Category Archives: Our Family Coalition Events

Family-Friendly Pride Events, Extended Bay Area Edition!

Folks, it’s Pride-a-palooza time! A month filled with opportunities to connect with other LGBTQ families, as the (school-aged) kids finish off the school year and the summer busts into view.

Below are a dozen family-friendly events you can attend to get your pride on with your little ones. Have fun!


A’s Pride Night

June 6
Oakland Coliseum,
7000 Coliseum Way, Oakland
7pm-9pm

More info / Register now!

 

 



San Mateo Pride

June 10
San Mateo Central Park,
50 East 5th Ave, San Mateo
12pm-4pm

More info / Register now!

 

 

 

LGBQIA Pride Storytime

June 10
Ortega Branch Library, 3223 Ortega St.,
San Francisco

12:00pm-1:30pm

Visit the library for a special family storytime and craft project celebrating LGBTQIA Pride and all kinds of families. The program will be aimed at kids and families from preschool to age 8, but everyone is welcome. No registration is necessary, just show up. Email maggie.frankel@sfpl.org if you have any questions.


Queer Women of Color Film Festival

June 10-11
Brava Theater Center,
2789 24th St, San Francisco

Childcare at closing night screening

More info / Register now!

 

 

 

City of El Cerrito Loving Day Celebration

June 11
El Cerrito City Hall Civic Plaza, 10890 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito
12:00pm-3:00pm

Loving Day honors the anniversary of the US Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia, the case that overturned the ban on interracial marriage. This FREE event will have activities for the whole family, including music, arts and crafts, photo booth fun, and a free screening of the documentary “The Loving Story.” More info at el-cerrito.org/lovingday.

Drag Queen Story Hour!

June 17
Bernal Heights Branch Library, 500 Cortland Avenue, San Francisco
12:00pm

RADAR Productions and SFPL present Drag Queen Story Hour. Join us for a unique and unforgettable story hour with special guest Yves St. Croissant! Includes face painting, songs and more! For children ages 0-5 and their caregivers. Please call 415-355-5618 or email paula.heaney@sfpl.org  for more information.


Frameline Family Matinee: “The Lego Movie”

June 18
Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St.,
San Francisco

10:30am

More info / Register now!

 

Frameline Family Interest
Movie: “The F Word”

June 18
Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St.,
San Francisco

1:30pm

June 20
Elmwood Theater, 2966 College Ave,
Berkeley

7:00pm

More info / Register now!

 


Coming Up Queer

June 18
Victoria Theater, 2961 16th St.,
San Francisco

1:30pm

More info / Register now!


Trans March

June 23
Hellen Diller Playground,
Dolores Park, 19th St. at
Dolores St., San Francisco

Family Activities 2-5pm,
March 6pm

More info / Register now!

 
Dyke March
Playground Brunch

June 24
Hellen Diller Playground,
Dolores Park, 19th St. at
Dolores St., San Francisco

10am-12pm

More info / Register now!

 

 

 

Drag Queen Story Hour!

June 24
Dimond Recreation Center
3860 Hanly Rd., Oakland
10:30am

Celebrate Pride weekend at the Oakland debut of Drag Queen Story Hour, with face painting, cookies – and stories and songs led by Black Benatar! Black Benatar thinks kids are the best and loves reading books to them that celebrate lgbtq and multicultural families and identities.

More info / Register now!


SF LGBTQ Pride Parade & Family Garden

June 25

LOWER MARKET STREET AREA, STEP-OFF BLOCK TBA

March in the LGBTQ Family Contingent at the SF Pride Parade! Our precise gathering time and block are TBA; watch out website for details in mid-June.

CIVIC CENTER PLAZA PLAYGROUND,
CORNER OF POLK ST. AND McALLISTER RIGHT IN FRONT OF CITY HALL

Join in fun art activities, face painting, and more at the Family Garden, open from 11am – 4pm.

More info / Register now!


Celebrate Pride Month by Using Your Health Insurance

#Out2Enroll
Los Angeles Marriott Burbank, Burbank

The Affordable Care Act has made a significant difference in the lives of millions of LGBTQ individuals and families. Millions of LGBTQ people across the country have benefited from the Affordable Care Act. Many have gotten health insurance for the first time, gotten covered as a family for the first time, received financial help to make coverage more affordable, and accessed covered health services, including transition-related care, for the first time. Use Pride month to show that the Affordable Care Act is working for our communities and to push back against Congress’ efforts to repeal or weaken the law. Learn more at out2enroll.org.

