Scroll To Top
Voices

Look, Ma! I'm
blending in

Look, Ma! I'm
blending in

Bouley_13

Of course gay and lesbian moms and dads should have been a part of the White House Easter Egg roll--haven't they always been? If we want to be treated like everyone else, why make a big deal out of it?

I love Easter. In fact, I love all theme parties. I'm not Christian; hell, I'm an atheist. But I do love pomp and circumstance. This Easter I made five Easter baskets: one for me; one for Jake and Heather, my niece and nephew who live with me; one for Devon, a long story; and one for my quasi-boyfriend, Amspaugh. Then I roasted lamb stuffed with garlic in my Ronco Set It and Forget It, boiled finger potatoes, steamed vegetables, made Egyptian mint sauce, homemade gravy, rolls, salad with fresh pineapple, pears, macadamia nuts, and a homemade berry-olive oil vinegarette. Could I be more gay?

We even colored eggs and used sponges to stipple them and then put hats and faces on them. It made for a fun and very gay day.

That night I was on air at KGO-AM 810 San Francisco. It's where I work. The show was going fine until a caller asked my opinion on the gay and lesbian families that showed up en masse at the White House for the annual Easter Egg roll. The caller, of course, thought I'd be gushing with positive emotions about this show of solidarity.

Say it with me: poppycock.

I thought it was the most ridiculous, unnecessary, and counterproductive show of unity that I had heard of in the past few years. It's not that I didn't want the families there. On the contrary, I thought gay and lesbian families were always there. I've read as much as I can on the Web and I could not find any "ban" on gay families from the egg roll in the past. Given that I thought we were incorporated into the masses like everyone else. I guess I was wrong; or if we were, I guess it wasn't good enough.

Working in mainstream talk radio, I listen to other hosts during the days I work to get a barometer on what's going on. And I can tell you, nongay hosts found this as absurd as I did. They didn't understand the big deal.

Well, first a note to them. Gays and lesbians form families, have children, and raise them like everybody else. And that fact is often overlooked. Hell, that fact is often legislated against. And I imagine it gets frustrating for those families to feel they are on the outside of the traditional family unit. They want the same things for their children that all parents want: equality, acceptance, love, and joy. So of course they want them to be involved in this national tradition.

But here's my problem: Why announce it to every media outlet? Why not just show up and roll the damned eggs? Is Easter a time to be making statements about sexual orientation? Is this the time to single out your children and show the world that they are from a nontraditional--and it is--family unit?

You see, I know how we win the war. I've always known. We win it by standing side by side with our nongay counterparts and showing them and the world how alike we are. But we don't do that--can't do that--if every time we try and do it there are press releases, news cameras, picketers, bullhorns, and such.

You see, if we want to be perceived as the same, as normal just like everybody else, then we have to behave that way. No other group that I could find issued a press release about their participation that day.

I know we need to make our presence known. I know we need the country to see that we are, in fact, family units. But is this the way? Easter was a slow news day, so the major networks glommed on to this story and made it much bigger than it needed to be. And that prompted the "I don't care if they're gay or lesbian, just roll the eggs."

And what about the kids? Doing this uses them as pawns in some political battle, and that is just plain wrong. You are there to have a nice day with your family. I think when you show up in line everybody's going to know something's up. They'll plainly see that Heather does, indeed, have two mommies or that Johnny's got two daddies (or really eccentric uncles). It's not fair to the kids to point out how different their family unit is if you want them to live, feel, believe that it's not and that it's fine, that it's just like everybody else's. Using your kid to make a statement at the White House is downright despicable, and I for one would feel more shame than pride in doing that.

Yes, the gay rights group Family Pride Coalition meant well by organizing the event. Conservative groups criticized the FPC for using kids to make a statement and turn the event political. Well, for once they're right; that's exactly what the FPC did. Right or wrong, good or bad, that is a fact. Parents who were there, when asked, said, Yes, that was a factor, but they were there to have fun with their kids. The educating of other families about their families was an added bonus.

My question: Is this the place for such an education? And how does that benefit the kids there, or us?

Jennifer Chrisler, FPC's executive director, told The Advocate on April 18 that "the day was focused on family fun, not politics. People were saying that we were taking a kids event and making it political, but we were just taking a kids event and taking our kids to it," she said.

