Video Series: Lesbian Moms and Micro Aggressions

April 23, 2014 by  
Filed under Video

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In our ongoing weekly series of The Next Living Room, lesbian moms discuss the subtle comments that people make that can end up being hurtful.  Share your stories, questions and thoughts with us in our comment section or via email at chat@thenextfamily.com.

 

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Web Series: The Next Living Room “The Other Mother”

April 15, 2014 by  
Filed under Video

By Brandy Black

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The Next Family has launched a new video series called “The Next Living Room” in which my wife and I will be addressing various topics of discussion around family.  We would love your input and suggestions for future shows.  It is a 2-3 minute video that will run once a week. Today’s topic is “the other mother.”  How do you describe yourself?   Lesbian dad, the other mother, non-bio mom, or are you  like my wife, see what she has to say.

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Rainbow Family Camp- Weekend Camp for LGBT Families

March 21, 2014 by  
Filed under

Are you looking to connect with other LGBT families?  Take a couple days off with your family to meet new friends.  Nestled in a forest of towering trees, heated cabins feature rustic comfort with modern, indoor bath facilities, bunk-beds, and a limited number of cabins with double beds.  Camp de Benneville Pines in the San Bernardino Mountains is the perfect place to kick back and relax with your family.

Activities Include:

  • Arts & Crafts
  • Hiking
  • Movies
  • Outdoor Sports Activities
  • Indoor Games
  • Community Meals
  • LOTS OF FUN!

$130 – Adults
$100 – Teens (13-19 years)
$70 – Kids (3-12 years)
Kids 2 & under are FREE

Registration fee includes meals, lodging and all programs. Accommodations are family-style, with 3-9 private rooms per cabin and shared indoor bathrooms.

For more information about camp, please call Amanda at 323-860-3661 or send e-mail tofamilyservices@lagaycenter.org.

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Spotlight Series: Kristin and Megan

March 5, 2014 by  
Filed under Same Sex Parent, Spotlight, Texas

 

same-sex parents in Texas

 

TNF: Tell me about your family.  Are you married?  Do you have kids?  How many? How old?

Megan: Kristin and I are engaged, and don’t plan to set a date until it is at least recognized in our state. We have a three-year-old daughter (Kenleigh), and we are working on another this year. (Hoping for a boy!) Kristin has had her fair share of health issues throughout our journey, from ovarian cancer in 2009, to her 10th surgery this past December (2013). She has now had both ovaries removed, so we are in the process of planning for IVF using my egg, this time around.

TNF: How did you meet your wife?

Megan: Kristin and I went to high school together. We shared some mutual friends, and always had an attraction to each other. Kristin has always been a little bit on the shy side of things with us, so of course, I had to come out and let her know I was interested. She always seemed kind of timid toward me, maybe because I was a little too outspoken, and wild. But after some persuasion, I got her to come out with me for the day. Needless to say, I can’t count 2 nights since that day that we have spent apart.

TNF: Do you feel different from other families? If so, how so?

Megan: I think we are different than other families. Not so much in the aspect of us being a same-sex family, but more so in the way we live, and raise our child. We are very much into health and fitness, and do our best to convey the importance of this lifestyle to our daughter. I have a personal training company (Big Head Fitness), and Kristin has a line of organics (“The Lesbian Housewife” TLH Organics). We involve our daughter in almost every area of our businesses, and allow her to learn the importance of why we do what we do, all while implementing her own creative ideas.

TNF: Where do you live?  Is it tough being a gay couple where you live?

Megan: We live in San Antonio, Texas, and it isn’t as tough as it sounds. We have a very welcoming community here, and have only come across very few situations that we feel we have been treated “different”. We don’t know many other gay couples here with children, but we hear about them all the time. lol

TNF: What has having a family meant to you?

Megan: Having a family has changed both of us in such a positive way. I think every parent can agree that life is so much more fulfilling when you can share and grow with a little person. I enjoy coming home to Kristin, and Kenleigh every day, more than I have ever enjoyed anything else in life. We can make what we want of it, and grow together no matter the circumstances.

TNF: Now that Texas is celebrating the latest ruling on same-sex marriage, will you now take action on getting married? 

