All the Gay Parties

Lately, we’ve had Seth, our 13-year old, trapped in the car for commutes to his club soccer practice. It’s great! We make good use of this time, chatting in depth about the world of work, higher education, moral issues, and just last night, I went on at length about my dealings with AAA around a seriously shredded right rear tire. All very edifying!

The other day, though, Seth actually initiated a conversation thus:

“Mom, my geography teacher is gay – I mean, lesbian.”

Me: Oh, did she come out to you guys?

Seth: Huh?

Me: Did she tell you she’s gay?

Seth: Mom, come on. She wears lesbian clothes. You can tell. Everyone knows.

Me: (laughing and looking down at my jeans): What are lesbian clothes?

Seth: Come on, a pink shirt, you know, with a collar.

Me: How do you know that’s gay? I mean, maybe on a guy it would be.

Seth: No, mom, on a guy it’s cool, not gay. I have a friend who wears that and he looks cool.

Me: Maybe there’s something you don’t know about him.

Seth: MOM!!

Me: Well, honey, it sounds like you’ve developed some gaydar! I’m so proud of you!

(I explain about gaydar, to Seth’s amusement and horror. He denies he has anything gay.)

Seth: Anyway, she talked about her wife.

Me: Oh, well that’s a big clue.

Seth (having a sudden, terrifying thought): MOM!!! DON’T INVITE HER TO YOUR GAY PARTY!

Me (totally cracking up): You mean, go to the parent/teacher conference and say, “Hi! I’m Seth’s mom and I want YOU to come to my gay party!!!”

Seth (laughing but also completely horrified): MOM!!

Me: Don’t worry, baby. I am the soul of discretion.

Seth: Yeah, right. DON’T DO IT, MOM!!!

Me: Ok, ok.

So the gay parties he’s talking about is the potluck for the queer parents of the local elementary school that my Beau and I got going a few years ago. For the kids to get to know each other, and to offer each other support and camaraderie in the sometimes crazy (ok, usually crazy) mommy/daddy land of school.

It’s been great, the kids enjoy it for the most part (although Seth makes grumpy noises – he actually rather likes being hero worshipped by the little boys, who trail after him with their baseball gloves and stickball bats singing out his name in reverent tones), and the grown ups have formed friendships  and alliances, some more friendly than others, in the way of these things.

For the past year or two, a few of us have been trying to disseminate information to the other grade schools in town, reach out to all the queer-parent families here, and generally wanting to have a more solid town-wide connection to each other. It really seems to be going nowhere, though. This year, I wanted to have a booth at Town Day, but there was so little interest that I had to cancel. Another mom in the group says she thinks there’s just no need for this kind of networking/connection and that people are way too busy. I do think that people have their own support groups – families who have kids adopted from China, for example – but I still think there’s a deep need to have a town-wide presence of queer-parent families. I know how important it is for us, and we can’t be the only ones.

I was so sad when I had to cancel the Town Day booth that I had to cry on my Beau’s shoulder for several minutes. She patted me and said such nice things, like how I’ve kept the group going, how little steps are important, how I shouldn’t take it personally, all of which I heard and appreciate, but which didn’t stop me from wailing, “I just want things to be NIIIIIIIICE!!!” And I do. I want the queer-parent families in town to know each other. I want us to have a yearly (or more often) all-town gathering, like at the skating rink or the bowling alley, where we can get face recognition if nothing else and the kids can run around and never have to worry when another kid asks them about their family. And never have to hear “MY mom and dad, blah blah blah.” Because that is really, really important.

I just talked with my darling neighbor who is working as an aide up in the 1st grade at the local elementary school this year, and she said there are 3 lesbian-headed families in her class. One family I already know (the moms of Seth’s greatest little boy admirer), but the other two I don’t, and I’m so excited for our first school-year potluck because I really hope they’ll come. This is my family’s last year at the elementary school (Owen is in 5th grade, and Seth is already at the middle school, in 7th), so whether or not we ever get the town-wide thing going, we’re going to have to make some adjustments as more of our kids move on to other schools. I would love to:

make sure all the staff in all the schools are educated about queer-parent families

have a booth at Town Day next year

sponsor town-wide events such as a picnic, bowling, meeting at free skate, etc.

establish a regular drop-in where kids and parents could meet

investigate COLAGE (Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere) and think about starting a town branch

use the internet via a webpage, Facebook page, or other networking venue where we could communicate effectively and privately (no names of our kids, etc.)

establish a presence on the school committee

contact the local High School Gay Straight Alliance to see if there’s anything we could do for each other

make use of the town cable television

co-sponsor movies or discussions with the town’s Human Rights Commission

use the informational table in the town library

BUT…. probably, most likely, we’ll just go ahead and have a potluck in October, hope the new families will join us, get a good look at the kids who will surely have grown many feet and have interesting haircuts and tooth jewelry, drink a glass of wine with fellow travelers in the world of queer parenting, and laugh a lot.

That will be nice.

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Published in: on September 24, 2009 at 9:58 AM  Comments (1)  

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  1. oh i so hear you on this. building community. maybe it’s just that there are people who dearly value it and people who don’t. i feel like i can’t get enough — organize potlucks! go on outings! have meetings where you talk about all the important stuff that’s not going on and figure out how to make it happen! etc!!

    but i find myself shouting into a void sometimes, and i have to realize that it’s partly just my own feelings of loneliness that spur me to desire collective action. so i take small steps to reach out to people, and sometimes it turns into something a little bigger. your list of goals is amazing, all so important.

    so do keep on with it! it’s so worth it. and never doubt that you’re doing things to change it and raise awareness, even if it feels like nothing is happening. when i was being homeschooled, the librarians used to be the linch pins who connected new homeschooling families with us when they moved to town. after all, everyone goes to the library, and so when the librarians found out they would give the new families my mom’s contact info. maybe that would be a good way to reach out across the whole town. just a thought!

    xx fg


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