Always Learning

The Next Family

By: Brandy Black

Although an amazing Thanksgiving for all, there were a few heart tugs for me as well. The tugs were bittersweet, which seems to be a package that is appearing more often in my life.

We were toasted over dinner by a couple friends of ours for “being lesbians”- being brave to withstand the life that being a lesbian brings, I guess, in the eyes of a straight couple. This was a heartfelt toast meant with great compassion and sincerity, but for me it was a reminder that I’m not just…me. See, as I have mentioned in prior blogs, I’m not much of a “label” girl so I oftentimes forget that I’m a lesbian and that I’m different until I’m reminded of it. So although sweet, it once again made me crave the day that it’s not necessary to toast people like me.

A day later I was getting my jeans tailored with my beautiful daughter by my side. She was on my Blackberry, as usual, talking to no one.
“Who are you calling?” I said trying to keep her entertained.
“Daddy” the tailor innocently chimed in.
Bam! A jerk at the heart strings- this will come up- it’s normal to have a daddy, why wouldn’t someone say that? I will always have to be ready to respond. In the coffee shop, at the tailor, in my own home- I must be prepared -for my daughter-to gracefully explain.

Another day later I was at a wedding and the bride’s sister came over to introduce herself to Susan and me. She said she used our web site (The Next Family) for a presentation at the University of Washington. She was very thankful for its existence, as it articulated a lot of what she wanted to address in way of explaining how teachers can better relate to children with same sex parents. She was advocating treating these children the same as any other child. This was amazing news for me to hear. This was the very reason that I decided to create The Next Family, for people to better understand diversity in families and to inspire people to celebrate these amazing people.

She went on (I’m paraphrasing):
“ I was surprised to find out that in the children’s section of the library there were no books about same sex parents except for the stories about animals. All of the other books with “people” are in a different section of the library for adults. I mean, children can’t even find books about their own families. I actually wrote a letter to the librarian about this.”

She was very inspiring –a straight woman, campaigning for our family and the many others out there. I asked her to write about the whole experience for our site (more on that soon). I was so happy that The Next Family had done some good and was actually used as a support tool for a bigger cause.

10 minutes later, all at once, it hit me, the words she was saying. Wow. It made me sad, re-playing the whole conversation and how she explained to the teachers to overlook their opinions on “the lifestyle” and think about the children. That hurts. Another painful reminder that we are so far from where I want to be.
I refuse to walk around with a chip on my shoulder, bitter and resentful for what I should have- although I should have it! So, I’m never ready, I’m never guarded enough to stop my heart from aching. I feel the pain every time. But I do know that when something hurts, the last thing I want to do is dwell on the negative. Therefore, these 3 heart tugs that occurred over the weekend are my CALL TO ACTION.

I will go to my local libraries and I will find out if they have books for my daughter in the children’s section and if they don’t, I will do my best – better than that if required- to be sure that they will soon be seen on those shelves next to the fluffy stuffed animals and miniature tot tables.

I’ll leave you with this amazing song from Sesame Street that mentions two dad’s and makes my heart warm (just in case you didn’t see it in our Daily News). There is hope for change and I’m appreciative of little steps like this. Thank you Sesame Street!


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