Megan: We are very excited about the recent stride toward equality, just waiting for the ruling to go through the court of appeals and hoping it holds up! If it does, and we are able, we will set a date for late this year

same-sex parents in San Antonio, Texas

Two moms in Texas

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Thank you Kristin and Megan for a great interview. Fingers crossed on a boy!  Congrats on the recent ruling on gay marriage in Texas.  I think I hear wedding bells!

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Spotlight Series: Rachel and Daniela

January 23, 2014 by  
Filed under Canada, Spotlight

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TNF: Tell me about your family.  

Rachel: Daniela and I have been married since September 2007.  We have a son who just turned 1 on Jan. 13 and a babe on the way (July 2014).  We have very loving extended family in Ontario and across the USA.

 

TNF: How did you meet your wife?

Rachel: I came to Toronto to complete an internship before my final year of University.  I met up with an on-line friend I had “known” for years to go bowling and my now wife was one of her friends that joined us!  We had an awesome summer as a group of friends and then we began dating.  We had a long distance relationship while I finished my degree and then I moved here and we got married shortly after.

 

TNF: Do you feel different from other families? 

Rachel: Honestly, I feel like a very typical family with an awesome partner and a great kid.  We spend a great deal of non-work hours together with friends and family.  Our biggest struggle is that half of our family is in one country and the other half is in another.  This means all of our vacation time is spent going to visit family and not on a lovely beach in the Caribbean!  That being said, we are lucky to have vacation time and even more lucky that we have people who love us to go visit. 

 

TNF: Where do you live?  Is it tough being a gay couple where you live?  Do you feel accepted?

Rachel: We live in Downtown Toronto and as long as we are in the city I often forget that we are not “the norm”.  No one has raised an eye about it at drop-in centres, mommy groups, baby classes, or daycares.  We obviously have some issues with paperwork that asks for the names of the mother and father (this was amazingly not an issue for the birth certificate).  We sometimes get asked questions but for the most part I don’t feel unaccepted anywhere in the city.  When we leave the city it is a bit of a different story and we faced homophobia issues before we were moms but now I think people assume we are friends or sisters and we just avoid correcting them.

 

TNF: What has having a family meant to you?

Rachel: Having a family has meant always having someone to play with.  We have a ton of work that needs to get done but we find the best way we know how to get it done.  It means knowing when to ask for help and when we need a break.  It means going to bed at night feeling satisfied and filled with love even when you are exhausted, frustrated, and know you won’t get enough sleep.  Family means laughing at the littlest things and then laughing at that laughter.  
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Thank you Rachel and Daniela for sharing your story with The Next Family. 
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My Mothers Day Card to Gay Dads and Other LGBT Parents

May 12, 2013 by  
Filed under Rob Watson, Same Sex Parent

By Rob Watson

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Recently, author Jennifer Finney Boylan commented about her transgender experience, “After all these years, my own identity has wound up less altered than I had expected. It should not have been a surprise, perhaps, but the most shocking revelation after 10 years in the female sex is that mostly I am the same person I always was, gender notwithstanding.”

Even without being trans gender, I relate greatly to Boylan’s comment, especially when it comes to being in a male body during the holiday season of Mothers and Fathers Days. While I identify with the physical description of being a “gay Dad”, the truth is, I am actually a Parent who mothers and fathers. I do not make an automatic assumption on characteristics or abilities based on the gender of the parent. I know there are others, even in the LGBT community, who see things differently. They see two holidays, one that honors physically female gendered parents and one that honors physically male gendered parents. This viewpoint was dramatized in a Normal Family episode when one of the fictional gay dads has a hissy fit over being perceived as “the mommy”.

In the book An Anthropology of Mothering editors Michelle Walks and Naomi McPherson state, “Through the consideration of the experiences of grandmothers, au pairs, biological and adoptive mothers, mothers of soldiers, mothers of children with autism, mothers in the corrections system, among others, it becomes clear that human mothering is neither practiced nor experienced the same the world over – indeed, even a single definition of what “mothering” is cannot be formed by the contributors of this anthology. Instead, while ideas of ‘good’ mothering exist in every culture, the effects of colonialism and migration, as well as different understandings of and relationships to food, religion, and government play prominent among many other factors, including age, relationship status, and sexuality of mothers themselves, to affect what is understood as ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ mothering.”

