For someone who has two gay dads I didn’t even know what “gay” meant until I was seven. Cause guess what? To me, they were just my dads.
It wasn’t until one day when we were in Hawaii (my Dad and I on vacation, my Daddy working hard on a business trip) and I started playing in the waves with a little girl who was maybe a couple of years older than me. She was fun, I guess, to be honest, I really don’t remember her-just this interaction. I was talking to her and she asked me where my Mom was and I said “I don’t have a mom, I have two dads” and she told me that wasn’t possible. I told her I really don’t have a mom and she just couldn’t believe me so she marched up to my Dad and said “she says she has two dads!” and he responded, “well, she does.” She seemed satisfied enough with that answer so she came back into the surf to play and then my Dad noticed us arguing. The little girl kept saying “yes, he is,” I was adamant, “no, he isn’t”
“yes, he is”
“no, he isn’t”
“YES, he is!!!”
“NO! HE IS NOT!!!”
Finally I had had it and I marched up the beach to my dad and exclaimed “DAD! SHE SAYS YOU’RE GAY!!” As if she had admitted some blasphemy that I clearly couldn’t comprehend and my dad responded, “well, I am.” I thought about this for a moment and then pivoted back to the water, waved to the girl and said “Oh I am so sorry, he IS!” I was so intent on defending my parents I didn’t even know what I was saying. I guess some things never change.
You see, this is how I justify people that don’t believe the same things I believe. They are justified in believing them, no matter how hateful. It doesn’t make it in any way okay with me, but I can sympathize knowing that they are defending what they know just as adamantly as I am defending what I know and cherish. It doesn’t make it right, it doesn’t make it better, but it helps to understand other people in the world and to be able to sleep at night. And sleeping at night is very important.
PS After this interaction my Dad did explain to me what it meant to be gay. “Sometimes Chelsea a man and a woman fall in love and sometimes two men or two women fall in love and when two men fall in love those men are called ‘gay.'” Still not entirely sure I grasped the concept, I just knew my parents loved each other, I didn’t really need a name for it.