When Will You Begin to Fear My Son?

An adorable tantrumMy five-year-old son is ridonculously adorable, even more so when he’s mad. He crosses his arms and frowns and does everything he can to convey to us his discontent, but all we can do is smile. People constantly comment on how cute he is when he’s angry. And he’s definitely one to get angry. He’s stubborn and strong-willed and insanely smart, all of which lead him to heightened states of anxiety when he doesn’t get his way.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about the shelf life on this sweet anger. I’m not sure when it will happen though; it’s like having a carton of milk with no expiration. It tastes good now, but at any point it will spoil. My son isn’t black, but he’s a dark skinned Latino with kinky hair. I’ve done the reading about the implicit assumptions we make about young black men with dark skin; I’ve talked to people that live the experience. This summer when a Florida jury refused to convict Trayvon Martin’s murderer George Zimmerman, I was reminded in an excellent essay by Tim Wise that the verdict once again proved the irrational fear of black men is a justifiable reason for murder. For families with boys who will grow up to be dark skinned men, I have to wonder about something a colleague once pointed out to me, “He’s cute now, but at what point does he become something to fear? At 10 years old? 12? 16?”

Last night, this came crashing down on me with even more startling clarity. My husband and I went to see Fruitvale Station, the recent film starring Michael B. Jordan as Oscar Grant, the twenty-two year old black man murdered by police at a BART station in Oakland, CA, in 2009. The moment the gun went off in the film, I began crying, and I didn’t stop for a long time after it ended. While I’m well aware that this is a dramatized version of real events and that the filmmakers took certain liberties to elicit an emotional response at precisely that moment in the film, I couldn’t even speak afterward, and when I composed myself enough on the drive home to try discussing the film with my husband, the tears returned. This story keeps repeating again and again and again. Trayvon Martin wasn’t the first and he sadly won’t be the last. In ten years, will my son be the next victim? He lives in an affluent white community. How long after he gets his driver’s license will one of the white police officers in this town pull him over because he doesn’t look like the other kids? How will this heighten his awareness of his difference? Will that manifest itself as aggression–real or perceived–that will lead to him getting hurt, maybe fatally?

When I talk with my high school students about the responsibility parents with dark skinned children feel they have to teach their children to be docile and pliant with police officers, to keep their hands where the police can see them, my mostly white students are reluctant to believe that that isn’t good advice for all kids, regardless of race. I valiantly try–sometimes successful, often not so much–to show them the way we are socialized to fear blacks in this country. Tim Wise does a great job explaining this in this short clip that I often use in class:

I do my best to use my sphere of influence to make things better. Luckily, my sphere directly impacts my children’s educational environment since I teach in the school system they attend. How do I prepare them for the world beyond? How do I teach them that this is a world where people who look like them regularly pay with their lives for other people’s ignorance? As Trayvon Martin’s mother knows, as Oscar Grant’s mother knows, as every parent of a dark skinned child in this country knows, sometimes all you can do is hope that your child won’t be in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong person.

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New England: Home of the Post-Racial Racist

I’m a public high school teacher, and I also live in the town where I teach. The best part of that arrangement is that I have an endless supply of babysitters. My only rule is that I don’t employ students who are currently in my classes. Tonight, I called one of my superstar sophomores from last year and asked if she could babysit the kids next week. This superstar is an adoptee herself; her mother adopted her from China. The girl gladly accepted the job and then said her mother wanted to speak with me. “Thank you for doing this,” she said. “We’re a mixed family just like yours, and it means a lot that you’re asking her to do this.”

I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve had a reaction like that in the six years that I’ve been living and working in this affluent WHITE suburban New England town. Rarely do people go out of their way to say that the way I openly live my life is an asset to this community, particularly as it pertains to the education of its children. The only other time I can remember it coming up explicitly is when I ran into the mother of a young man who had had a turbulent academic experience in my class over the course of two years. He had recently graduated, and she thanked me for all I had done when I ran into her in the supermarket. I admitted that he was a difficult student to motivate, and she told me, “Oh, well that too. You did what all his teachers did to try to get him to do his work, but I meant just being open with the kids about who you are. You really changed his thinking, and I’m so glad for that.”