I would add gender to that list. As a parent, I am as Boylan describes “the person I am” and my parenting qualities are really not genderfied. I seek to be the full range parent to the best of my ability on all fronts.

As an LGBT parent, I felt disenfranchised this morning when I got a cheery email from an LGBT advocacy group I support. I want to make one point clear—the disenfranchisement does not bother me for myself. I am confident in who I am, and my kids are phenomenal with the love they express towards me. I am a lucky guy, amongst the luckiest on earth.

My concern here is for my kids and others like them in gay dad only, or lesbian only, led families. They are the ones left out in the planning, conversations and excitement over one of these two holidays. They are perceived as the “oh you don’t have one, and never had one…” crowd. They get the message that their family lacks something. It is not true. Most are mothered and fathered, nurtured and as adored as any other kids. They need to be appropriately included in the celebration of all that is motherhood, and in the subsequent celebration of all that is fatherhood, and the people that do each.

The email I received stated “In preparation and celebration, we and the makers of (Corporate Sponsor) are excited to announce the release of Mothers’ Day e-cards that are inclusive of lesbian, bisexual, and transgender moms.” This campaign struck me as odd on two levels, the first being the exclusion of male mom figures in the gay community, and the marginalization of a set of moms who are likely to be recognized anyway, by calling them out by their orientations. I wrote a quick note pointing out my concerns and received a pleasant but confusing note in return, “Thanks for your feedback. We have a similar e-card campaign coming up for father’s Day as well, since these are two widely acknowledged holidays where LGBT families sometimes don’t feel included. You are welcome to use cards from either’s campaign (Mother’s day or father’s day) and to share them with customized messages to reflect your own family.”

I wrote back: “I think you have some good-hearted intentions, but are missing the mark significantly. You are correct that these are widely acknowledged holidays where LGBT families don’t feel included, however, in my opinion, your campaign intensifies the exclusion. I do not believe my bisexual and lesbian mom friends feel excluded on Mothers Day… they are moms who rightly get the same recognitions that heterosexual Moms do. The families that feel excluded are the ones like mine where there is no female parent, and my kids are guided in school to make a gift for some more distant female relative instead of the person they actually come to for nurturing, love and warmth. We have a community where the concepts of mothering and fathering are larger than physical gender characteristics — your campaign, unfortunately, doesn’t diversify the status quo, it magnifies it, and seems to further marginalize women who already qualify for recognition on the holiday. Speaking from this gay dad perspective, on Father’s Day, I really do not want a “Gay Dad” card. I am not ashamed of being a gay dad, but I am proud on Fathers Day just to be a father among all fathers, even ones who are biologically female. I would be thrilled to see you come out, for that day, with cards celebrating my lesbian sisters who bring strength, power and fatherhood into their families, and recognize them on that day as well.”

I don’t have to explain any of this to my kids. They already get it. Recently, my son Jason was running from his brother and into my arms cheerfully screaming “Mommmmmmmmmy!”. I looked at him quizzically and asked, “who are you calling for there, Boo?” He looked at me in a matter-of-fact way, “No one. That is not what that means.”
“Oh?” I asked curiously. “What does it mean”
“It means that I need help right away, “ he explained.
“Got it, “ I replied. “And who do you go to when you need that?”
“You,” he said. And then planted a big kiss on my cheek before running off.

 

On Mothers Day mornings, my other son, Jesse leads the way in bringing me breakfast in bed with flowers. He got the idea on his own three years ago at the age of 7. “You do everything their mothers do,” he explained at the time. This is your day too.”

So with that, I would like to offer you an open Mothers Day Card for ALL LGBT parents, including gay/bisexual/transgender dads. I offer this up also as a Fathers Day Card for all lesbian/bisexual/transgender moms as well.

Dear Parent of the Heart and Soul

“Love is the only freedom in the world because it so elevates the spirit that the laws of humanity and the phenomena of nature do not alter its course.” Kahlil Gibran

You personify a Love that overcomes all obstacles, biases and inequities.

