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Archive for November, 2008

Angela, over at queerbabymaking, is creating a fabulous project about what it means to be a “girl.” Really from all perspectives.

I think it’s definitely a “sister post” in that it’s all about expanding our notions of gender and gender expression.

Check it out, submit your photos. Help this expansion of thought.

(And just for the record, when I recently wore a white stretchy headband to keep my too-long hair out of my eyes, Q said, “Oh mom, I LOVE your headband. It’s such a great style!” Just to keep you up with examples of our household expanded notion of “boy.”)

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For this blog was #86 on WordPress growing blogs this week. Yowzers!

Keep growing, baby blog, keep growing.

(it’s good to celebrate the small things, I say)

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Something I love about mothering Q and being openly supportive of who he is, how he differs from social norms, etc, is that I get to be an opening for others to share their similar experiences with me.

Friends who write about their sons playing with gender, wearing dresses, wanting to be girls, etc, to others who ask how I explain certain situations to Q that involve gendered (or otherwise) stereotypes. Or even to the teachers who share with me ways that they open up dialogue in the classroom so that Q feels welcome with all of the sides of his identity.

I think that he and this journey push people along their own journies, and I like to think of myself a bit as a hitching post for some folks. A place to rest and gather themselves. To refuel knowing that they are not alone on this path.

img_19231

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I’ve written before about the relative safety of our lives here. Q rarely gets comments about how he dresses, who he plays with, what he likes to play. We don’t get comments about being a queer family. There are others like us around. All in all, we are extremely lucky to have been able to create this life for ourselves.

So, I’m always particularly intrigued when there are those tiny comments. Mostly in the form of insinuations. The latest type of insinuation is about right and wrong. A few times folks have commented on Q wearing either the “right” clothing or the “wrong” clothing. I think it’s often cloaked. Something like, “skirts aren’t good for running around and sliding,” or something like that. But really it’s a comment about the skirt, because generally girls don’t get those kinds of comments if they are wearing skirts. So, a few of those have crept in recently. They interest me because of the insinuation in the comment, but also because I think that insinuation is actually not always conscious. Sometimes, but not always.

And though I know it’s conscious, the conversation about Proposition 8 is also one full of insinuations. Straight marriage is best for children. Insinuation: gay marriage is bad for children. Another insinuation: marriage creates a certain home environment. Why don’t we just tear off the layers and talk about the homes that are best for children? Unfortunately, that would completely pull the foundation out from under the pro-prop 8 arguments, of course. So the arguments insinuate instead.

The ultimate shame, though, is that these insinuations are insidious. Insinuations about skirts being wrong for boys plants seeds among boys who wear them and boys who don’t about what the “right” thing is for them to wear. This, as opposed to focusing on the core, which is about kids wearing things that make them feel self-expressed.

Insinuations about good marriage only being between a man and a woman plant seeds that there is a “right” kind of marriage and a “wrong” kind of marriage. This, as opposed to focusing on the importance of codifying loving relationships.

I watch for those insinuations around my boy, and I hope that more of us watch for them in the messages that fly around us every day.

Listen carefully

Listen carefully

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That our community may prevail.

That our voices from the weekend, from days prior, years prior, decades past, were heard.

That the world actually WILL continue to be safer for Q and other children.

That the boxes so many folks try to shove our children into, our relationships into, and our world into, may, in fact, be crumbling.

Please….

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/11/17/BAGP1467MF.DTL&type=politics&tsp=1

Let's stop that rain on our parade!

Please end the rain on our parade!

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Yesterday my family, our friends, and about 5000 others in Boston braved the drenching rains to stand and speak in protest against the passage of Proposition 8 in California.

As I explained the issue to Q, as well as the rally, he instantly took up the cause. “I insist that they stop that law in 2 weeks!” There was fervor in his declaration, although I can’t speak for the two week timeframe….

We made signs, suited up for rain (Q’s least favorite weather), and made a day of it with dear friends.

Having grown up in the midst of protests, with nary a month going by that I wasn’t riding my father’s shoulders, walking begrudgingly, roller skating, or chanting heartily in a march, I’m glad Q had his first opportunity to rally and take a stand on Saturday. He knew that we were protesting stereotypes. And I know that he felt proud to stand among the many.

Please enjoy a little photo journey of our day:

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Seeing the differences

One of the amazing bonuses to being Q’s mom is how he has helped me to see even more of the engrained, gendered roles out there in the world. Not that I can say I bought into gendered roles at all prior to him coming along, but having him has shone a light on all of those things. Things as simple as messages that insinuate that women are the chefs in families. Or that men are the sports fans. Seemingly benign, but not really, when you dig deep down.

