Tag Archives: LGBTQ-headed families

LGBTQ-Friendly Summer Camps

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Famly Camps

PACT Camp

July 3-8, 2016
Tahoe City, CA
www.pactadopt.org/events/

Putting It All Together: Adoption, Race & Family
A Gathering for Adoptive Families With Children of Color
A weeklong summer retreat where adopted children of color and their families can share their experiences while learning from experts and each other.

Camp It Up!

July 30 – August 7, 2016
Quincy, CA
www.campitup.org

Camp It Up! is an experience, a feeling of belonging, of connecting – a powerful expression of how life can and should be for all of us. It’s where each of us is safe to be just who we are, where kids can run free and be held by an entire community.

Camp Tawonga – Keshet LGBT Family Weekend

Aug 25-28, 2016
Yosemite National Park
www.tawonga.org

This innovative program draws participants from all over the country. The first of its kind in the Jewish camping world, we offer a truly incredible community. Renowned educators from across the country will lead specialized workshops.

Day Camps

Girls on the Go! Camp

June 20-Aug 19, 2016
www.girlsonthegocamp.com

Girls explore, engage, and connect with one another and the beautiful Bay Area. Special guests share their talents in interactive playshops, with a special focus for each week. Girls enjoy summer days filled with spontaneous and planned adventures.

Monkey Business Camp

June 13 – August 26, 2016
www.monkeybusinesscamp.com

Monkey Business Camp was founded by two lesbians.They started Monkey Business Camp to nurture the creativity and individuality of each child in a loving and magical environment. They develop programs to achieve a balance between structure and spontaneity, to provide for the varied needs and interests of campers, and to build a powerful, peaceful, fun-loving community.

Brave Trails

July 3-16, 2016
San Bernardino National Forest
www.bravetrails.org

A residential summer camp for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, questioning, asexual, and allied youth (LGBTQ), ages 12-20. Campers will focus on developing their personal leadership skills while enjoying activities, workshops, and fun programing. From roasting marshmallows and drag shows to horseback riding and social justice workshops, there are plenty of activities to choose from!

Bay Area Rainbow Camp

June 20-July 1, 2016
El Cerrito
www.rainbowdaycamp.org

Bay Area Rainbow Camp is a play-based camp for gender-creative kids to reinforce positive, gender fluid identities in a community of peers. Psychotherapists who are gender specialists will be available after drop off and before pickup to answer questions and facilitate the parent support discussion group.

R Family Vacations

July 9-16, 2016
http://www.rfamilyvacations.com

Sail from Istanbul to Rome on the luxurious Celebrity Equinox. Wwe return to one our favorite destinations: Wonder Valley Ranch Camp! These vacations are perfect for the entire LGBT community including families, couples, singles, and friends.

Alphabet Soup Episode 5: Family Equality Edition

Featuring:
Cathy Sakimura, Deputy Director & Family Law Director at NCLR
Tarah Fleming, Our Family Coalition’s Education Director

Food for Thought with Hali Martin, Policy Intern at Our Family Coalition

Host: Renata Moreira, Our Family Coalition’s Acting Executive Director

Tune in to the new episode of Alphabet Soup, where we discuss family equality with Cathy Sakimura and what is still at stake for LGBTQ-families. Some topics touched upon are what steps families can take to protect themselves until full legal recognition and protection of LGBTQ families is established, and increasing access to legal services for low income families through the Family Protection Project.

Solo Parent Support

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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

The Alphabet Soup – Episode 2: Family Activism Edition

In the second episode of The Alphabet Soup with Our Family Coalition, Julia and Zach of The Rainbow Letters share inspiring and powerful stories about growing up with parents who are lesbian or gay. Listen in to an engaging conversation with Willy Wilkinson on parenting, activism and his new book Born on the Edge of Race and Gender: A Voice for Cultural Competency.

Guests:
Zach Wahls and Julia Winston, The Rainbow Letters
Willy Wilkinson, Author, Activist & Parent

Host:
Judy Appel, Executive Director

Food for Thought with:
Renata Moreira, Policy and Communications Director
Our Family Coalition

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.

El Canto del Colibrí (The Song of the Hummingbird)

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by the Somos Familia Events Team
Somos Familia is an intergenerational community-based organization, and fiscal project of Our Family Coalition, that builds support for Latino LGBTQ youth in families and communities.