We enter the season that honors the two aspects of your parenting and the love that you bestow to the world. That love becomes realized when you give yourself to your children.

You are mothering when you nourish, nurture, and shower affection. You sow the seeds of confidence, vision and creativity.

You are fathering when you protect, guide with principle, instill values and inspire. You sow the seeds of morality, leadership and personal power.

During two days in the current months, we honor you, not as the perfect parent, since that entity is truly a myth, but as one who still wants to attain that status no matter how unrealistic it is. We honor you for the days when doing your best, with all good intentions, has to be the way it is.

You are magnificent. You are doing the most important work of which Humanity can ask. You hold in your hands our future, and you deserve nothing less than dignity and respect at your back.

To quote the song, you are “the wind beneath the wings” of life. We thank you. Happy Mothers Day. Happy Fathers Day. Happy You Day.

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I Became a Dragqueen Nun

February 6, 2013 by  
Filed under Kellen Kaiser, Same Sex Parent

By Kellen Kaiser

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It starts with white face, the kind clowns use, smeared on with a sponge and then powdered to matte. Then eyebrows drawn on with greasepaint, cheeks made razor sharp using the side of a piece of cardboard as a guide, and false lashes applied. Glitter is sprinkled everywhere, liberally. Jewels are affixed at certain points for emphasis. This is the process by which I manifest as my alter-ego. I am a girl who doesn’t wear make-up on a daily basis, I couldn’t draw a straight line to save my life, and in a rush the process takes me at least forty-five minutes. The gay boys who have become my second family always inevitably look better than me no matter what I do. Being a living incarnation of the Goddess/Servant of the Holy Spirit is hard work.

Let me explain.  I am one of a few female-born members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. We are an international non-profit organization devoted to social activism, charity work, and spiritual ministry. Started in 1979 in San Francisco by gay men who had raided their high school costume closet for nun garb, the group recently made news as the provocation for Chuck Hagel’s homophobic vitriol. Our motto is “ruining it for everyone.” By dressing in and appropriating religious iconography we court controversy with everything we do.  We also raise lots of money, spread joy and self-acceptance, and generally look amazing.

My first memories of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence were from when I was four. It was 1985 and my lesbian mothers took me to their Easter celebration held in a San Francisco alley called Lily Street. I remember them as towering Glamazons with otherworldly outfits and endless attitudes. They wore Easter baskets as hats. Their eyes looked as complicated as Faberge eggs. Their command of femininity astounded me even at that age. I told my mom that when I grew up I wanted to be a Drag Queen.  She approved. There were a lot of years in there I didn’t think it was a possibility.

Then little by little I started to hear about female-born women doing drag and being called “faux-queens.” “High Drag,” it was sometimes called. I read about a girl winning the prestigious Trannyshack title. If they could do it, not even having grown up within the community, then why couldn’t I? Granted at the time I was in a long term hetero relationship that had made me progressively more normal in a terrifying manner. I would spend the next few years ambivalent about my condition and would ultimately find myself single and moving back to my home state of California. Finally, I was introduced to the Abbess of the San Diego house, who was a woman.  Even when she told me the process of becoming a member was intensive and usually took a year and a half, all I could think was, out of my way, I got this.

When people see me out “in-face,” as we Drag Queens call it, they tend to pride themselves on sussing out my gender. “You’re a real girl,” is the most common exclamation. “Everything but the tits…” I say back. They delight to tell me how they figured out that under my make-up I am not a man. “I could tell by the hairs near your ears,” someone once informed me, “they weren’t sideburns.” People regularly admit they didn’t know what I am doing is allowed. At which point I tell them that part of our mission, as an organization, is to defy people’s expectations and I am challenging their perceptions of what Drag means.  I like it even better when people aren’t sure what gender I am. To think that a woman dressed as a woman could help destabilize gender makes me gleeful.

