Friday a week ago, I’d had an unusually long day with Lain and she was unusually fussy. So when Clancy got home from work, I asked if she could take care of the little lady. She could, and I was off to the supply store just to get out of the house.

Around closing time, a conversation was struck up with one of the cashiers, who was off for the evening. She asked how my daughter was. I’d only then been able to place her as one of the counter girls who had gooed and gahed over the cute little bundle that is our daughter. I told her that Lain was good and that her mother was looking after her while I got a break. We talked a little bit about babies. She mentioned that she is still a little daddy’s girl.

This got me talking about how Clancy and I felt when we didn’t know whether Lain was going to be a boy or a girl. I’d said that though we officially had no preference but a healthy baby, I had leaned slightly towards wanting a boy while Clancy had leaned slightly in the other direction. I come from a family of boys, she comes from a family of girls, it was a matter of familiarity as much as anything else. On the whole, I explained, there were advantages either way. With a boy, there’d be someone to carry on the family name. Since I come from a family of boys, I’d have a better idea what to do with a son. Though boys and girls both play sports, one is conditioned to be more enthusiastic about sports and the other about other things.

On the other hand, I would go on, as with the counter girl herself, while a son is more likely to be a son until he marries, a daughter is more likely to be a daughter for life. Having a girl is, for me, more adventurous. Without thinking about it, I also commented that if Lain turned out to be a lesbian, it’d be easier for her to have children than for a gay son. I say “without thinking about it” because I’m in a red county of a red state. A western state, sure, but even so. Beyond that, despite the cigarette in her hand and the fact that she was 25 and unmarried, she was wearing a BYU jacket and gave off Mormon airs. I don’t typically like to so forcefully bring contentious politics into family chatter.

But… “Right on,” she replied. She grinned and added, “Plus, if she’s a lesbian, her kids might get your last name.”

Which I hadn’t even thought of!

One of the “gotchas” I’ve known critics of homosexuality to pull is “Would you want your child to be gay?” Because, after all, if there’s nothing wrong with being gay, there should be no problem there. Now, the perfectly correct answer to that is “I will love him or her no matter what she is.” But that’s sort of an evasion. As with the Boy vs. Girl, is there a preference? At all? And I could deny that there was, but historically I’ve had a little hope of straightness due to (if it’s a boy) reproduction and discrimination. Ultimately, for the same reason I hope that any son I have is over six feet tall, and any daughter I have is under six feet. I will love the child no matter what, but I do hope certain things for their sake. They’ll have a social deck stacked against them anyway by virtue of being the spawn of Clancy and myself.

One of the most amazing things over the last couple of years is how much that has changed. How much more accepted homosexuality is, and how much anti-gay sentiment is censured. I figured that this would happen, and BYU Girl didn’t surprise me as much as she might have in part because of her age and how young people see it differently. Generational waves, a compelling argument, and I did think this change would happen. But seeing it happen has made for a whole new experience. And I find, the confirmation of it makes me more genuinely less averse to the possibility that Lain, or her future younger siblings, might swing in the other direction. That the two really are tied together, and it’s not just the excuse that the asker of the question of the previous paragraph assumes it to be.

I’m not arguing that it has ceased to be an issue. Or even that it will when Lain comes of age. Being a lesbian would mean that large parts of the country would be infertile ground for her to set down roots. It’s unlikely that a lot of the religions preaching against homosexuality now will completely change their tune on the subject. But there will be a lot of places, even in the south and even in the west, where she would be able to live peaceably. Plenty of places for her own place to be.

And, if she has a son, he will be able to carry on the William Truman name.

Category: Coffeehouse

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