There is beauty. There is ugly.

Sometimes, I like to sit alone with my thoughts and picture what it will be like to have a family. I can see a sunny afternoon in the backyard and a tire hanging from a tree lightly swaying in the wind. My husband and two of our children chasing our dogs (yes honey there will be more than one) around the yard laughing as they roll around in the grass. Another child sitting in my lap exhausted from all the sunlight and napping in my arms. There’s bubbles floating, a hint of pine wafting through the air, a hummingbird at the feeder and our oldest child reading a book in the hammock.  I sip a cup of tea and for the moment my world is perfect.

Sometimes, this story isn’t quite so perfect. Sometimes, this story involves the ugliness of the world. The ugly parts can’t be ignored. It is important our family is aware of our surroundings for our own safety. I would love to think that in 2016 we wouldn’t have to worry about this so much, but time and time again I’m reminded of the hatred toward our community (follow this link to see our republican candidates support the execution of LGBTQ+ folks, skip to min mark 6:10). Fortunately, we are surrounded by dope allies, supportive friends and loving family. And at the same time, they cannot be around every second of every day and this hatred really is very real. There is beauty and there is hate.

I’ve since become confident and am able to let these things roll off me most of the time, most of the time. I am a generally happy optimistic human with compassion and kindness for all people. But there’s nothing like being called a “fag” that can ruin an entire day. I don’t even have to be doing anything in particular, simply walking past someone, maybe it’s my scarf, maybe it’s my gait (I was a figure skater after all), maybe it is my all natural long beautiful eye lashes (see picture), maybe it’s my too friendly smile (is there such a thing?) and I hear it: “fucking faggot”. And BAM! I’m knocked down, a proverbial punch to the gut. Now, I know what you’re thinking; what an asshole, he’s unhappy with himself, it’s a reflection of him not you, don’t let it get to you. Well, easy for you to say. These are all things I know, I live with it all the time, it’s really not about me, I know that AND it doesn’t sting any less. It actually is awful. It’s scary, I mean, I don’t know if this guy is going to assault me, it’s happened before. I must be on guard. I must make a quick decision and trust my neuro-biological response of Fight, Flight or Freeze. I will need to teach this to my family.

Beautiful: Over the summer, my husband and I took two of our nephews to a local amusement park for a fun day. We have a lot of nieces and nephews, we’ve earned the title: “The Cool Uncles” and are often found spoiling them in one way or another. We happened to take a ride on a small train and behind us were this young gay couple in what looked like their “getting to know you” date. They were holding hands and watched us as we got on the train. I overheard one say to the other, they pointed at us, “Aw, they’re so cute that could be us someday.” I felt all warm and fuzzy inside and thought to myself; “wow, how cool is it that two young men can be out on a date holding hands in public without fear and recognize a gay family living life.” It was one of many beautiful moments that day.

On the flip side, awhile back, we took our niece and nephew (not the same as above) to an amusement park just outside of the city. We laughed all day, running from one ride to the next. We got soaked on the log ride, dizzy on the roller coaster and shot up the bad guys in a scary ghost ride. By the end, we were sun kissed, a bit lethargic and starving. Well, where do you take the kids after an exciting day? A pizza place, of course! We ordered a pie, got some sodas and reminisced the favorite parts of our day. We were laughing and joking without a care in the world. Out of my peripheral vision I noticed the table next to us, a family of four with two kids of their own, glaring. It was the sort of glare I’m used to, hateful and full of disgust, i thought; God dammit! I managed to maintain eye contact with our family and continue our conversation. I noticed, who I assume was the dad, point at me and limp his wrist while the rest of his family laughed. At us. I was fuming! I had a choice to make. I could, either confront this bigoted jerk and cause a scene (my Midwest upbringing) or I could ignore him and not let our niece and nephew know anything was happening. I chose the latter for their protection. There was no reason I should embarrass my family for the sake of feeding into this other families hatred. There was no reason I should make our niece and nephew see the ugly. It was ugly and it would have gotten ugly but why subject them to this? The memory of this day that they had is full of laughter and fun, (I hope they remember this day for many years), I didn’t want to taint that. Once we said our goodbyes, my husband and I drove home. I was silent, I was still fuming. My husband broke the silence; “How bad did you want to punch those people at the restaurant?” I wanted to cry. It wasn’t my imagination. This happened and we were the target.

