Monthly Archives: September 2012

Quick Followup on Rupert Everett

I wanted to say a couple of things, just briefly, that have come up in responses to my post about Rupert Everett yesterday. There’s a couple of pieces of feedback that I’ve heard a few times, and I just want to summarize them and respond:

First, because this one is really easy for me to respond to, some folks have been saying that Rupert Everett is just no longer relevant. He’s a bitter has-been, and he just lashes out at every opportunity. Essentially, folks are saying that Everett isn’t worth my time.

I can think of a few bitter has-beens that have been making the rounds lately. How about Kirk Cameron, Victoria Jackson, and Newt Gingrich? It doesn’t take much for folks like that to make a brief return to the spotlight. The National Organization for Marriage is happy to give Kirk Cameron a platform. And they’d be happy for Rupert Everett’s comments on gay dads to be out there, too.

So I think it requires a response, even if the speaker doesn’t seem especially relevant anymore.

Second, and this is much more complicated, I’ve been hearing concern from a few folks that my post only addresses kids who were in a bad situation, and not gay parents who have children through one of the many other avenues for becoming a parent. Tied up in that concern is another message — that Rupert Everett was really talking about gay parents who chose surrogacy, and not gay parents who adopt from foster care.

Let me be very clear — regardless of how a gay person became a parent, Rupert Everett’s comments are contemptible and disgusting. It doesn’t take much of a logical leap to deconstruct. If Everett is opposed to gay parents choosing surrogacy, but isn’t speaking out about straight parents choosing surrogacy or becoming pregnant, then his issue clearly isn’t with bringing children into the world. (Though if that were his issue, we’d have another reason to think he’s disgusting. Telling people that they should or shouldn’t reproduce is horrific.) No, his issue seems to specifically be with gay men parenting.

The very funny Jeff Byrne said on twitter:

Seeing all gay men as himself, egotist Rupert Everett is rightly horrified at the thought of kids raised by 2 of him.

And I think that summarizes it better than I can.

As far as my post only talking about kids in a really awful situation? Well, that’s the actual story for my kids. Those aren’t hypothetical examples. And I chose to respond in that way as a rhetorical device, answering Everett’s question about what could be worse than being raised by two gay dads.

I think someone else could write an amazing response to Rupert Everett that really dismantles the inherent bigotry in what he’s saying about the decision of two men to bring a baby into this world. I hope someone does. But that isn’t my experience, and I think my writing is the strongest when I speak from my own experience.

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Goals Update, Month 2

Whoa, what’s that up there? Month 2?! Well, I’m just a few days shy of eight weeks of these goal updates. And I’ll be honest, they’re boring me. Probably almost as much as they are boring you.

I think the public chronicle of these big life goals I set up for myself this year is important. Thinking of having to post, “Oops, I did nothing but play Warcraft, eat goldfish crackers, and break up fights between my children this week,” keeps me motivated. But I think that, just for the sake of keeping things interesting, I’m going to drop these posts down to monthly updates.

The Blog: This has been going great. I’ve been keeping up with blogging, and I’m pretty happy with what I’ve been posting. Also, my blog traffic keeps increasing, which feels fantastic. It’s nice to feel that there are some folks who are also interested in what I’ve been writing. A huge thanks to folks who have linked to my posts and shared them with people.

My Novel: Progress continues, but it’s definitely slow. You know that Ira Glass quote about the gap between your skill level and your taste level? Definitely feeling that.

Weight Loss: I’ve lost 11 pounds so far, which is just about a third of my goal. I’m at the point now where I can see that there’s been a change, which is very encouraging. (Also, my pants are loose. I forgot a belt one day last week, and nearly flashed everyone in Target. I’m calling that a success.)

Exercise: You didn’t think I’d do it, do it? Well, today I started the second week of Couch to 5K. It’s tiring, and a lot of work, but it’s also still very much within the range of what I’m capable of doing. I was afraid I’d feel silly, but I’ve been doing it before the kids get up in the morning, and the only people I see are a group of high school students waiting for the bus. And I’m happy to report that I really don’t care what they think.

Ok, look for the next goal update in the second half of October! Thanks for all the support. It’s really meant a lot.

A Gay Dad Responds to Rupert Everett

This morning, via Joe.My.God., I had the misfortune of reading an interview with Rupert Everett in the Telegraph. You may or may not want to read the whole thing, but the money quote is short and sweet:

I can’t think of anything worse than being brought up by two gay dads. Some people might not agree with that. Fine! That’s just my opinion. I’m not speaking on behalf of the gay community. In fact, I don’t feel like I’m part of any ‘community.’ The only community I belong to is humanity and we’ve got too many children on the planet, so it’s good not to have more.

