causes + charities
In addition to Thanksgiving, November includes another opportunity to be grateful — National Adoption Month! Just a little over 13 years ago, we created our family through open adoption, and we couldn’t be more thankful for the joy and fulfillment our son has brought to our lives.
In honor of National Adoption Month, I recently helped give a presentation* about LGBTQ parents at one of my chorus rehearsals. Afterwards, I wanted a place to share the links and photos from our talk, so decided to pop it onto the blog. You know I never pass up an opportunity to celebrate queer families!
I sing with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington DC, and for our latest concert we’re performing the east coast premiere of Unbreakable, a musical chronicles LGBTQ history in the United States. It covers everything from the origin of the word “gay” to the Stonewall riots to the AIDS crisis and beyond. During rehearsals, chorus members have given presentations on the topics covered in the songs to educate and give context.
I volunteered to talk about Dr. Charles Socarides, who we sing about in ”Happy Homosexual.” Socarides was a psychiatrist from the 1970s, famous for saying “There is no such thing as a happy homosexual.” He espoused much of the harmful theories still used today in conversion therapy. Socarides believed that homosexuality was a neurotic adaptation in men caused by absent fathers and overly doting mothers. He also claimed to have helped over one third of his patients become heterosexual.
Socarides died in 2005, survived by four children from his four marriages. In a beautiful bit of irony, his oldest son, Richard, is openly gay, and served as senior advisor on gay and lesbian issues for the Clinton administration.
Unfortunately, Socarides’ legacy of harm lives on, as conversion therapy continues to deceive, traumatize, and kill generations of queer people.
I recently wrote a guest post on the City Dads blog, sharing some ways to be an ally to LGBTQ parents and families. That list could have been endless, but I know folks (especially other parents) don’t have time to read all day!
However, I couldn’t stop at that first dozen, so here are twelve more ways you can support, protect and advocate for queer families and parents. And while this list focuses on families, many of these actions can benefit anyone in the LGBTQ community.
As a gay dad of a 10 year-old boy, it’s important that I raise my son to be both educated and open-minded about sex, sexuality and gender. One resource that has helped me out with this is Amaze.
Amaze.org is a terrific place for parents and kids to learn about sex and relationships in an honest, positive way. Their videos are funny without being too silly; smart without being too clinical. They address the “mechanics” (like puberty), as well as more complex topics like gender identity, coming out, consent, etc.
Below are my top five most amazing Amaze videos. It was hard to narrow it down — they have so much great content!
When we told our 10-year-old we wanted to attend a local Black Lives Matter protest, his initial reaction was one of anxiety and fear. His questions and concerns were numerous: “Will the police be there?” “Will they use rubber bullets?” “Can you die from teargas?”
Like many other families, we’d already been having discussions about the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent, worldwide reaction to it. So I was honestly a bit surprised by my son’s response to attending the protest. He’s always been such an eager activist, whether related to racism, the environment or LGBTQ rights.
Maybe we’d had the news on too often, or allowed him too much YouTube time. Questions and concerns came to my own mind: Was it okay that our child had heard about police firing rubber bullets point blank at protestors? Or that he’d learned of kids being teargassed? Or seen a man his Grandpa’s age being pushed to the ground, bleeding from the head, as dozens of cops passed him by?
I rarely give parenting advice. I’d much rather doodle a superhero or share cute pics of my kid than try to tell another parent how to do their job. But hey, it’s a pandemic, and I figure us parents can use all the help we can get. So I thought I’d share some extremely helpful information from the folks at Responsibility.org, with whom I recently partnered.
We’re about a month (or is it two?) into quarantine, and I’m sure we all have stories to tell — both humorous and harrowing — about how all this has affected our families. Early on I found my son sorting through his stuffed animals, putting some into a separate pile for quarantine. And while parents of multiple kids have my undying respect, having an only child has its challenges as well — the primary one being no one to play with. And the issues my ADHD son and I have had with “distance learning” are too numerous to list.
So how in the world do we as parents respond to our kids’ struggles, questions and emotions in the midst of something none of us were even remotely prepared to deal with? Below are a few helpful parental do’s and a don’ts that might come in handy.
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.
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.
Ask nearly any parent, and they’ll tell you the most important item in their wardrobe is a comfortable pair of shoes. Chasing kids around the house/mall/supermarket/park can put a lot of wear and tear on mom or dad’s feet, so comfy kicks are a must. Unfortunately, fashion often takes a backseat to function… particularly with a lot of dads.
As an English teacher and writer, my mother has been a huge influence on my own love of words. She and I have also enjoyed a lifetime of spirited political discussions. We’re not always 100% on the same side, yet there’s always a willingness to listen and an attempt to understand one another.
One of the first things I remember reading of my mother’s was a story about my great-grandfather (her maternal grandfather). While she describes him as a staunch Republican, both the GOP and Democratic party have evolved considerably since the 1960s and 70s. The takeaway is the importance he placed on voting, another value I proudly inherited from my mother… who obviously had a strong influence of her own.