Tag Archives: parenting

LGBT Pride and History Month 2014: Jared Polis

29 Jun

JaredpolisToday I would like to honor and celebrate Representative Jared Polis from Colorado.  Polis is currently one of a handful openly gay member of congress — no small feat given how welcoming John Boehner has made the House of Representatives for the LGBTQ community. He’s also the first out gay parent to serve in Congress.

Polis has dedicated his life to improving education. While his business enterprises have been diverse, he has focused his extensive philanthropy and political aspirations on ensuring access to quality education for everyone. His first elected office was to the Colorado State Board of Education, where he served part of his term as Chair. He also worked to ensure the passage of the largest school bond proposal in Colorado history, improving and modernizing educational facilities in the Boulder Valley School District.

Polis has put his own money to work as well, creating a foundation dedicated to creating “opportunities for success by supporting educators, increasing access to technology, and strengthening our community.” His work focuses on ensuring that schools have adequate technology to prepare students for success in a rapidly changing world. He also demonstrates amazing dedication to issues of racial equity, as he strives to create better access for targeted and immigrant children.

Since 2008, Polis has been the Representative for Colorado’s 2nd District. In Congress he continues his push for quality education, serving on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. He also chairs the Red to Blue program, helping Democratic candidates in competitive Republican-held districts. Rep. Polis is an outspoken critic of the lives and money the U.S. has wasted in Iraq and Afghanistan. A staunch supporter of civil rights, he has supported legislation and action opposing US involvement in countries with anti-gay laws as well as programs supporting the LGBT community in Iraq, Honduras, and elsewhere.

Jared Polis has been open and out throughout his career, providing a visible example of a proud, successful gay man as well as a supportive partner and father. I would also like to take time to thank all of the LGBTQ parents raising children and being visible! It is still relatively early in Rep. Polis’ career, but his work thus far indicates a commitment to equity and opportunity. I look forward to seeing how that passion grows.

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Parenthood: Childless

9 Sep

ParenthoodMy husband and I watched Parenthood last night.  It is one of my favorite movies. It was also the first time I fell in love with Diane Wiest, who does a great job of showing the difficulties of being a single parent with unconditional love for her two children.  The movie does a fantastic job of showing the tensions, troubles, and triumphs of being both a child and a parent. While I still loved watching the movie, I was also quite mournful.  As a middle aged gay man, I had always wanted children.  I always saw myself as a parent before I saw myself as a spouse. I was quite comfortable not having a husband and thought I would just adopt a child and live my life out as a parent.

My world changed about 15 years ago and I fell in love with a man who is nothing less than wonderful and amazing.  He is so amazing that I chose being married over being a parent.  Of course, there are times I still break down in tears that I don’t have  children.  in fact, a short time ago, my husband and I were at a restaurant and I saw this young child with dark skin and really curly hair and thought, “this could be my child.”  I started to weep over my hamburger.  While my husband was quite supportive, he did not feel the loss I was feeling.

Sadly, while watching the movie, Parenthood, I reflected on how neurotic I would have been if I had children and how overly involved I would have been.  Fortunately, we have some very dear friends who allow us to watch their four children — we love them dearly!!!  However, I am able to observe my neurosis even while spending time with the kids.  For example, when one of the kids wants to show me her head stand, it takes everything I have not to say “please don’t do that,” for fear she will hurt herself.

I am so elated that same-sex couples have children.  The same-sex couples I know who have children love them so dearly. Regardless of sexual orientation, children need structure, guidance, and most of all love.  How sad that Justice Scalia and his  merry little band of homophobes try to justify their homophobia under the guise of bearing children.  Where does that leave all of my heterosexual friends who either choose to be childless, or are unable to bear children?  Again, we see Scalia and his fellow haters on the wrong side of history.

Finally, I am also grateful for all of the children (now adults) that I have had the honor of teaching.  It is an amazing honor to see students grow up as adults and still keep in contact with you.  While I don’t have biological children, I am very lucky to have generations of kids in the past 25 years.

Regnerus Revisited: What’s hiding in his closet?

22 Apr

RegnerusRegular readers will remember Mark Regnerus, the ethically challenged researcher from the University of Texas at Austin. I need to thank my friends Scott Rose and LGBT ally Devon for their vigilance around this nefarious man and the far reaching impact of his lies (flawed research). His “New Family Structures Study” appeared in the journal Social Science Research and argued that children raised by LGBT parents suffered negative outcomes. His statistical methods were deeply flawed (at best) and his conclusions so tenuous that even he could provide only the flimsiest defenses when challenged. It is pretty clear that the Witherspoon Institute, the homophobic far-right think tank that underwrote his research had a very political agenda.

