This week New Jersey became the latest state to offer marriage equality. Oregon also took a step closer by recognizing same sex couples married in other states. We have turned a corner on the question of same sex marriage. In this last year more states have extended basic civil rights to LGBT Americans, thanks to a landmark SCOTUS decision, and the trend is not likely to stop. That is very good news.
It is time, therefore for us to have a serious talk. Because we as a community have made strides in regard to marriage, does not mean that you necessarily need to take similar actions in your personal life. You do not need to run off to New Jersey with your wonderful boyfriend or girl friend in order to make a political statement.
For the same reason, that the anti-gay and hatred communities are wrong to hold marriage back as some symbolic gesture to marriage structures of the past, pro-gay people cannot rush into it as a new symbol of political gains of the present. Getting married is not political; it is a very big deal on a personal level.
As my Republican mother ungraciously asked me, “Why do you write in favor of gay marriage so much when you blew your own?” She is wrong. Gay marriage IS right. She is right that while I worked hard on mine, it did go wrong.
So here is my talk to all of you who are considering taking this step in your lives. I share this as one who has been through it and from what I did not know at the time. My ex-spouse and I grew with the marriage movement. We registered as domestic partners when it meant practically nothing. We married in San Francisco on Valentine’s day when Gavin Newsome briefly allowed it in a move of civil government disobedience. We divorced when we were under the full weight of state marriage laws without the dignity of ever calling ourselves truly “married”.
To be fair, I thought we had discussed much of the important list that I am going to give you. We had not. Not by a long shot. We should have. If we had, we might actually be together today, or we may have been able to separate in a more amicable way. In any case, I offer this to you from the vantage point of 20/20 hindsight. Dream the dream of a happily forever after with your soul mate… but also make sure that you both are clear and agreed on the following questions.
1. Are you prepared for mutual financial responsibility? Public debate on marriage equality has complicated the issue with a lot of things that are irrelevant in real people’s lives. The financial factor is supremely relevant. When you marry, you take responsibility for each other’s finances. Are either of you prone to debt? Is one a higher earner with more assets? Make a plan on how all this will work and how you will each commit to it, and make it fair.
2. How will you resolve conflict? This is the big foundational one. The issue is not whether or not you will disagree on something… it is when. What are your rules for resolution? Who will you both go to as a third party when you can’t find agreement? It will make matters worse if that person is someone that one of you can’t stand or does not trust. What are your rules for arguments? “We will never go to bed mad.” Is a good example. How can you each confess mistakes safely?
3. What is your growing vision of your family? You as a couple are the seed of a family. The anti-gay and hatred communities refuse to believe this, but it is the truth. You may not have children, or you may, but you will certainly have pets and there will be special people that you emotionally adopt. With all these, you need a mutual vision. Will you adopt? Will you choose surrogacy? Will you become fostercare/adopt parents? The latter, which is how I became a parent, is a path with its own character challenging issues (actually there is no path without them), and you should be well versed, together, before venturing blindly into it.
4.How will you parent? Should you and your spouse decide to become parents, this is the most important aspect for you to explore. When my spouse and I considered becoming fostercare parents, I solicited advice from a friend who had adopted a fostercare child with his wife. He shared with me that the hardest thing was seeing the parent his spouse became and realizing that he could not parent that way. They ultimately divorced, and so, ultimately, did we. Figure this out up front with ways to adhere to it to be successful —your children will thank you for it.
5. What are your priorities regarding extended family? Marriage is the seed, the end of which is an entire family. How far will yours go, and what are the terms? If one part of your extended family is anti-gay, how will they be prioritized against your spouse and immediate family? I have seen this elephant in the living room of several gay couples. And the elephant eventually charges. Cage it.
6. What is the state of your intimacy and how will you protect it? This question can be subtle and have different superficial representations that get focus, but end up not resolving the real issue. This requires you as a couple deciding your on-going standard of physical, emotional and communication intimacy. Preserve it. Cherish it. It will be under siege not just by the hot third party person who lusts after one of you, but also by those cherished children who zap you of time, energy and attention. The former is pretty obvious on how to handle, once temptation is dealt with, but the latter can be tough. It is vital that you relationship be your “favorite child”, nurtured and grown, otherwise, your other children will ultimately pay the price.
7. What is your spiritual plan for your family? Yeah, the God stuff. It is not important that you both agree on this, but if you have kids, a common foundation from which for them to grow is important. This also gives an important touch point if you run into problems elsewhere. It is good to have a set of mutually agreed upon spiritual principles on which to reflect when you are feeling in trouble.
