Blogging for LGBT Families Day: A Story About Growing Up

Jarrett Barrios

Memorial Day was a long one.  After the grocery shopping and the cleaning and the cooking and the table setting and the barbecuing and the saying "goodbye" to the guests and the cleaning (again), I was pooped.  My 15-year-old son, Nate, had helped—some—but mostly had been playing basketball in the back. Day rolled into night, and as I finally began to relax, I realized Nate was still shooting hoops. "Must be quite a game," I thought to myself. A few minutes later, he returned to the house looking surprisingly well-rested for having just spent several hours on the court. "I’m going to go outside and read," he said as he grabbed a book from his backpack. The alarm in my head went off – that sound a parent hears when they know something isn't quite right. My rambunctious 15-year-old son just told me he was going to voluntarily spend time reading – and outside in the dark, no less. "Okay," I said, going along with his charade. As I heard the door close behind him, I quickly went to the window to see if Christmas had come early and Nate was indeed reading quietly on the porch. No such luck. Instead, he was walking upstairs towards the second floor. My heart rate went up (what trouble could he be getting into up there?), and I quietly opened the door and tiptoed outside. There – at the top of the stairs -- was my 15-year-old son cooing over our neighbor’s babysitter, a pretty young woman who couldn’t be more than 17 years old. "Nathan," I said sternly. "I think you’d better come downstairs" – an order he quickly heeded. Needless to say, I was upset. But as I later replayed the scenario in my head, I realized that I had just been confronted by the same fear that every parent before me had once experienced: my son was growing up. At GLAAD, we spend every day working through the media to remind Americans that LGBT people are just like them. And in that moment with my love-struck teenage son – a moment in which, like any parent, I was overcome with fear for my son's well-being – I was reminded just how important it is to share that message with people everywhere: we are just like you. Every story we see on TV, every article we read in the newspaper, and every video we watch online can help people understand that and build support for equality. That's why GLAAD's work is so important. That's why we work with media every day to make sure that when stories from our community reach living rooms, dinner tables and water coolers – those stories are fair and accurate representations of our lives. Because it's those stories that will help everyone understand LGBT people are just like them, and it's those stories that will lead us to full equality. Today marks the 6th annual Blogging for LGBT Families Day hosted by the blog Mombian. In recognition of the day, GLAAD's President Jarrett Barrios reflects on parenthood and watching your children grow up.