These are things that are out of our control. Sometimes there is beauty and sometimes there is hate. I worry about it, (I must have picked this up from my grandma. She worries about all of her grandchildren in the most loving way). I can’t help but worry if this is something our future family will endure. We will. It’s inevitable. I can only hope we come out of it unscathed. It is a conversation we will need to have with our kids, a conversation no parent should ever have to have. It is a conversation that is necessary for our protection and our safety.

We live in a bubble of a city that is progressive and liberal, AND once we leave the comfort of our bubble we need to be on guard. The ‘what ifs’ can be real and scary. What if; we decide to drive across the country to see my family in the Midwest and we blow a tire in Indiana, in that state (see: RFRA) by law any business can refuse us service because I am a stereotypical gay man, (my husband is not, he can walk through life without this fear, i.e. passing), I’m not what some would call passing, nor do I want to be someone other than me, and that makes us a target. Picture it: four kids and two men, in a small town in Indiana, it’s a recipe for awful. Even if we don’t, God forbid, experience violence, the hateful stares are enough to ruin an entire vacation, the glare. And we will have to tell our kids to ‘not worry about it’, but how can they not? The powers of distraction only go so far.

It is a fear that we will have to address. We can’t sugar coat anything because once our guard is down is the moment bad things happen to good people. I can only speculate at this point. My hope is that our lives will be filled with rainbows and unicorns. I won’t change because of hate. I will always be me, fabulous eyelashes and all and our kids will always know love, regardless of the outside situations that we cannot control. #thoseeyelashesthoeyes

“I wonder if any parents LGBTQ+ or straight have experienced or worry about this?, please share in the comments below.”

18 thoughts on “There is beauty. There is ugly.

  1. The Grider Family

    First off, we love you all so much. Second, the fact that the world is such a shitty place is the perfect case for you all having children to raise with your amazing love and gifts to pass on. Third, we so appreciate your bravery and candor sharing your story with us. We are so lucky to have you in our lives.

    • Bobby

      Thank you Sarah! Its wonderful to know we have so much support. I hope to ‘Illuminate’ the masses with my words (see what I did there ;). Much love to you and your family!

  2. Nigsy

    Don’t let me babysit, I would have punched them! lol. #thoselashesthough

    • Bobby

      Haha! It took all I had. Thanks for your support!

  3. Keith

    Absolutely true, and absolutely beautiful! Well said and something I used to worry about all the time when I was younger, more naive, and living in Hillsboro.

    Miss you guys,
    Kw

    • Bobby

      Thanks Keith! I appreciate your support. Hope to see you Sunday for that concert with some kind of sport thingy going on.

  4. Jeff Guindon

    You would think that in this day and age we could all be regarded as people, there is way too much ignorance in this world and society still doesn’t realize that we are only briefly here! The day society realizes that day is coming to an end none of this even matters to them but that moment! I always live in the moment and everyone is beautiful in their own way! I love what you have written here and I hope it will touch someone else as it has touched me! The best thing is that you are strong and know that you don’t need to change a bit!

    • Bobby

      Thank you Jeff! I agree, life is too short for this kind of ugly. I hope by my candidness of this blog I can open hearts and open minds. At the end of the day we are just a family trying to survive in this rat race we call life. We only want happiness for our [future] kids as any parent does. Thanks for your comment and keep sharing to help change those minds :)

  5. Vesta Van Patten-Dunn

    When you choose to take on babies you also choose worry. It is totally worth it. Though my worries are different, as an older parent, I tend to worry about a lot. There is so much ugly in the world that we must walk that fine line of preparing our children without tainting their lives. You will be such great loving protective parents. Your babies will have blessed lives.