 


Rainbow Storytime

June 25
Merced Branch Library, 155 Winston Dr.,
San Francisco

2:00pm – 2:30pm

Join the library for a special family storytime celebrating LGBTQIA Pride. Email kimberly.lauer@sfpl.org for more information.

 

 

Gender Odyssey Los Angeles

June 28-20
Los Angeles Marriott Burbank, Burbank

Gender Odyssey Los Angeles is a two-day conference for Professionals seeking to advance their understanding of gender diversity and transgender identities in children, teens, and adults. Leading experts will offer sessions covering gender identity across the lifespan and life experience. Programming is targeted toward medical and behavioral health care providers, teachers and school administrators, social workers, care givers and guardians, attorneys, employers and recruiters, government employees, and students preparing for these professions. Offering CEUs for California Fiduciaries & Guardians and CMEs (pending approval). More info on the Gender Odyssey site.

 


Save the Date:
Family Pride Day at
Habitot

July 30
2065 Kittredge St., Berkeley
10am-1pm

 



Save the Date:
Oakland Pride & Family Garden

September 10

5 Reasons I Give to Our Family Coalition: Ali Cannon

Ali CannonWe recently spoke with Ali Canon, former OFC Board member, about why he supports Our Family Coalition, and why he urges others to as well.  What follows is an edited version of that conversation.

Ali will be at our upcoming Night Out gala fundraiser next Friday evening, May 12. Join us there, and continue this conversation with Ali in person!

1. OFC helps me and my family feel reflected. One of the biggest reasons that I’ve given to OFC all these years – my time, financially, as a family, my wife and I, with my own involvement – is that as a transgender dad, I don’t have a lot of opportunities to see myself reflected in the world. As a parent, and particularly as a transgender parent – even within the world of queer parents – it’s still a relatively small minority of folks that have a parallel identity to mine and our family. So knowing that OFC is supporting my family in concrete, programmatic ways makes all the difference.

2. OFC engages in powerful, transformative work in the schools.  I’m super passionate about the education work of OFC. I’m an educator, married to a principal. I came up through the public schools, and my family have been middle and high school teachers; I know the impact of OFC’s work in schools. And I think educational work is significantly about institutional change. Educators who are wanting to do LGBT-inclusive work need the kind of resources that OFC provides, so they can support schools and districts. The evidence shows that doing ‘welcoming and inclusive schools’ work in fact makes schools safer. Finally that data has arisen: when there are multiple interventions in place – the curriculum, the supportive staff, the outreach to parent communities – all those things make schools safer. The same goes for the presence of secondary-level things like GSAs, and student groups that are also engaged in supporting queer students and allies. To me, OFC is a leader in that work, and it still remains fairly dangerous and risky to do that work at the elementary school level. And that’s where OFC has located itself for years now, making significant inroads in the Bay Area and other parts of California. Thanks in part to OFC’s advocacy, we’re now seeing the arrival of the FAIR Education Act. OFC has been at the table helping determine what that curriculum looks like. It’s going to roll out in schools soon, and that’s huge. It will lead other states to consider what that could look like for them. And that’s good news.

3. OFC as an organization has grown and evolved along with our movement. In going on nine years of involvement with the organization, I’ve seen significant growth. And that makes me more excited to remain involved. Growth in the organization has increased capacity, which has turned into policy work that we now stand for. That engagement capacity, that collaboration capacity, increases the visibility of the work that we do. For instance: when we got involved with the marriage equality campaign, we worked to keep families visible, and at the table there. And now LGBTQ families are part of the national marriage equality conversation. That wasn’t so when marriage equality work got started, and it’s also under great threat with our current administration.

The work that OFC does can’t go away. Supporting OFC at Night Out is an amazing opportunity to celebrate that work, and to guarantee that it will keep going strong through the tough times ahead.

4. The backlash to all our gains is real, and OFC needs the support to counter it. We’ve made institutional change, which is great. But when institutional change occurs in the community, that’s when you see backlash. One of Trump’s first (successful) initiatives was removing Obama’s protections of transgender students in school. Now states can formally discriminate against transgender students, or gender nonconforming students, and jeopardize their safety. Students in the Bay Area are experiencing horrific racist and anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim attacks; gender nonconforming and transgender students are experiencing microaggressions and more blatant forms of transphobia because of that action. The good news is that educators in many places, even the most conservative ones, want to make their schools safe. They’re invested in that. Are there are also people that are not there for all kids? Absolutely, and those are unsafe schools and districts. The Trump administration is giving people who harbor hatred, who function from a place of hatred and have been waiting for a “green light,” to go for it. Young people attacking one another; adults attacking young people; adults attacking other adults. That’s how I see it: a green light on violent response to institutional change. Which in a way is why we have the regime that we have: people are pissed about that change; they’re afraid, and they’re hateful.

