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Posts Tagged ‘queer families’

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My daughter’s favorite colors right now are pink and purple. Fine by me.

My son’s favorite color right now is purple. Fine by me.

Though these choices have remained static for both of them for a while, they could very well change tomorrow to something like yellow and green or blue or silver or teal.

Great! Perfect!

Because…they are colors. Favorites. Whims. They mean nothing at all. To me.

Yet, to others, they mean so much. My daughter likes pink and purple. Obvious choices, think many people. And, that must mean that she also likes princesses, and dress up, and baby dolls, and sparkly things. And, while she likes many of those things, she also likes climbing and rough housing and SWIMMING, perhaps most of all. One preference indicates nothing about her, really.

My son likes purple. Strange and unacceptable choice, think many people. That must also mean….so many things about him. But, like my daughter, one preference indicates nothing about him, really.

Why is it okay, still, to assume things about my son — and about the parents who are raising him — based on his color preferences. Really?!? I sit here writing this post realizing that I asked many of the same questions over six years ago when I started this blog. Colors are for everyone. Colors mean nothing. Colors are….colors. My mantra. Our mantra. And yet, so very hard for so many folks to wrap their heads around.

Ours is a family created out of love. And we love each and every ounce and preference of our kids, whether “outsiders” see their preferences and interests and habits — and our family as a whole — as normative or not (either way is of no matter to me). To me, the best thing we can do for each other, as a family, and for the world, is to love. To love hard, and deep, and passionately — to love ALL of it.

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Thanks to mombian for once again hosting this lovely celebration of our families.

This seemed like the perfect time to write about the amazingly expansive notion of family that often exists within queer communities. We see it in relation to Q, when he talks about our “love family” — those folks we include as family, even if they don’t have a formal/formalized relationship to us. He so easily falls in love with adults, particularly those who are similar to him, gender non-conforming in some way. And we’re happy to add these folks to our love family.

Perhaps luckiest of all is that for the past year or so, a little part of our love family has been under the same roof as us. Dear friends moved into the other apartment in the little two-family house that we rent in, and the result has been a raucous, joy-filled time. We call it, at various times, the unintentional lesbian commune, the queer commune…whatever we call it, there are four moms and three kids around, which is a great ratio. 

Living so close to other queer folks, to folks who know and understand Q and all of his intricacies….well, it’s amazing. There’s a sense of holding my breath that I get, sometimes, in public. Will someone understand Q? Will they judge? Are they judging and I don’t even know it? Home is meant to be a safe place. A place where we are understood, in the deepest way possible. This little community that we have here, part of our love family, provides just that. And the ability to breathe, to breathe deeply, when we are at home — to be known? That is priceless.

ImageQ, after MC’ing the Pride event at his school

 

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To celebrate Blogging for LGBT Families this year, I’m blogging with/about gratitude.

This occasion crept up on me, as I’m not quite ready for June. And, it reminded me about how neglected this blog is. It’s been complicated, thinking about what to share here, what to write, what to keep private. As Q gets older, he continues to navigate the world in complicated ways. And, at the same time, he is so purely himself — a true stereotype breaker. The identity he grabbed onto with such zeal at 4, and the one that still sticks with him today, at 9.

For a kiddo like him, it can be hard to be in the world. Heck, it’s not always easy to be in the world as a queer family (connecting back here, to the purpose of this post). So finding places where it is easy to be? Well…it fills me with gratitude. We are so lucky to live in a community among many other queer families. To have allies around us.

As I thought about this post, though, I thought about how lucky Q is for the school he attends. I’ve been in a bit of a muddle about Q and school lately for a number of reasons. But at the end of the day, my kiddo is known there. He is loved for who he is. And he can shine.

Beyond that, our family is known, loved, and not alone. And that is rare. All too rare. For queer families, queer kids, gender non-conforming kids. Every year, Q takes the stage as co-MC at his school in order to lead the annual LGBT pride celebration assembly. I see his chest swell with pride. He plans his outfit with care (this year it included a rainbow ribbon braided into his hair), and he proclaims it, every year “one of the best days of my life.”

