LGBT rights, issues & culture, same-sex parenting
As a gay dad, teaching my son to celebrate the LGBTQ community has been a top priority from the beginning. Doing so not only ensures he feels proud of his own family, but it also reinforces the compassion I want him to show to others, including those that are bullied or excluded because of who they are or who they love.
Once again, pop culture has proven to be a fun and creative tool to introduce my son to all manner of colorful, queer characters. Not surprisingly, they made their way onto quite a few of the notes I put in my kid’s lunchbox, which I’ve pulled together in this list of LGBTQ superheroes.
Some of these may come as a surprise, as they are depicted as LGBTQ in certain media but not in others. Unfortunately, few are clearly and consistently portrayed as queer, so I’ve provided context and resources when warranted.
A little over two years ago, I wrote about the rash of violent crimes being committed against the most vulnerable people in the LGBTQ community, trans women of color. The problem has not gone away, and was in fact recently labeled an epidemic by an official from the American Medical Association. In 2018, 24 trans people were murdered in the United States. In 2019, there have already been 10 trans lives taken. Two of those — including the most recent death — are from the DC area.
Earlier today, I received this email from Ruby Corado, founder of the DC LGBTQ community center, Casa Ruby.
Last week we lost one of our own Casa Ruby youth to a senseless act of violence and hate. 23 year old Zoe was shot to death in cold blood.
Zoe wanted to be a lawyer, and help Trans people like herself. But like many Trans women of color, she found herself in the margins of a society that didn’t provide the opportunity for gainful employment.
We really want to thank you for your support through these times. The messages, cards and calls we received give us hope that people care.
Not only does Casa Ruby provide services, we advocate. And we want you to advocate too. Please help us make people aware of the employment disparities Trans people have, and if you know of an employment opportunity let us know. Awareness is just one thing you can do, to help curb the rash of hate crimes in DC, that are growing in DC.
I do wish I could write you in better times, but I do want to thank you. Just making us visible and worthy can save a life.
Join us, and the community, for a vigil against violence, on Friday, June 21. We’ll be meeting at Dupont Circle at 7pm.
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If you can’t attend the vigil (and even if you can), please take a moment to learn more about Casa Ruby. These women need us, and you can help in a meaningful way.
Casa Ruby is a multicultural community center that provides life-saving services for the most vulnerable in the LGBTQ community: transgender, gender queer, and gender non-conforming GLB people. Created and directed by activist Ruby Corado, services include support groups, housing referrals, hot meals, clothing exchange, case management and legal counseling.
Ah, summer! Is there a three-month period more fraught with dissenting objectives between kids and parents? Moms and dads of course want their children to have fun, be outside, and all that other wonderful summertime stuff. But we also want to make sure they don’t lose every bit of knowledge, motivation, and discipline they gained during the school year.
The go-to solution for many parents is summer reading. But unless you have one of those magical make-believe children who LOVES to read every minute of every day, getting our kids to crack a book during summer break can be a challenge. And as the dad of a 9-year-old with ADHD and serious addictions to swimming, video games, scootering, and anything that’s not sitting still with a book, it can be downright excruciating.
In an effort to make story time more engaging — and less of a chore — this summer we’re trying out a new app called NOVEL EFFECT.
Pride this year didn’t go quite like I’d hoped.
When you’re a parent, things don’t always hardly ever work out as planned. You’d think after almost 10 years I would have figured that out, but I guess hope springs eternal. Especially when it comes to parades full of rainbows and glitter.
2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots — the event widely regarded as the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement. So Pride is a big deal this year. And as always, DC’s pride celebration fell on the weekend closest to my birthday… which this year also marked the 50th anniversary of ME!
But alas the universe had other ideas.
What do obscure Elizabethan poetry, a superstar drag queen, and the music of The Go-Go’s have in common? At first glance, not a damn thing. Yet when these elements are combined in the new Broadway musical Head Over Heels, the result is a wacky, heartwarming explosion of fun.
A BIT OF BACK STORY
My connection to this musical is multi-layered, and probably not very fascinating to anyone but me — but I’m going to tell you about it anyway. I was attending Dad 2.0 Summit (as I do every year), where I met that rarest and most fabulous of creatures, a fellow gay dad blogger. I thought I knew them all, so was excited to make the acquaintance of Mr. Gavin Lodge. In addition to being a father, a husband and a blogger, Gavin mentioned that he was an actor and that he’d been cast as a standby in a new Broadway musical. My interest was peaked.
He described the show’s story as taken from an obscure, Elizabethan text, and would be performed largely in iambic pentameter. (!) He told me it was called Head Over Heels, and would feature the music of The Go-Go’s. (!!) He said it would also include the first trans actor to originate a role on Broadway. (!!!) I texted Papa about the show and that it would be in previews in New York starting in June and that we were going to get tickets. It was not a question.
Our family is featured in a new spot for the ACLU! We were excited and honored to share our story with an organization we’ve long admired for their commitment to social justice. Along with Jon, Papa and I, the two-minute ACLU Voter video highlights several other families … and several examples of why it’s more important than ever to make our voices heard through voting.