Now, just to be clear, I am no more or less “open” with my students than my heterosexual colleagues are. By being honest with my students, I mean I often open Monday’s classes by talking about the movie I saw “with my husband and our two kids” the preceding weekend. I don’t use non-gender specific pronouns and I don’t say “partner” instead of “husband.” I talk about my family as though it were the norm. None of this is easy, although I do strive to make it look so; I do this for the young gay kids in the room who need to see that someone can be gay and live as healthy and vibrant a life as their heterosexual counterparts AND I do this for the young heterosexual kids who need to see that someone can be gay and live as healthy and vibrant a life as their heterosexual counterparts. Very rarely however do parents acknowledge the value of conveying myself in this way for their children.

Most often, I’m left to wonder where the families of my students fall on the scale of appreciation in regards to how open I am about my life with my students. And I’m not just talking about the absence of feedback. I get more than my fair share of negative feedback from parents, parents who complain about something or other that they heard happened in my classroom or some policy that I have about grading, and most of the time I’m confused about how much flack I get for elements of my teaching that are almost identical to my white colleagues’ professional practices. I also usually have a student or two every year who has problems with my “style,” usually an adolescent boy overly invested in his sense of machismo and occasionally an African American teenager (the struggles between blacks and gays is well documented).

CTCSystemCodesPresentation5 copyA great film came out recently that helped me understand what was happening. Shakti Butler’s Cracking the Codes explores the systems of racial inequality in our society, and there is a clip of a female Indian teacher explaining how the graphic at left plays out in her profession. She discusses how her (mostly white) students and colleagues feel they have the right to question her authority on the subject matter. While this probably happens unconsciously, it results in her running around trying to prove that she’s as good as her white colleagues, exhausting herself in the process and doing far more work to achieve the same results. After a while, these implicit criticisms erode her sense of professional worth to the point where she begins questioning her own abilities. When I heard all of this the first time I viewed the film, I realized that this is precisely what is going on in my community.

However, I think something a little more sinister is at play because in addition to having my darker skin and vaguely differently shaped eyes, I am a gay man living next door to these WASPs, flaunting the normalcy of our white picket fence. This is Massachusetts after all, champion of marriage equality; this is New England, cradle of liberal thought. People here know that they aren’t allowed to use racial epithets and go on homophobic tirades–at least not in public. And they certainly can’t complain about a teacher being “too gay.” I had a woman complain to me and a friend in the park the other day about how ridiculous it is that a friend’s son was disciplined for calling another kid gay on the playing field, and then she went on to talk about how upsetting it is to her that black kids are allowed to call white kids “crackers,” but the minute a white kid uses the N-word, they get the book thrown at them. I’m not sure she would have gone on these tirades if she knew exactly who was listening, but she couldn’t tell from looking at me that I was a gay man with two children of color. I’ve had a colleague tell me that she couldn’t recruit more African American kids into her African Literature seminar because “I’m expecting them to read a book a week.” These are the ways that race is still at play in our world: subtle, often even unconscious, thoughts that manipulate our interactions and our choices.

The one about the two queers in the forest

A good friend of mine moved to St. Louis from New England more than ten years ago. Now that she is immersed in the Midwest culture, she’s said on more than one occasion that while she pines for Boston and all that New England has to offer, she does feel that race is a much clearer issue in Missouri. For better or for worse, people there are open about their racism. You know what people feel because they live in a place where it’s still okay to say what you think, no matter how racist and offensive. (For example, I met a college professor from the South a few years ago who described the novel Deliverance as “the one about the two queers in the forest.”) I’m not sure that’s an environment I necessarily want my children to grow up in, particularly at their current young ages, but I can see the value in that as an adult. I know it’s progress that these sentiments remain under wraps, I’m just not sure how we get to the next stage.

