There were three of you standing at the bottom of the slide. I saw you staring and whispering as I held my daughter’s hand and we slid to the bottom.
I saw you laugh and snicker. I saw you look me up and down. I saw your eyes stop at my chest and then at my waist, trying to make sense of what lay beneath my clothes.
Our eyes locked. The silence between us was deafening. Children’s screams and laughter filled the air.
I saw you trying to figure me out. Am I a man or a woman? Your unease manifested in banter and laughter. Ignorance seeped from your pores and puddled at your feet. The crows eyes revealed the sexist, misogynistic jokes you told to your buddies in the locker room.
My presence threatened your masculinity as you tugged at your belt, shoved your hands in your pockets. You brushed elbows with your buddy, who chuckled along.
Instead of laughing at me, I wish you had seen the joy in my child’s eyes and our smiles as we played alongside your children on the playground. Please, be a bigger man and see the humanity in every person.
One day your kid might be queer. Your son might paint his nails or put on his sister’s tutu after you go to bed. Your daughter might be up in her room texting her girlfriend as you sit by the television watching football and throwing back a Budweiser.
If that is your fate, I hope you find wisdom and strength to embrace difference in your children. But mostly, I hope you find the strength to heal your own wounds and insecurities in your heart.
Dear Dad on the Playground,
While you were there laughing, I saw through your scruff exterior. I saw a scared little boy who was told to suck it up, to man up. One day I hope you find peace.
The Queer Mom on the Playground