Mother's Day, Father's Day And Making LGBTQ Families Visible

In times like these, simply being visible as an LGBTQ-headed family takes on a new importance.
05/12/2017 11:55 am ET Updated May 23, 2017
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I felt awkward bringing it up. My son, who is almost 14, still needs reminding to bring out the recycling, though, so I figured I’d better nudge him about Mother’s Day. He’s beyond the age when he does craft projects in school for us. “I know this sounds self-serving,” I began, “but given that you don’t have a parent who isn’t part of the celebration, I wanted to mention that Mother’s Day is this Sunday.”

“I don’t care what you do,” I continued, despite visions of omelettes in bed and a miraculously clean house. “Make us a card. Bake cookies. But you should do something.” We also make him write thank-you cards for gifts he receives and hold doors for anyone behind him. Who says two moms can’t raise a gentleman?

Not all families with LGBTQ parents celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day the same way, of course. Sometimes one parent will be honored on each day, regardless of gender. Sometimes the family makes up its own holidays. Sometimes we honor birth parents, gamete donors, or surrogates on these days or others. We create our celebrations as we create our families—with intention, inventiveness, and a whole lot of love.

For many LGBTQ-headed families, the parenting holidays have long been times that also called for visibility and speaking out. We have often made a point of talking with teachers to make sure our children felt included and our families treated accurately during in-class Mother’s and Father’s Day projects. The same might be said for families with single parents of all orientations, step-parent families, and others who don’t fit the archetypal mom-dad mold. Sometimes these holidays cause us stress because we feel like we don’t quite fit; other times, they offer an opportunity for education, connection, and a chance to celebrate all types of families.

This year, too, even more than in the last few years, celebrating these holidays feels not only like a personal occasion, but also an act of resistance. Despite the progress we have seen in recent years, LGBTQ families are still under threat: in Tennessee, where a new law requires interpreting other laws according to their “natural meaning,” and could mean that statutes pertaining to “husbands” and “wives” don’t apply to same-sex married couples and leave their children at risk; and in Alabama, Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota and Virginia, which have laws allowing child placement agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ people and others who wish to foster or adopt, if the placement conflicts with their “sincerely-held religious belief or moral conviction.” Georgia, Oklahoma, and Texas have similar bills pending. It remains to be seen, too, whether President Trump’s executive order on religious freedom, though non-specific on child placement, can be used to similar effect in other states.

And Judge Mitchell Nance of Kentucky’s 43rd Circuit Court issued an order last week stating his “conscientious objection to the concept of adoption of a child by a practicing homosexual,” and recusing himself from related cases, reports the Glasgow Daily Times. As the Washington Post pointed out, judicial recusal is understandable “if he is plainly biased against one or the other party in a case,” but “Bias against a whole slice of the population is a different, and disqualifying, matter, and renders Mr. Nance unfit to serve.”

In times like these, simply being visible as an LGBTQ-headed family takes on a new importance. We may offer positive examples to new LGBTQ parents and prospective parents; we may remind those outside our community that we still exist and that a nation’s commitment to its children means all its children. The season between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day gives us an opportunity to raise our voices even more at a time of year when many of us are already used to speaking up for our families and family stories are much in the media.

With that in mind, I invite all LGBTQ families and our allies to participate in the 12th Annual Blogging for LGBTQ Families Day on Thursday, June 1. I hold the event on the first weekday of June, not only because it’s the start of Pride Month, but because it sits roughly midway between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day—honoring both, but reminding us that not all parents exist at one of those poles.

Simply post in celebration of LGBTQ families at your own blog, vlog, public Facebook post, or other public social media feed, on or before June 1, then submit the links here. Please tweet with the hashtag #LGBTQfamilies as well. I will compile and showcase all the links to display the variety, love, and resiliency of our families. Thanks to Family Equality Council, GLAAD, and the Human Rights Campaign for helping to promote the event and share our stories.

However you celebrate the parenting holidays (and even if you have to remind your kids about making you a card), may the season be filled with joy and love.

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