8. How will you mutually nurture your careers and avocations? Dreams can be complex things. How will you nurture the dreams of each other as life throws “chance of a lifetime opportunities”? Have a plan, a fair one.
9. What is your mutual loyalty agreement? This feeds many other areas on this list, but it is broken out here to recommend a conscious, discussed and understood agreement. At what point is a flirt gone too far? What porn or erotica involvement has crossed the line? What friend confidences are too much, and how will the keeping of secrets FOR others be handled? Decide these upfront, but also acknowledge that no one is perfect and mistakes will be made. An agreement to pre-forgive would also be helpful.
10. What are the terms for the end of your relationship? I realize this has the romantic appeal of a fart during an intimate good night kiss, but, it needs to be understood up front. The fact is, barring a meteor hitting your car as you are both driving out of the Senior Center many decades from now, your marriage will end with one of you leaving either through death or divorce. Each scenario needs a plan, and it is far, far better that those awful details be decided when heads are clear and caring rather than grieving, angry or potentially bitter. One of the sad realities of the divorce system is that it only works remotely well when the divorcing parties can cooperate, communicate and come to agreement with as little friction as possible. Since they are usually in a mindset that is the antithesis of everything that would create that scenario, having a plan up front is the best way to get there.
M. Scott Peck said that “Love is the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.” That is the basis for this list. It is not the most warm fuzzy article you have read on the subject of same sex marriage, but I feel like it may be one of the most important as you work towards you ultimate happiness which is what I dearly and fondly wish for you. Fight for your rights, demand the choice to marry the love of you life, and when that happens… make it right. Opposite sex married couples are only at the 50% success mark. Let’s do it better.
By Brandy Black
TNF: Tell me about your family.
Kristin: We live in Middletown Pa, Bucks County. We met a mile away from our home now. Diane owned the house across the street from my parents’ house. As neighbors we became friends and feelings began to form. We dated for about 9 months before we became official and moved in together. Ten months later we were engaged; yes the cliché of proposing in Magic Kingdom at Disney World under the fireworks. We took our time and planned and paid for our wedding by ourselves since neither of our parents had the financial means. Our official wedding day was August 28th of 2010, which took place on the beach of Asbury Park, NJ. Then we traveled back to PA to fulfill the reception that would be close to home.
TNF: Do you have any kids?
Kristin: At this time, we have one child, he is 6 years old. We found him on an adoption website within our state, almost like a catalog of foster children that need permanent homes. We fell in love immediately and just knew this was meant to be…and it was. He is a biracial, low functioning, autistic little boy that we love more than words can express. We were told he may never be able to talk, plus many other things that people take for granted, it was not promised would ever happen for him. He is now talking quite often and has already overcome the challenges we were told would continue through out his life. Now, we are opening our home to foster/adopt up to 4 more children. We feel that after seeing our boy live through 3 foster homes in 2 years and face neglect and abuse, we need to save as many children as possible.
TNF: Do you feel different from other families?
Kristin: Living in the area that we do, there are many prejudices that we see quite often. It went from having an issue being in a straight bar/restaurant looking “obviously gay” to now being 2 mommies with a biracial child. Our area is very judging if you are not the typical Caucasian straight family. We deal with things as we go, trying best to protect our child and future children in every possible way. We do have a few very close friends here that are family to us, that are, of course, the exception to the rule. We have made the decision to not adopt a child that is dark skin African American only because being adopted is hard enough, let alone adopted as an African American that will stand out with 2 white mommies. We could never let a child deal with all that ridicule that would come living where we do.
We feel very different from a lot of families that we know. We don’t know what it is like to go through child birth, feel the growth, and witness his birth. We don’t even have baby pictures of our son. But on the other hand we know what is it like to fight for something and we battle every day to make him feel that we will love him for the rest of our lives, unconditionally. Not only is it tough bringing an adopted child into the mix of friends and family, but being an autistic child raises that bar to a whole new level. We have to weigh the surroundings and how it may affect him. Simply going to a birthday party means thinking it through first, if not the right setting it can throw him completely off. He can’t ask for things or have conversations with other children; he doesn’t have the capability. Those that judge us or him have found their way out of our life, those who haven’t are considered family or showed the meaning of family and are the world to us.
TNF: What does having a family mean to you?
Kristin: Having a family has meant the world to both of us. We are extremely proud of how far we have come and all that we have accomplished. Now we are not just the lesbian couple that show up to kiddie parties with no kids, we are a part of the group for once. We fought hard to have what we have and remember that fight everyday, we can’t take a thing for granted.
