This post has been a long time in the making, but I’m super stoked to finally introduce “My Two Daddies (Can Beat Up Your One)” — the single, the finished product, the labor of love. And oh yeah, the fundraiser…
Y’see, I had such a blast writing, performing and recording this — yet I know it’s not going Platinum or winning any Grammies (CMA award, maybe?). It’s pretty much a vanity project wrapped in a love letter to my son (with a smidge of me working through my insecurities as a father). But I figured while I’m sharing it with the universe, I’d try to raise some money for a good cause. And I’ve found no better cause that supports other families with Two Daddies (or Two Mommies) than Family Equality Council.
But before I prattle on too much about my own benevolence… THE SONG!
I originally wrote the lyrics as part of a copywriting workshop. I was attending a design conference in the Texas hill country, and our assignment was to write a country song using our own life as the subject. JJ was about 18 months old at the time, and already I was pondering worrying what trials he might face as the adopted son of two gay men. I pictured our little fella getting picked on by some mustachioed, homophobic toddler (I know, my imagination runneth over) and in response, JJ puffs out his chest, chubby fists on his be-daipered hips, the theme from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly playing in the background…
…and thus was born “My Two Daddies” — the mock battle cry of a picked-on kid who’s unequivocally proud of who he is, where he comes from, and that he’s dang lucky to have “the two best daddies that you’ve ever seen.”
NOW ABOUT THAT FUNDRAISING BIT…
All the profits from song sales will go to Family Equality Council, so please mosey over to iTunes or Amazon and pony up your 99 cents. Our family (and others like ours) sure appreciates your contribution!
And if you’re feeling a might more generous, please consider making a donation directly to my fundraising page at Family Equality Council, where I’ll be tracking donations made from song sales as well as what’s contributed on the fundraising page. My goal is to raise $500 by Father’s Day (June 16) — but I’d be pleased as punch to raise and/or extend that based on how things go… more here >>
Helicopter Parenting: it’s totally annoying to hear about, yet I fear I may be one myself.
I’m a bit of a worrier anyway, and being a dad of a toddler has me spinning pretty closely sometimes, especially when it comes to impending crashes. I hope I’m not enough of a psycho, though, to call my son’s potential employers when he’s applying for his first job.
Sounds extreme, I know. But it’s not unheard of. more here >>
- How to pitch a tent. (snicker)
- How to camp. (snap)
- How to tie knots. Lots and lots of knots.
- How to build a fire.
- How to cook dinner, wrapped in tin foil, over said fire.
- S’mores, s’chmores. How to bend a coat hanger to hold your Pop-Tart and toast it over said fire.
- Dirty jokes. Lots and lots of dirty jokes.
- CPR (No Scout-on-Scout mouth-to-mouth — with CPR Annie just like everyone else)
- Camping out in Central Illinois in mid-January is ball-shrivelingly cold.
- Sharing a sleeping bag with your Dad – while lame in theory – is quite beneficial when camping out in Central Illinois in mid-January.
- How to use a compass.
- How to read a map.
- How to survive overnight in the woods. Hint: don’t lose your bug spray.
- How to shit in the woods. How to clean up.
- Swear words. Lots and lots of swear words.
- How to carve, paint and race a car made of pine.
- How to rock some green shorts and a kerchief.
- How to sew. Badges, not ball gowns. (But badges onto a sash)
- How to dig a post hole… and what a post hole is.
- How to survive (in silence) doing manual labor, on minimal food and water for 2 days.
- You can make your parents proud for something other than drawing and good grades.
- If you make them really proud and get inducted into the Order of the Arrow, they’ll buy you a silver arrowhead necklace inlaid with turquoise.
- That Scouts, much like band and ROTC, are toxic to popularity.
- That Life is pretty cool, but Eagle is way better.
- That I should have stuck with it.
Earlier this week it was reported that the Boy Scouts may overturn their ban on allowing openly gay and lesbian scouts and leaders. While much of the motivation may come from loss of funding and declining membership, it’s still a positive sign that an organization as old and entrenched as the BSA — who very recently voted to keep the ban — is headed in the right direction.
