The reason Perez Hilton hopes his son isn't gay is actually heartbreaking.

"I purposefully would not put my son in dance class because dance class might make your kid gay," said internet personality Perez Hilton during his March 27 podcast.

The shocked co-host, Chris Booker, gave Hilton the opportunity to walk back the comments or say he was joking, but Hilton was persistent: "I think dance class can make your kid gay."

It was a bizarre, stereotype-laden assertion, not particularly grounded in anything aside from Hilton's observation that a lot of professional male dancers happen to be gay.


The backlash was swift, and at least some portion of it was deserved. Dance Magazine's Courtney Escoyne wrote, "Are there gay men in dance? Yes. Did dancing make them that way? No." GayRVA's Marilyn Drew Necci pointed to Hilton as proof that "you don't have to be straight to be homophobic."

The idea that a parent's decision to let their child take up one hobby or another can influence the child's gender identity or sexuality is steeped in harmful ideas that makes up the basis of a lot of junk science-driven "conversion therapy."

It's obviously not something Hilton meant to contribute to, but nevertheless, he got a few rounds of applause from social conservatives.

"I would prefer if my son was heterosexual," Hilton continued in another particularly startling comment coming from an out gay man.

There's a bit more nuance to this one, however.

When Booker asked what's wrong with being gay, Hilton replied, "Well, nothing, clearly, but I would prefer if my son was heterosexual. If I had to choose, I would prefer to be heterosexual, too. It would be easier."

There, he actually has a great point: As much progress as has been made when it comes to LGBTQ rights and acceptance over the past several decades, there's still a lot of work left to do. Homophobia, sexism, and racism are still hardwired into our culture as well-connected systems of oppression, and it's completely understandable that a parent would hope their child wouldn't have to experience that.

Even still, dance class will not make a straight boy gay any more than playing football will turn a gay boy straight.

The world isn't hard because being LGBTQ inherently makes it so, but because society still chooses to make it hard for LGBTQ people.

According to the Human Rights Campaign's "Growing Up LGBT in America" survey, 42% of LGBT youth say that their community is not accepting of people like them, they are nearly twice as likely to have reported being physically assaulted by peers, and a remarkable 92% say they see and hear negative messages about LGBT people on a regular basis.

The problem isn't LGBTQ people: The problem is a world that still can't fully accept and respect their existence. A more accepting world can produce significantly better outcomes for LGBTQ youth.

For example, a 2018 study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that the simple act of recognizing and using transgender people's chosen names can reduce the likelihood of depression and thoughts of suicide.

"Many kids who are transgender have chosen a name that is different than the one that they were given at birth," study author Stephen T. Russell told UT News. "We showed that the more contexts or settings where they were able to use their preferred name, the stronger their mental health was."

UCLA's Williams Institute came to a similar conclusion in a 2014 study, finding that the effects of discrimination can increase the likelihood that a trans person will attempt suicide. A 2017 study in the American Journal of Men's Health found the same about gay men and suicide attempts.

"I never have really spoken in depth about how hard it was me being a gay boy in a Latino and religious family and school environment."

Like other parents, Hilton admits that he doesn't have all the answers. He hopes that the nuance needed to make his point shines through.

"Is what I said problematic? Yes! Is parenting and our past baggage and family dynamics complex? Yes!" he writes in a direct message.

He clarifies that he would sign his son up for dance classes if asked, adding that the example was a bit of a hypothetical and noting that if it were possible to "make" his son gay, having Hilton for a father would probably do the trick faster than any dance class ever could. But he knows it doesn't work like that.

"Parenting is hard," he says. "Being a gay parent is harder. Being a gay parent in the public eye is even harder. None of this is easy. But at the end of the day, the only opinion that matters about how I parent my children is my own."

Hilton with daughter Mia and son Mario. Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Santa's Secret Workshop 2017.

If we're to give Hilton the benefit of the doubt, it's because he just wants his son to live a happy and healthy life.