Since the election I can’t stop thinking about the passage of Proposition 8 and how it removes the chance that queer folks had for equality in the domain of marriage. Now gay marriage in CA, MA, and now CT is still far from equal in terms of federal law, but it is/was such a huge step in that direction. The passage of Prop 8, however, is yet another way that we’re sending messages to children and others about differences. If you’re queer you’re not entitled to things that straight folks are. You’re not as good. You’re not deserving. These are messages similar to “women are the chefs,” only magnified about 1000 times.

So please take action. We’ll be protesting on Saturday. Please join us in your own cities and towns. Or spread the word. Or right a letter. Something. This is the time for action. Right now. Not next week or next year. Help to fight the messages that are children are getting about how they can live their lives in the future, how their friends can live their lives, how their parents should live their lives.

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Tempered Joy

Today I’ve been thinking a lot about labels. Folks around the newsmedia have been speculating whether the election of Obama (wahoo!) means that we are now in a “post-racial America.” I definitely do not think that even the election of an African-American man for president can rectify the racial inequities in our country. From differences in housing, job, and employment opportunities, to the quality of education available to many children of color. There clearly remain these inequalities. But, thinking just about the election, I was intrigued to hear that race played a role in the majority of folks’ voting decisions, BUT it did not play a negative role. Namely, those for whom race was a factor were more likely to vote for Obama.

So where do the labels come in? I’m impressed with many in the country that they were able to move beyond whatever associations they might have, or might have been taught, or might have heard implied with racial labels. I do not rest easy, of course, because there is just too much hate out there. But I’m definitely in awe.

And yet. And it’s a big yet. There’s proposition 8 in California. Here’s what astounds me: The very same folks who voted overwhelmingly for Obama voted FOR a ballot measure taking AWAY the rights of gay and lesbian folks to marry in the state. Now there are still a few votes to be counted, but it doesn’t look good. And I think the labels play a huge role in this. There’s fear that gay marriage means that non-gay marriage will lose its clout. Or its sanctity. Or something. Or that making marriage legal for everyone means that kids will learn about sexual orientation in school (and that is bad because….?) or actually learn about g*ay s*x in school. How one gets from a civil rights issue to instruction about s*x is beyond me. It really is. And I often am able to be open-minded.

The LGBT label is still a threatening and scary one to many, many folks. To the majority of folks in California. Applying that label to the idea of marriage is a threat to them. It brings their own marriages too close to the lives of GLBT folks. So they voted for the measure out of fear. Fear of the label and all the meaning that it carries for them.

So, while I’m so very humbled that our country was able to look beyond racial labels last night in the election, my joy is tempered by the willingness of folks to take away the rights of a group living within another label. Slapping labels on others is limiting. But more limiting is when you take away the rights of those folks because of that label. So those last uncounted votes: I have a glimmer of hope that they will help to keep the rights of families/marriages like mine intact. That they will help to expand the marriage label. And really that they will just let families and couples be. Just be.

Keep your labels off my family!

Keep your labels off my family!

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Shameless plug

I posted over at my other, oft-ignored blog today. It’s about community, which relates to this here blog. And politics. Which does, in a one-step-removed kind of way. And voting. That link you’ll have to make on your own.

Come on over for today.

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“Mom, I HATE all of my sweatshirts with this outfit.”

“None of my shoes match this outfit.”**

Outfit?!?!? Who knew that I (and my lovely wife) could raise a boy so concerned about outfits. And matching. And having just the right thing to go together.

In case you were wondering, shoes like this

or something like this, at least

or something like this, at least

do NOT match green pants. Or grey pants. Or jeans.

Silly me. I thought that when you got new shoes you were excited about, especially as a kid, you wear them all the time. I guess I missed the memo. Or at least the memo that came with my uber-fashion-conscious kiddo.

So I’m learning. Slowly. It seems. And taking many deep breaths when we apparently don’t have just the right sweatshirt to go under the vest with the pants and the RIGHT shoes (hiking boots).

I guess Q is sending me the memo loud and clear now. I just have to remember to read between the lines. Oh, and don’t forget the fine print about sweatshirts.

**These, my friends, is the kind of statement I expected to hear, perhaps around 13. But five? Are you kidding? If this is five, I fear thirteen. Oy!

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