Well.

Where to begin?

I can think of a few things that are worse than being brought up by two gay dads, Rupert. Would you like some examples? Shall we talk about about how my children came to be in foster care?

My sons lived in a home where they played in animal waste. Their mom tried to take care of animals and children, but didn’t know how to take care of either. So the animals and children didn’t have enough food. I’m pretty sure there was at least one dead animal present one of the times my sons were removed from their home.

Is that worse than being raised by two gay dads?

When my older son was four, a foster parent brought him to the dentist for the first time. His teeth were literally rotting out of his head from neglect. He had to get six crowns, in addition to a whole bunch of fillings. I know how unpleasant getting a crown was at the age of thirty. I can’t imagine what it might have been like at the age of four.

Is that worse than being raised by two gay dads?

Once, my older son arrived at daycare and told his teachers that “Daddy hits Mommy.” Another time, neighbors called the police when they heard a dispute. The police found my sons’ parents assaulting each other on the bed next to my younger son. He was not yet one week old.

Is that worse than being raised by two gay dads?

My younger son once arrived at daycare with burns on his hands. His parents had been using the oven to heat their apartment, and my son tried to climb in.

Is that worse than being raised by two gay dads?

How about the foster parents that called the social workers and said they couldn’t handle my younger son anymore? He couldn’t see food without screaming, probably because he had so often been hungry. He was two and still couldn’t speak, so his only means of communication were screaming and crying.

Is that worse than being raised by two gay dads?

What about the next foster home, where my younger son was assaulted? He had bruises all over his face, even behind his ears, and the doctors couldn’t identify what item had been pressed into his face so hard that they could still see the pattern when he was finally brought to the emergency room. Maybe the sole of a shoe, or a tennis racket. Something with a pattern like that.

How about that, Rupert? Is that worse than being raised by two gay dads?

Listen, I understand that you were a trailblazer. You came out when I was in high school. And it mattered. It made a difference. It was meaningful to me.

And I also understand that you paid a heavy price for coming out. Your career has not recovered. Though I have to be honest — sometimes I wonder if part of the reason your career hasn’t gone where you hoped is that you seem unable to give an interview without saying something hateful and embarrassing. If I were producing a film, I expect I would want that film to be the story, and not the internalized homophobia of its stars on display. You might want to give that some thought.

But I would ask you to think back twenty years, Rupert. When you decided to come out, what motivated you? Did you hope you could make a difference? Well, you did make a difference. At least one kid — me — saw you, and knew that things would get better.

You’re making a difference again, Rupert, when you give interviews like the one you gave to the Telegraph. But it’s the wrong kind of difference.

UPDATE 9/17/2012: I wrote a brief followup to respond to a couple of reactions to this post.

Failure to Launch

Our new morning routine is working pretty well. Austin gets up and gets ready for work, the boys get up and Austin gets them ready and feeds them breakfast while I get up and get ready. Austin heads to work, then the boys and I get in the car. Jordan’s school starts at 8:30, so we drop him off, and then Andrew gets dropped off at 8:45. I’m back home by 9:00, and have a luxurious nearly two hours before it’s time to pick Jordan up at 11:00.

Yesterday was only the second day of preschool, so a lot of the kids are still nervous about being dropped off. This school does a car line (which is awesome), and yesterday there was a very sad little boy ahead of us in line. I’ve seen some sad kids in the first weeks of school, but haven’t yet seen one quite as upset as Jordan’s new classmate. He really seemed to think his mom was driving away, never to come back.

Once Jordan gets out of the car, I have about five minutes alone with Andrew in the car. This is the time of day when we get our best talking done. There are no distractions, so he can actually pay attention long enough to get his thoughts together.

Andrew had noticed the little boy crying and screaming, and asked me about it. I explained that it was only his second day of school, and he was scared.

“Remember when some of the kids at your old school were scared? I remember how sad Aidan was for the first couple of weeks, but then he realized that he loved school. And remember how scared Aubrey was, and she wanted you to hold her hand all day?” I reminded him.

“I wasn’t scared about starting a new school, though,” he said.

“No,” I said, “you get really excited about it. But you’ve had a lot of practice. You went to daycare when you were very little, and then you went to Headstart, and then preschool.”

He was quiet for a moment, then said, “That’s not all.”

