In June our family had the unique experience of being at the center of a media firestorm. Specifically, my partner Todd and I, along with our two children, were featured in the Father's Day catalog for JCPenney.
From the moment the catalog came out (up to this week, even), we received media requests from all over the globe asking about the experience, how we were recruited for their catalog, etc. Additionally, we received hundreds of emails, Facebook messages, letters, tweets and texts from friends, family, schoolmates, acquaintances, celebrities and complete strangers. Even actress Mia Farrow, a frequent Huffington Post contributor, sent us a nice message of support and congratulations. And the comments on the blogs... O-M-G, the blog comments! For the most part, the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. For every bad thing we've heard, there's been a chorus of hundreds singing the ad's praises. It's been amazing and heartwarming.
But there was one thing that really got under my skin: the negative comments we read and heard from other gay people. Specifically, they were complaining about JCPenney casting two white, affluent gay men. (Our paychecks weren't included in the photo spread, I should point out.) "Why do the dads have to be so attractive?" some asked. (That one didn't hurt as much.) "Why did they have to use such an effeminate couple?" others grumbled. And there were so many comments about how no self-respecting gay man would shop at JCPenney. (We do.)
Todd, our children and I took a risk and exposed ourselves to the eyes of the world, all in service to the greater cause of allowing the world to see gay families as "normal." We knew it wouldn't go unnoticed by those who aim to deny us equality and respect, but we never expected some of our detractors to be from our own team.
Typically, I don't let criticism affect me. Channeling my inner Oprah, I always say, "What other people think about me is none of my business." But friendly fire, in the form of criticism or snark from people you thought would have your back, hurts far more than attacks from those damning us to hell in the name of Christianity. Why can't we support each other? Let's lift each other up and appreciate the contributions that each of us makes to whatever cause we're championing.