In French the word for make-up, maquillage, comes from “mask”, and it has been impressed upon me many times that people treat me with a sort of reverence when I am in-face. I have counseled men who that day discovered they were HIV positive, men who regularly wouldn’t give me a second glance but who tell me their darkest secrets because of how I’m dressed.  Until the church is willing to accept all of their followers, I will feel justified in ministering to them. While we are controversial even within the gay community and our parody of Catholic religion makes many people upset, in my mind we put it to good use.

When I first started attending meetings and events with the LA chapter, the almost entirely male membership paid me little attention, despite the well-crafted letter of recommendation I’d brought with me from a much loved member of the SF order. The Sisters don’t recruit. This means that they will let you hang out but they won’t be all that friendly or explain things. It took me seven months to figure out that they were never going to invite me to join but that I instead had to declare my intention unheeded. Like in the church, you start the process as an aspirant, and then become a postulant and a novice before finally becoming a fully professed member.  You can do it in eighteen months but it took me two years.

The interim period is filled with make-up tutorials, grunt work, and meetings run with parliamentary levels of efficacy and protocol. It took me a couple of months to match the men I met at the monthly out-of-face meetings to the stunning sirens who arrived at events.  They started at some point to be nice to me and now I feel like the spoiled younger sibling to thirty or so older brothers who like to dress up in Mom’s clothing. Slowly, they let me in on secrets like using hair spray to fix make-up in place and told me stories about how they came to be Sisters themselves. A surprising number of them come from very religious backgrounds. I know at least two who went to seminary. They are now nuns who wear glitter in their beards.

I took my vows more than two years after I began, on a hill under the Hollywood sign, wearing a vintage wedding gown and a white veil. The ritual, done under the discombobulated gaze of tourists poured fresh from mini-buses, involved my being wrapped in a long red cloth and lifted by a bevy of my Sisters into the air. Once aloft I was turned in a circle, high in the sky, supported and yet alone. It was, as it was meant to be, transformative. I am not one of those single women who contemplate just throwing herself a big party in lieu of the wedding yet to materialize, but I felt like this was an awesome alternative, no matter what happens with my love life.

Being in the Sisters has also given me a chance to continue my involvement in the Gay community. One of the weird things about being the straight daughter of lesbians is negotiating where you fit in the world you were raised in. I consider myself Queer but it takes a good five minutes to explain why I fit under that umbrella as a heterosexual. I don’t have much to justify it, outside of my predilection for checking out butch women. Usually when people meet me as “Sister Edna St. Vincent Getlaid,” they don’t question my street cred.

My mom once told me to pursue things in life that were both selfish and altruistic, and the Sisters for me are a great example of this principle. I get to say that I volunteer on a regular basis and yet it usually involves vodka tonics. I have learned service is one of the cheapest and safest highs.  Every year as we walk in Pride parades and wave at the adoring and photo-snapping crowds, and I see amongst them children who look toward me like I once did the Sisters, star-struck and wide eyed, I know I am fulfilling a dream. I may never make it in Hollywood, but I have made it in real life.

 

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Talk to an Infertility Expert: Video

August 3, 2012 by  
Filed under Family, In Vitro

Note from the Editor-

Many of our readers are starting families of their own and have asked for more information about infertility and IVF.  Having gone through this myself I understand how scary the process is -not knowing what’s ahead of you, the procedures, the drugs, the expenses, the pain you might endure both physically and mentally.  I went on a search for an expert and thought, “who better than one of my fertility doctors?” After all, I did a lot of research myself and I now have three kids!  Dr. Tourgeman will be doing a video series in which he will answer your questions in detail before you even step into a clinic.  He will address single parents and couples, whether same sex or heterosexual.  Please get involved; ask questions or, if you have been through the process yourself, give feedback.  Tell us your story in our comments section.

 The first video is an introduction to Dr. Tourgeman and the second is the first question from one of our readers.

Question: What are the initial first steps for an infertile couple?

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You Have How Many Moms?

March 7, 2012 by  
Filed under Family, Parenting

By: Kellen Kaiser

I was raised by lesbians. Yeah, but nowadays, who wasn’t? Even if I’m a little older than most, having been born in 1981, my situation becomes more common by the day. So the more remarkable thing seems to be their sheer number. When I tell people I have four moms, the common reaction, outside of raised eyebrows, is an attempt to figure it out. Two moms who got divorced and remarried is the most often given wager. Nope. Reasonable but wrong and interesting to me in the sense that it shows how pervasive the nuclear model is. We apply it instantly even to lesbians.

