Every time I type “LGBT” I feel a little guilty. If I spell it out, “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender” it becomes problematic. Some folks even add “Q” for “questioning.” The alphabet soup could go on forever, frankly. And though lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered people may have concerns that overlap they are not really reducible to a single category.
My own alphabet soup recipe would add “D” for “disabled," “S” for “single," “I” for “infertile," “A” for “adoptive," “R” for “interracial," “L” for “large," “M” for “minority," “P” for “poor” (and here I’d link Welfare Mum if she hadn’t been harassed off the internet by anti-welfare flamers). Plenty of those overlap too. Then there are stepfamilies, international and immigrant families, of course, first mothers and first fathers (who get less press, but I know a couple and they love their children too), religious minority families, childfree families. And on and on it goes.
When you really look at them closely, all families are queer, though some may seem more obviously so than others.
And that’s one reason it’s hard for me to blog about only LGBT families, or to lobby simply for LGBT families (and to be honest, many if not most “LGBT” organizations leave a lot to be desired in their advocacy for the “B”s and the “T”s).
“But Shannon!” you protest, “this is Blogging for LGBT Families Day. Can’t you save that other stuff for other days?
No. I can’t. Because I have a hard time seeing any stuff as “other.” Because our concerns are linked in ways that are obscured to us so as to divide us and conquer us. Because policies that encourage, support, reward and privilege the middle-class-white-married-heterosexual-parents-with-two-bio-kids-and-a-dog-family do not encourage, support, reward or privilege the rest of us. And even the very few of us who fit that increasingly uncommon model (Zounds! I was raised in it!) often chafe at the assumptions cast upon us by the media, the government and others due to our supposed “normalcy” (statistically minor though it may be). My folks are margarita-swilling, pinko Baptists who spend most of their free time on social justice work. How “normal” is that, really?
Here at Lilysea Head Quarters, we have two official policies; one is our heartfelt, revolutionary policy and one is our “maybe next year this or that could be a little better” policy. The latter is pro-gay marriage, but the former is anti-any marriage. Period.
So I suppose we are out to destroy the fabric of the American Family as it has been represented (if not actually lived by many people) in the last fifty years or so.
Cole and I are as married as we or anyone ever need be. We had a big party in which we vowed things to each other before supportive witnesses, and we work to keep those vows on a daily basis.
The government should not be in the business of deciding whether or not we or anyone else can have what should be universal human rights based on whether or how or if they have made similar vows to someone else.
Gay marriage would get Cole and I on equal footing with her heterosexual colleagues. How nice for us. How nice that we too could have an upper-middle-class income, a stay-at-home parent, a child for whom we may choose a high quality private school, a well located, well funded public school or homeschooling by a PhD with teacher’s certification without paying an extra few thousand dollars a year penalty for being lesbians.
Gay marriage would do nothing for the majority of people we know who either aren’t partnered with someone with good employment benefits or aren’t partnered at all—gay, straight or otherwise.
We would marry tomorrow if we could. It would be easier than keeping up with estate-planning, paying the extra expenses for health care, etc. All those things you will learn about if you read widely today among the LGBT Families Day participants, or if you look through my own archives.
But if we could wave a magic wand, we’d refocus the lens of scrutiny not on individual families at all, but on the possibility that all people—regardless of whom or how they love—could have access to quality healthcare, quality childcare, quality education, safe housing, nutritious food and human dignity.
Today, as you are pondering LGBT family issues, please also try to come up with at least one way that you can add to the effort to make that magic happen. For every child. For every parent. For every person. Not because the government approves of their personal choices, but because they are human.