It's just sad that, for now at least, that means he hopes his son doesn't end up being gay. "So much would have to change," Hilton tells Upworthy in a Twitter direct message:

"Not just externally but also in the households, in the relatives' homes, in the schools. I never have really spoken in depth about how hard it was me being a gay boy in a Latino and religious family and school environment. It is still hard for young gay boys in those communities. Not for all, clearly, but for many. So communities have to change. And the country needs to follow."

It's a hard truth, but he's right.

Hopefully, eventually, all that will happen. But in the meantime, it's on all of us to tear down those systems of oppression in society and for us to realize just how harmful our actions can be to members of groups that face discrimination — both visible and invisible.

There's nothing Hilton can do to determine whether his son will be gay or not, but there is something we can do to help make this less of a worry for families across the country: Take a stand for LGBTQ kids, for women, and for people of color.

Hilton and his son Mario attend the 2017 GLSEN Respect Awards. Photo by Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images.

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Women around the world are constantly bombarded by traditional and outdated societal expectations when it comes to how they live their lives: meet a man, get married, buy a home, have kids.

Many of these pressures often come from within their own families and friend circles, which can be a source of tension and disconnect in their lives.

Global skincare brand SK-II created a new campaign exploring these expectations from the perspective of four women in four different countries whose timelines vary dramatically from what their mothers, grandmothers, or close friends envision for them.

SK-II had Katie Couric meet with these women and their loved ones to discuss the evolving and controversial topic of marriage pressure and societal expectations.

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"What happens when dreams clash with expectations? We're all supposed to hit certain milestones: a degree, marriage, a family," Couric said before diving into conversation with the "young women who are defining their own lives while navigating the expectations of the ones who love them most."

Maluca, a musician in New York, explains that she comes from an immigrant family, which comes with the expectation that she should live the "American Dream."

"You come here, go to school, you get married, buy a house, have kids," she said.

Her mother, who herself achieved the "American Dream" with hard work and dedication when she came to the United States, wants to see her daughter living a stable life.

"I'd love for her to be married and I'd love her to have a big wedding," she said.

Chun Xia, an award-winning Chinese actress who's outspoken about empowering other young women in China, said people question her marital status regularly.

"I'm always asked, 'Don't you want to get married? Don't you want to start a family and have kids like you should at your age?' But the truth is I really don't want to at this point. I am not ready yet," she said.

In South Korea, Nara, a queer-identifying artist, believes her generation should have a choice in everything they do, but her mother has a different plan in mind.

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"I just thought she would have a job and meet a man to get married in her early 30s," Nara's mom said.

But Nara hopes she can one day marry her girlfriend, even though it's currently illegal in her country.

Her mother, however, still envisions a different life for her daughter. "Deep in my heart, I hope she will change her mind one day," she said.

Maina, a 27-year-old Japanese woman, explains that in her home country, those who aren't married by the time they're 25 to 30, are often referred to as "unsold goods."

Her mom is worried about her daughter not being able to find a boyfriend because she isn't "conventional."

"I really want her to find the right man and get married, to be seen as marriage material," she said.

After interviewing the women and their families, Couric helped them explore a visual representation of their timelines, which showcased the paths each woman sees her life going in contrast with what her relatives envision.

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"For each young woman, two timelines were created. One represents the expectations. The other, their aspirations," Couric explained. "There's often a disconnect between dreams and expectations. But could seeing the difference lead to greater understanding?"

The women all explored their timelines, which included milestones like having "cute babies," going back to school, not being limited by age, and pursuing dreams.

By seeing their differences side-by-side, the women and their families were able to partake in more open dialogue regarding the expectations they each held.

One of the women's mom's realized her daughter was lucky to be born during a time when she has the freedom to make non-traditional choices.

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"It looks like she was born in the right time to be free and confident in what she wants to do," she said.

"There's a new generation of women writing their own rules, saying, 'we want to do things our way,' and that can be hard," Couric explained.

The video ends with the tagline: "Forge your own path and choose the life you want; Draw your own timeline."

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