    • Bobby

      Thanks Vesta! I have no doubts James and I will have a fabulous family, filled with love and support, and I hope through my words I can open hearts and minds. The worries will always be there, of course, I just hope its more: “Don’t fall, make good choices” types of worries than the ugliness perpetrated by ignorance. I appreciate all your support!

  6. Natalie

    You WILL have rainbows and unicorns! and it’s going to be sublimely wonderful… I just know it. Luv you both!! ❤️?

    • Bobby

      Rainbows and Unicorns and Glitter! Oh My! Love you!

  7. Debby Roach

    I haven’t experienced it personally Bobby, but I do not have any respect for people who promote hate, racism or discrimination…I’m embarrassed to admit that I WAS occasionally like those people…I am proud to say that I am growing as a person…thanks in part to the racism and discrimination that I endured…and thanks also to those friends of mine who are either LGB…I love them and I sure didn’t like what I saw when I remembered some of my behaviour…some people cannot be changed, simply because they don’t want to or see no need to…others like me just need to be enlightened, challenged and reminded that all people deserve to love and be loved…and we have no say in how, when, where or to whom will be loved….two thumbs up to you dear cousin!! And again…all the best in your process to expand your family <3

    • Bobby

      Thank you Cousin! It does take time to be enlightened and I appreciate the fact that you’ve grown past old habits. It can be very difficult to create that bridge of understanding in the place we call home, but there has been progress. I hope through my words I can open hearts and minds. Thank you for sharing!

  8. Debbie caselton

    Beautifully written. I raised my daughter in the LGBTQ community (on my own and with two long term girlfriends), and I am so proud of who she has become. She is now 24 and she started dating this guy who just moved here from Texas. He used the term “that’s so gay” and she freaked. She spoke out about how wrong that is, etc. She is definitely my kid; she is teaching him about recycling. LOL. You are such awesome uncles and will be great parents. The community will be here to support you!

    • Bobby

      I appreciate that Debbie! Speaking out is the only way we can hope to change minds and hearts. Its about respect. Respecting all humans in their journey. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Sarah

    I feel like so many people that do not have the benefit of being a straight, white male can relate to parts of this. Walking down the street as a woman I’ve been called horrible names by men that could hurt me, just because I was on that sidewalk. Your story about being called a faggot and the flight instinct felt SO familiar, in that way.
    I know black mothers and fathers that worry about their sons and daughters in a way that their white counterparts won’t ever have to experience. Of course all parents worry. But there’s another layer to it, when you’re in a minority.

    Sending my niece off to college I wanted to make sure she had as much knowledge as possible about how to keep herself safe in a world where being assaulted or raped on campus is a real possibility. How do I tell her there are real dangers that can sometimes be avoided if… while at the same time keeping the blame where it belongs, on the perpetrators. In the real world, a young woman alone has to constantly be on guard. (Let’s be real, I’m not sure how old you have to be to NOT be on guard) I don’t want to teach her to not completely trust her straight male friends. But I also don’t want her to learn the hard way, like I did. I want her armed with knowledge, the self possession to trust her instincts, and maybe a few choice judo moves.
    Ugh, this part sucks. Having to deal with a side of hatred with your pizza, sucks. But I wanted to say thank you for talking about it. And for the education about what life feels like in your shoes. My hope is that more we all can understand each others experiences, the more we can look out for each other. It’s should be easier to speak out when you see something wrong if you’re not the person that has to worry about putting yourself in physical danger by doing so. And if we do that, maybe that bubble will start expanding…

    • Bobby

      Thank you Sara! I hope by sharing this story it will resonate with many folks and create a broader understanding of the lives we live. If people can learn something through my words, then I’ve done my job. Maybe someday we can erase the bigotry and hatred in peoples hearts together. Thanks for listening.

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