I loathed much of my time as a Cub Scout and Boy Scout — I would have much rather stayed inside to work on my Superhero Drawing and TV-Watching Merit Badges — but I genuinely value the ways it tested me and got me out of my shell, if not out of the closet. Religious arguments aside, (please God, just this once?) many may wonder why a gay kid would want to be a Scout anyway, what with all the hiking and bad food and troops of straight people. But the same arguments have been used about the military. And professional sports. And marriage (okay, not as much hiking there). But this gay learned a lot from his experience in the Scouts. And while it may not have been my canteen of pond water, I deserved to experience the mastery and the misery just like every other red-blooded American kid. And I’m more trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent because of it.
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Any other LGBT former (or current) Scouts out there? What was your experience like? Please leave a comment and get your Blog Commenting Badge!
Kevin Clash’s Accuser Calls “Take Backs”
As a follow up to my most recent post, I am happy — and honestly, quite amazed — to learn that the Kevin Clash sex scandal has gone away. Not amazed Clash is innocent, but that his accuser retracted the malicious statements about their supposed pre-legal relationship. Stories like this rarely end with the liars telling the truth or the suspicious being blameless. (I’m looking at you Petraeus. And Schwarzenegger. And Armstrong. You know this could go on forever…)
Perhaps the media cycle of scandals and supposed scandals is in such high turnover, the fact that the world learned of Clash’s homosexuality in the same breath as accusations of sex with minors will move along to the non-news aisle without a hitch. And keep fewer fools from continuing to relate the two. I’ll also be watching Sesame Workshop to see if they continue to stand by their man behind the Elmo.
So congrats, Mr. Clash! I hope before too long (after suing the pants off hell out of your ex) you’re back at work spreading love and joy and silliness to the kids of the world.
And if you wanna send some sexy emails, might I suggest a cell phone?
This one looks nice..
The first posts about Kevin Clash, the voice of Elmo, appeared on my Facebook feed late in the afternoon. Reading the articles was disheartening, depressing and downright sad. And each article (from mostly quasi-reputable sources) was capped by one inflammatory headline after another. It seemed they were all trying to cram as many damning words into a single line as possible: “Sex,” “Denies,” “Underage Boy,” “Pedophilia,” “Gay.”
So I went in search of a more respectable source, one that would stick to the facts. I came upon what I hoped would be such an article from ABCNews. No such luck. Here are a few of the questionable—and some completely irrelevant—phrases peppering the story:
Clash…began using a falsetto voice in 1984 to bring life to the furry red monster.
The accuser…is being represented by…the same high powered firm hired by a victim of Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky, who was convicted of child sex abuse.
Clash spoke to ABC News last year about his passion for puppets… “I have Peter Pan syndrome we call it,” Clash said.
After learning how to sew around age 9…
“‘You sleep with your puppets, you play with dolls,’ you know,” Clash said of being teased as a kid.
Let me state that I have never been that fond of Elmo. I grew up on Bert & Ernie, The Count and Cookie Monster. Elmo is a relative newcomer, and has always seemed way over-hyped and unendingly shrill.
But then last year I saw Kevin Clash on The Daily Show promoting Being Elmo, and was amazed at his energy, his spirit, and his undeniable talent. When I finally watched the documentary I was genuinely moved by this story of an odd, sensitive, creative (and extremely driven) boy that pursued his dream of being the next Jim Henson. Clash became hugely successful at not merely entertaining or educating, but spreading joy wherever he went.
I sincerely hope the accusations are untrue. Yet if the level of hyperbolic coverage surrounding this continues, it kind of doesn’t matter. Kevin’s career as Elmo (and in children’s entertainment) is over, regardless of the outcome. I just can’t imagine the talking heads and paranoid corporate sponsors will allow the truth to win out.
In response to the story, Sesame Workshop is quoted as saying, “Elmo is bigger than any one person…” But if you watched Being Elmo (and you should), you know this isn’t true. Elmo existed for several years before Kevin Clash, but Kevin Clash brought Elmo to life, imbuing him with a toddler’s wonder and loving spirit. It would be a shame for such a lively life to be stifled by the flames of homophobia, fear and sensationalism.