5. OFC continues to show up for families who are at the margins.  I’m proud of the work that OFC does, and I’m proud of the kind of opportunities that OFC creates for individual families, unlike mine, who have less access to power and privilege. My privilege as a middle class white man is not lessened because of my transition. I’m aware that my family has a lot of access that other families who are much more marginalized don’t – whether they’re people of color, in low-income communities, or are immigrant families. I’m proud of the amount of ways that OFC is supporting families who don’t  have the ability to navigate different systems of support – whether those are education or health or neighborhood supports – and I think that’s really vital.  Now more than ever, we have to keep fighting and celebrating the institutional change that we, particularly in California, have achieved.  Organizations like OFC are the ones who have given us those wins.  We have to lead the way for the states that are going to be really vulnerable, we have to help protect the most at-risk people. That includes families, LGBT students and allies, everyone that wants to make communities and schools safe. The work that OFC does can’t go away. Supporting OFC at Night Out is an amazing opportunity to celebrate that work, and to guarantee that it will keep going strong through the tough times ahead.

Our Family Coalition Celebrates 21 Years Advocating for LGBTQ Families at Night Out Gala

SAN FRANCISCOOn Friday, May 12, 2017, Our Family Coalition (OFC), California’s premier LGBTQ family organization, brings together 400 attendees for a Night Out to celebrate the organization’s 21 years of advocacy, education, and community-building. The gala event includes elected officials, corporate sponsors, community partners and major donors, many of whom are LGBT people with children.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee will receive the Notable Ally Award at the gala.  Lee, long one of the Bay Area’s fiercest voices in Washington, serves as Vice-Chair and Founding Member of the LGBT Equality Caucus and Co-Founder & Co-Chair of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus.

President of AT&T California Ken McNeely will receive the Luminary Award. McNeely, who lives with his husband and two children in San Francisco, is leading the way in the private sector. He was the first openly gay officer of AT&T, and serves on the Officer Advisory Board for AT&T’s LGBT and allied Employee Resource Group, the oldest LGBT employee resource group in the nation.  

San Francisco attorney Charlie Spiegel will receive the Groundbreaker Award for his lifelong advocacy on behalf of LGBTQ families. Spiegel helped co-found Our Family Coalition as it formed from the merger of two Bay Area LGBTQ family organizations. He has also served as Board Member and Co-Chair for Lambda Legal, and as a longtime organizer of Gay Future Dads.

“At 21 years old this year, Our Family Coalition is all grown up,” says OFC’s first Executive Director of color Renata Moreira. “We’re more than ready to meet the challenges facing LGBT families under the Trump administration. This event gives us a chance to celebrate our resilience, take pride in where we’ve been, and generate energy for our next, bold, intersectional steps forward.”

“I am honored Congresswoman Barbara Lee will be there and honored as well–though I am more likely the ‘as well,’” jokes honoree Spiegel.  “Michelle Meow is the usually hilarious political comic MC.  The work I’m being recognized for has been about helping make sure LGBT couples are included fully in family law settings.  That work goes hand-in-hand with the number of LGBT families who OFC has supported in coming and being out, being legally protected, and thereby changing the political landscape for marriage equality.  That work is now redoubled by OFC and all of us.”

Now in its 9th year, Night Out has established itself as the only event exclusively supporting LGBT families with children in the Bay Area. The general public is warmly invited to this adults only event. Tickets are on sale now at ourfamily.org/give-back/night-out.

Press inquiries may be directed to Polly Pagenhart, Policy & Communications Director

California Congresswoman Barbara Lee will be honored at Our Family Coalition’s 9th Annual NIGHT OUT Gala on May 12th, 2017 at 6pm at the Intercontinental San Francisco. Lee will be awarded the Notable Ally Award for her work in Congress supporting pro-LGBTQ measures and those that promote equality and fairness for our families and our community. She has been hailed as one of the most pro-gay U.S Representatives in Congress, for good reason.

