"Hey dad!" Theo yelled to me from the couch. "Remember my friend Nick? He told me he was gay today. Has a boyfriend and everything."
I poked my head from out of the kitchen. "Nick? Wasn't he the one who was brothers with..."
Theo made a face. "Aaron. And they weren't brothers. You always say that. Nick's mom just dated Aaron's dad, that's all. Oh, and they lived together for a while."
"Yeah, I remember him." I wiped my hands on a towel and entered the living room. "Didn't you go to the mall with him once?"
"Oh, I remember Nick," said Corb, who was sitting on the recliner next to Theo, with his big feet poking out from a green fuzzy blanket. "Didn't he wear a rainbow shirt that day and try to hold your hand?"
It sounds like a total stereotype, but that's actually the real story. Theo grinned. "Yep, that's him."
"Should I consider that your first date?" I teased, knowing full well that Theo likes girls. "Funny, I really thought that would be with a girl, not a boy. So how old is he?"
"Fifteen," replied Theo.
"Wow, that's pretty young to be so sure of that," said Corb, somewhat jealously. "Or at least, to tell everyone about it."
I looked at Theo, seriously. "You cool with it?"
Theo nodded. "Of course."
Ashes came out of her room, like the cat she is, only appearing when the conversation interests her. "But is he just gay or gay gay?
We all stood there, looking at Ashes as if she had two heads. "What's the difference?" asked Corb, laughing.
"Gay gay?" I asked.
Ashes shook her head. "Theo always gets confused. Thinks guys who are only just gay are really gay gay. But they're not."
Corb squinted his eyes, still confused. "How can someone be only just gay?"
"Maybe he doesn't like guys, just certain parts of guys?" Theo asked, sarcastically.
"No!" Ashes laughed at the absurdity. "It's just, the guys that are actually bi, you think of as gay, when actually they're only bi, not gay, so they're just gay, not gay gay."
We all sat there for a few minutes trying to figure out what the hell Ashes had just said.
But I have to be honest, I was really impressed with the fact that the kids talked about the matter so nonchalantly. It was such a big deal when I was in high school! Not something that you spoke about. Something that had to be kept hidden. Buried. At least, in my case, in my school, and I went to the same school Theo goes to now.
Even Corb was a little surprised by it, I think. Even though he graduated from high school many years after I did, I think even he was amazed by how far things have come in just ten years.
Much has been said and written about the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell and the wave of gay marriage legislation that has taken place in parts of the country. However, I think the most dramatic--and ultimately, the most enduring--change has been in America's classrooms. At least, in the section of the United States that I live in.
Changes in attitudes that are making it easier for kids who are gay to come out without fear and stay out are the ones that are going to spur further progressive actions and positively impact attitudes in the months and years to come. We're almost reaching a point of parity...almost.
Changes like that are good for kids like Nick...and, good for this country, too.
This morning, after dropping the kids off at the bus stop, I pulled into the driveway of the old Homestead to drop off Ashes' bag of crap, as I do every other day. Andrew was in the driveway, just about to head off to work.
I entered the house and poked my head into the living room. Josie was reclining on the couch, sipping a cup of coffee. "Honey, I'm home," I called out.
Josie pretended to play the doting wife, one of our favorite games. "Oh! There you are."
I pretended to be suspicious. "Who was that strange man who just walked out of the house?"
"Oh, him?" Josie batted her eyes. "That was just the...um,, roof guy."
"The roof guy! Of course, I should have known. And here I thought you were having an affair or something."
"Me?" Josie shook her head. "No, no...I wouldn't cheat on you, sweetie."
I winked at her and waved good-bye. Changes have been good for me, too.