IMG_2281aWhen two moms of LGBTQ children from Somos Familia spoke to large Catholic congregation in 2008, we realized that our stories of family acceptance touch hearts and open minds. Since then, our stories have since traveled to schools, homes, and countless other community settings.

We share our stories as much as possible, because we know that family and community acceptance save lives and make life better. A recent survey revealed that family acceptance is the top problem facing Latino LGBTQ youth. Less than half of LGBTQ Latino youth say they have an adult in their family they can confide in if they feel worried or sad, compared to 81 percent of their non-LGBTQ Latino peers.

Somos Familia released Tres Gotas de Agua (Three Drops of Water), a short documentary featuring three Latina immigrant moms who love their LGBTQ children, in 2011. Their stories have since touched thousands of people in many parts of the world. Magdy Angel-Hurtado, a Somos Familia leader, says “The film Tres Gotas captured aspects of my own coming-out story and gave me hope and possibilities for my family. I could see the personal connection my mother was making when we watched it together.”

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While audiences expressed great appreciation for the moms in Tres Gotas, many asked “Where are the Dads?” In response, the film-makers embarked on their next venture: a film with Latino immigrant fathers of LGBTQ children. Since 2012, Marco Castro-Bojorquez, José Alfaro and Katie Cruz have dedicated their time and energies to making the film, titled El Canto del Colibrí (The Song of the Hummingbird), a reality.   

Much like the seldom-heard song of the hummingbird, the voices of Latino fathers are rarely heard in addressing LGBTQ issues. Magdy Angel-Hurtado says “It is often the mothers who support their children first. A film discussing the journey of acceptance of Latino fathers for their LGBTQ children is critical to encourage Latino fathers to begin these important conversations.” The film-makers cast a broad net and travelled to five different U.S. cities to film families. They encouraged the fathers to speak frankly about issues of immigration, faith, marriage equality, machismo, culture, and the process of their LGBTQ children coming out.

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El Canto del Colibrí was filmed in Spanish and will have English subtitles. At Somos Familia, we believe that the film will build bridges of hope and solidarity among our Latino fathers, their families, and communities. Jorge Hernandez, who appears in the film alongside his father, says “I was able to see my dad challenge himself and his own perceptions around sexuality. It made me realize that I am extremely fortunate to have the support that I have from my parents. A lot of my queer friends can’t even have a conversation with their parents without getting into an argument, but my dad was down to being filmed, which for me was a whole other level of support!”

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One motive behind the film is to challenge stereotypes. Director Marco Castro-Bojorquez says, “I wanted to dismantle the racist idea that Latino men are homophobic by nature and show that unconditional love changes hearts and minds in families and communities. These stories show that the resiliency of our LGBTQ children is stronger than any cultural biases and labels. When there is work on the relationship between father and child, Latino immigrant men are capable of being transformed.”

Somos Familia is thrilled to host the first-ever community screening of El Canto del Colibrí (see event details below). We are inviting families and other community members to come together experience the film, join in dialogue, and celebrate this groundbreaking achievement.

The event is hosted by Somos Familia and co-sponsored by Our Family Coalition, Brown Boi Project, Gay Straight Alliance Network, TRUCHA/Casa CHE at La Clinica de la Raza, the Oakland Public Library, Street Level Health Project, BAYCAT, and supported by grants from The California Endowment and Akonadi Foundation.

Event Details:
El Canto del Colibrí (Song of the Hummingbird): Community Screening, Dialogue & Celebration
Saturday, April 25th
81st Avenue Community Library, Oakland
1021 81st Avenue
Lunch will be served.

See Somos Familia’s Facebook Page for event information and updates.

The Rainbow Letters

by Julia Winston and Zach Wahls
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We are Zach and Julia, and we have LGBTQ parents.

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Zach is a DI baby from Iowa with two moms, and Julia’s dad came out when she was just a kiddo back in Texas. We’re all grown up now, and because we care about our families so much, we love connecting with and learning about other people like us who have LGBTQ parents.That’s why we started a creative writing project called The Rainbow Letters.

During this remarkable time of progress in the LGBTQ and family equality movements, the fact remains that the public still has minimal exposure to the unique perspectives of children.

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Well, we want to hear what they have to say!

The Rainbow Letters is a collection of original letters written by people (like us) with LGBTQ parents, no matter how old we are or where we come from, to shed light on our experiences. Every person has a different story, and every story matters.