When the Dog Ate Our Son’s Face

Amir Stitches

The Day After

The day after Christmas in 2011, my husband was visiting his family in Western New York state with our two children.  In my in-laws’ far-too-small home, my son stepped on their new old dog, prompting the beast to turn around and bit him on the face right in between the eyes.  The ER visit that followed required my husband and my brother-in-law to pin our son down so that the late-night newbie doctor’s hands could shake with a Parkinson’s-like fervor while he installed three stitches.  I was not with them, and my husband knows me well enough to make the decision to not call me until after our son was happily sucking on a Popsicle and could report with a smile that “the dog ate my face.”  It was a scary night for sure, a trauma that we think might be at fault for some of our son’s behavioral issues now years later, but the real pain and suffering is how that evening sent us into a spiraling bureaucratic mess dealing with insurance companies.

We adopted both of our kids through the foster care system.  Let’s be clear that this is not a pleasant process.  Our family is built on the destruction of another.  We lived with our daughter for sixteen months not knowing if she would ever be legally a part of our family, and every time her birthmother stumbled in life, it was hard not to celebrate the gain by our family.  Primarily because of the legal risk involved, Massachusetts does provide certain incentives to parents who adopt through the foster care system.  One of these perks is that children are enrolled in MassHealth, our state’s Medicaid system.  The health insurance covers 100% of medical costs, no copays and no deductibles.

There is of course a catch.  After the dog ate our son’s face, we discovered that that 100% coverage does not exist beyond our state borders.  My initial conversation with MassHealth went something like this:

MH: Sir, we do not cover emergency services with hospitals that are not contracted with MassHealth.

Me: So, what was I supposed to do when my son was bleeding profusely from the face after a dog attacked him?

MH: The hospital should have notified you when you entered for care that the services might not be covered.

Me: And if they had done so, should I have let my son continue to bleed until we found a hospital that was contracted with MassHealth?

MH: That’s a personal choice, sir.

Me: Can you tell me whether or not the hospital in question is contracted with MassHealth?

MH: I’m sorry, we cannot discuss billing issues with clients, sir.

Me: So how do I find out if the hospital is contracted with MassHealth?

MH: They need to bill us and we will determine if they are covered.

Me: And where should they send the bill?

MH: We cannot discuss billing issues with clients, sir.

Over the past two years we have endured countless conversations with both MassHealth and the hospital in Western New York, the former assuring us that they could make a decision once the bill was received and the latter saying that they had billed MassHealth many times with no response.

This week my husband and I applied for a home equity line of credit to cover some home improvement projects, and the bank disclosed our credit scores today.  Todd’s score was shockingly low, and it turns out the Western New York hospital has sent the face-eating issue to a collection agency.  Hooray!  Luckily this is not an exorbitant bill, and we should probably just pay the thing off to clarify the credit, but I have always been one to dig my heels in on even the smallest items that could be considered matters of principle.

Now all of this could honestly happen to any family, and it really proves to me that regardless of insurance coverage, we are all one tragic accident/diagnoses away from complete financial ruin, but I was struck by something unique to us when I was speaking with the biznatchy woman from MassHealth tonight, who all but laughed us off the phone for thinking that this 100% medical coverage would take care of this bill after our son was attacked by a dog out of state.  When we call into MassHealth about one of our kids, we have to give them all of our names and social security numbers, and addresses, including the names of both parents.  We are immediately outed to this lowly customer service worker on the other end of the line.  When that person is rude to us, I have to wonder if it’s because of the genders at the top of our family hierarchy.

