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