Thank you Kristin and Diane for allowing us to interview you. You are a true inspiration and we hope you keep in touch as your family grows.
By Brandy Black
From morning till night I’m taken by someone else. My iphone alarm goes off dictating my morning stumble to the shower, my quiet time, in which I prepare myself for the day ahead. The squeak of the hot water valve and the creek of the shower door cue the twins to begin their morning chatter. “Mama” Maaaaaammmmma”. My pace quickens as I dry, lotion and prepare milk for their morning routine. They jump up and down in their cribs when I enter the room. My son throws his pacifier on the ground with delight and reaches for his “ba ba.” Bella, collects her blankie, pacifier and bottle, holding on with all her might. The day has begun. Shortly after, my 5-year-old wakes up, sometimes happy and cheerful with good mornings to all and others with a shout and a slam of the door. I brace myself each day, not knowing which direction it will turn.
I struggle to get ready while also ensuring the twins are changed, Sophia is dressed, teeth and hair brushed and all is in order for “Breakfast time.” This is when I open the door of our hallway and we make our way to the kitchen, our au pair waits, usually half awake and prepares breakfast for the kids. I don’t know what I’d do without her on the other side of the door. She gives me an additional 15-minutes to make myself presentable for whatever meetings are coming my way.
I choke down my priobiotics at the table as the children all laugh at me knowing I really don’t like the sour tang in my little yogurt container. And off we go, bye bye to the twins. Sophia and I head to school. The day moves on, in and out of meetings, conference calls, checking on the twins when I have a spare moment, usually followed by angry tears when I escape again. I am grateful that I have the ability to work from home but we are at the stage where they always want to be with Mama and that can be hard on everyone.
5:00 comes and it’s time for me to put down my phone, computer and work and focus on the kids. This is witching hour, they are clingy, they both fight to be held and don’t want to sit, they want me standing and walking around the house with one of them on my hip. My oldest wants my attention too. I brace myself for this. I love having kids in my arms, I’m going to miss it when it goes away but I won’t miss the fight for attention that happens every afternoon when I walk in the room. I wonder if that will ever end? I feel like I’m letting everyone down and sometimes want to retreat under the covers and cry. I have learned to compartmentalize, I have to close each chapter, each moment in order to open a new one. I cannot linger or wallow, there is no time and my children simply won’t allow it. I imagine putting all the children to sleep and sitting in the back with my wife to detox and release the happenings of the day, but even that rarely happens. The time is ticking and we race to finish before exhaustion sets in. Dinner. Check. Books. Check. Pajamas. Check. Twins asleep. Check. Now homework with our oldest daughter. Lately this seems to be my job. I’m learning Japanese with her, she is in a dual immersion school and so we sit for 30 minutes a night and practice both English and Japanese. Once we’re both tired of flashcards and characters we move on to reading. I have always loved this time with my daughter, we’ve been doing it since she was three weeks old. Two to three books every night. But these days, I find myself thinking of other things while I read, calculating my night, what needs to get done before the day begins again tomorrow. Wait, stop, don’t drift, back to the book. Live in the present.
We are done, I kiss her good night, I grab her mom when she’s not working for the rest of the bedtime routine and suddenly the house is quiet. It is just me and sometimes Susan. Now we clean. We put away the day, books on shelves, blocks in boxes, dishes in cabinets, food in fridge. We make Sophia’s lunch and my time becomes my own. On some nights I work, catching up with my busy day, others I work for Sophia’s school, sending out emails, signing off on papers, ordering supplies, clothes for the kids, and on the fun nights I sit with Susan and talk or watch TV, once a week we even sneak out for a date. By 11, I’m tired, I need to sleep.
I get in bed and wonder, what would life be like…suddenly I’m asleep.
And here she comes, with all the latest baby gear, loaded with all kinds of baby accessories, slow and calculated walking, like Rambo with her ONE single baby, she gave me the “watch out I am a modern, smart, big deal mom” kind of look and all I could think was phsss I have 3 of those missy and half of the arsenal…
One thing that most women own and defend is the fact that they have the natural ability to be moms. That is serious stuff, their pride and prehistorical experience on that role is something you are not supposed to mess with.
Anytime a female discovers my role as principal caregiver of 4 babies with the total absence of a female in our household, something changes, I notice a subtle higher pitch in their voice, their attention becomes more acute and their body posture tends to acquire an upright position. My sensors tell me, it is time to go for the test again. I can feel the wave of emotions coming my way, it feels like their entire weaponry is pointing at me.