Congresswoman Lee was educated locally at Mills College, where she served as the president of the Black Student Union, all while raising her two sons. Her participation in the community–through small business and community organizing–propelled her political career. She served in the California State Assembly from 1990 to 1996, during which time she authored numerous bills, including the California Schools Hate Crimes Reduction Act in 1995.

In 1998 she was elected to serve California’s 9th Congressional District (which is now the13th). She has continued to use her position as a change maker and ally for the LGBTQ community. In Congress last year on the occasion of International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia,  she said:

Unfortunately, homophobia, transphobia and discrimination against the LGBT community can still be found in communities across our nation and around the world. Whether it is in the form of hatred, exclusion, bigotry or violence, no form of discrimination should be acceptable in our society. No one should ever feel unsafe in their school, community or home because of their gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation.  Ensuring the safety and health of our LGBT family, friends and neighbors should be our highest priority.

Just a few of the bills she has sponsored and co-sponsored bills include the Anti-Bullying and Harassment Act of 2011, the Respect for Marriage Act, Real Education for Healthy Youth Act of 2011, and the Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2011. These bills, among many others, show the outstanding commitment to justice that has marked her career.

Please join us on May 12th, 2017 in honoring Congresswoman Lee with the Notable Ally Award.

photo credit: Adam Bouska, 2012

Come together tonight: Post-election gathering in San Francisco

Dear families, partners, and friends,

I woke this morning with my heart so broken, and yet so full.

12923333_10156741658315035_8320178196639789420_nLike you, Our Family Coalition staff and I are overcome with feelings of disappointment, shock, sadness, anger, and confusion. Yesterday, voters demonstrated where we are as a nation. And that place is unwelcoming – even openly hostile – to far too many of us.

Trump’s campaign appealed to people’s fears, and to the underlying anti-immigrant, misogynist, transphobic, racist, and homophobic sentiments that have been gathering strength underneath the surface of our nation’s fabric for many years.

In the wake of this election, most of our families are rightly concerned about our children’s and our community’s futures. Those of us who are Muslim, those of us who are immigrants or in bi-national families, those of in Black and brown communities, rightly worry that the threats of violence against us and our criminalization will rise.

rumiquoteAnd yet we must not despair.

First, we must take time to hold each other close and process through what is a genuine shock to many. And then? We get up and fight like hell again. We fight for our children; we fight for our kin; we fight the vision of a just world where all LGBTQ families are seen, dignified, and celebrated.

It will not be easy. But we owe it to those who worked so very hard for the progress we’ve made thusfar. And we know we can do this. Because we will do this just the way we’ve done so much up to this point: together, animated by the twin loves of our children and of justice.

Tonight, Our Family Coalition’s San Francisco office will be open to all who may want or need a place for support, and to start rebuilding our LGBTQ family community in the wake of these heartbreaking results:

LGBTQ Family Post-Election Gathering
Our Family Coalition office
1385 Mission St, #340, San Francisco
5:30 – 8pm

Please email shareena@ourfamily.org to let us know you’re coming so we can ensure we have enough food and refreshments for all.

The event we had planned for tonight was to be a DIY family craft workshop, with a photographer on hand to take family portraits. We will still offer these opportunities for your kids to be creative, and your family to go home with a beautiful portrait.  

And we hope you go home with that and more: with a fuller heart, and the knowledge that your community is strong. If you can’t be there, please know we are here for you and your family. And thank you for being here for us, through all the work that you do.

Let us celebrate the precious time we have with our kids. And let us remember now more than ever the why behind what we do.

Heartbroken (and on fire),

renata-signature
Renata Moreira
Interim Executive Director

Solo Parent Support

facebookeventheader
By Dr. Meghan Lewis

soloparentspicAs my bio-clock struck thirty, the resounding tick-tock of surging pregnancy urges pushed me eagerly into musings over a wide range of reproductive and family building options. Having hoped from the days of my youth that I would grow a baby, as a queer-identified, single person, I began to seriously consider how that might actually happen.

I wondered if I would eventually marry a woman with whom I’d raise a family, perhaps via the offering of a donor-relative on her side. Maybe I’d seek out a close friend to share in a lifetime of parenting. Perhaps I’d meet a gay male couple who’d be delighted to co-create a kid or two.