When I tell them an original three chose to parent together and then a fourth married in, I still can’t be sure they understand it. There is often an assumption applied that the three were all sexually involved, a threesome of motherhood which exposes another internalized belief about family, that those who parent together sleep together. In my case my biological mother, one Nina Kaiser, chose to parent with her lover and best friend. Three ladies, one baby. While the romantic relationship between the two ladies, Nina and Margery, didn’t last, the parenting paradigm did, a lesson that could certainly be followed in straight circles better. Eventually my bio-mom married another woman, Kyree, which then made four. That’s a lot of mothers! But there were mostly advantages to having extra parents.

More hands to hold me, more bosoms to hug. More parents to read my blog.

As a child, I didn’t get away with much (too many eyes watching over me), but I did occasionally manage to pit them against each other. I developed a technique in which I’d ask all four, one at a time, for whatever I wanted. I had four possible yes’s which I’d try for in succession until I’d heard four no’s.

Even now, when I have a dilemma, I have four numbers to dial, calling each one until I get an answer, or the advice I was looking for. The phrase it takes a village applies here. I have inherited personality quirks from each of them. As I grow older there will be four aging women to care for, two extra parents to some day grieve, but all in all I feel like I make off like a bandit.

The nuclear family model is so ingrained in our culture. My parents’ multiplicity has allowed me to question that dynamic. I have given thought to who I want to parent with, whether that is my sexual partner (whoever that may be in any given moment) or my friends. I have enough gay community that if I chose co-parenting in that vein it could be a reality. It’s a huge commitment being a parent. Especially if you aren’t biologically obligated and I am eternally grateful that the three women outside of my bio-mom cared enough about me to do so, and to continue to show up as the years go by. Love makes a family but that also in some ways defines it as a voluntary position.

Do we choose our families? We do and we don’t. We certainly choose our level of attachment
to them. We can choose to embrace those we weren’t born related to in the fashion of those we were, making the word form to our own definition. In the gay community the word “family” can be fraught, laden with the intolerance and rejection people have faced in their past, but it is also the holy grail of acceptance -a sense of no longer being alone. We are family! The disco song blares, an anthem of confidence and hope both. We make our families and they make us. 99.9% of the time I feel like I won the lottery, family-wise. The Robber Baron of Moms. I have four of the best parents on earth. So many people don’t get a single good one and I got a quartet. It seems unfair, really. The .01% of the time is when I’m thinking what man in his right mind would sign on for four mothers in law?!

Doubt that really evens it out though. More mommies, more problems? Nope.

Love you Moms!

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Two Moms at the Sweetheart Ball

February 8, 2012 by  
Filed under Family, Same Sex Parent, Tanya Dodd-Hise

By: Tanya Dodd-Hise

Years and years ago, when I was in college (as an adult), I joined a sorority.  Now, it isn’t the kind of sorority that most people think of when they hear the term.  It wasn’t related to my university, but rather, an international community-based, service-based group of women of all ages.  I met and made a friend in one of my night classes who was a part of this group, and she invited me to one of her meetings.  I enjoyed the friendships that these women shared, and soon they invited me to join them – so I became a sister in Beta Sigma Phi.  We had meetings twice a month at different sisters’ homes, service projects, and social outings.  Up until that, my whole life consisted of being Mom, wife, and college student, so it gave me an outlet to just be around other moms and wives while enjoying fun and friendship.

After being in that chapter for several years, I sadly had to step back and take a leave while I was going through my divorce.  I missed my friends dearly, and because of living so far away from all of them, knew that I would probably see them rarely after I left.  After being out of it for a while, Holly found a chapter near my new house that we decided to go visit.  From the first visit, we really enjoyed the ladies and were soon back into the swing of sorority and joining them.  Sure we missed our old chapter, and Holly eventually went back to that one when she moved back to their area, but it was nice to be involved again.

