Like most fathers, I look forward to the day I'll see my little girl walk down the aisle. I just didn't expect it to happen on my living room carpet ... on a day in which it was in desperate need of a vacuuming. I also thought I had at least 14 more years. And I assumed she would marry a boy. A human boy.
I often write from home while my four-year-old daughter paints, plays video games or just invents whatever adorable little make-believes she wants to behind me. You learn to tune the whole thing out like supermarket music, honestly, maintaining just enough awareness to detect the tell-tale signs of injury, cookie theft or cat harassment.
You can't totally turn off your ears, though, and that day I distinctly heard the strains of Richard Wagner's "Bridal Chorus" (that's the real name of "Here Comes the Bride") being hummed loudly behind me. I turned in my chair and saw her with one of my Doctor Who shirts draped over her head like a veil, walking arm and arm with a rainbow-hued teddy bear towards an imaginary pulpit to be wed.
"Whatcha doing, heart?" I asked.
"Rainbow Bear gave me a ring and we're getting married," she said.
"Oh," I replied. "OK. You look very pretty. Make sure you put daddy's shirt back in the drawer when the wedding is over ... wait. Isn't Rainbow Bear a girl?"
"Yep," she said simply, and continued out of the room on her procession.
I should point out that I am one of the most LGBT-friendly folks you will ever meet. I wear the title "ally" with great pride, if you'll pardon the pun. Unfortunately, I'm raising a daughter in Texas, and her little imaginary game had given me a small drop of doubt.
What if my daughter is gay? I thought. What if I have to guide her through the difficulties she'd probably still face a decade from now when she begins to mature into her homosexuality?
In case you think I'm jumping the gun here, I'm not saying that one imaginary marriage to an inanimate object devoid of true gender identity means that my daughter is gay. She calls several male friends her boyfriends, and if she truly wants to marry anyone at this stage in her life it's probably the actor Matt Smith. Whatever her ultimate identity may be, it's still buried under the innocence of childhood.
That said, her best friend at school has two mommies, and both women are also among my closest friends. She's literally known them since the day she was born. When my daughter asked why we can't go to the indoor playground inside a Chick-Fil-A like we do at McDonald's, I explain to her that the restaurant does not believe that her friend's moms deserve to be married, and that if we buy their food they will use our money to try and keep the moms from being together.
This, she tells me, is mean, and I agree. We've had no more further commentary on the subject aside from occasionally asking how the cows get up on the billboards and how they'll get down. (I've told her they have rocket boots and parachutes.)
After the teddy bear marriage ceremony, my daughter had moved onto doing a puzzle with me. "Heart," I said. "Do you want to marry a girl?"
"I dunno," she said, hunting for a piece of the Cheshire Cat.
"Do you want to marry a boy?" Keep reading ...
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