Fast forward five years: No wife in sight, no potential donor-friend living in close proximity, and no family-oriented gay male couple in my inner circle. With the desire to grow my family soaring cycle-by-cycle, it became clearer to me that the path to parenthood would be unfolding quite differently then expected.

I had, however, often imagined self-fertilization as part of the process. So, when rolling out Plan B, i.e. intentional solo parenting via anonymous donor, I figured my next step was to explore alternate avenues for seed seeking. And like good gardeners do, I sought the best seed for a healthy, fruitful harvest. (My bottom line: no GMO’s, only homos). After narrowing down my choice of local sperm banks, I finally picked my heirloom seed and as fastidious farmer, turned my physical form into fecund field; an empowering process of planting and propagating my very own progeny.

soloparent-pullquote1Throughout the last ten years of raising said progeny on my own, I have found it to be an equally empowering process though not without bouts of great challenge and a kind of slow birth of deep perseverance, lots of unknowns, and unexpected twists and turns. Likewise, it seems similarly true for single parents who are on their own due to unanticipated circumstances such as divorce, death, or deportation of a partner or spouse. These parents also must conjure up enduring fortitude, self-determination, and exemplary flexibility.

Regardless of our families’ unique formation, for all of us parenting solo, I believe it is essential to cultivate a persistently empowered perspective– one that also holds our unique family as a complete family. Contrary to popular belief, solo parenthood does not have to be outrageously difficult, lonely, isolating, profoundly exhausting, or brokenly awaiting the buoyant balancing of another. We have access to what it takes to raise our children with optimism, love, tons of fun, and a deep sense purpose, belonging, and connection.

To help support the continued growth of an empowered parenting perspective, each month OFC offers a dinner gathering for solo parent families at the Children’s Creativity Museum, SF. Join us for community building and parent-driven discussions on a wide range of experiences and topics while your kid(s) enjoy supervised exploration of the many creative activities the museum has to offer.

– Discuss effective strategies for handling the unique challenges and responsibilities of solo parenting.

– Identify your hopes and intentions for yourself and your child(ren) and explore creative ways of attaining your personal and parenting goals.

– Learn healthy decompression/stress reduction practices.

– Discover helpful Bay Area parenting resources.

– Receive support and understanding while growing your community of local solo parents.

Register now! Free.

About the facilitator:

Dr. Meghan Lewis is a queer, solo parent by choice of a ten year old son and the founder of Integrative Perinatal Psychotherapy with offices in Oakland and SF.  She is also the founding member of LGBTQ Perinatal Wellness Associates of the Bay Area, a group of LGBTQ-identified professionals dedicated to the health of our community’s growing families. Meghan served on the Board of Berkeley’s BirthWays and is currently on the Advisory Board of Oakland’s Then Comes Baby where she offers support for LGBTQ families-to-be, those trying to conceive (TTC) and throughout early parenthood. Additionally, she offers preconception consultations and birth doula care through Wombservice Midwifery.

meghanlewisphd@gmail.com
www.lgbtqperinatalassociates.com
www.wombservicemidwifery.com

Thanks for Making Pride 2015 a Success – and a preview of our pics!

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Dear Families and Friends,

Wow! This year’s Pride was incredible, as the whole Bay Area celebrated our victory in the Supreme Court last Friday. Hundreds of kids – including more teens than ever – gathered with parents, grandparents, caregivers, friends, and allies at both the Parade and in the Family Garden. I had such a great time at Pride this year. The energy was electric and fun.

DSC_9468I know our work is important to you because it impacts that which is most precious to you: your kids. I am asking you to please make a donation to Our Family Coalition so that we can continue to do all we do for our families and build on our momentum for change.

_MG_6448The nationwide right to marry offers hope for the future of our children. We cannot stop here. We need your financial support to continue the momentum for our families.

Thank you so much for celebrating this historic Pride with us!  Every one of us makes a difference.

In gratitude,

PS: We are so glad to hear that your family and friends also had a great time at Pride. Please share your photos and great memories on our Page to inspire other families! See you at Oakland Pride on September 13! #familypride #proudofmyfamily.