One of the awesome things about sorority that I always enjoyed was the Sweetheart Ball that takes place every February.  When I left my original chapter, I missed it dearly.  The city council that my new chapter belonged to did not have a ball, so I missed it even more knowing that it wasn’t an option.  A few years ago, the new group decided that we wanted to go to the ball, and that was the first time that I would be there with Erikka.  Needless to say, there was a lot of staring, and not near the friendly “sisterness” that I had known for all of those years previously.  And we looked CUTE!  I think we were engaged that year…

Fast forward to 2012.  In the two or three years since our chapter attended the Sweetheart Ball, we have left it up to the chapter sweetheart to decide if they wanted to go or not.  This year, our sweetheart decided that she wanted to go to the ball, so plans were made and tickets were purchased.  This would be our second time as a group to join, and everyone seemed pretty excited about getting dressed up to go – us included!  It was going to be the first time that I had seen my sisters from my former chapter in a very long time, and I hoped that there would still be that connection from so long ago.  I knew that there were quite a few of the ladies who are pretty conservative, and who either don’t approve of my marriage to Erikka, or who don’t understand (or want to understand).  Nevertheless, I was looking forward to seeing them and hoping that it would be good.

Last Friday night, after spending hours preparing and primping and getting into our new clothes for the ball, we were off.  We dropped off Noah and Harrison at my mom’s, and drove to the country club where the event was taking place.  Erikka looked beautiful in a dark, navy blue shimmery dress, and I coordinated with her in dark navy blue and black.  We looked fabulous!  We found Holly and Tony as soon as we arrived, who showed us to our table – everything looked so nice.  We had dinner and soon all of the sweethearts were lining up in the hallway with their escorts for the traditional presentation of each chapter’s sweetheart.  Our sweetheart is single and had come to the ball solo, so we had decided ahead of time that I would escort her in.  Let me tell you, walking in with a chick in a formal on my arm, while a couple of hundred eyes are staring…well, it’s a bit unnerving.  We laughed and giggled as we walked in and stood among all of the other boy-girl couples that were around us.  After everyone was presented, they then announced that it was time for the Sweetheart Dance – what the what???  Nobody had told us that we were supposed to dance!  So then we were REALLY getting stared at, but we did it!  I was soon rescued from the awkward staring by another sister’s husband, who cut in and finished out the dance with our sweetheart.

Sweetheart Ball 2012

Shortly after all of the sweetheart formalities, we all went out into the hallway and took pictures.  When we went back in, we got out on the dancefloor with everyone else and danced and laughed.  A slow song came on, and I walked over to our table to take Erikka by the hand.  We went out onto the dancefloor, and spun our way slowly around it, amid all of the other couples.  Soon I could feel the disapproving glances and stares coming from some of the older couples, and could even see some whispering.  The most prominent was from an older lady, who was also a tiara-wearing sweetheart from her chapter.  We turned while dancing and I saw her looking at us with a look of absolute disgust on her face.  She then said something to her husband in his ear, and then he turned to look at us with the same look.  They stared at us with that look, and talking to each other, for the remainder of the dance.  Sure, I wanted to walk over and say something to them…or punch them in the face…but of course my wife would not have let me do that.  I mean, really??  Come on folks.  We’re SO normal.  I guess that is why it still surprises me when people are so blatantly and outright ugly towards us.  When we got back to the table, I told my sisters about it. One of them asked me if we ever get used to that from people, and it really made me think.

My response, when asked this question, is typically, “Yes, I’m used to it.”  But I don’t want to be used to it!  I get outraged every time someone looks at me with disdain or disgust whenever they see me with my wife, maybe holding her hand or with my arm around her.  We are people dammit, just like anyone else!  I should have walked over and told her how rude and ignorant it was of her and her husband to behave that way, and that it is 2012 so they need to get over themselves.  I don’t want my kids to ever see me keep quiet and LET someone look at us, talk about us, or be ugly towards any of us and think it is acceptable behavior.  All of that “do unto others” crap that we grow up hearing suddenly goes out the window when it’s something that we don’t like or accept – I am sure we are all guilty of it.  So I will make a conscious decision to “do unto others” in all situations, in hopes that they will “do unto ME” in turn.

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