Its mostly pity the feeling they manifest, pity and some superiority. I can see how they shake their heads with their eyes. They are too smart to really shake their heads but not enough to hide the real feeling behind their expressions.
Some may feel fear and even defiance. They may think – Who in the hell do you think you are to usurp the job I have done exclusively for thousand of years, the role I played so well that no man ever, was able to even think about taking? This is my own nature you are insulting…
Then is when all the unsolicited advice starts to shoot my way. And yes they never had triplets but they took care of their cousin’s irish twins, and you don’t know how hard it gets later, and good for you! You must have your hands full. God BLESS you! Translation: ha you don’t know how much blessings you are going to need from now on.
And the Spanish women… Oh well that is a whole new post… I don’t know if that is because of their culture or because we are both Latinos and they feel they can be more intimate with me, but they are especially animated and eye rolling when they learn I am a gay men with children.
They eyes open big, I am afraid their fake eyelashes are going to fall right in front of me. Then there are those few seconds of awkwardness when they are thinking of how to digest the news and be supportive and true to their own person at the same time, they can’t hide their surprise from me, I know it’s coming, I just relax my shoulders, take a big breath and think, “Bring it lady, bring it on”
I would hope all these impressions are only in my head and none of these are real but my gut assures me: You are under test, watch what you do or say. You are playing on sacred territory. Smile and keep walking, don’t look back because they could cut your throat in a blink of an eye.
TNF: How did you two meet?
Annie: We met in The Stonewall Chorale, the first LGBT choral group in the country. Emily is an alto and I am a soprano. We were both with other people at the time, but we knew right away that we were meant to be together. After an agonizing year of figuring things out, we were legally married in NYC (though we live in NJ, where it may happen soon!) We both work in New York City, and really feel like New Yorkers even though we live across the river. A couple of weeks later we had a small family wedding in our close friends’ yard two doors down from our home.
TNF: Do you have children?
Annie: We have twin boys who were born on August 13, 2013. I have filed to adopt them as Emily carried them, we don’t want any legal issues later. I’m adopted myself so it seems normal to me (even though a straight couple who did IUI using an anonymous donor wouldn’t have to do that! But don’t get me started…)
TNF: Do you feel any different from other families?
Annie: We feel different from other families in a good way. We are both in education, have a very strong relationship, and are equal partners in raising our sons. Everyone we know says how lucky our boys are to have two mamas.
We are lucky that we live here in the Northeast. We do not feel different from other families at all. We have lots of friends with and without children, from all different family make ups. The other day we went to a meet and greet for the families in the Montessori school I am the Director of in Brooklyn, and all the families congratulated us on the new babies. No one even blinked that we are married and have a family. They were all just happy for us. Emily is from Texas, and when we go there we are just as open about being together, but do not always feel the love back. Her family is wonderful and more than accepting, but we can always see how much more awareness needs to be grown in that part of the country than here. Both our families are very accepting, and they are thrilled about our new additions!
TNF: What has having a family meant to you?
Annie: Having a family means the world to us. We know how lucky we are to have two healthy, sweet boys. Many people who struggle with their sexuality or coming out also struggle with whether or not they will have a so-called “traditional family”. As soon as we fell in love, we knew we wanted a family, and feel so much gratitude each day for finding each other and having our boys.
TNF: How have your lives changed now that you have twins?
Annie: Besides being exhausted, we feel complete now that the boys are here. Our lives have changed but so much for the better. It has made us evaluate our priorities, and have gratitude for the little things, like naps or time together as a couple. We cannot imagine our lives without both of them, and we feel that they were just waiting for us to find each other so that they could come be with us.
Thank you Annie and Emily for sharing your beautiful family with The Next Family!
I came out to myself. Then to my sister. Then to my best friend. Then to some very close friends. Then to my parents and children. . . lastly, to other friends and then a blast on Facebook and my Surrogacy blog.
I was silly to think that blasting it on Facebook would do the job. No one ever told me that the process of coming out would be a daily occurrence, but for me, it usually is.
. . . when someone asks me what I did last weekend.
. . . when my children are inviting someone to spend the night.
. . . when the woman at the donut shop makes a comment about my handbag and how I must have a very nice husband.
. . . when I fill out my forms regarding my emergency contact
The list is endless.
I don’t usually mind coming out. I try to use it as a teachable moment, which is easy because unlike some lesbians, most people think I’m straight and I really seem to “throw” people at times.
However, on National Coming Out day, I will still remain closeted to one person . . . my waxer. If I ever see her when I have my clothes on and I’m not laying there exposed, maybe I’ll tell her . . . until then, it’s the pronoun game.