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The Alphabet Soup – Episode 3: Pride Edition

In this episode of The Alphabet Soup with Our Family Coalition we discuss Family Pride. QMOC Anayvette Martinez and her daughter Lupita share their inspiration and goals for the amazing group the Radical Monarchs. Then, Captain Chris Armijo, a fierce advocate and single gay dad of twin girls, speaks about creating inclusive spaces for his family in Texas

Featuring:
Anayvette Martinez, Community Organizer, Parent and Advocate & Lupita Martinez
Chris Armijo, Parent, Captain & Advocate

Host: Judy Appel, Our Family Coalition’s Executive Director

Food for Thought with:
Polly Pagenhart, Our Family Coalition’s Family Programs Director

5 Pride Pro-tips for Pride-Rookie Parents

This piece was originally published on the OFC Blog on June 24, 2014. It is re-posted here with current links for the 2015 Pride extravaganza!

Polly at Pride

Polly at Pride

If this your first Pride with your family, you’re probably wondering how you’re going to get through the day with your good humor — and your wee charges – intact. And for good reason!

The downside of pride-as-a-parent: it’s not the same as when you were a footloose, fancy-free non-parent. The parade route covers nearly a mile and a half, which amounts to a half-hour walk on hard pavement even before you factor in the pre-parade wait and the stop-and-go of parading.

The pride-as-a-parent upside, especially if you march with the OFC contingent: it’s nothing short of transcendent, walking up Market Street with your whole family, watching your children be cheered on by rainbow flag-waving strangers like they’re astronauts returning from the moon.  The supply of pride from that s/hero’s welcome lasts a year, and is well worth what you go through to enable your kids to experience it.

If you make it to the Family Garden (or go there directly), you’ll be greeted by a veritable sea of our families, safely frolicking inside our very own playground.  We’ll have healthy snacks and beverages inside there, plus our own port-a-potties (not to be underestimated!). Also: balloon animals, face painting, story time, and play structure fun.

So! For all pride-rookie parents, here are five essential things to remember:

  1. Bring food and water.

  2. Bring wheels, if you can.

  3. Remember sun protection.

  4. Attach an ID to the little ones.

  5. Create an exit strategy and end on a good note.

1. Bring food and water. This one’s close to a parental no-brainier: it’s a warm, sunny June day, and even in the most minimalist of scenarios you’ll be out in the elements for hours plural. We’ll be distributing some water at the contingent gathering spot, but even so, be sure to bring enough water to hydrate yourself and your little ones. Plus do bring easy-to-carry healthy snacks to curb the hunger pangs.  We’ll be selling healthy snacks and smoothies at cost in the Family Garden, so just hold it together ‘til you get there!

2. Bring wheels, if you can. The only thing nearly as important as food & water are wheels, any wheels, whatever wheels you’re able bring to the parade site & schlepp back home: stroller (no big kid is too big if they can jam into it!), wagon, scooter, tricycle, skateboard, roller blades, bikes: whatever conveyance you can bring that will ease the mile, bring it! I even saw a family with a custom rig: someone attached wheels to the bottom of a crib, and they rolled that ’til it gave up the ghost half-way up the street.

3. Remember sun protection. It’ll be sunny, and sun protection of any & all sorts is in order: wide-brimmed hat; sunglasses; sunscreen. Again: it’s going to be hours in the sun on a fine June day. Don’t overheat or burn.

4. Attach an ID to the little ones. Whether you go low-tech and write your name (not the kids’ name) and cell phone number on their little forearms, or you affix one of those ID wristbands on ’em, or you somehow securely attach a laminated card to your kid’s person, be sure there is a super-clear way for someone to know to contact you in the unlikely yet very upsetting event you’re separated.

5. Create an exit strategy and end on a good note.  Talk together as a family about what to expect from Pride, and how much is going to feel like enough. Reading through Gayle Pitman’s fantastic new book This Day in June would be fantastic prep; she’ll be in the Family Garden this year reading from the book and hanging out with families. Agree in advance how you’ll decide when it’s time to go, whether it’s the grown ups or the kids who are supersaturated. It’s a thrilling day, but for years, my own family simply marched up Market Street and then dropped down into BART at Civic Center, as full as we could manage. One of the key tenets of dog training is “End on a good note!” so that the most recent memory is a positive one. That goes for Pride, too.

Together we can make this the Best! Pride! Ever!

By Polly Pagenhart, Family Programs Director at Our Family Coalition
Polly also blogs at Lesbian Dad

A Night Out with Our Family…

By Martha Boesing

marthabpic There we were, my partner and I, invited by my daughter-in-law (Our Family Coalition’s Programs’ Director)  to attend an astonishingly elegant cocktail and dinner event at the grand Intercontinental Hotel in San Francisco.

