Monday, December 31, 2007


In any group brought together by near any condition of race, sex, religion, or what have you, there seems to be a shared a problem. There’s always a temptation towards orthodoxy to the cause, and a sort of authoritarianism and elitism. Leaders emerge, factions form, and, for some extreme members, the right and reasonable goals of the group become less important than control and fanaticism. For such reasons I’ve tended to shy away from leading, following, or getting the hell out of the way of any of my groups, aside from my home.

The gay communities are no different. Things are much better than they were last decade, and I greatly respect most all here in Utah who have taken on leadership positions. Though I’ve known some to have unfortunate weaknesses, most are great conscientious people, the sort, or better than the sort you’d find in your average group’s leadership.

Our particular group of gay and lesbian parents seems to have taken a turn for the worse though. Rob and a good friend were once in the leadership positions, and things were great, but each year we all wanted new folks to take charge. After the last changing of the guard, a new dynamic was initially subtle. The person in charge was a friend of a long time member but wasn’t anyone we knew. She immediately changed the group to a new email account, and we suddenly found ourselves off the email list. We kept telling them, and they kept saying they’d add us, and we were never added. We got some of the emails forwarded to us by friends and they kept talking about the group as if they were only meant for lesbian parents, only mentioning “moms”. Now I don’t mind that. I think people get way too concerned about PC inclusive language, and I’m able to translate as long as I know intentions are good. But it seems it wasn’t just a matter of language; eventually it started to seem there was resistance to including gay men and our families in the activities at all. The last I heard no gay men are at their events now, and single parents are being discouraged from attending, and even some lesbian couples, our friends, have been somehow dropped from the email list.

The last email I got forwarded to me was about the Christmas party, which is usually at our friend’s house, a male couple, but not this year. The email explained how they weren’t going to hire the same Santa we’ve used for years because he came with his wife, Mrs. Clause, and that was too “heteronormative.” Instead of this sweet old couple, who’ve always been great with us and our kids, they wanted Santa and an elf. It seems they were basically firing the guy for being heterosexual.

Okay, I know this all may sound like sour grapes :-). But I’d be concerned about what’s happening to that group now even if we were not one of the couples on the outs.

I do hope I’m misreading this, and that there are reasonable explanations for what seems to be leadership taking on a sort of lesbian couple elitism and gay orthodoxy. I also know, if the worst is the case, it’s a problem with the new leadership, not the many great families left in the group. One bad apple in charge and so on… This group has existed for many years just fine until now.

I see this though, and I worry how it’s going to end up biting my family. Such leaders seem to be swinging the pendulum way too far; they’re creating a stereotype about our families, particularly of lesbians in this case as anti-men. I worry also that insulating their children from cultural icons that are, to an overwhelming degree, heterosexual will become a problem, a suspicious redaction and a show of a sort of heterophobia to their children who can be hurt by such every bit as much as gay kids can be by their parent’s homophobia. On the other hand, I do know this sort of thing happens in all minority groups, and maybe it’s silly of me to think we should keep the “heteronormative” Santa when I don’t care about the, say, black Santa used in some parts of the black community.

In the end, there are bigots on both sides of most any political divide, and I hope that gay intolerance is not the problem here and that I’ve misunderstood something and will be corrected soon. In some ways, I fear our fanatics more than the outright anti-gay Sodom and hellfire opponent. I’m more comfortable with outside and direct threats.

Anyway, after trying to get included for a couple months now, we’ve formed our own group of parents, and we’ll welcome anyone who welcomes us: gay, lesbian, straight, or “straight” ;-). For us, it all worked out, and our kids still have their friends in similar families, and we still have the same great lesbian and gay friends there that we did before to rely on for advice in the similar trials we face.

In fact, our new group just had our first monthly excursion, sledding. See:

After 30 minuets, to show the difference between our boys, Brian was here:

warming in the car, while Alan found a slide and was still tiring me out.

We brought doughnuts and hot chocolate and ended up inadvertently feeding a good number of hungry sledders and their parents. We were happy to share, and even happier that all still took our food and were congenial after we answered their questions about our group. I don't care if they were heteronormative, straight people are just fine by me :-).


Mr. Fob said...

I'm glad you explained that photo of Brian, because it looked like he'd been frozen in a solid block of ice--perhaps as punishment for being too heteronormative.

Java said...

That's a shame about the old group changing character, but how wonderful that the "new" group of "old" families is carrying on. Those left behind are missing the wonderful rich experience of the whole picture.

Isn't it fun to watch how two children, so similar in many ways, can be so very different? That's one of the joys I revel in as a parent.

Scot said...

Mr. Fob "perhaps as punishment for being too heteronormative."

Pff, heteronormative? Am I crazy to think that’s silly?

Besides, they’d have to do something really bad to cause me to freeze them in ice… carbonite maybe; I hear that’s reversible.

Java: "Isn't it fun to watch how two children, so similar in many ways, can be so very different? That's one of the joys I revel in as a parent."

Oh I do agree. It’s particularly striking with twins. It really shows how much of parenting is reacting positively to who your child already is, instead of trying to mold them into someone else.