How can I not be grateful for that? As an educator, I think that schools need to take the best in every child and bring that out. Celebrate it. And for Q, that’s what happens at that assembly. He beams with pride. And in those moments, I can feel nothing but gratitude.

The MC in action

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First off, thanks so much to Mombian for this annual tradition. I believe it’s so important in the name of visibility, dialogue, voice, and community.

I’ve been thinking a lot about visibility lately. Recently, my wife experienced an intriguing event in which she talked about her queer identity with a number of folks who she thought knew quite well that she’s queer. In fact, they didn’t. While none of the details are important, this event has caused me to think a lot about visibility, comfort, coming out (again and again and again) and community. We are lucky enough to live in a community where I don’t worry about our family’s safety. Where I am pretty certain my kids won’t get teased for having two moms. Where I can walk hand-in-hand with my wife, and people know we’re together.

Yet I’ve been thinking of the flip side of this comfort. Of the fact that because there’s much acceptance, we don’t necessarily come out, name ourselves as queer or as a queer family. And that there’s value in that overt action. I’m not saying it should be or must be our (or anyone else’s responsibility), but there’s something to be said for being overtly out, for naming our relationship, our family for what it is. So that people we talk with often, interact with on a daily basis, are not left wondering or are, dare I say, forced to confront our status as a queer family. Forced to think about and embrace our family.

It’s an intriguing balance, and I think I’m seeing, more and more, the importance of being in dialogue about identity. I know I work hard to be in dialogue about Q’s identity, and being more so in dialogue about our whole family’s identity, or my identity, will support him. I think my naive self thought we were, potentially, past that, at least in our cozy little neck of the woods. But I know now that we’re not, and that being out is as important as ever. I know it’s not for everyone, and that we’re lucky enough to be safe, protected, LEGALLY married, even. But for me, for our family, it’s something I’ll be working on in the coming days and months. And my hope is that this dialogue will stretch beyond our streets and help to increase visibility for more families like ours, to open a few more minds and hearts. Because open hearts is really what I hope is out there when my kids head out into the world….

Big Q and Baby W

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tiny clothes, tucked away

Today is “Blogging for LGBT Families Day.” Wonderfully and graciously hosted by Dana, over at mombian. In considering what I’d blog about, on this day to make our families more known, to bring the intricacies, complexities, and beauty of the queer community of families out into the light, I figured, of course, that I’d write about my own family.

And hence the announcement. Long overdue announcement. We’re having a baby. My wife is pregnant. VERY pregnant, in fact. Due in just about a month’s time.

This expecting a baby has been quite interesting (long-awaited, and so very cherished) in the domains related to this blog. You see, we’re expecting a girl. And it’s just been so interesting, from this side of things where I stand, to think about that, to hear folks’ reactions, and to think about bringing a young girl into our family.

And for us, a family where gender identity, and, in particular, clothing, is contested territory, it’s been quite the ride. Contrary to what one might expect, I’ve found myself utterly fine with pink (as you can see in the drawers above — yes, those are our drawers). Had Q been a girl, I would have asked for no pink — no boxing in, no stereotyping, etc. But what I’ve learned from this journey with him is that clothing, in the beginning, is really not much more than utilitarian. Of course, people will assume a baby’s sex based on the clothes she wears, but beyond that, the clothing is not programming her. In spite of what we thought were our best efforts (and they were, at the time — no regrets), Q wore very “boy” clothes for his first few years. Then he let us know that wasn’t “his style.” (Alas, today, SO much is not his style — the particularities of my child!). So this new babe, she’ll wear pink. And blue. And orange. And white. And many other colors. That’s what we’ve been given by amazingly generous friends as we reap the benefit of hand-me-downs. And I’ll admit that some of those “girl clothes” are deliciously cute.

Where I think I’ve come over these 7 years of being a queer family of three so far is to a point of cherishing my son for who he is and wanting our family to be known for who we are — for the love we share, the individuals we are, the things we do for fun, the jokes we find funny. All of that, for me, transcends labels and binaries and boundaries. And I’m thrilled to bring another person into this world who will get to be a part of all of that — in whatever way she chooses to express it. And for today, I’m thrilled to share this celebration of ourselves with so many in this blogging community.

