Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Table for Three Please, by Joey Spinelli

Do you know who Zach Wahls is?  
He is a 21yr old heterosexual man who is an activist for the LGBT community.  He is a standout in today’s fight for our equality because of how different his situation is.  He was raised by two moms and is fighting for our rights.  
Does this sound odd?  
He's not a politician coming out of the closet.  He’s not a sports star telling his life story after his career is washed up.  He’s not even an entertainer who needs a career boost.  He’s an everyday man who just happens to have been raised by a lesbian couple.  This used to be an anomaly.   But, you had better get used to it.  He will be paving the way for our kids.

I just had a conversation last night with someone who said, “Remember when gays only had dogs?  Now they all have kids.”  He was talking about living in New York City and when we would walk down the street at any time and see gay men or women walking their dogs.  You would go to someone’s house and there was inevitably a Jack Russell terrorist somewhere in the house.  Even a few years ago, you couldn’t throw a 6 inch heel very far in NY without hitting some gay person who was carrying around a photo of their Shiba Inu.   As gay men and women, we used to be content with pets enriching our lives.  We used to act as if they were enough for us.  As if that were all we were allowed in our gay lives.  
I still wonder what caused the shift.  Was it that more gay men and women are now settling down with partners and want to go the next step together?  Or, was it the generation of gay people that came out in the 90’s, and later, that are now just wanting more than the previous generation was ever “permitted” to have.  Either way, when you walk down the streets of NY today, those same gay couples are now pushing strollers, changing their kids diaper on those fold out changing tables that are now in every men’s room, or they are having dinner at some trendy city restaurant.  We need a table for 3 please, and do you have a gluten free, vegetarian kids menu?   If you don’t believe this, all you have to do is look at the entertainment industry.  10 years ago, if people even admitted they were gay, they never had children in the mix.  Today, you cant get past one issue of People Magazine (not that I read that stuff) without seeing a picture of Neil Patrick Harris and family, Ricky Martin and family, Jillian Michaels and her family and lately, Dan Bucatinsky and his family.  The great part about all of this is, their kids and partners are absolutely beautiful.  Stunning images of what a non-tradition family looks like yet very safe and inviting to read about wonder about and ask questions about. 

I myself am a dad of a wonderful child and I have a partner of almost 9 years.  When I told my gay friends that I would be a dad, they were horrified (to be fair, it was almost 10 years ago).  Many of them said “don’t do it, your life will change.” “When will you have time to go out to the bars?” My favorite one was “It’s a really big mistake”.  I remember one in particular that was actually so worried that he had me thinking twice about it.  Of course, that same friend wound up being a fantastic G’uncle and did a complete 180 once my son was born.   But the interesting part of this experience was that it wasn’t just straight people that didn’t see us as families.  It was gay men and women that were also put off by other people’s kids.  I know that when I saw a stroller in front of me on a street, I just got annoyed, as If I secretly programmed myself to despise other people’s kids because I would never be able to understand the experience personally since I was gay.  Here I am, 10 years later and I am a dad with a very smart and loving 1st grader who my partner and I adore.  Ill admit, we do have a Miniature Schnauzer.  
Don’t Hate!

For a long time, I thought I was one of just a few gays that were raising a kid.  I was an anomaly.  I was unique.   Then, recently during the California Prop 8 case at the Supreme Court, one of the judges said something that changed my view on this.  It was justice Kennedy that said,There are some 40,000 children in California living with same-sex parents, and they want their parents to have full recognition and full status. The voice of those children is important in this case.”  I had to stop for a second and replay that part.  Did he just say 40,000 kids?  Just in California alone?  If that’s the case, then how many kids in big states like NY, IL and FL are being raised by gay parents?  Are we over 100,000 kids nationwide?  I would have to assume we are.  There was a study back in 1995 that did some estimates on this but so much has changed just in the last 10 years.  Hearing this made me realize that I am not unique.  I am not doing something that nobody has done before.  What I am doing is what every other person in America wants to do or is doing,. I am raising a family.  As are many thousands of my gay brothers and sisters throughout America.  We are growing every day in size and as the laws continue to change in the states, the numbers will get much bigger.  That’s when I finally got it.  Yes, the world is changing.  Not because we are fighting to be recognized as gay men and women. Not because we are taking states to court so we can get married.  Not because we want protection from employment discrimination. But, because we are settling down and having children.  We have now adopted the old sayingDo what you want to me, I don’t care, but if you get in the way of my children, then its no more Mr. Nice Guy!” Nothing changes the world faster than multiplying.  We can no longer refer to ourselves as “Non Breeders.”  We are absolutely breeding, just not always in the traditional way.

So, as our children grow up and go forward, what will the world be like in 20 years?  Zack Wahls will have been paving the way for our children a long time by then.  The hundreds of thousands of straight children that are right now being raised by gay parents will be old enough to be influencing the World, working in politics, medicine, sales, science and legal areas.  Our children will be taking on the roadblocks of today and they will be out numbering those destructive forces greatly.  With the younger generation right now caring less about suppressing gay rights and with the next generation having record number of straight kids that are currently being raised by gay parents, we are headed for a very big change in the next decade.  Imagine if the people making laws were made up with a majority of men and women who were either raised by gay couples or who just don’t see gay people as a problem the way the far right sees us.  Imagine our children, leading the way ahead of us, with Mr. Wahls in front of them, all working together for the betterment of all people.  What will we fight for then?  Gay, marriage, gay adoption, gay everything will no longer be an issue that anybody wants to stand against.  They will be subjects of the past.  The future will be our sons, our daughters, working with their young friends to create new sources of energy, new ways to further technology and new advancements in medicine.  Our children will absolutely change the world for the better and I for one will be glad to stop fighting for our rights and get in line behind them.  They will create an amazing place for everyone to live.  The best and most ironic thing about it is that 90 percent of them will be heterosexual (assuming the 1 in 10 theory).  Don’t you just love the irony? I thinks it's quite amazing.

"Who am I? That’s simple. I am a gay parent that’s treated like a second class
citizen and I am done taking it. 
Every day I am in the battlefields, in my kid’s school, PTA meetings, swim team, birthday parties with
other parents and I am forcing people to meet me.
Every day I stand right next to them and even if it’s just in my mind, I say “ Look at me will you! I am a gay man, right in front of you. 
I have a partner of 8 years and a 6r old boy. 
My kid is in your kid’s class and will be for the next 11 years. 
I am not going away so now would be as good a time as any to accept me and everything that comes with me."
Joe also blogs at 1 regular joe


  1. I think you are absolutely correct in your hypothesis that eventually all of these children growing up in gay families are going to become the leaders in the gay rights movement. It wasn't until relatively recently that I realized that I wasn't a novelty. There really were other kids out there who were raised in the gay community. As we are becoming adults, I think the majority of us feel that we have a responsibility to speak up for the younger generation coming after us. The only way their lives are going to be better is if we make sure that we do our part to change the stereotypes and misinformation out there.

    1. You are indeed doing your part Dara...simply by being yourself and speaking your truth...Thanks!