This sort of thing happens all the time.  When the four of us–one white man, one black girl, one brown boy, and one vaguely yellow man–are going through security at the airport and the TSA officer is all smiles for the family in front of us but gives us the stink eye, I can’t help but think that her demeanor is a result of what she sees before her.  Granted, I’ve been known to be a biznatch right back at some of these people (and once in a while, my claws are the first to come out), but even in those instances, I can’t help but wonder how my family’s gender and race play into how likely a person is to respond with calm and respect.

Most importantly though, this whole experience has proven to me that the children have to take greater care to only be bitten by animals in Massachusetts.

A Showmo’s Dilemma

Now and forever

Last weekend, my husband and I carried out what could have been a horrible example of child abuse in the gay world.  We took the kids to see Cats.

We knew this might be traumatic for the children–and for us–but we felt it was a necessary part of the children’s musical theater indoctrination.  The show was once the longest running Broadway musical (the day it beat out A Chorus Line was a dark, dark day), and teaching the children to respect the history of our people is an important part of the gay agenda.

Still, we wondered if we were doing the right thing.  Should we force them to sit through the mediocrity that is Cats simply because droves of mindless tourists made it a smash hit?  In the end, we suffered through it…and the loved it.  We were so disappointed–until we realized that the musicals of Andrew Lloyd Webber (with the possible exceptions of Evita and Jesus Christ Superstar) are essentially gateway musicals in the same way that marijuana is a gateway drug.  You try it out and think it’s great, and then you are introduced to the hardcore good stuff.  (For the record: I’m not a drug user, nor do I want my children to be; the analogy helps me sleep at night though.)

We began training the children in the ways of the theater early.  Our daughter attended her first professional musical shortly after her third birthday when a production of The Lion King came to town, followed a few months later with a production of Wicked.  The following year at the age of four, she not only enjoyed the 25th anniversary touring production of Les Miserables, she attended her first Broadway show: Anything Goes starring Sutton Foster.  (We even got to go backstage to meet Joey Grey thanks to a good friend’s connections.)  We wrapped up the year with a regional production of Candide.  She sat through them all with quiet concentration, and we beamed with pride, virtually screaming at the other audience members, “Do you see what happens when gays raise children?!  This is glorious!”

Not as bad as it sounds

When our son was nearly four, he began coming along with us on these theatrical adventures.  He joined us first for a touring production of Shrek and then danced his way through Bring It On, Mamma MiaBeauty and the Beast, and Mary Poppins.  The summer after his fourth birthday, we took him to his first Broadway show: Newsies.  One month later, a friend’s impromptu wedding in New York afforded us the opportunity to see another Broadway show: Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark (it actually wasn’t that bad!).

Amidst all these professional productions, we wondered how our kids would get to see some of the gems of the historical Broadway, as well as solid contemporary pieces that aren’t popular enough to be revived any time soon.  We are far too snobby to take them to see community theater productions (someone probably should have called child protective services after I took my daughter to a sad little production of Once On This Island in the basement of a church up the street), so we decided to invest in a subscription to a local regional theater that produces five musicals a summer.  Last year, our kids sat through a terrific production of Hello, Dolly!, and we cringed as they laughed hysterically at Annie.  We were underwhelmed by Guys and Dolls, but then they couldn’t get enough of 9 to 5 and All Shook Up.  The latter starred Joyce DeWitt from Three’s Company.  The kids thought she was hilarious and used Joyce DeWitt in their imaginative play for weeks: “Come on Joyce DeWitt, get in the car so we can go to the beach!” they’d say with while playing with their stuffed animals.  Most beloved of all last year though was a semi-professional production of Xandadu; they now constantly beg to listen to the music and watch the movie.

Our daughter’s hero

Amidst this summer’s regional productions of In the Heights, The Sounds of Music, and Wizard of Oz we started taking them to see Broadway singers in concert.  They loved Megan Hilty singing with the Boston Pops last May, and then we took them to see a few singers in Provincetown on Cape Cod.  We started with Joanna Gleason, which they mildly enjoyed, and then we sat in awe through Audra McDonald, who is one of the African American female role models we parade out for our daughter ever five seconds.  A few weeks ago, we saw Sam Harris, and next weekend we’ll finish up our summer with Patti LuPone.