As promised, here’s the Daddy Album. And this one was even more difficult to winnow down than the Designer Album. Again I went for the ones that told the best stories from the trip, as well as some variety. But I cheated a little and included 12 instead of 10 photos. My loophole is that two of these weren’t taken by me, so YAY, bonus pics!
Perhaps as a surprise to no one, the majority of these are of JJ. So WARNING: if you don’t think you’ll like photos of my adorable tyke charming the entire country of Italy, you’ve come to the wrong place…
It took me forever to find the four Father’s Day cards I needed to buy this year. Yes, I said FOUR: one for Papa from me, one for Papa from JJ, one for my Dad from me, and one for my Dad from JJ. I realize I could do some doubling-up there, but being a 2-dad household makes Father’s Day a pretty big deal, and I want to make sure everyone gets all the love and appreciation in paper form that they so richly deserve.
Here are a few things I learned from my quest for the perfect Father’s Day cards…
Father’s Day cards are the most goofy and sexist of all the greeting card industry-created holidays. In my vast multi-store research, I’ve found they generally fall into four themes hackneyed clichés:
4. TIES / BRIEFCASES, AKA: While I appreciate that you work to support our family, please be aware that I spend way more time with the kids, so you’re kind of a second-class parent… Are the burgers done yet?
Keep in mind that ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of these cards were created with the assumption they’d be purchased by women for their husbands, fathers, or husbands’ fathers. So there seems to be (at least in the sampling I’ve presented to make my point) a whole lotta generalization and stereotyping going on here. Where are the cards for the dads that DON’T like to grill or hammer or wear a tie or spend their days in a recliner glued to ESPN?
And if you’re a dad who sleeps next to another dad, forget it. It’s hard enough finding a gender-neutral Valentine’s Day or Anniversary card in anything resembling a mainstream retail store. Try finding a Father’s Day card to a husband FROM a husband. It’s about as common as a department store ad depicting two kids with their gay dads. It’s out there, just not a lot of people are doing it.
Luckily, there are some folks at least trying. Family Equality Council and Children’s Tylenol created some same-sex Father’s Day e-cards you can customize and send for free. This is a great idea and I applaud the effort. My only beef is that they are for both dads together. I’m my own person, and so is Papa. Joint Father’s Day cards might be okay for those freaky couples who share an email address, but not us. Plus, JJ knows us as “Daddy” and “Papa” — he doesn’t get yet that he has two fathers.
On the topic of Papa, I’ve mentioned before the lack of non-grandpa “Papa” references out there. The same applies to greeting cards. Unless I’m mistaken, these cards are not singing the praises of the Spanish-speaking, gay Papas of the world.
I know I’ve done a lot of griping here, so I want to end with how excited I am at how things are changing and becoming more accepting and supportive of families like ours. President Obama, JCPenney, the myriad of GLBT advocacy groups — they’ve all contributed to what’s been an incredible few months for gay Americans. Even so, there’s still an abundance of hatred and violence and plain old ignorance — and lots of work still to be done.
Speaking of work, one of the things I found particularly humorous in the hammock-themed cards is that they all talk about how “It’s your day, relax! Kick up your feet! We’ll do all the work today!” Again, these were intended for men with wives who had their own special day the previous month, and presumably do all the heavy lifting the third Sunday in June. What do you do when you’re both supposed to relax? Let the kid run wild? Maybe it’s just because our kiddo is 2-1/2, but there’s no such thing as a relaxing Sunday in our house, Father’s Day or otherwise. Yet I wouldn’t have it any other way.