By Carol Rood
I live in Southeast Virginia. I have been here since 2002 when the Navy chose to station me here at a local helicopter squadron. When I retired from the Navy in 2004 after 20 years of service I decided that I didn’t want to move and uproot my kids again, so I decided to stay here in Southeast Virginia. In July of 2006 we bought and moved into a house in a very nice subdivision in Suffolk. When we moved in I promised my two boys that we wouldn’t have to move again and that we would stay here until they graduated from high school. That was very important to me, and so we were thrilled when we found a house we loved in a very nice subdivision. I was a little leery about living in a neighborhood with a Homeowner’s Association, but we had a good feeling about the neighborhood.
Soon after moving in, my kids started school at the elementary school located within a quarter mile from our house, and I was even more excited about the neighborhood! The teachers were amazing, the school was within walking distance, and the after-school care was affordable. The kids quickly made friends, and I started to make friends as well.
I think one of the things I loved most about BG (our neighborhood) was the fact that so many people knew each other and everyone seemed so nice. My oldest son started playing Little league and we met more people who lived in BG. Then the boys transferred from our Chesapeake Boy Scout troop to a Suffolk Troop, and even more BG people entered our lives! Living in a community that felt so tight knit was awesome!!
The summer of 2007 we found out that BG had a neighborhood summer swim team, and I signed the boys up immediately. It was not free, we had to pay a registration fee, and buy swim suits, but to have an activity for my boys to participate in that was in the neighborhood where we lived, and kept them busy was a godsend for this worried mother. That summer my boys got hooked and we have been participating in the Tsunami Swim Club for the past 6 years!
The swim club has a short season, only 6 weeks, and we practice in the neighborhood pool 4 nights each week from 6:45 until 8:45 (two one hour sessions divided by age group of the kids). To be honest the first few weeks (from Memorial Day until at least June 20) the water is cold and the swimmers come out with blue lips at times. To their credit parents have to tell them to get out and get warmed up because the kids love the team so much they want to just keep swimming.
In 2009, our Homeowners Association Board of Directors decided it was time to charge us “rent” for the use of the pool. Keep in mind that the Tsunami Swim Club was formed in 1996 and had never been charged fees before this time. We were charged $700.00 for our 6 weeks of practice (where we use only 3 lanes of a 6 lane pool) 4 nights per week, and $200.00 per meet (we usually have 4 home meets), for a total of $1500.00. This is of course above and beyond our normal homeowners dues to use the pool. We said, “ok, that is fair”, and began paying 4 years ago.
3 years ago I became the Team Manager. This is a loose term because the team is parent run, but someone has to organize things, and I became that person. I had to attend the HOA Board meetings in March to “hammer” out the details of the swim club license agreement with them. Every year that I went I heard from at least two board members about how “neighbors complained” about Tsunami “taking over” the pool, and one even said that Tsunami was “trouble” for them. They reluctantly allowed us to continue swimming in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Each year as I entered the Board meeting in March I knew it was going to be a struggle and was going to have to hear all of the bad things about the team. I always kept my cool and countered each allegation with facts and no innuendos. This past year we were told that they felt “threatened” because our Treasurer sent an email asking for a refund for a night we could not practice. A child has vomited in the pool, and the lifeguards did not have the proper chemicals to treat the pool. If they had we would have been able to have at least one practice. When we asked for a refund due to no proper chemicals being on hand apparently they felt “threatened”. I am still confused about that to this day.
I did receive an email from the HOA President this past summer threatening to kick us out of the pool and “immediately cancel our license agreement”. One of the lifeguards had complained about something one of the volunteer assistant coaches said and I was sent an email about a “substantiated” report of disrespect. My response was that it was NOT substantiated because our side of the story had not been heard. He conceded on that point, and we continued swimming our season.
Last month I received a letter signed by the HOA President telling me that we would not be allowed to swim during the 2014 Season. No reason given. No explanation. Just “you will not be granted an agreement to use the pool.” I immediately shared this information with the swim team parents who were incredulous. We had not been given any warning. We had not been told of any problems. Our fees were raised in 2013, and we paid them with no complaint. I was shocked and couldn’t figure out why the HOA Board decided to vote this way. According to the letter it was a “unanimous” vote. A vote done without any conversation or meaningful dialogue. A decision to ban a non profit community team without a discussion. A team comprised solely of swimmers who live in the neighborhood.
Of course I organized a meeting with the parents to try and find a way to approach the HOA Board in a calm rational manner. We had a very productive meeting and voted to attend the next HOA meeting to ask for a meaningful conversation to try to reverse their decision. We knew we would probably have to make concessions, but were okay with that if it meant we could keep the team.
Then last night the President of the BOD sent out a letter to “all of BG”. In the letter he stated that everyone should come out and state their opinions, and that the Swim Team needs to hear them because of our “perceived importance”. Needless to say I was shocked. I couldn’t believe he would send such an inflammatory and biased letter filled with misinformation to the entire neighborhood. And he used the Neighborhood Watch email to send it. Definitely the wrong platform.
The Vision statement from our neighborhood website clearly states:
The mission of the Burbage Grant Owners Association is to develop and encourage new activities that promote community unity while maintaining the architectural integrity, maintenance, and value of our homes and community property through fiscal responsibility and upholding the highest ethical and moral standards.
It seems our HOA and BOD has forgotten the mission and has forgotten they are supposed to serve the entire community, not malign one piece of it. A neighborhood swim team definitely promotes community unity. We don’t have a “perceived” sense of importance. We ARE important. I guarantee you this won’t be the last word on this issue. We will be out at the Board meeting this week in force, and we will be a force to be reckoned with!
I think what floors me the most to paraphrase from one of our swim team parents is that their arguments are all one sided and without merit. It is without recent quantitative statical analysis or official data-points with any sort of official polling of our homeowners.
Strap on your seat belts it will be a bumpy ride.
Did You Hear the One About the Homophobes Who Wanted to Adopt Out Their 16 Year Old Lesbian Daughter?
By: Rob Watson
Jokes are supposed to be funny. They always start with a set up and then build to a crescendo where the plot twists and the listener bursts out laughing. A few months ago, a “joke” went viral, but no one was left laughing.
The “joke” was a piece titled “PARENTS PUT 16 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER UP FOR ADOPTION AFTER LEARNING SHE IS GAY”. It came from a site called “The Memoirs of DEACON Tyson Bowers III”, and had previous iterations on the Daily Bleach and Christwire. The site it came from had other “credible” material such as KENTUCKY MAN SUES MOTHER FOR NOT ABORTING HIM, DANGERS OF PRIDE WEEK, STUDY: LESBIANS MORE LIKELY TO EAT FISH, AFRICAN AMERICAN SCIENTIST INVENT SYNTHETIC WATERMELON and GAYS BUILDING SECRET PENILE SHAPED RESORT ISLAND.
The piece was written as humor…satire… but none of the 72,000 who shared it took it that way. They believed it to be real.
Who could blame them? The article described the mindset of a homophobic couple from “Southern Carolina” who upon learning their daughter was “gay”, sought to put her up for adoption. Those who believed the story did so because even though it was fake, the mindset itself is painfully and horrifically real.
The story sped through Facebook and pages posted it, in most cases temporarily, only to take it down again with the apology that they had fallen for the hoax.
The most heart wrenching thing to observe were the sweet souls who were willing to step up to help. Numerous people sought more information because they actively were looking to adopt the abandoned teen in question.
Here is some news for them, and for those of you who cared about the 16 year old girl in the fake story. She exists. The story was bogus, the situation was a lie, but she is the truth. She is 16 and 15 and 14. She is male, she is female and she is transgender. Her parents did not try to adopt her out… they simply kicked her out, and slammed the door behind her. “She” is our homeless lgbt youth. She not only exists, she makes up to 40% of the total of all homeless teens, even though lgbt teens make up only 3% of the total population.
Writer Cathy Kristofferson researched and wrote an important piece in which she paints an accurate and urgent portrait of the LGBT homeless teen. Of the disproportionate rate she states, “Simple. Youth who come out to their parents are rejected by those parents at a rate of 50%, with 26% immediately thrown out of the house to become instantly homeless and many following soon after as a result of the physical and verbal abuse that ensues after their declaration. Empowered by the gains in equality and acceptance with the heightened visibility the adult gay community has welcomed of late, youth are emboldened to come out at ever-younger ages while still reliant on parents who are a flip of the coin away from rejecting them. Simple factors of 4 tell the story of parental rejection and its effect on queer youth homelessness:
2 out of 4 will be rejected by their parents when they come out
1 out of 4 will be kicked out by their parents when they come out
3 out of 4 homeless queer youth will say parent objections to their orientation led to their homelessness
Youth homelessness is bad enough on its own but being queer further compounds the difficulties. Devastating statistics like 62% of queer homeless youth attempt suicide only begin to tell the story of the additional hardship endured when compared with their heterosexual counterparts. Queer youth experiencing homelessness are:
3 times more likely to commit suicide, and 8 times more likely due to parental rejection
3 times more likely to turn to prostitution and survival sex
6 times higher incidents of mental health and substance abuse issues
7 times more likely to experience sexual violence at a much higher risk of victimization by rape, robbery and assault “
So, yes. There was an article passed around the other day, and thousands were rightly outraged and cared. The article was a fraud, bur your feelings and mine were not. We need to not focus on the tomfoolery of the internet and focus instead on the WHY, the reason behind our feelings.
The WHY is that there are real kids out there that need not only our indignation, but our action. Last Christmas, I suggested reaching out to them in the spirit of the season. Now I am suggesting it in the spirit of what is right.
If you wanted to adopt the 16 year old in the story, find the real her and adopt her. If you wanted to send money, start a program, get involved, please do it. If you felt passion around it, please channel that passion into action.
If we don’t, then the unreal story becomes real. It becomes an allegory for the progressive community who chose to adopt out its youth in need. We are better than that. Let’s not have the next viral story be ours.
My entire body is in pain, I am barely walking by the side of the road, and I can feel every single piece of gravel imbedded in my feet, and it hurts. I’m thirsty, tired, confused and awfully lost. I want to get rid of all of these feelings, yet I don’t have any energy left, except for one last impulsive idea; a black, shiny and heavy semi-truck heading my way and nobody watching. For a fraction of a second I think, if I jump now it will stop, all this pain and misery will stop. That was my only solution at the moment, but for some unknown reason I didn’t obey my thoughts. Instead I walked slowly, picked up a half of a cigarette that somebody threw on the ground, lit it up and kept walking. I didn’t feel any relief for not killing myself that night because I knew sooner or later an overdose or an angry drug dealer would do the job. I was hopeless and I was convinced that for me, at 40 years old, my life was over.
I couldn’t understand how I got there. Only a few months ago I was drinking champagne with a friend on top of Montjuic Hill, in the Palau Nacional, in Barcelona, while listening to an impeccable orchestra and thinking, there is nothing better than this! I felt like I was at the pinnacle of the world and nothing would bring me down. But this night, I was walking at the side of the road, lost.
A few days later, after my miserable attempt to finish my life, I was done. I was ready to ask for help and to accept I would never be able to stop using drugs by myself. All I wanted at that point was not to die. I didn’t want my career back. I didn’t want my house back or my belongings back. I was desperate and I didn’t want to die. I went to my first Narcotics Anonymous meeting, and from there everything traveled uphill. This time it wasn’t a materialistic hill, like I had always thought was the solution to any problem. This time it was a journey of self-discovery, and the beginning of a connection with a power bigger than myself.
This time the growing was from the inside out. Something I never felt before.
After two years in recovery, free of Alcohol and Drugs, I met my partner, Patrick. We met like most guys met these days, online. I didn’t have any expectations of finding a partner, and all I wanted was a distraction for the night. In fact, I was praying a few days before, asking God to help me not to get into another relationship. At this time I wanted to take a nice break and enjoy my “solo” time.
Well, once again, things didn’t go my way.
Patrick and I dated for about a year, following the suggestion of my NA sponsor. After a year of getting to know each other, we were ready to commit, and we moved in together. My partner, which is the opposite of me, had a very organized and stable life. One day, he told me he had always wanted to be a father. I heard that like somebody was telling me, one day, I would like to be a Hollywood star.
Three months later, I was helping him paint the new house which he had just purchased, and I found him painting one of the guest bedrooms in a pale green color. It wasn’t a lime-green or rich kelly green, but one of those soft watercolor greens that makes you grit your teeth. I asked him why he was using that color, and he responded softly and quietly. “Oh, because this is the baby’s room. This is the nursery.”
The room spun. I felt like he was pushing me away. I had never considered a situation like this, in any relationship. I was in love with him, and I was hoping for our relationship to last. He was determined to have children. He had a visual board with pictures of pregnant women tacked to it. Rickey Martin and his children smiled back at me, among others.
After meditating, praying, and talking to my close friends, I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t be just a witness of how he would create his progeny. I needed a clear position on the family situation. There were two possibilities:
- To leave. To refuse to have a relationship with someone determined to have children by himself.
- To stay and to be involved 100% of the way.