“Oh?”

“When I was little, I lived with different families, too. So I had lots of practice meeting new people and going new places.”

“You’re right, you did,” I said. “You’ve had a lot of practice.”

“I don’t think some of these kids have had very much practice.”

“No, you’re right. This is the first time some of them have gone to school,” I told him.

“Daddy, I think that some of these kids have lived with their mommies for their whole lives. Can you even imagine that?!”

I explained that almost all of them had lived with their moms for their whole lives, and we talked about a few kids we know who are also adopted. We don’t know many kids who actually remember a time before they were adopted, though. Even his little brother doesn’t really have a clear picture of a time before he lived with us.

Something about the way he said it made me chuckle, though, like he just couldn’t fathom these underachieving three-year-olds who were still living in their parents’ houses.

Goals Update: Week 6

Mostly on track this week.

1. A couple of shorter blog posts this week. I’m working on a new one, a little more parent-y and a little … less intense than the last few.

2. Better than last week. About 2500 words. I’m making progress, I think, and finding it hard to not get too caught up in organizational, outline-y tasks. Although, via the lovely Stacey Jay (who is preparing to outrun some zombies in some kind of awesome-sounding iron man zombie challenge!), I read an interesting article about increasing output via careful organization. It’s an appealing idea.

3. The diet continues to go pretty well. I’m finding it less challenging than I expected to stick to the plan. As of my official weigh-in this morning, I’ve lost 9.9 lbs. That’s 28% of my goal.

4. Exercise. Hmm. Another week, and this hasn’t magically taken care of itself. All right, time to commit! I’m going to start on Monday, immediately after taking the kids to school. (This is also a kill-two-birds-with-one-stone maneuver, as that has been my traditional time to stop at Dunkin’ Donuts and get a bagel sandwich.)

Why Zach Wahls Is My Hero

If you’re the kind of person who reads my blog, you’ve probably already seen Zach Wahls’ fantastic speech at the DNC from last night. Just in case you haven’t, here’s the prepared remarks:

I’m a sixth-generation Iowan, an Eagle Scout, and I was raised by my two moms, Jackie and Terry.

People want to know what it’s like having lesbian parents. I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m awesome at putting the seat down. Otherwise, we’re like any other family. We eat dinner, we go to church, we have chores. But some people don’t see it that way. When I was 12, watching the 2004 Republican convention, I remember politicians talking about protecting marriage from families like mine.

Now, supporting a view of marriage as between a man and woman isn’t radical. For many people, it’s a matter of faith. We respect that. Watching that convention on TV, though, I felt confused, frustrated. Why didn’t they think my family was a real family?

Governor Romney says he’s against same-sex marriage because every child deserves a mother and a father. I think every child deserves a family as loving and committed as mine. Because the sense of family comes from the commitment we make to each other to work through the hard times so we can enjoy the good ones. It comes from the love that binds us; that’s what makes a family. Mr. Romney, my family is just as real as yours.

President Obama understands that. He supports my moms’ marriage. President Obama put his political future on the line to do what was right. Without his leadership, we wouldn’t be here. President Obama is fighting for our families — all of our families. He has our backs. We have his.

Now, there were plenty of positive mentions of marriage equality during the Democratic Convention. And that’s awesome. To me, it felt important. Having marriage equality included in the Democratic platform really makes me hopeful for our future. I can die a happy man if I never have to hear another anti-gay politician say, “My views on gay marriage are the same as President Obama’s.”

But Zach Wahls is doing something a little different.

Zach Wahls is advocating on behalf of my children. My sons are six and four. They’re far too young to advocate for themselves, so that task falls to Austin and me. And I think in general we do a pretty good job of it. But we sure don’t speak as eloquently as Zach Wahls, nor can we speak from the perspective of a child of gay parents.

When he spoke about being twelve and watching the 2004 Republican Convention, I felt a little knot in my stomach. My sons are young enough that they have never heard a negative comment about their family. They don’t know that some people don’t think we’re a family. They don’t know that some people believe their dads are harming them. They don’t know that some people hate Austin and I because we love each other.

But the day they learn that is getting closer, and it’s unavoidable. That’s why I’m so touched to see Zach Wahls speaking on behalf of his clearly amazing mothers, on behalf of his family, and on behalf of families that look like his.

Now, living in a house of four men, my sons are really unlikely to be as good at putting down the seat as Zach Wahls. But I would be very proud if they grew up to care about others and speak on behalf of those who cannot.