This year, I’m thankful for my family, as it expands in very wonderful directions.
My son Kyle is a remarkable 23-year-old who graduated from Yale with exceptional distinction in the Egyptology department; who ran a children’s theater program while there; went on to get a Masters at Harvard, and now teaches at an inner-city Boston school. He’s also gay, but that’s really the least interesting thing about him. For four years, he’s been dating Kevin – a brilliant, socially-conscious young man who works daily to make the world a better place.
What I love about Kevin and Kyle is that they truly make each other better people – which is what we parents want for our children, after all. But the truth is, this country that I adore so much is not always kind and supportive to LGBTQ individuals, and as a parent, sometimes I couldn’t help but worry if for Kyle, life would be incrementally more difficult because of his sexual orientation. Just two years ago, in Massachusetts – a very liberal state – Kyle and Kevin were walking down the street, when a guy in a truck rolled down his window and called them faggots. The year after that, I was sitting on a plane with them. In spite of the fact that a straight couple in front of us was practically undressing each other in a moment of passion, the judgmental looks and huffs of some passengers coming down the aisle were reserved for Kyle and Kevin, whose hands were linked on the seat between them.
This Labor Day, Kevin proposed to Kyle. On paddleboards. In the middle of a lake. With a hand-made titanium earring shaped like the infinity symbol. When I posted a photo to my Facebook page, thousands of fans congratulated Kyle, and shared the news with a friend. About 200 told me my son is going to Hell. But really – that’s a ratio I can handle, because I feel that the balance is tipping more, every day. I am grateful that Kyle and Kevin will be wed in New Hampshire – Kyle’s home state – in which gay marriage is legal. Every time I look at Kyle’s engagement earring, I silently hope that other LGBTQ people will have the same joy in their lives as he does at this moment, that the positive feedback will outweigh the negative, and that one day all Americans will look back at the debate over gay marriage and wonder why anyone ever considered it problematic.
Jodi Picoult is an award-winning author. Her last 8 novels have debuted at # 1 on the New York Times bestseller list.