Check it out…
Racial justice, travel bans, disability rights, reproductive freedom, immigration, LGBTQ rights — all of these issues have been through an upheaval under the Trump administration. And as mid-term elections loom across the country, they are in further danger .
Before I got deep into the mechanics of actual parenting, what gave me the most agita was this whole open adoption thing. The stress was there from the beginning — like the weirdest arranged marriage you could imagine, with a baby thrown in for good measure. It evolved into a whole different kind of anxiety when we were actually paired with birthparents, growing incrementally as the due date crept closer.
After our son was born, the distance increased and contact lessened. Yet the relationship with birthmom and dad was still there, looming off in the horizon like some celestial monkey wrench, a constant (perceived) threat to our familial peace and harmony.
Our son has been told his story from the get-go, as we continually remind ourselves this transparency is for the best. But there’s always the fear of the unknown, be it far off or soon. Fear that our son will be teased for being adopted; that he’ll learn something disappointing about his biological parents; that he’ll throw the “You’re not my real dad!” grenade in the midst of an argument.
This morning started like any other Monday. Rushing and scurrying and reminding and reminding and reminding. Breakfasts and showers and dressing and packing up, all culminating in a mad dance between kitchen and front door. Stashing a note in a lunchbox, a library book in a backpack; shooing the dog away lest she get stampeded.
But from across the room, our 7-year-old — in great anticipation of becoming 8 very soon — asked if today’s date was the 30th.
Putting down a paring knife and checking the calendar on the fridge door, I corrected him, “No, it’s the 23rd” I said loudly over the din of the TV, followed quickly by, “Are your shoes on yet?”
I glanced over at Papa, who had taken my knife to cut up some fruit for his on-the-road breakfast. I gave him a questioning look. “Is it today? Or the 26th?”
He questioned back, “I thought it was the 21st.”
I checked my phone’s calendar and confirmed it was today. I started to explain to my inquisitive kid what was special about today, but then it was time for he and Papa to scurry out the door, and me on with my day.
Like any other day, but 20 years to the day that Nick and I went on our first date. It was also the day we started our family. For a long, long time, that was the only anniversary we had — so it wasn’t something we had to jog our over-40-parent-aged memories to recall.
And as a gay couple 20 years ago, this was the only anniversary we thought we’d ever have. Several years later, we had a commitment ceremony. It was close to our original anniversary date, so we didn’t add a new one. And we never imagined we’d end up adding yet another anniversary to mark our legal marriage to one another. But we did, many more years later, but in April. So now we had a couple three anniversary dates. After our son was born (the first week of November) and we had managed to barely survive a two week period that included our anniversary, Halloween, and his birthday, we decided to instead celebrate on our legal wedding day (in April) giving late October/early November some room to breathe.
So on this ordinary Monday in the midst of our extraordinary life that includes two decades of love, a son about to turn eight, and a life I never imagined, I say to my husband, Happy Anniversary.
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Epilogue: I wrote this is in October around our original (dating) anniversary. I’m not sure why I didn’t publish it then, but it’s a safe bet it was because of the aforementioned stress around that time of year. First date, commitment ceremony, wedding. October 23, November 3, April 26 — they’re all just days. But they’re also places to pause and remember, cherish, and recommit along the 7,300+ day journey we’ve travelled together so far. Here’s to many, many more. Smu, B
For the most part, being a gay dad is like any other parenting experience. The everyday is filled with a mixture of failure and success; laughter and tears; mealtimes, play times, poop times. And then there are those moments when I marvel at the hilarious dichotomy my life has become.
Case in point… While no one is 100% true to stereotype, our family was staying in our appointed lanes on a recent Friday night. Papa and I were catching up on RuPaul’s Drag Race as our 8-year-old basked in the glorious mayhem of a WWE match.
Jon watched on his tablet with headphones so the noise wouldn’t bother us (and so he wouldn’t hear the more adult drag queen vernacular.) This proved moot, however, as our son began announcing the play-by-play. As he called out the names of the wrestlers, two thoughts struck me:
“How many other families are simultaneously watching RuPaul and WWE?” and
“Wow, professional wrestlers and drag queens are a lot alike.”
The epidemic of toxic masculinity in our country is at a tipping point: serial school shootings; countless #MeToo perpetrators; a no-apologies, pussy-grabbing, saber-rattling president. And the paths to a remedy are complicated and met with resistance at every turn. But might I suggest — as a respite from the violence, misogyny, and bluster — the new version of Queer Eye?
The original Queer Eye (née for the Straight Guy) was a cultural phenomenon that aired from 2003-2007. It was part of the pop culture wave started by Ellen then Will & Grace that contributed to greater, more positive visibility for lesbian and gay Americans.
As reboots are in vogue, Netflix has brought the series back to fabulous life with an all-new cast and new batch of scruffy makeover subjects. With the same set of experts (in Food & Wine, Fashion, Culture, Design, and Grooming) the season’s trailer boasts, “The original show was fighting for tolerance. Our fight is for acceptance.”
Being the long-out gay that I am, I went into this with low expectations on such a lofty claim. Yet as I binged through the season, my cynicism faded, side-eye giving way to tears.