When you think of Halloween costumes for a little boy, what do you think of? Some sort of superhero like Batman or Spiderman, perhaps a pirate or a wizard. Few people would think that a little boy would want to be a princess or a ballerina, a witch or a fairy.
Conversely, those witch and fairy costumes are the first things that come to mind when asked what a little girl will want to wear. The question should not be what we think they should wear, but what they want to wear.
We are in a world where there are two clothing types for small children — they are identified as being a male or female simply by the clothes that they wear. To me and many others, clothes are just something you wear to keep warm. A pair of coveralls can be worn by a hearty man or a voluptuous woman, as long as it keeps the grease off them while they work on their cars.
Children don’t think in terms of man or woman or what makes them look like a man or a woman. They don’t think about “breaking the rules” of clothing by wearing clothes they aren’t “supposed to.” They only think in terms of things that make them feel comfortable and happy. So, if a little boy puts on a Princess Belle costume and says “Mommy, don’t I look pretty?” isn’t that just letting his mom know he’s happy and excited? Isn’t that what matters?
And who knows, children often surprise us. He may want to be Princess Belle from “Beauty and the Beast” because Belle is a gentle, kind, and loving person, who shows love and kindness to all things, no matter their outward appearance. Those are heroic qualities in a world where there is so much hate and discrimination. How can we discourage that display of joy? Shouldn’t this little boy, who does not know what it is to be called a “fag” or a “fairy,” be allowed to enjoy innocence while he can?
Today, we would look at this as being early signs of homosexuality. That’s not the problem. The problem is that we think this is an issue. We all have seen grimaces when a child comes out of the dressing room with the opposite gender’s clothing. We should allow children to enjoy one of the best nights of the year. Let your little boy wear the sparkling witch costume and your daughter be a swashbuckling pirate.
If a loving child asks “Do I look pretty in this dress? Or “Should I be Batman?” we should say, “You wear whatever you want. As long as you are happy. I love you no matter what you wear.”
Noah Davis-Power, PR liaison for
St. John’s Pride, and associate director,
Make It Better Newfoundland and Labrador