The new "Queer Eye" featuring my brother Jonathan as one of the Fab Five just launched on Netflix, and we couldn't be more excited.
The second it came out, the kids and I started binge-watching so we could see Apple-Jack. That's what the kids call their Uncle Jonathan.
I'm excited it's something I feel we can all watch together.
The kids love "Queer Eye" - the Fab Five set out to help men in Atlanta refine their wardrobes, grooming, diet, cultural pursuits and home decor - and are thrilled to see their beloved uncle on the television right in front of them.
They compare it to some of the HGTV home makeover shows they enjoy, but like the personal element. My boy has really gotten into it. The first few days it was out, he made me tea and woke me up early so we could catch an episode before school. The trailer comes on and he smiles, looks at me and says, "Isn't it great that Apple-Jack found four friends kind of like him?" I seriously almost cried. He was so happy, not because his uncle was on TV, but that he had friends and a sense of belonging. It's moments like these people!
The kids know their uncle is gay. They've asked little questions along the way. Like, why does Apple-Jack have long hair? Why does he say or do this or that? I'm a big advocate of telling the truth, but the age-appropriate truth. So when they were very small I would just say, "Your uncle is different and that's OK. We are all different and that's what makes us who we are." I don't always like the word "different" because I feel it might have a negative connotation but at the same time their uncle was unique enough for them to question why, so I wanted to take that opportunity to make sure they know there's nothing wrong with being different.
The great thing about small kids is that they don't care. They are happy enough with a short explanation of what it means to be gay without much follow-up. They process what it means and realize it has no bearing on their life what-so-ever and therefore is superfluous. Just a tidbit that they may pull out and share when the subject is brought up or in front of a random stranger for no other reason other than to fill the void of silence.
I think kids are waiting and watching to gauge our reactions and feelings about things and they feed off of that. If we make an issue of something, they are more likely to have an issue with it.
I know that society is progressing in great strides, but there are still some people, especially in the places outside Los Angeles, who have an issue with my brother's gayness.
Meanwhile, my kids and I are going to binge-watch "Queer Eye" in a house of acceptance and love, knowing and loving someone who is gay ... and that's more than OK.
Jen Reekie was born and raised in Quincy and received a communications degree at the University of Kansas, which has come in quite handy as she communicates every day with four children who don't hear a word she says. This stay-at-home mom enjoys the challenge, though, and shares her experiences in this blog, "Mum's the Word." She welcomes your feedback, questions and stories about staying sane while raising kids.