When I related this conversation to my friends at work, they said, "but he was wearing make up!" I replied, "So what? David Bowie wore make up? What difference does it make?" For more background on why this didn't faze me, I am married to an audio engineer. When we met, he was a sound man for a very popular rock band in an Illinois college town. He has worked with dozens of bands, as a sound man and then as an independent recording producer. So, to see a man wearing make up was not that uncommon in my life. Having said that, my son was a junior in high school and we lived in a small, conservative town. Kids can be very cruel, so the only thing I was worried about was how my son would be received by his peers.
Not long after I noticed the make up, two of my son's friends were at our house and they sat me down and told me that not only was my son wearing make up but he was trying to look feminine. I had noticed that he was wearing his hair in funny ways -- multiple ponytails or one big ponytail on top of his head, but as far as I was concerned, it fit the two criteria I had about hair; it was clean and it was out of his eyes. I had told him that I didn't care if he dyed it purple, grew it down to his ass, or wore a mohawk (this was in the days before the "fauwhawk"). All I cared about was that it was clean and that when I talked to him I could make eye contact. But his friends also told me that he had bought make up kits and -- wait for it -- nail polish!
So, I asked my son about it. He admitted to purchasing the make up and nail polish, so what? I really didn't have an answer for that. He was a good student; he didn't do drugs and he didn't get into trouble. So what? I agreed with him.
Not long after that, he started buying the most god awful clothes from Goodwill and the Salvation Army. Again, if that was going to be his form of rebellion, it really didn't bother me, except his sense of taste was atrocious. He later admitted to me that he did it on purpose to annoy people.
I did notice, however, that he was buying women's clothing -- pantsuits, sweaters, etc. Then one day he showed me what he was going to wear to school the next day. They were having "skirt day" at school so he had on a long black skirt and a turtle neck sweater. He borrowed the skirt from his girl friend. I joked around with him about his nice ass and he accused me of sexual harassment. I said, "Well, if you are going to dress like a woman, get used to it."