And so, in the grand scheme of things, this past weekend’s production of Cats seems like it’s a necessary evil to get our kids where they need to be.  Odds are that they will eventually come out as heterosexual just like most of the world’s population, but we can rest assured that they will always be accepted into queer culture given their extensive training in the musical theater.

Us ____ Have to Stick Together

When I was a sophomore in college, I went straight to my new dorm room after the five-hour flight from California.  I was anxious to find out whether or not the roommate gods had smiled upon me.  Being a newly out young gay man, I naturally had spent the bulk of my freshman year developing safe relationships with cute girls, most of which have endured over the past twenty years.  I was nervous around boys though; if they were gay, I wondered if we compatible romantically; if they weren’t, I found them hopelessly attractive of course.  Neither of those scenarios made for a good roommate situation, so I found myself without a pal for sophomore room selection.  I figured I’d try my luck, even though freshman year had landed me with two upperclassmen who were friendly but not the type of people I’d grab late night french fries with.

As I opened the door to my new dorm room, I saw that my roommate had already arrived.  He turned to me with a huge smile and said, “Hi, I’m Eddie.  What are you?”

I replied with my name, and he shook his head: “No, I’m Korean.  What are you?”

“Oh,” I said, “my mom is Dutch Indonesian.”

“Great!” Eddie exclaimed.  “Us Asians have to stick together.  Don’t worry I brought the rice cooker!”

Eddie was absolutely serious about the rice cooker, and I found myself laughing to myself, thinking, “This guy thinks I’m Asian!”  Three days later, Eddie moved out to live with an actual Asian, a Korean like him.

Growing up in California, I never thought of myself as anything specifically racial.  I sort of knew I wasn’t white, but I was indoctrinated with white culture.  My mother was born in Jakarta and clearly looks Indonesian, as does most of her family.  My biological father is a white man, but I received very little of his aesthetic DNA.  Still, I knew I didn’t look like the hoards of actual Asians in California, the Japanese and the Chinese and the Koreans, and I was raised by my white step-father and my immigrant mother who came to America in the era of you-stop-speaking-our-native-language-and-assimilate-damn-it.  I grew up identifying with white culture far more than any other, in spite of enjoying Indonesian foods with my extended family.

Through a journey I’ll save for another time, I realized that, yes, I am in fact Asian (not Oriental as my grandmother sometimes refers to herself when she’s not clinging tightly to the Dutch portion of her ancestry).  And now that I’m raising two children of color, I see the importance of affinity groups.  It’s something we all can understand to an extent.  My girlfriends experience it when there are no men around; I experience it with other gay men (now that I’m no longer looking for a partner).

Playing in the fountain on the Rose Kennedy Greenway

Playing in the fountain on the Rose Kennedy Greenway

A few days ago, we took the kids into Boston, and they jumped around in the fountain with other kids, most of whom liked them with a range of dark to light brown skin.  My daughter immediately befriended the darkest boy and when we left, she smilingly asked if I noticed that she made a friend with skin like hers.  “I did,” I told her, smiling back.

Today, we enjoyed a barbeque in the backyard with two other families that have adopted children of color. I wondered if we should invite a few other friends, ones who perhaps didn’t fit into this little familial niche.  I remembered though that it’s okay to have these occasional groups of families that are going through the same thing.

In college when my closest friends were all girls and they wanted to have a night without me–just the girls–it stung a little bit to not be included.  I realize now that I compensate for my exclusion with my male privilege, and that’s true of most situations like the barbecue today or my daughter gravitating toward the boy with darker skin.  When someone in a privileged group wonders why “those” kids or “those” people are sticking together, can’t we remind ourselves what it’s like to feel like the other?  When we find someone that watches the same trashy television show that we do, don’t we get a little ecstatic to have found a kindred soul?  Of course, with aspects of identity like race, not everyone can watch the same show, but that has to be okay, if only because it makes the minority groups feel a little more at ease when interacting with the majority.