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(PS: I did find some pretty great cards for all the wonderful guys in my life, which I will be sharing with them privately. However, none of them even comes close to fully expressing how lucky I am to have such a wonderful Dad, loving husband and incredible son. So maybe next year I’ll just design my own…)
As a bonus, here’s one final card, which I think includes pretty much all of the aforementioned clichés:
Gay comic book characters seem to be coming out in full force these days. DC Comics revealed last week that they’d be re-imagining one of their established heroes as gay in the near future; Marvel will feature a wedding on June 20th between one of its X-Men and his non-mutant boyfriend; and Archie Comics’ first gay character Kevin Keller got hitched to his BF in January. While gay and lesbian characters have existed in comics for a couple of decades, this recent batch of outings seems to be garnering more attention due to their close proximity to President Obama’s public support of same-sex marriage. As a gay man, a father, and a comic book fan, I couldn’t be more excited about the worlds (both real and imaginary) JJ’s growing up in!
However, it’s been frustrating to see some of the reactions these stories have elicited. Of course there are the detractors, boycotters and general poopheads who think all of this is inappropriate, overly political or just plain icky. This post isn’t about them. What bothers me are the comments I’ve seen either A) griping that it’s all a publicity stunt or B) asking with superior indifference, “Who cares? It’s just a comic book.”
Okay, so A) yes, these comics are obviously trying to create buzz and increase sales. The current CEO of Archie Comics admitted as much in a recent article in The Washington Post. The same article quotes the editor of Marvel’s Astonishing X-Men as saying the gay-related storyline evolved from the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York last year, and is an attempt to keep Marvel on the cutting-edge. DC pulled a whopper of a publicity stunt in September with a company-wide reboot of all its books and characters, even resetting iconic titles like Action Comics and Detective Comics back to #1 (they were in the 900′s and 800′s, respectively). This also created the perfect opportunity to rewrite the sexual orientation of a well-known hero. Who am I to complain if a little opportunism brings out, proud (and married) a little further into the mainstream?
As to B)… I agree there are more pressing matters in the world. However, my son is not yet 3 years old and he’s going to have plenty of time to learn about the hardships and heaviness of life. But for now, I’m trying to instill — rather successfully, I might add — my love of superheroes and comics to him. To his toddlery brain, the day’s biggest concerns are pancakes, his new swing set, and playing with/watching/dressing up as superheroes. And being that JJ has two dads, it would thrill me to no end for him to grow up having even a few examples of gay heroes or same sex couples in the comics universe. Because they’ve yet to show up on Sesame Street, Dora or Yo Gabba Gabba. And before someone else says it, those shows would do well to have gay characters. There are numerous examples of married couples, “hetero” animal parents, and mommy/daddy combos on pretty much every kids’ show out there. Hey Diego, I’m sure there’s a baby penguin needing to be reunited with his two dads somewhere… just saying.
So, Mr. So-Above-It-All Commenter, to answer your question: I care. I don’t care who the new gay character will be, just that there is one. Unless it’s The Joker — poor Robin would never hear the end of it.
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So who do I think the gay DC character will be? I’ve read quite a few articles on the subject, and you can tell which were written by non-comics fans. Their speculations have been both obvious (Aquaman is married folks, even in the reboot) and misinformed (the current version of Robin is Batman’s son, so… ick.) It’s looking like it will be someone from Earth 2. They’ve just started to bring those characters into the reboot, and it seems the previously senior members of the DC Universe are now spry, young things. So why not have one of them switch teams as well? All signs are pointing to Alan Scott (the original Green Lantern). His one brief appearance so far (he’s yet to don any super-powered jewelry) shows him as a hunky, jet-setting tycoon, trading sassy banter with his female assistant. Plus, it will make for juicy headlines: “Green Lantern Now Gay!” Green Lantern’s name is fairly recognizable, and the casual reader won’t get past the headline to realize it’s not the same character Ryan Reynolds played in the not-so-stellar GL movie, making the news not as earth-shattering as it sounds. After all, it is just a comic book.
Following in the footsteps of the “It Gets Better” campaign is a new documentary called Bully. Though not due for release until March 30, it’s already garnered lots of press, due largely in part to the efforts of a bullied high school student.
