Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Local Honey

We started this blog 6 years ago. Every year (for 6 years) I've been invited, encouraged, interested, eager- to take part in this. But whatever it is about June 1st? I could never make it work.

In some ways this is redundant. What is the GSO but a blog about our family. Every time Katy or I blog, it is for at least one LGBT family.

As I write, I mentally review the week we've had and the weeks coming up, and I don't freaking know how parents do this. And then I remember, we are doing it... We ARE parents.
This is not a dream but a "dream come true"... (shrug)

With a 1.5 year old boy and a 3.5 year old boy, every day is an adventure.
Every meal is a crap shoot.
Every bedtime is a cliff hanger. (Will we sleep through the night or won't we?!?)
Next week, Katy is away at a conference and I will keep the home fires burning, but looking at the week we've had, I miss her already.

First, a few tid bits:

1) I'd just like to say, that the two moms are suffering a little right now. After more than a week of this "cold" I'm willing to concede that I may have developed seasonal allergies late in the 4th decade of my life. But seriously, if this is what a little pollen can do to a woman, evolution may be working against us. I promise, I'm going on local honey as soon as I can locate some...

2) Pink eye is running rampant through the day care. ML got two scoops of clear goopey in his left eye, and we had to get drops called in prophylactically to keep him from being erroneously diagnosed and tossed out of work camp day care for two days. In a scheduling Cirque Du Soleil that amounted to nothing less than a Parenting Coup, we had him on 24 hours of drops before any ocular pink-en-ing could occur.

3) JB's first dance recital is Saturday. His dress rehearsal is tomorrow night. He has the prince costume, pink tights, make up (including foundation and purple lipstick- that he requested Katy buy for him), black ballet shoes, a new haircut, and he is poised to steal the show. Most importantly, he is very excited and proud. And it is the most normal thing in the world to him. I pray that we get to keep him like this for several more years- where he gets to enjoy the things he enjoys in blissful ignorance that some of them (baseball, football, watching garbage trucks) are "boy things", and some of them (cooking, dancing, wearing lipstick) are "girl things".

Back to the post...
What the heck does it mean to blog for LGBT families?

In some ways, our blog is all about the fragile capacity of memory. I need to chronicle these times because if I can't remember what I ate for breakfast yesterday, how will I remember how adorable my kids were in the first real winter of their lives? Or how will I accurately portray to them how insane they sometimes made me, as I grow older and romanticize our early years together?!?

But that's only part of it, really. I blog for more people than me and us.

I blog for our family and friends that totally support us. I blog for our acquaintances that might not understand us. I blog for Oprah- that she might somehow stumble upon this space and find someone to pay me to write for a living...

When i first came out, one of the strangest things to me was the censorship that suddenly surrounded various aspects of my life. Prior to realizing I was gay, I was an open book. There was nothing to hide, nothing to dance around, no question that couldn't be posed. "What's new? Who are you dating?" And endless follow up questions about any man that might come close to fitting that description. But after "word got around" about me, conversations temporarily got quieter, more one sided... There were obvious school and work questions, questions about where I was living, but then things slowed down. Only a few would venture to the "who are you living with?" And even fewer would jump right out and ask about "dating" or a "girlfriend". My coping strategy was to just put it out there. I felt, the sooner I came out to people, the sooner I could convey this was not something that I needed to hide to feel secure. If it was public knowledge that I was OUT, then innocent discomfort based on a fear of being too personal or inadvertently OUTING me would prove to be unnecessary. I spoke quietly, but as clearly as I could about all aspects of my life.

This was not necessarily natural to me. But like when you teach yourself to be comfortable speaking in public, I just decided it was the way I would try to take care of not only myself, but others that I loved and worked with and played with.

When I met Katy, she reinforced this model of behavior. People don't know that she quivers a little on the inside and silently worries so much about what other people think, because when you talk to her, it seems like she's all carefree. She seems to say what's on her mind without pause. She tries not to couch the truth unless there's a really good reason. Once I fell in love with Katy, our relationship demanded an entirely higher standard for living out and proud. I mean, she's not someone I'd ever consider hiding, even for a moment. (As Lissa would say, "What's the point of having a trophy wife, if you can't..." Lissa uses that preamble in all sorts of scenarios.)

So we are a gay family, but we are certainly not separate or isolated from other families. And we are open and clear on what puts us into this very distinct category of families, but often, we are so busy living our lives, that we feel a little removed from vitriol aimed particularly at us.
Consider this:
- 31 states in the country have CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS that forbid marriage between two men or two women (the acknowledgement that we are a family)
- 39 states in the country have STATE LAWS that forbid acknowledgement that we are a family
- There is a federal law (DOMA) that disallows the federal acknowledgment of our state-sanctioned marriage. That includes not counting us as a family in the census; not counting us as a family in the tax code; not counting us as a family in terms of disability, social security, medicare, military benefits; that includes not counting us as a family in terms of immigration, international travel and protections, and federal employment.
- Federal law is still unclear on the status of gay men and women in the military- Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) is supposedly on it's way out, but until that transition is completed, gay men and women are prohibited from serving in the military; which as far as I'm concerned means an out gay man or gay woman (even if s/he could win the general election and earn the votes of the electoral college) would not be eligible to serve as Commander in Chief or President of the United States.
- In at least 41 countries, it is AGAINST THE LAW to be gay or in a gay relationship
- Many of the worlds religions claim without any hesitation that God either hates gay people, wants them to live in denial of their natural inclinations, or will definitively punish same sex attraction with eternal damnation.

