In a touching Facebook post, a Pennsylvania mom defended her son for wearing nail polish and tutus, sending a much needed message of love and acceptance into social media. Her post has since gone viral, and in just over a week it has been shared more than 20,000 times.
Devon Berryann of Potstown, Pennsylvania took to Facebook June 15 after learning that her 6-year-old son Silas was being bullied at school. Alongside a picture of her son wearing a pink tutu Berryann wrote, "My six year old son likes to wear nail polish. He likes to wear girls’ clothes and tutus. He tells me about the boys he likes at school. He says he will marry them and adopt babies. Maybe he will outgrow it. Maybe not. I love and accept him for who he is. I always thought that doing that would protect him from the pain of hurtful words and bullies, and I didn’t worry."
In the wake of the Orlando massacre, the worst mass shooting in this country's modern history, Berryann admits that she began to fear for the future of her young son. She continued, "A couple days ago he came home and told me again about kids teasing him at school for his nail polish, and for the first time ever I considered talking him into taking it off. Into hiding that part of himself. Because for the first time ever I was scared that he would be gunned down one night when he was out having a good time with his friends."
Grappling with thoughts of such a terrifying scenario, Berryann reminded herself of all the reasons she encourages her son to be exactly who he is. She writes that she would never want her son to feel forced to hide or feel ashamed because, "pretending to be someone you’re not to please other people only leads to self-loathing. To depression and to suicide. And that too made me afraid. Why do I have to fear for him because of what he likes and who he cares about? Aren’t we past all this yet?"
Her son is not the one that needs to change, Barryann points out, "I want this world to change. To be better for him. To DESERVE him. Because he is a wonderful, amazing person." Though it is a challenging time to be a parent, she writes that she is determined to continue to support him and encourage him to be the wonderful open kid he is no matter what. "As scared as I am, I know that this world is not going to change with more fear. It has plenty of that. What it needs is more love and acceptance."
Barryann concludes the post with her perfect response to the bullying — more nail polish. "Yesterday, we went out and bought more nail polish, and today we wore tutus. So here he is world. See my boy for the amazing person he is. Show him love. Show him acceptance. Help us change the world into one that deserves him."
Her powerful message resonated with the online community, and the post has since been flooded with supportive comments. Barryann told ABC News that though the attention has made her a little nervous, she is glad that her message of acceptance and support for kids and the LGBT community has spread so far. "A lot of people said it makes them more hopeful for the next generation of kids growing up," Berryann told ABC News in an interview. "After the shooting, I didn't want people to be scared to let their kids express themselves anymore. I've had a lot of people message me saying what a difference it would've made in their lives if their parents would've been just as accepting as us." Sometimes all it takes to confront fear and hate is a little love, positivity, and nail polish.
Learn more about how you can show your support for the victims of the Orlando shooting here.