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Trick-or-Treat, Gay or Straight

October 31, 2008

Myles, Celia and I just got back from two solid hours of trick-or-treating. I’m a big sap, obsessed with my Norman Rockwell vision of the world – even though that vision, more often than not, involves all sorts of personal proclivities that many people would deem decidedly alternative. It is what it is. And it is sweet.

Tonight, however, seemed a lovely illustration of everything that I hold dear. Namely, LOVE and FREEDOM in many forms.

For those who don’t know us, Myles and I are a pretty normal couple. Which is to say, we are straight, white, well-educated, married and have a had a kid. Pretty much the personification of everything that the media and dominant culture deems “good.” Sometimes I wish we weren’t so normal, (and in some ways, trust me, we’re not, but…..)

That said, I value personal freedom and diversity more than almost anything else. One of the ways that personal freedom and diversity expresses itself – and is often repressed and used as a weapon – is love. When I say love, I mean love, I don’t mean it as a euphemism for sex, though I’m sure I’ll find a way to talk about sexual freedom more than once on this blog, just not in this blog post.

It’s worth noting that my definition of love comes, not surprisingly, from my parents. I am lucky enough to have been raised by a gay father, and a handful of gay men who were his partners in varying ways and who I consider my family. (The running joke is that my step-mother’s name was Frank and my daughter has the best fairy godfathers EVAR.) But, when I was growing up, having a gay father was something that made me different. I’m not sure if I was actively persecuted in any way because of it, but I sure knew I was different. I knew he was different. And more than once I’ve had to explain it – mostly trying to explain that it isn’t really any different from anyone else having parents who are divorced and dating and….

I’m grateful for it, but I was aware of it.

So tonight we were trick-or treating with some of our daughter’s closest friends. And I took a step back to look at her world, as encapsulated in these well-costumed kids.

1. One of her best friend has two mothers. My daughter is 9 and in her inner-circle, I can name at least 5 friends of hers who are the children of same sex couples. Needless to say, their homosexuality has nothing to do with sex, for her. It just has to do with parenting, and family. And, in her world, it is as common and normal for her friends to have two moms, two dads, or just one of one or the other.

2. Another one of her best friends has a younger sister who was recently adopted – at age 6 or so – from Ethiopia. This alarmingly cute little girl was dressed as a hunk of cheese tonight – her chocolatey skin and beaming smile set ablaze in a giant yellow chunk of cardboard swiss. At one point, her blonde-haired, blue-eyed sister had a costume malfunction and the cheese came skipping up and, in her chatty accent said, “can you please help my sister.” It was as if they had been sisters forever. Her world was defined by this. This girl, to whom she bears no resemblance and has known barely over a year, is her sister. This is her family.

3. In this same family, there is a 13 year-old boy. This boy is all boy, no two ways about it. He was trick-or-treating with some of his friends – football players and the like. He, however, was dressed as a fairy princess. No joke. No mockery. Just pure play and whimsy. No point to prove, no nothing. It just hit his sense of humor right and felt good, so he did it. It was so innocent and wonderful.

As we walked through our streets, streets I am proud to claim as my home, I marvelled at how diverse the world around me is. There are a LOT of same sex families in my neighborhood. A lot of multi-racial adopted and otherwise blended families. There are generations of ethnic diversity – the nice Hispanic man who told us how glad he was to see kids in the ‘hood again, because his was in college now and the streets were to quiet until we all started moving in with our kids.

And I was just blown away.

It was sweet. Sweeter than chocolate, even. To walk through the festive streets and realize how different my daughter’s world is than mine was. Mine was full of love, no doubt, but it also was very homogeneous. Celia’s world is much bigger. Love – LOVE – comes in so many configurations for her.

I love my life. I’ve always though I was lucky to have a gay dad, because it made my definition of love so large that I knew there would be room for me, no matter how I defined love when I grew up. But my daughter has so much more than that. Gay parents, multi-racial families, single parents, adopted kids…… In her world, love comes in every shape imaginable. There will be plenty of room for her to define love however she needs to, and she knows she’ll be able add to it, in her own unique way.

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