We walked into this sumptuous glass building to find ourselves in the midst of a massive crowd of people, all talking at once. They stood in line to collect a vodka and rum drink called “Tantrum.”  (Get the joke?) My partner got one. I didn’t. There was so much noise that, for my own sanity, I quickly pretended I was in a jungle surrounded by thousands of chattering monkeys – monkeys I can handle. I tumbled back and forth between wondering “who were all these people? Were they all gay?” to feeling overwhelmed in the “monkey jungle happy hour.”

After an hour or so, we were invited to move to the dining area where we were seated at the grandparents table. My partner and I might have been the oldest grandparents there (both of us being in our late seventies), not to mention possibly that the only gay people at the grandparents table. The others all seemed to be heterosexual single women or couples whose children had come out gay and whom they had chosen to support, like parents in PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays).  I found myself assuming that they might have raised their kids in nice middle class homes, instilling conventional values in their young minds, while we had been out marching in the streets, “Taking Back the Night,” getting arrested, living in communes, moving in and out of primary relationships (“everything changes – don’t get attached!”), writing plays and novels about what it was like to be gay and proud, and bursting towards “Yes!” as lesbian-feminists on the cusp of the second wave of the Women’s Movement. It felt at that table that we were somehow not quite cut from the same cloth. But there we were.

martha01On the stage our proud, gay grown-up children were giving out awards to teachers, students and counselors who had worked to bring equality and social justice into their classrooms, their meeting halls and onto the streets, and showing us photos and videos of gay parents playing with their children, tossing them into the air, bathing them, hugging them, just like all parents do every day all over the globe.

It seemed likely to me that a majority of the speakers at this event had come out on their own, with no foremothers or forefathers there to light the way. They had to tell their straight parents that they were queer, and suffer the consequences. Some parents had accepted their choices and were there tonight to celebrate their extraordinary accomplishments and courage, while others had thrown them out on their butts.

But then there were those of us who were on the front lines way back then when the radical gay movement and the passionate second wave of the women’s movement took flight.  We built a defense for ourselves by simply not caring what the rest of the world had to say about us. We turned away, denying that they had any power over us. Many of us were artists, activists from the Civil Rights and Anti-War movements, and – for the most part – we could choose not to hang out with anyone who gave a damn about who we were sleeping with. So we didn’t have to notice that there was a whole society out there composed of people who scorned us and thought we were losers, crazies, perverts.

BUT….

Our children had to notice. They did notice.

Our children had to face bullies and bigots, who might have made fun of them for having gay parents. Almost every day.

martha03Then it struck me – I realized that the other grandparents sitting at this table with us, no matter what our differences might have been, were banded together by a common thread. We were all there to witness these children of ours celebrate something truly magical that they had diligently worked for over many years, which is to provide a safe and loving environment for all our wondrous and perfect grandchildren to grow up in. Our Family Coalition has accomplished something I couldn’t have even imagined back then when we were walking in the streets. They have created a net, which will one day hopefully reach out over the entire nation; that enables children growing up in a gay family to feel perfectly normal. Normal – what a concept for an LGBTQ family!

That is something my children never got to feel, but are a part of creating for their children and my grandchildren – a path toward equity and visibility for their family in society.

My children had to face, every day, a society I was not part of. That society believed a family consisted of a Mom and a Dad, two kids, and a dog. And my kids knew, somewhere deep in their bones, that this was not the kind of family they had.

As I approached my daughter-in-law following the event in gratitude of this work, she kept trying to assure me that what her generation has accomplished could not have happened if we had not paved the way. “We were standing on your shoulders,” she said, again and again. Of course that’s true.  I believe it is deeply important to acknowledge our ancestors, as she has done ever since I first met her. But then of course there’s also that shadow side that we must live with. There’s always a cost, and that cost being that my children did not have the comfort of feeling their family was normal while growing up.

martha03On the other hand, my lovely grandchildren will not grow up with that pain. They will be free– not only because their parents love and support them, but because the society they live in will not dare to reject them. They will be free because of the work being done and celebrated here at this event by our children. They will be free to love whoever they love, in whatever way they love, free to open their hearts to life however life presents itself to them. Now I am filled with gratitude for my daughter and her amazing partner and their peers – grateful for bringing this dream, which we hardly knew we could dream, to life. Grateful to sit at the table with this group of people I was unclear I’d have anything in common with but after leaving the event I am more certain than ever we are banded together but the ever-growing visibility and inclusion of our families. That we were together and it was normal.