Lin Manuel Miranda, Listen to Your Mother, and my trans son have absolutely nothing in common. Yet all three were in my dream last night, for a very good reason.
In my dream, I was sitting in a balcony of our church, while my son and some of his friends played. Below us, on the stage, the co-producers of Listen to Your Mother Chicago were setting up for a show.
Let me take a moment to point out a few things.
First, our church doesn’t have a balcony. For that matter, we don’t technically have a church yet. We’ve begun attending the local Unitarian Universalist church in town, but we haven’t officially joined. Thirdly, that church doesn’t have a stage either. Yes, I’m talking full on stage, with curtains and lights.
And finally, Listen to Your Mother Chicago performed its last show this past May, so why on earth were they setting up another show, in my church, that isn’t technically my church, on a stage that doesn’t exist?
And what does Lin Manuel Miranda have to do with any of it?
But I digress.
I sat in the balcony, watching my son playing with a whole group of kids, from church and school, none of whom knew he was trans. As I watched them play, I suddenly had the realization (in that weird way that dreams work) that the show on the stage below included me. That I had to go out on that stage and read my story, I didn’t know which one, and it was non-negotiable.
I sat there in the balcony, frantically trying to remember what story I was sharing. Wondering who was in the audience, a little fearful, a little excited.
The lights dimmed below, cuing people to their places. I had to go down, I had to be ready. I wished I’d worn something other than jeans and a t-shirt. I wished I’d had time to look slightly more presentable than my typical wash-and-go look.
I left the children playing and made my way downstairs, as the curtains opened on the grand finale of the LTYM Chicago show. Only this time, it wasn’t the dynamic duo of Melisa and Tracy introducing sponsors and thanking audiences.
It was a choreographed dance number, to the opening number of Hamilton.
I walked into the main hall of the church, wondering how they got the rights to perform this. I leaned forward to whisper to Melisa, something about Hamilton and OH MY GOD, and how am I supposed to take the stage after this?
But Melisa was deep in conversation with the person beside her.
And maybe you guessed who, but I’ll tell you anyway: Lin Manuel Miranda!
I thought about my son upstairs. I thought about how he would flip out, he loved Lin Manuel Miranda so much. I thought about what an honor it was, to be in this space with this man, to share a stage where his music was being performed.
Hamilton ended and it was my turn to take the stage. My mind was racing, so many thoughts.
I stood and so did Miranda, heading towards the back of the church. I reached out and I took his hand as he passed me. He turned to look at me, the way that only Lin Manuel Miranda can look at another person.
“My son,” I croaked, I could hardly find my voice. “My son loves you, I love you. Is there any chance he could meet you after the show, please?”
He smiled and nodded and numbly I turned to the stage. My son was going to meet Lin Manuel Miranda!
Only, before that happened, I had to take the stage in front of our entire church, our community, only a handful of whom knew he was trans, and out him.
In front of his friends, upstairs. In front of Lin Manuel Miranda, who he admired so much.
I reached the podium, torn, confused. I looked up at the balcony, where my son was now resting his chin on his hands and smiling down at me. Proud of his mother. I looked out at the audience, at friends I knew from our town. At Melisa and Tracy. At Miranda.
Then down at the empty podium. Empty. No book of stories to share. No words for me to read.
Because for once, I was speechless. I had a microphone and a stage and no story to share.
It was at that moment that I awoke, in my bed, in the middle of the night.
What on earth did a dream about Lin Manuel Miranda, Listen to Your Mother, and my son mean? What did they all have to do with each other?
Somehow, in the wee hours of the morning, my brain started to piece it all together, to try to make sense of it all.
While LTYM gave a microphone to motherhood, certainly my own unique motherhood story two years ago, Miranda gave a stage to people of color.
How many conversations had my son and I had, about representation in public places? How many times had we discussed how monumental a play like Hamilton was, creating coveted, leading roles for not only people of color, but all marginalized populations?
My son knew every word of every song that Hamilton sang, in the hope that one day he would be cast as a trans Hamilton.
And the blank podium, the lack of story to share…it was so much clearer in the pre-dawn darkness.
It had never been about me at all. How my son identifies, who he will grow up to become, the challenges he’ll face, the choices he’ll make, the roles he’ll play and the stories he’ll write…they would never be my experiences. They would never be my stories to share.
I am simply his mother. Here to support him, to guide him, to teach him right from wrong. Here to hold him when he’s failed, to encourage him to keep trying, and to love him unconditionally, no matter what.
Here to make the hard choices about what is in his best interest and to listen to him when he tells me.
It was never me that should have taken that stage in my dream. Lin Manuel Miranda and Listen to Your Mother taught me that.
Being a mother to a trans son also means being a good ally.
And sometimes that means shutting up and letting him speak for himself.
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