On two occasions this week, people were politely suspicious of my relationship with my children. These are constant reminders of our marginalization.
Late last week, I had the chance to give our morning babysitter the day off and walk the kids to school myself. We met up with a new neighbor a few doors down who has a little boy in my son’s class. We started chatting on the one-block walk to school, and my neighbor said, “Your wife is very nice.” I was pretty confused of course, and then he explained that he often walks to school with her an my kids in the morning. “Oh, that’s our morning babysitter. The kids actually have two dads.” He looked a little confused. “I have a husband. We’re married.” I wiggled my ring finger to show off the band of gold that many claim is destroying this country. “Oh!” he said sheepishly. Things proceeded pleasantly from there, and they even stopped by our little party the other day. (I guess my liberal ego should be somewhat flattered that he assumed I was married to a much taller African American woman about ten years my senior.)
Then today I went to drop my son off at music class. My husband typically does this, but I know I’ve met this teacher once or twice.
“Hello!” she said jovially when I walked in with my son. “Thank you for dropping off your brother!” I may look young, but I don’t think I look that young.
“Oh, I’m not his brother. I’m his dad.”
She sat there slack-jawed. “But I’ve met his dad…”
“You’ve met his other dad. He has two.”
“I’m married to their other father.”
Pause. “Oh! Now I see!” And she begins laughing hysterically as I bid goodbye to my son and walked out the door.
I don’t typically let these things get me down. I usually try to get in front of the issue and make sure it’s really clear to all of the kids’ teachers and coaches that they have two dads and that they’re both adopted–mostly in the hopes that the adults involved don’t say or do something inadvertently stupid. I guess I missed at least the music teacher though.
People don’t mean any harm by assuming I’m not gay. What gets me a little down is the opposite: assuming someone is gay isn’t quite as harmless, and it’s probably why most people err on the side of heterosexuality.