The Naming of Things

The Playbill from the 1994 revival of Damn Yankees

When I left California to attend college in Boston, the Internet was a mere toddler. Email was relatively new to me, and I signed up for my very first ever email account when I started my freshman year. Under pressure to come up with a pithy name, my mind immediately landed upon Joe Hardy, the main character in the musical Damn Yankees. I had fallen–and fallen hard–for musical theater in the last two years of high school, and Damn Yankees was my current fave, mostly because of the incredibly attractive and talented Jarrod Emick who won a Tony Award for the role. For many years thereafter, this became my online moniker. It ended up serving as a good test of true musical theater fans. If you thought this was an homage to the Hardy Boys, I could easily shun you, but if you knew this was the alter-ego of aging Joe Boyd who makes a deal with the devil, we were kindred souls.

In 2004 when Massachusetts began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, my husband and I planned small but lovely wedding in a mere six weeks, the gay version of a shotgun wedding. We wanted to marry before the powers that be took away the right, something that thankfully never happened in Massachusetts but would happen a few years later in my home state. Amidst the hustle and bustle of organizing a vocal recital with all of our friends for the wedding in lieu of traditional after-dinner dancing, we never even contemplated one (or both) of us changing our names upon marriage. Contrary to some of the common wisdom out there, neither one of us is the traditional “woman” in the relationship. When I see a bug, I scream as though someone is stabbing me, but I also deal with all the finances in the house. My husband tends to do most of the housework and cooking, but he’s also handy with a hammer and a drill. (Here’s a great article from The Atlantic on the subject of gender roles in same-sex unions.) Even if we had thought about changing our names, there was no traditional model to follow. Who would have given up his identity for the sake of the family name?

Then in 2007, our daughter was born. Her mother had left the hospital before naming her, and my husband and I were giddy with the idea that not only we were having a baby, but we got to name her as well–just like all of our straight friends who were having babies the old fashioned way. With very little contemplative thought, we decided the baby would take my husband’s last name and chose an alliterative first name to go along with it. My last name is something for which I have very little affinity. I share a name nearly identical to my biological father, someone who has never been a part of my life. My mother left him when I was very young, and before long she had remarried and taken my step-father’s last name, a name she kept beyond their divorce twenty-two years later and to her death a few years later. I usually refer to my step-father as my dad, although I still speak to him with his first name. While we weren’t exactly the picture of father-son harmony during my formative years, we grew closer in my 20s during my mom’s bout with addiction, his divorce from her, and her death. I contemplated at one point asking him to adopt me as an adult so that I could take his name, but our relationship is a bit too complicated and I am a bit to cowardly to have ever brought up the subject with him directly. With all this baggage, the decision was easy: our daughter did not need to take my name.

Then when it came time for adoption, some heterosexual friends of ours told me some horror stories that they heard from friends of friends. A woman had kept her maiden name and the children had taken her husband’s; while trying to fly with the kids alone, she was harassed and detained because she had a different name than the children she was traveling with. We heard this from enough people that at the eleventh hour we changed the paperwork so that our daughter would have both our names: my husband’s first and mine followed by a hyphen. Two years later, our son was adopted with the same last name, and we were suddenly a hyphenated family.

A few months ago, I started thinking seriously about the implications of this hyphenated existence. Is this just one more thing that will set the kids apart from their peers? There are quite a few of hyphenated kids in our affluent suburban town. Many of the overly educated and underemployed wives are reluctant to give up their maiden names, but their kids are growing up in heterosexual biological families. Wouldn’t a family with one name be more traditional, and thus more mainstream? I brought the issue up with my husband who immediately shut it down. He is not the type to jump on any bandwagon without days of thought. Over the summer months, I worked on him as his reluctance inflated my conviction that it was the right thing to do. Eventually, he yielded. I contacted a lawyer to find out how the three of us could take my husband’s last name.

