Editor's note: "Amelia" is a pseudonym chosen by the author in order to keep her family's identity anonymous.
On August 16 I learned what viral meant.
I wrote an essay about my oldest son and his love of a popular gay television character, Glee's Blaine, and how this crush led to him telling me he wanted to kiss boys, not girls. I naively posted it to a blog, thinking some fans of the show might think it was cute.
Within 24 hours it had been reposted and "liked" over 30,000 times on the blog's website. It wasn't long before messages started flooding in, other websites began posting it and people were commenting. The response was overwhelming positive. What I thought was a simple story about my kid and our family had clearly stuck a chord with a lot of people.
It also made some people uncomfortable. Of the criticisms, the most common is that my son is six years old and doesn't know anything about sex. While I fully acknowledge this may not be the end-all-and-be-all to my son's sexual orientation, I object to the idea that being gay is only about sexual acts. Our emotions and feelings, our attractions and compulsions, all contribute, not just our body parts. If my son had a crush on the star of iCarly, I doubt people would be saying he was too young to have those sexual feelings towards a girl. I think they would think it was an innocent schoolboy crush, which is exactly what it is.
Plus, for every comment I've read saying my son is too young, I have received multiple messages from adults saying "I knew when I was little, too."
It got me thinking and after awhile I started to feel like I knew this big secret that shouldn't be a secret at all: Every gay adult used to be a gay kid. It's not as if all children start off as straight until some time later when someone flips the gay switch. We are who we are from the very moment we are born.
The horrible and hate filled words of the Michele Bachmann's of the world take on a whole new level of disgusting when picturing them being screamed at a group of kindergartners and first graders. They are unnatural. They are sinners. They are going to hell. They are dirty, wrong and sick.
These people would tell my innocent little boy (who currently wants to be a fireman-ninja when he grows up) he is the biggest threat the American family... because he wants to kiss boys and not girls.
The reality is they are pounding these words of ignorance and hate into the ears and minds of gay children every day. And those children are hearing them. I know because many of those kids are now writing to me. Kids as young as 14 have sent me messages. So many are scared children, who sure as hell did not choose this for themselves, living in fear of their family finding out because they know full well what their mom and dad will say. And they tell me they wish I was their mom.
I want to keep all this talk, all these lies, all this hate, away from these kids. Of course, there is an inherent problem with that. We can't pick out the gay kids simply by looking, and behavior isn't a clear indicator (some little straight girls are tomboys, and some little gay boys love their monster trucks). The only way we can truly know someone's orientation is if they tell us, which for some doesn't happen until well into adulthood.
So the solution is obvious to me. Keep it away from all our kids. It's my responsibility as a mother, as a human being, to stand up and say "No more." No, you are not allowed to say those things in front of my children, not unless you want to deal with me. Because I will not allow any of my sons to be viciously attacked without seeing me defend them. They will never have to doubt for a second exactly where their parents stand, and never have to live in fear of who they are.
Because since August 16, I have learned that hate is the virus we all need to be worried about.
The Trevor Project is determined to end suicide among LGBTQ youth by providing life-saving and life-affirming resources including our nationwide, 24/7 crisis intervention lifeline, digital community and advocacy/educational programs that create a safe, supportive and positive environment for everyone. For more information or to talk to someone, visit their website or call 866-488-7386.