Why letters? For hundreds of years, letter writing has been one of the most personal and intimate methods of communication. In today’s highly connected yet largely impersonal digital world, we can’t think of anything more genuine than a good old fashioned letter. Our writers can choose to address their letters to anyone in the world, and to identify themselves as the authors of these letters openly or anonymously.

rainbowletterspullquote1We started collecting letters just a few months ago and already dozens of beautiful pieces of self-expression are flooding in! The letters we receive run the gamut from humorous to heartbreaking and everything in between, and are addressed to people as diverse as RuPaul, a 9th grade crush, and an 11-year-old self. We’re so touched by every submission and we can’t wait to make these letters available for others to read and digest.

The purpose of this project is to generate reflection, self-expression, and the development of a community that will provide the world with a better understanding of our shared humanity. Ultimately The Rainbow Letters will become a published collection intended to illustrate that differences truly are okay, and that there’s no such thing as “normal when it comes to family. When the project grows large enough, we also intend to host an ongoing interactive platform online to invite conversation and facilitate discussion.

What do we need to bring this vision to fruition? More letters, of course! And we’d like to call on you to get involved and be part of it.

If you are an LGBTQ parent, let your kids know what we’re up to! We would love to hear from them.

Irainbowletterspullquote3f you’re the child of an LGBTQ parent or parents, consider writing a letter! You can write to anyone you want, say whatever is in your heart, and submit as many letters as you’d like. We think you’re voice is incredibly valuable; we would love to hear it, and let it be heard by others.

You can submit a letter on our website at www.therainbowletters.com, read current letter snippets on Facebook, or reach out to us directly at info@therainbowletters.com.

It’s clear to see that we are in the midst of a “family revolution.” 

The kids are right there, front and center — and we think society can really benefit from hearing what’s on their minds.

Pockets of Fun and Love at the Berkeley YMCA

by Maria Luisa Jimenez-Morales, Our Family Coalition Parent

FamilyPortraitSpring2014Our Family Coalition’s “LGBTQ Family Night at the Berkeley YMCA” last year was my first ever visit to a YMCA. Our six year old son, Alejandro, had only heard of it from the Village People song on his Wii dance game, and he was expecting a nightclub dancing style party! I explained to him that it’s a time for us to do sports and see and play with the friends we’ve made with so many Our Family Coalition staff and the many families who attend OFC gatherings.

eastbayplaygroupMy almost three year old daughter, Ana, and I have been attending the weekly play group on Tuesday mornings in Oakland for over a year. We have created family with two other children and their parents. I was expecting to just see our friends at the Y even, so when we came to the large dinner area I was shocked to see the large number of families I did not recognize!

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That was another first for me, seeing so many of us LGBTQ folks with kids in one place. It is amazing how OFC creates these spaces that don’t exist anywhere else in the universe. I’m not just talking about renting a venue and making it available for us LGBTQ families: I’m talking about how you feel when you come to one of OFC’s gatherings. You feel enthusiastically welcomed.

pollyatymcaThe YMCA in Berkeley is huge and a bit daunting to me, but I saw friendliness and love as soon as we reached the OFC table there. Even if there is someone I don’t know at an event table, I always feel warmth emanating from whoever is helping us. My son was a bit shy, so it really made a difference when the first thing we felt was welcomed. Soon after we arrived we went to eat with folks, and then we did our different playing activities with the kids. At every turn, the OFC staff was helping and guiding and available, providing support to all the families. There were so many great moments that night, like talking to other parents and meeting new families or just watching our kids play.

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What sticks out for me most are small interactions that remind me why it matters that it was an LGBTQ friendly space. It came down to swimming in the pool, dressing our kids and using the bathrooms and seeing kids and adults of varying gender differences in the open locker room — feeling comfortable and maybe somewhat vulnerable but safe and supported to be ourselves. I reflect on loved ones who have struggled with this moment that maybe takes seven minutes: get a locker, change clothes, put your clothes away, use toilet and swim or rinse off after pool, use toilet, dress, and go. My son dressed for the first time in front of “strangers” but he adjusted well. He quickly realized we were all on a time crunch for the next swim time to start and saw that we were all families just getting ready to have a good time together.

My kids liked the kindergym area and swimming the most. Victoria and I enjoyed the time with other families like ours and watching our kids have so much fun. It was much more fun than the nightclub dancing style party my son thought it would be! Thank you Our Family Coalition for creating pockets of fun and love in this world for our families.