The MPAA has given Bully an R rating for language. But the filmmakers (and a whole lot of other folks) are lobbying the ratings board to change it to PG-13. They fear the R rating will prevent the film from being played in schools or allowing kids to see it without adults, thus limiting its reach and effectiveness. Based on the trailer, Bully isn’t about a bunch of adults telling teens to stick it out till they graduate. It’s about kids helping kids, rallying together to make outsiders feel in, reaching their troubled peers where they are. The message being – while it does get better after high school, it should be better now.
Speaking of kids helping kids, high schooler Katy Butler (herself a victim of bullying) launched a petition for the PG-13 rating that has already garnered over 190,000 signatures in less than a week. While it’s often unclear how much difference petitions like these make, it’s clearly getting Katy, the film, and the subject of bullying extensive coverage — so it certainly couldn’t hurt.
I’d also like to echo Lee Hirsch, the director of Bully, who admonishes on the film’s web site: “Everyone has a story when it comes to bullying, what’s yours?”
My sophomore year of high school I was the target of several months of bullying by a guy named Ken, a senior on the football team. We lived and went to school on an Air Force base on the small island of Okinawa, Japan, so there was no escaping the torment. I was punched and pushed out of the way walking the halls at school; cornered and yelled at in the bowling alley; hit and called “faggot” when I went to the movies. He also came to my house a couple of times — one terrifying night when I was alone, but even scarier was the time he cursed out my Mom who had gone to the door to tell him to leave. I even skipped the cast party of a play I was in, on the off chance my tormenter might show up.
The most painful and isolating part was feeling like none of my friends really saw or understood what was going on. And I was ashamed to tell them how scared I was. Because Ken had come to my house, my parents knew — but like most teenagers, I was embarrassed and tried to keep them out of it as much as possible.
I became so lonely and frightened to go to school (or anywhere, really) that one night I searched the house for pills, thoughts of suicide floating around the back of my mind. Luckily my search proved fruitless, and I managed to brave another day.
I don’t remember exactly how the bullying ended, but Ken eventually moved on to other conflicts. Not long after, he got kicked off the football team for fighting. He then proceeded to get kicked off the basketball team, out of high school, and eventually off the island and back to the States. Later I heard he’d enlisted in the Air Force, but had then been discharged and ended up in jail. Clearly this was a troubled individual, and I’ve sometimes wondered how many other victims of his hostility there were along the way.
While the subject of bullying has obvious connections to my role as a father, you might be asking “What does this have to do with design?” Well, it has everything to do with everything. From my earliest memories I’ve been drawing and wanting to be an artist when I grew up. And by surviving those few months in high school, I got to grow up and live out my dream. As a bonus, I have gotten to work for many companies and organizations that help children. And I got to be a dad, and to teach my son all about color and drawing and super heroes and music and helping others. My hope is to also teach JJ to not only stand up for himself when he can, but to ask for help when he can’t.
In addition to signing the petition and supporting the film, I encourage you to share your story, whether it’s here, in the petition’s comments, or with family and friends.
If you’re in the DC area Saturday, February 18th, grab the whole family and go see “The Kids Are All Right” performed by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington! As a member of this chorus, I can tell you it’s not often the phrase “family-friendly” is used to describe one of our shows… but “Kids” will be a great evening of music with a message: Be who you were born to be!
The concert features songs and stories about growing up “different” — and not just surviving, but overcoming adversity to enjoy and embrace our individuality.
Two big highlights of the show will include a mini-musical based on the children’s book “Oliver Button Is A Sissy,” narrated by Candace Gingrich-Jones (half-sister of a certain soon-to-be former presidential candidate); as well as a performance by Dreams of Hope, a Pittsburgh performing arts group of LGBT youth and their allies. They will present a segment from their original show “Being In, Being Out” about the journey we all take to belong.
As part of the chorus’ GenOUT program, free tickets are available for high school students, their teachers and parents. Learn more about GMCW’s youth outreach program and request tickets at www.gmcw.org/outreach/genout
And check out this fun little animation. Not my creation (although the logos are), but darned if that first photo that appears isn’t familiar…
THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT
Saturday, February 18, 2012
730 21st Street NW • Washington DC
INFO / TICKETS