Well, I hate to disagree, but if you were just taking your kids to the event, you wouldn't have alerted the media. I mean, do you bring news crews with you to day care? To play dates? To Chuck E. Cheese?

"So what would you have us do, Karel, remain invisible?"

Of course not. The FPC should have organized parents to attend without a doubt. Gay parents should have lined up like everybody else. The kids of gay parents should have rolled their eggs, hunted for them, had a day like everybody else. And like everybody else they shouldn't have had news cameras following them around.

And the downside is that antigay protesters were allowed to be there as well. Fair play and all. And why subject your child, or any child, to that on such a joyous day?

I show up at events looking every bit the gay entertainer, the gay man. I'm outrageous, over the top, I'm me. And I'm me wherever I go, news cameras or not. That's what this is about. The way to educate nongay families about how our family units work is simply to show up at these events and talk to the other people there--not Wolf Blitzer or Bill O'Reilly but the other moms and dads waiting in line.

Be out and proud with your child, but put the child first. The kids just wanted to roll eggs; they didn't want to be a statement or a cause. They wanted chocolate.

We don't always have to wave banners that tell the world how different we are and yet the same. We don't always have to show up and wave our hands and jump up and down and say, "Look! Look! We're gay and we're a family and look! We're completely different but just like you!" Don't mind us, we want to be here with you, side by side, but excuse my news crew.

The day belonged to the children, not the Family Pride Coalition, not the bigots, not even George Bush. And like it or not, kids of gay parents have it hard enough. No one likes to talk about that, but it's true. At some point in their lives they'll be the "talk"; they'll have an incident at school, an argument with a friend, or something most of their gay parents will probably never hear about. As they get older there are bound to be a few questions unanswered and yes, even a little longing inside for a "normal" family unit, without ever disrespecting or diminishing the love they have for their parents.

Argue all you will that no family unit is traditional any more. You'd be right. But the fact is that kids of gay parents do have more of a challenge growing up. They need love, support, and a sense of normalcy.

So when it comes to our kids, let's remember, normal is not a dirty word, and low-key isn't a new phrase to describe your singing voice. The best way to win the battle is to show up and act like it's completely normal for gay and lesbian families to be there en masse. The way to make all of this seem run-of-the-mill is for us to treat it as such first, not to make it news. It shouldn't be news that gay and lesbian families participate in an event at our nation's capital for American families. In fact, it should only be news if we decide to boycott it for some reason. Otherwise, of course we should be there, woven in to the fabric of the day. And that's just it: You can't weave gay families in to the fabric of American families if they are attached to news crews. The cords just won't weave. The cameras get in the way. Show up and get refused entrance--that's news.

In the new century I sincerely hope being gay and being a family isn't synonymous with "Stop the presses!" It is my sincerest wish that we keep showing up at events as individuals, as families, as people, alone, with our partners, or with our children. And as we do it, my wish extends to how unnewsworthy that type of thing becomes. I wait for the day when assignment desk editors across the land say, "Why wouldn't there be gay families at the White House?" "Why wouldn't there be gay people at this event or that appearance?" In other words, that will be the day when we get what we truly want: acceptance.

But maybe the fact that one day no one will care what we do in our bedrooms and living rooms frightens us. We've fought the battles so long, perhaps we don't realize what winning really means: blending in, fitting in, that being gay is no longer news but a fact of life. Are we ready for that? We weren't this Easter. What next? "Breaking news: Gay people celebrate Christmas across the country; Christians outraged." "Gay parents show up to have children sit on Santa's lap; local authorities investigating." "Gay men and women across the country want to celebrate the New Year at 12:01 a.m.; Congress will take the matter under advisement..."

Sound absurd? So does a hoopla over gay families showing up at the White House. Why? Because I thought they were families first, gay second. Gay families didn't show up. Families did. And it was a family day. Did single parents there get news coverage? Children from divorced homes? Interracial couples with children (which was illegal until just recently, by the way)?

The fact is that all families are unique and each has a different circumstance, a different story. Tell all of them, or none at all.

Sometimes just showing up is enough.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories