By Susan Howard
At the dog park with the new puppy, Percy and my three kids I tend to make friends. There is something about dogs and their lack of pretension that allows we humans a chance to open up look each other in the eye and talk. Such was the case with a women who appeared to be a veteran of the park and was amazing with all the dogs. She even had my crazy puppy dutifully following her around waiting for her to toss a ball.
“You are so good with dogs,” I said admiringly.
“I used to be dog walker,” she admitted.
“Why don’t you do it anymore?” I asked.
“My wife is pregnant with our second and it’s too much with a two year old at home too.”
And there it was, “My wife is pregnant” just like butter on toast the phase slid out unapologetic with not even the hint of a stammer. Yes, maybe she sized me up as “family” and thought I would get it, but more likely it was a sign that the times are changing.
It used to be the gay guys adopting the word “husband” in a campy way. “I don’t know how to plunge a toilet, my husband wears the pants in our house.” Then we lesbians followed suit. “She’s not my sister…she is my wife…” Followed by a blush, blush, uncomfortable grin.
But now at a dog park in the middle of the day it just drops as easy as offering the time of day.
Am I sad not to be a shiny unicorn? No. Do I want to fit in just like the straights? No. Is my sexuality my activism? No. I guess if you asked me I would want to be different, but the same, which is honestly what I am. I don’t want to be touted for my sexuality or shamed.
Back at the dog park I was proud of that dog whisperer lady for being in her truth to the level that there was no song and dance when talking to a stranger about her life. I have a wife, she is pregnant, my life is busy, you should switch to a longer leash when training your dog.
Although I know full acceptance of same sex couples is far away in various parts of the country and world, it’s coming and in some ways it has arrived.
My family was recently lucky enough to be in a Walmart commercial. They wanted to use our family in part because we are a same sex couple. Yes, maybe it’s a PR stunt so Walmart seems “inclusive”, like when there is the arbitrary “black friend” in a sea of white people during a Holiday movie. Be that as it may, it is trendy and trending that brands acknowledge and celebrate our families. I am proud of companies being thoughtful and embracing of our families. It’s incredible actually, to think of it. Walmart! What?
As I write this I am brought to tears. Walmart did a TV ad with a same sex family in it for the holidays, just because. If we are a mere pawn in their marketing philosophy, good. I want to represent families like ours proudly, without hesitation or pretense. We are here, it’s Christmas (and Hanukkah) for us, and we buy huge bags full of toys for our kids too.
Leaving the dog park with my kids I look back and wish the women well, “That’s a tough split, a two year old and newborn, good luck.” I smile knowingly. I am thankful this year and hopeful for the next. When the big brands lead the way, people’s perceptions change and our lives become, just that, our lives.