It has been a fascinating exercise. Eileen and I won this item at a school auction. A fellow parent creates a comic book for and about our family. Through our purchase, we raised money to promote the education of our kids, but the process of considering your family as comic book characters has been quite the education.
Fellow parent and comic guru Evan has led us on a silly and yet insightful journey, asking us questions about who we are, what makes us tick, our strengths (powers), our weaknesses (our Kryptonite). These are the questions that are the therapists' stock and trade but masked (pun intended) in the world of fantasy, they become not at all intrusive but downright fun to consider.
We talked about our 13 year old daughter Kit who has the most uncanny sense of smell. She will play the role of crime scene investigator,sniffing out danger. Her twin brother Ben is universally recognized as the nicest guy in the whole world and so his super power is clear (and unique). While it might have been obvious to offer our eldest daughter Scout (18) the role of Angelica in our Rugrats adventure, we decide instead that it is her voice that is her power. This is a woman who can make a lot of noise and can persuade anyone to do anything. Our kids determined that my power is my ability to think and behave like an eight year old (I am trying to see this in a positive light). Rounding out our family of superheroes is Eileen whose power derives from tidying.
Having shared our innermost thoughts and feelings to a man we know only reasonably well, I found myself thinking a lot about power. And about the fine line between superpowers and Kryptonite. While with Superman, they were quite distinct, I got to thinking that with real people, your power can in fact also be your Kryptonite. Could Ben's niceness be a liability as well as an asset? Certainly. And we worry about that. The same holds true for Scout and her big mouth. And I know firsthand that Eileen's tidying can get out of control.
After Evan left, I remembered my deadline for this column and my thoughts about superpowers strayed to my sexual orientation. I would guess that many would see this as my kryptonite. I suspect many gay and lesbian people view their sexual orientation as a liability, something to overcome. And you can certainly see why they would. Clearly our sexual orientation puts us in an unprotected minority with second class citizen status. There are still so many states in which we can be fired because of our sexual orientation. Until the Lambda Legal Supreme Court decision in the Lawrence case in 2003, many states saw us as criminals. And no one needs to remind us that our sexual orientation can put us in harm's way.
So in this interpretation, as powerful as a gay or lesbian person may be in many ways, once his/her sexual orientation is revealed, the power begins to fade. Perhaps the revelation itself becomes our kryptonite.
I do not think so. Not for a minute.
I believe that being gay is not my kryptonite; it's my super power. My friend Herb has a theory that we are here on this earth with a greater purpose -to model honest and authentic behavior for those around us. To illustrate that one does not have to be controlled by the expectations of others. Intriguing.
While I'm not sure I buy Herb's theory in its entirety, what I do know is that I wouldn't change for anything. I'm guessing that a lot of straight people are sure that if all the "gays" were given a genie in a bottle, our first wish would be to become straight. Not me. Not now. Not never.
First off there is Eileen. I can't imagine a person on earth that I would rather spend my life with (I do joke about Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews but I don't really mean it). And perhaps Eileen alone would be enough. But I think there is more.
I have a perspective and a view of the world that is clearer and enriched by my difference. I take less for granted. Eileen and I created our family with intention. We had to be bold. We had to make choices that were not easy. I came out to my parents and traveled a journey with them that enriched us all. And I am a stronger person having dealt with Eileen's parents who, in 25 years, never spoke my name.
I am stronger, I am more outspoken, I take less for granted, I have a greater sense of purpose, I am a stronger model on issues of social justice for my kids and those around me - all because I am a lesbian.
So move over Xena. You're not the only gay person with super powers. We all have them.