It's been a long week, and my oldest son and I are curled up on the couch together. There wasn't anything bad about the week, but by the end everyone was exhausted, hence the snuggle fest. While he will always be my baby boy, he doesn't fit so easily into my arms these days. At 10 years old he's already 5-foot-2, and I have to stretch to run my chin over the top of his head. I'm sure it looks totally awkward, but I don't care. I run my hands through his thick, dark hair. He's been growing it out these days. He saw a picture of a guy with a '60s-style pompadour and decided that that is a look he needs to rock. We rub our same-sized feet together as he tells me about something funny one of his favorite YouTubers said about some video game. He's too heavy on top of me, but I ignore it, exactly the same way he's probably ignoring how uncomfortable it is to lie on his lumpy mom. Neither of us is willing to give up these moments just yet. A decade of snuggling together isn't enough.
And a man in California wants to take a gun and shoot my son in the head.
Matthew G. McLaughlin, an Orange County lawyer, has proposed the "Sodomite Suppression Act." This act states that any person willingly engaging in sexual activity with someone of the same gender should be shot in the head. He does say that other "convenient" methods of murder would be acceptable as well.
Now, some might argue that this doesn't have anything to do with my kid. He's 10 years old. These days he's not engaging in sexual acts with anyone. It will be a few years before that's something I have to worry about. So according to Mr. McLaughlin, he's probably not a sodomite yet, but he is gay. The people who make him blush, the people he wants to hold hands with, are all boys. He's been identifying as gay since the first grade, never wavering. No one told him he had to be gay or was supposed to be gay. He just is gay. Which brings me the next part of the Sodomite Suppression Act: criminalizing advocating for gay rights in front of minors.
So, since my son is in the habit of advocating for his own rights, I guess he'll just get 10 years in prison instead of a death sentence. My 10-year-old son.
Mr. McLaughlin seems to live in that bubble where a lot of haters reside. The evil gays are skulking in the back of society, waiting to steal and infect our children, they think. There are so many things wrong with this thinking that it makes me want to relocate to an island and fill it up with the people I like so I don't have to deal with this kind of thing anymore. The "evil" gays don't need to steal and infect our children, because they already are our children. He is my child.
The baby who literally learned to dance before he could walk, holding on to the coffee table as he swung his diapered butt back and forth.
The little boy who was scared to go to kindergarten, so we snipped two tassels from his blanket and pinned them to the inside of his school blazer to give him courage.
The bigger boy who came home dusty, dirty, splattered and exhilarated after a game of paintball with his friends.
What about that kid is so terrifying, so threatening, so dangerous, that after he gets his first boyfriend, he deserves a bullet in the brain? And whoever would try to deliver that bullet should watch their step, because no matter how big my baby boy gets, I will always be standing in front of him. And it won't just be me. There are a lot of people willing to stand in front of my son: all those who love him and cherish him and celebrate him for the amazing, rapidly growing human being he is. We will not stand down. We will never stand down.
Now, you might be thinking, "Amelia, this isn't going to go anywhere. It's California! It's not like it's going to become law." And you are right. This bill will not become a law (not that anyone is stopping it right now), but that doesn't take away from the fact that Mr. McLaughlin and others of his ilk think that it should. It doesn't take away from the fact that there are thousands of people in this country just like Mr. McLaughlin, who think a bullet in his head is exactly what my son deserves.
As a mother, I'm chilled to the bone at the thought of it. It also makes me think of the letters I get from parents who tell me that they want to stand up for their gay kids but are scared of standing up and standing out. You know what? It is scary. And it's your job. Parents need to speak up. We need to get loud. We need to get fierce. We need to stop being afraid and start being angry. We need to fight for our children's right love as their heart calls them to love. Our children need to see us do it. They need to see that their lives are just as worthy as all others, that they deserve the right to live.
I stand in front of my son. Where do you stand?