We brought the idea up to the kids, and while our five year old son nonchalantly shrugged before running off to hit something with a bat, our six year old daughter was not pleased. I underestimated the sense of identity she already has rooted in her hyphenated last name. Having just completed Kindergarten, she expressed anxiety about how her beloved teacher from last year would know who she was. She literally put her foot down, telling me that dropping the last half of her name was just “weird.”

We’ll probably still move forward with the change, but I wonder if it’s the right thing to do now. Is this more about me than it is about the kids? Do I want to share the experiences of my girlfriends who have all taken their husbands’ last names? Is this the result of living in a heteronormative society? Or is this ultimately the right thing for our family and me?

Please Hold Your Applause Until the Key Change

More than ten years ago I lived in New York City with a good friend from childhood. We spent nearly every Saturday night at The Duplex piano bar in the Village. We’d stand at the bar until one of the few tables became available, and then we’d sit for hours, ordering round after round of drinks while we sang away the night away. (Towards the end of our tenure, we were even known to sing “Suddenly, Seymour” from Little Shop of Horrors on the tiny makeshift stage.) The pianist was Gerry Dieffenbach, and one of his rules was that we must all applaud the key changes because “it’s the Star Search thing to do.” Ever since, my friend and I have applauded the modulations in songs no matter where we are, whether the music is live on stage or blaring out of the speakers on a road trip. (For those of you without a background in music theory, check out this link at Wikipedia to learn a bit about key changes.)

Fast forward ten years, and the tradition of applauding the key changes has affected my husband, a man who not only has a background in music theory, he has degrees in it. (He’s a vocal music teacher by trade, and an talented vocalist himself.) We currently have two kids, ages six and five, and for as long as they’ve been alive, we’ve been clapping randomly in the middle of songs that play in the car…or if it’s a Whitney Houston song, we end up clapping four or five times; that girl could modulate! The kids always ask, and we give them Gerry Dieffenbach’s explanation which means little to them. Still, they seem to enjoy it when Daddy and Poppy burst into applause during a song.

Two days ago, we drove into Boston to meet up with some friends for the day. On the way home, our six year old daughter applauded the key change without us prompting her! To two gay dads well who are big showmos and have been indoctrinating our kids with musical theater since they were in diapers, this was a momentous occasion. We flipped out, completely inflating the ego of our daughter, so much so that for the past two days, she has continued the practice whenever we play music, which is often. The girl has a musical ear, and we couldn’t be prouder she’s carrying on the tradition from a smokey little piano bar in the Village.

In the past two days, I’ve been thinking a lot about how this event is sort of unique in our lives. Here we are, two men who grew up in a time when marriage and children and a house in the suburbs seemed a completely unattainable dream, and for the past nine years since marriage equality became the law in Massachusetts we have rapidly watched that dream manifest into reality. We are a family that exemplifies the meaning of diversity. My husband is a white man who grew up in rural western New York state. I am a native Californian of Dutch Indonesian descent (hence the “pseudo gaysian” identifier–I’m sure I’ll get into the background of that in a future post). Our daughter is a beautiful African American girl and our son is an adorable Latino. We live in the suburbs of New England in a house that honestly has a white picket fence. (We don’t have dogs though…two cats. We are gay men, not lesbians, after all!)

When we were married nine years ago this month, I couldn’t imagine the life we currently have. Grappling with the politics of our sexuality and coming to terms with the fallacy of this post-racial society while raising two children of color has opened my eyes to a lot of realities in our world, and this has prompted me to share some of my observations. If this strikes a chord with anyone, I’ll commit to jumping on the bandwagon of publicly and shamelessly sharing our life experiences!