In a world with these types of headlines, with so many powerful, famous, and vocal people that are lining up to condemn us for being gay, when I consider our family, and our lives...
The sad truth is I don't feel all that gay.

We don't live in a gay house, in a gay town, have gay jobs, go to a gay church-
(Well, actually, our church is a little gay...)
But what I mean is, we are just living. We are conventional and mainstream and we are comfortable that way.
We dabble in activism and keeping this blog is one tendril of that activity.
We are surrounded by good people of all stripes, and we feel boring and not "different" at all...

This year we went to PRIDE in North Hampton, MA. North Hampton, if you don't know, is the lesbian "San Fransisco" of the east coast. It is the "New England, town-green, raise your chickens under the worn out kayak in your yard, 7 sister all-women's college surrounded, hemp-wearing, local honey and maple syrup-making, artist collective, non-profit supporting, justice seeking, female indie-rock band launching, queer women raising children, challenging each other to cook-offs, reading contests, inter-mural soccer, and 1/2 marathons;" it is the year-round answer to p-town. (deep breath)

When you go visit friends in NoHo, there are always 2-3 husbands in a group of 10-15 women, but they're the type of guys that are more liberal, intellectual, feminist, or bohemian than any of your female relatives back home, so (in the most innocent, respectful, and non-emasculating way) when you are with them, you forget there are men in the room.

So we are in the car, heading up there (for PRIDE) I started to get a little insecure.
I started thinking, "We are going to J and J's house and they are so, well... cool and they've got the right shoes and kayaks and schedule that's healthy for their kid... And their son isn't in day care for 40 hours a week, and they probably don't even let him have chicken nuggets or PLASTIC toys (let alone Ball Park Franks) and we are so STRAIGHT compared to them..."

And then I thought:
"THEY ARE STRAIGHT! Tracy, they can not be gayer than you... YOU are married to a woman!!! That IS the very DEFINITION of GAY!!!"

But, isn't it true that nowadays, GAY FAMILIES include so much more than two people of the same gender who are in love and/or sleeping with each other.

J and J who are practically gayer than us- even though one of them is a MAN and one of them is a WOMAN (Because they do live in a "cool gay house" in a "cool gay town" with our very best gay friends) J and J are part of this gay family.
Our parents and sisters and brothers are all part of this gay family.
Our cousins, aunts, and uncles by birth and our cousins, aunts, and uncles by choice are all a part of this gay family.
Our softball team and coworkers are all a part of this gay family.
Our college friends, Our Facebook friends, and readers of this blog, and the people that take care of our children every day at their school are all a part of this gay family.
My mom's hair dresser, and my father-in-law's tennis buddies and my grandmother's sister, brother, and church friends that are always asking about our boys... are all part of this gay family.
Anyone that has ever stopped a homophobic joke or tirade because they've thought of us and said, "That's just not true and just not nice."
Anyone that has ever decided not to vote for an anti-gay politician because of how that effects our family or the future that our children will grow up in.
Anyone that has ever turned to their small child and said, "There's nothing wrong with dancing if you are a boy or driving a truck if you are a girl, and I love you no matter what you grow up to be" is part of this gay family.

So when I blog on June 1st (into the early morning hours of June 2nd) for LGBT families, I'm blogging for all of us. I'm blogging for the visibility and viabilty of progressive lifestyles and families (gay and straight) that fight a political machine and a standard of living that tries to make fact out of the myth that gay people are somehow a threat to our society. And the way that we fight (because we are so tired out by working our jobs and raising our kids, and keeping our houses in order) is by mostly just living. Living with and near each other and taking care of each other and raising our kids together.

I am so proud and feel so lucky to be living the life I am living with all of you as part of my family. It numbs the mind. It strengthens the heart. And emboldens the spirit.

It somehow makes the breathing easier. (Like an elixir for seasonal allergies)


Cynthia Terry said...

I loved reading this, Tracy. You were blogging for us, too, and i'm grateful. I know so much more of the early parts of your story, and I love catching up!

We brought our boys (about the ages of yours, actually!) to your wedding. Connor called you "the marriers," because he didn't know the language of "bride." We LOVED that and were so glad for them to see you all as "the marriers."

Thanks for the blog!


Sherri U said...

well, you may be a little scant on your blog posts at times but when you blog, you really blog!

I am so happy I met you at the conference. Your strength and sense of humor brightens my day when you post. It is so inspiring hearing about how you and Katy cope with motherhood and life in general. Thanks for sharing with us all.

Tracy said...

Cynthia, I'm glad you read this and so glad your whole family was at our wedding!!!

Sherri- Thank you! I can't believe the great people I met at that conference. I'm glad we are staying in touch!

Lola said...

T I'm just catching up and reading backwards. I had to go from feeling infuriated by The Red Pickup Truck Guy to this beautiful post! You don't just blog for LGBT families, you blog for all of us. Your blog should be required reading for all the rednecks up here (oops did I type that out loud?) that say stupid crap like, "why do they have to call it marriage? Can't they just call it a union or something?" As if them being married to their very own heterosexual, red pickup truck, gun toting, Marlboro Man is somehow threatened by your family being called "married." UGH, I need to start my own blog...something like the tales of a liberal city girl stuck in Podunk, NY. Love you girls! I owe you a call back soon!