pre-school today.
I breathed into and tried to release the nervousness that he would be teased, or made to feel bad about himself in some way. I breathed into possibility for further growth of his confidence and self-expression, knowing how good he feels picking out his clothes and especially when he wears dresses or super hero shirts. Jardana, my partner, explained to his teacher that we are supportive of him wearing dresses to help gain her support as well.
And as I talked with him about how to respond to people’s potential comments, aiming to keep a positive – “this is going to be a great day and sometimes people just don’t know boys can wear dresses” – attitude, I thought of the relentless, homophobic, ‘act like a man’, culture, often backed with the threat or actuality of violence, I grew up in at school.
And I thought of how in spite of that, I grew up into and have helped build vibrant queer liberation movement and community and that this movement and community is influencing and redefining the world in beautiful, powerful ways that helps all of us get more free. I’m praying that River has a great experience today at pre-school, being who he is, with other sweet little kids being who they are, and that together, we can all help each other get free.
Cover photo by Lindsay Morris for The New York Times