“She's so cute! (pause) Oh...that's a boy (strange look that quickly turns into an awkward smile).” This is a typical reaction some people give when I take my son (who is an aspiring clown) into public with one of his clown outfits on. Dressing like a clown is a perfectly normal activity, especially for a kid who is developing his own clown show. This makes most people smile. But some are confused and others are rude. It was baffling to me why some people have such a hard time understanding a boy dressing as a clown. Many clowns are boys. Following are the common questions and sources of confusion, along with my thoughts and feelings.
It's not Halloween or a birthday party
I can somewhat understand some people being confused by my son dressing as a clown for seemingly no reason. I mean, I do let him go out in public that way if he chooses to do so – and not just on “appropriate” occasions, such as Halloween.
Sometimes we are out and about doing filming for various music videos and his web show. But sometimes, he just wants to wear one of his clown outfits. Before whispering snide remarks, it might be wise (and possibly educational and fun) to ask us about it. Most people are cheered up by my son's clown outfit and some are anxiously awaiting his next performance.
But some are just plain intolerant. Even if my son were not planning on doing this as a profession, he's a kid – 8 years old to be exact. Let him have fun and dress as he wants. Childhood is one of the best times for that.
Why is a boy wearing makeup?
Makeup is not just for girls. While girls may dominate media portrayal of a typical makeup customer, boys often wear makeup too. This can be especially true in show business. However, boys use makeup for many other reasons as well. Clowning is one of them.
My son is very secure in who he is and he would be whether he wore clown makeup or not. How do I know this? I teach my kids to always be themselves and command respect for the person they are, not another person's vision of who they should be. Besides, who wrote the book of rules on who can and can't wear makeup?
If a boy wants makeup on, for whatever reason, he should be able to put it on. If you're wondering (not that t matters), my son only wears makeup for his clowning.
Aren't you making him gay?
This is one of the worst questions I have received about my son dressing as a clown. Stereotyping is not OK in any form or fashion and is often incorrect anyhow. Sure, you can find gay clowns – just as you can find straight clowns, bisexual clowns, transgender clowns, and more.
My son is not gay. However, if he was, I would still love him. A person's sexual orientation has nothing to do with who that person is as a whole and has no bearing on whether I should love that person or not. That said, dressing as a clown and being gay are not synonymous. This is no better than the stereotype that all male dancers or cheerleaders are gay.
I am also offended by that question in general because it says that person believes I am trying to make my son something he is not. Yes, I encourage his clowning, but not because it's what I want – and certainly not because I want him to be gay (stifling a laugh here, sorry). I encourage and support him because when he dresses as a clown and puts on his acts, he is doing what he loves.
Yes, my son dresses as a clown. Yes, I am proud of him for doing what he loves. Yes, I will continue to “allow” this for as long as it makes my son happy. Have issues with that? Looks like those are your issues, not ours.
"I remain just one thing, and one thing only, and that is a clown. It places me on a far higher plane than any politician." ~Charlie Chaplin
QUICK UPDATE 10/20/2016: Yes, my son still dresses as a clown at 12 years old and so does my 13 year old daughter. They are still working hard at producing their clown web show and sometimes I dress up and participate. Have a problem with that? STILL not our problem.