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First, I admit that I really only knew that THIS was the week thanks to Mombian and Lesbian Dad. So, credit where credit is due.

One of the most high-ranking banned books? And Tango Makes Three. Perhaps my seemingly random posting of a photo of penguins yesterday was actually a thoughtful foreshadowing of this book. Many of you probably know it, but it’s about two male penguins who clearly want to raise a baby penguin together. The zoo staff give them an egg to care for, which they do, resulting in their penguinette, Tango.

Q’s class did a dramatic rendition of this story last year. It was formative for him in many ways, not the least of which being because it was at the school’s gay pride assembly, for which he was the “junior MC!” But there was something simple about the message in Tango for Q. He liked the story, and he liked that they broke stereotypes, those penguins. And he liked the story. Did I mention he liked the story?

The other day I asked Q if he wished he read more books that had kids with two-mom families. He told me, “No. I just like all books. I like the stories.” Really, folks, it’s about the stories. Whether the characters are gay, straight, trans, genderqueer — what most kids gravitate to are the narratives. If it’s gripping and interesting and exciting, they like the book. And yes, I do firmly believe that kids learn things through literature (I’m a teacher, after all!), but do kids learn about gay sex from Tango? And are their heteronormative families the worse for it if they hear Tango? Absolutely not. And is my boy perhaps a bit BETTER for it when he hears Tango? Perhaps.

It’s outrageous how much energy folks put into the content of books and how much fear they direct towards said content. Fear of change, fear of difference, fear of the unknown. And yet isn’t that just what books are supposed to do? Transport us to realms yet unexplored? Help us imagine the unknown/what we could not even fathom were it not for such narratives?

Go on, have a look. It can’t hurt.

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This is my first opportunity to participate in Blogging for LGBT families day. I’ve read blogs in past years on this day, but never had one…until now. What a great concept to build community, visibility, and compassion. Which is really what my blog is all about.

I didn’t really know how, in particular, I wanted to approach this day. So I decided that I’d stick with my theme and share thoughts about my mothering journey, which is really all about a lesbian family.

What I’ve found since I’ve really started to pay attention to my own stereotypes, discomforts, and biases as I work to support and raise a healthy, gender-boundary-pushing son, is that allies are out there everywhere. When I worry the most about him announcing his love for purple or fairies or dresses, I’m most likely to be smacked in the face by compassion. Those are the moments that I love the most. It’s really because they are the most painful and cause me to peel away my biases about people and their perceptions of the world.

At first, I worried that straight folks would have the hardest time dealing with Q not fitting entirely into the boy gender mold. My worry, though, was a path directly into confrontation, as I realized that many of those straight folks are perhaps more understanding, more willing to embrace a boy outside of “gender guidelines” than some queer folks. While I haven’t experienced any discomfort from queer folks directly, I have definitely been heartened by the understanding, support, and compassion that straight parents of Q’s friends have shown him, which revealed to me the stereotypes that I have around sexual orientation and its correlation with open-mindedness. So yes, once again I my own stereotypes and narrow-minded thinking come back to smack me in the face. But in a good way, because I do believe that with that smack comes an opening of the mind, a relaxing of my defenses. And ultimately more love for Q.

Just yesterday, as we celebrated Q’s birthday, he received, among other things, two books about fairies. And that just made my heart glow. His friends and their parents know of his passion for fairies, and as opposed to sidestepping that passion and getting him something perhaps a bit easier to stomach as a gift for a boy, they boldly stepped out to gift him these books. Amazing. I know it’s a small act, but I do see it as an act of compassion and understanding. And an act that shows me the support that our small little lesbian family finds within our community. Most important, for me, is how that support manifests for my dear boy.

So blogging for LGBT families…I think I do it every day. I blog as a way of making my family visible and building support out in the world for others like us. I blog to create a closer-knit “family”/community around us for the moms and our boy, and I blog, honestly, as an exercise in expanding my own compassion, open-mindedness, and understanding.

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