My decision was to stay. He is the love of my life, and I am in all the way. He was generous enough to let me into his life, and to share his dreams with me. A few days later we both were learning about surrogacy, egg donors, and adoptions laws. What amazed me the most was as soon as I accepted the possibility of becoming a parent, something clicked in my brain. I started to fantasize about having a son. I thought about teaching him to build tree houses and cardboard houses, (I’m an architect) and it felt good. I was excited!
We both become the sperm donors and we purchased eggs from an anonymous donor, (they should not be called donors since they charge a lot of money) we flew to L.A. and started our surrogacy journey.
A year later, after a series of trips, and a lot of baby gear shopping, I flew to San Diego, and waited until our surrogate called us. Our baby was coming! We rushed to the hospital, excited, scared, and overwhelmed. We waited for hours in the delivery room. It was awkward because by the end of the pregnancy, we were having a complicated relationship with our surrogate. All of us were ready to finish the deal and run away from each other. However, we remained polite and grateful. A group of nurses and doctors entered the room and while they were preparing her for delivery, they asked me if I wanted to receive the baby. I wasn’t sure what they meant, but I say yes. I thought they would hand me the baby, all clean and dressed, and I would smile for the picture. Well… no, I was wrong in the second part, because they handed me the baby but just straight from the womb, a baby still connected to her body by the umbilical cord, a baby time with all sort of fluids and textures.
I almost passed out. As soon as I looked at my son, I cried. I sobbed. I can’t explain my emotions. His birth was a symbolic and emotional rebirth for me. After my partner cut the umbilical cord, they moved our baby to a table where they cleaned him and checked him to make sure he was healthy. From the table he wailed, and I knew it was a good sign for a newborn. He looked so vulnerable. He was alive, yet fragile, and I couldn’t avoid feeling his pain as my own. I put one of my fingers close to his hand, instinctively, to help him and he grabbed it, he grabbed my finger very hard. In that moment I felt a strong connection, an unbreakable connection. I also felt how that little hole I had left in my soul was closing forever. I felt strong and ready to dedicate the rest of my life to the well-being of this child, my child.
Today I believe something bigger than me stop me from jumping into that truck, something bigger than me took me from my path of auto-destruction and place me into a path of recovery and decided that my purpose in life was to rise 4 beautiful children of my own and to have a full life. Today I have hope.
By: Brandy Black
I find myself crying a lot lately. Mostly tears of oh-my-god-life-is-moving-too-quickly-and-I-can’t-keep-up combined with my-daughter-is-becoming-a-little-girl-before-my-eyes. Since she started kindergarten a month ago it is as if she’s hit a million milestones. A couple weeks into school she had two teeth pulled at the dentist. Without me. I set a dentist appointment for Sophia to get a check-up and prepped Susan before she took her that they may suggest pulling a tooth.
I never dreamt that Susan would have them pull it on the same day, with no mental preparation for me or Sophia when it was 97 degrees, with a broken AC at the dental office. I was hanging at home with the twins when I got this text from my wife
I freaked out, panicked, called a dozen times, Susan would confirm this. I drive her crazy. She drives me crazy. No answer. No answer? This was happening. Next came a video from a bloody mouthed, happy Sophia with a tooth necklace dangling from her neck. Two teeth, gone. Check. First visit from the tooth fairy. Check. It happened too fast. I wasn’t ready, I wasn’t there to hold her hand.
A couple weeks later, the homework began. Sophia called me from Susan’s car on the way home from school to tell me that she had homework, her voice was high and excited. She came running into my room/office a few minutes later, plopped on the bed and said “I’ll do homework while you work, isn’t this great?” Homework. Check.
Last Monday we started with Bob books, you know the scholastic books that are good starters for little readers. She’s never read a sentence in her life, she knows cow, and all of our family names but that’s about it. I haven’t pushed her, I’m more of a it-will-happen-organically kind of parent. Sophia’s never really shown interest. We sat down together and I struggled through 15-minutes of torture, wanting to help her while she SLOWLY sounded out each word. She finally made it through that damn book. The next night, she asked to read again, this time, something clicked, I saw it happen, in the same way she learned to swim this summer. Oh let’s check swimming off my list too. But in that moment,I knew that she would be reading. Sure enough, one week later, she’s reading all of her Bob books. I can hear a little voice in bed at night sounding the words out quietly. Reading. Check.
Every night we do homework in two languages. I’m watching this little girl grow up quickly before my eyes. I can’t believe I’m the mother of a kid that is doing flashcards and writing in Japanese. Our three kids sit on the playroom couch together flipping through books, they collect leaves in the backyard and then crunch them with their feet, they gather them again, fighting over the rake and then throw them in the air. It all happens so fast.