Columnist Has Best Advice for Grandma Who Doesn't Like That Her Grandson Wore a Dress to Prom

Grandma gets an important lesson on how to love kids for exactly who they are and how they want to express themselves.

Back of person wearing a formal gown
Photo: Getty

Amy Dickinson, syndicated columnist and author, has long received requests for advice from wide swaths of the population crossing a range of political identities and perspectives.

Recently, Dickinson received a request for advice from a "Devastated Grandma." The woman's devastation comes from her grandson, 17, who wore what was, assumedly, a fabulous purple gown with matching purple nails to his school prom. Grandma wrote, "I was concerned for my grandson's safety, as he would be a target if he is so flamboyant."

She stated, "There are people out there who don't like this 'in your face' behavior." Grandma said her son, the boy's father, became very defensive when she told him this, and that he replied, "people can love who they want and society needs to get used to it."

What Grandma didn't know is that Dickinson agrees. In 2013 a response she wrote went viral, when "Feeling Betrayed" wrote to her about how embarrassed they felt by their son being gay.

Dickinson replied at first in jest to highlight her point, "Dear Betrayed: You could teach your son an important lesson by changing your own sexuality to show him how easy it is. Try it for the next year or so: Stop being a heterosexual to demonstrate to your son that a person's sexuality is a matter of choice—to be dictated by one's parents, the parents' church and social pressure."

She landed at the truth of the matter in closing, "I assume that my suggestion will evoke a reaction that your sexuality is at the core of who you are. The same is true for your son. He has a right to be accepted by his parents for being exactly who he is."

That was nearly 10 years ago, but anti-gay letters haven't stopped coming in the years since, and this year's Pride month rolls to a close amidst social upset as the Supreme Court strikes down 50 years of established rights to bodily autonomy. Pay attention to the seeds planted and plans spelled out by Clarence Thomas, "For that reason, in future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court's substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell."

Two of these cases call into question the fight for equal rights for LGBTQIA+ citizens: Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 case legalizing same-sex sexual activity, and Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 landmark ruling that gave gay couples the right to marriage equality. The words from Justice Thomas gives a chilling reminder of how fragile our rights are.

The grandma asking Dickinson for advice revealed her fickle honesty too. "I don't want to alienate my son or grandson, but the prospect of having an LGBTQ grandson makes me sick," Devastated Grandma said. She ends her query with concern for her grandson's mental health, well-being, and potential proximity to suicidal ideation. "Could this be a phase, or will he always be like this?"

Dickinson again responded to Devastated Grandma as only a great ally would, "I have a blunt question for you: Are you going through a phase, or will you always be like this? I hope it's a phase." She shared her opinion on what the role of a grandparent actually is: to simply love your grandchildren. "Exactly as they are, exactly as they present to you; through phases, representations, or revelations—and through whatever joys or challenges they encounter."

Dickinson calls out the woman's son as being an ally and a good father, and asks Grandma to consider giving herself some credit for raising such a good parent. If only all of our lawmakers and judges could take in the question Dickinson asked, "Can you imagine the impact on this family if you just simply loved and accepted all of them, no matter what?"

Dickinson closed the letter by stating Grandma might not understand the choices her grandson is making, but she can use this time to "find a way around your own fears, and to relieve yourself of the burden to judge this family—and instead to love all of them, just as they are."

As Pride comes to a close, we could all use this time to relieve ourselves of the burden of judgment of others, and instead, focus on love and acceptance as much as we can. The fight may not be over, but we can continue to win when we focus on pride in living freely as our whole authentic selves.

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