My son is six years-old.
Right now, he loves his mommy and his pet cat, red Converse sneakers and anything that has an engine. Before we go to bed at night, he sometimes tells me that when he grows up, he wants to be a daddy and other times he tells me he wants to be a firefighter or a paleontologist. I love dreaming about the things he will be one day. I can’t wait to see who he becomes and what he does in life.
But I am terrified my son will tell me one day that he identifies as gay, bisexual or transgendered - not because I give a flying rat’s ass who my child chooses to love but because I don’t want him to be exposed to the hate, fear, bigotry and isolation that so many of my LGBTQ friends have experienced.
I am ashamed of the world we live in.
I am disgusted to know that we continue to ask women what they were wearing when they were raped, but we don’t ask a person buying a gun what they want to do with it.
I am horrified that, in 2016, our news feeds and conversations are bombarded with sadness, terror and hatred.
I want my son to live in a world where he can love who he chooses; love without fear. I want him to be who he is, without being subject to hate if he happens to be “different.” I want him to live his life on his terms, to be happy, to be accepted.
I am terrified that the phone will ring one day, and I’ll learn that he has been beaten or sexually assaulted.
I’m scared he will commit suicide as a result of bullying or ridicule, and while these things can most certainly happen regardless of his sexual preferences or how he identifies, I’m not stupid enough to think being gay wouldn't increase the chances of bullying and abuse.
And it makes me so very sad that I've thought these things. My heart aches that these are my fears, and my stomach turns because others are living this reality right now.
I once naively believed that we looked back on the horrors of the Holocaust and thought, My gosh, how barbaric. We can't let these things happen - we can't let fear and hate rule us.
I once believed that we wouldn’t let these atrocities happen again, and yet it’s happening. It is happening over and over and over.
The devastation I felt when I read the news from Orlando this week was gutting. That so many people - so many beautiful, innocent people - were killed in a senseless act of hatred is beyond words. That innocent people are hated and murdered for who they love, the colour of their skin or the way they worship is beyond my realm of understanding. There is so much hate, and so little understanding, so little acceptance.
It makes me lose hope.
If my son tells me he’s gay, bisexual, transgendered or that he wants to be a purple unicorn, I will love him as I always have. I will support him and be proud of him and I will watch as he becomes his own person.
But, if he one day tells me these things, I will love and support him with fear in my heart, because despite the fact that we can go to the moon and create cars that park themselves and robots to clean our floors, we haven’t figured out acceptance.
We still haven’t figured out love.