Now it looks like Regnerus and his funders will do everything they can to hide that agenda. Journalist John Becker is trying to get to the bottom of things and has so far been blocked at every turn. The editor of the journal, James Wright, is on the faculty of the University of Central Florida, making his communications subject to public records requests. When Becker filed such requests, the University denied them, maintaining that the communications belong to the publisher, Elsevier. Becker’s attorneys are filing suit, arguing that the article belongs to the publisher — which is more than happy to have it cited and quoted widely — but that any of Wright’s communications belong to the University.

Why all the secrecy? The study was rushed to publication in just six weeks; papers usually take months, often more than a year, to review before publication. An independent audit determined that the review process was so sloppy that the “paper should never have been published.” An investigation by the American Independent makes it clear the Witherspoon Institute wanted some damning data to include in their brief to the Supreme Court opposing marriage equality in the Prop 8 and DOMA hearings.

So there you have it. Two professors — a “researcher” and an editor — cooking a study to meet a foregone conclusion and rushing it to print to meet a well-funded political agenda. Two universities supporting that work and publication. Flawed and dangerous data spreading lies about the LGBT community to influence critical court cases. Most people have rejected the publication, but it is out there for bigots to wield however they like while Regnerus and Wright suffer nothing for their abuse of power–what strange bedfellows-producing and publishing lies for money.  I believe many might just call these two whores!

Bigot of the Week Award: September 21, Rupert Everett

21 Sep

Bigot of the Week

This week’s BWA was a particularly sad one for me to write.  I am consistently sad when I learn of self-loathing gays who internalize oppression.  Rupert Everett, star of An Ideal Husband, The Importance of Being Earnest, Shrek II, and many other films, proved to be an amazing disappointment and demonstrated both his self-loathing and his privilege.

In an interview with The Telegraph Everett stated, “I can’t think of anything worse than being brought up by two gay dads.”  Really? You can’t think of anything worse? Wow, what a privileged life you live.  I hear Mitt Romney is looking for self-loathing gays such as yourself for endorsements.

Another statement of Everett’s revealed his ignorance of his own power, influence, and privilege: “I’m not speaking on behalf of the gay community. In fact, I don’t feel like I’m part of any ‘community.” If only it were that simple, Mr. Everett.

I’m embarrassed for you that I have to explain this, but you see you are a major celebrity and regardless of your intent, people will be guided by what you say.  Your influence is disproportionate by design of your celebrity. You have not only proven to be most ungenerous to your LGBT brothers and sisters, but you have proven that your own internalized oppression has rendered you a homophobic bigot.  You are also clearly not a man of science, which has demonstrated that children from same-sex parents are actually more well adjusted than children from opposite sex parents.  You must have the same science background as the bigot Mark Regnerus. You are now 53 years old.  Might I suggest a good therapist for you?

One of the Voices of Social Justice: Michael Anderson-Nathe

10 Jul

Those of you who have been reading TSM for the least two years now are clearly aware that this blog is dedicated to issues of social justice and civil rights; since you are reading this, I presume you share similar passions.  Today I was able to visit with my friend Michael Anderson-Nathe, and I have to say I love his voice of social justice, although he will not easily tolerate any accolades, for he is exceedingly humble and somewhat introverted.

Michael grew up in Minnesota: “I come from a Vietnamese mother and mid-west father. They met in Vietnam—my father was in the military.  I am a Vietnamese-American, and it was not easy growing up post Vietnam war being Asian-American; I’m a product of the war.  My siblings were born in Vietnam.  I was born here.” Michael is one of 10 children—the youngest. Four of them passed away.  He discusses his coming out to his family of origin, saying, “I came out when I was 17 and had a rocky period with my parents for two years. We did not talk.  Since then, there have been huge strides – they were at my wedding and love the family I have (my partner and daughter). My parents have come from one end of the spectrum to the other end.”

Do you consider you and your partner political?

We are always political, and now that we have a child everything we do is political whether we want it to be or not.  I also became Jewish, so we are a multiracial, queer, Jewish household.  There are times when it is easy to be political, but at times I just want to be a family—raising my daughter.  We had an open adoption, which means we have an ongoing relationship with our child’s birthmother.  Doing an adoption meant we had the opportunity to have a ton of very intentional conversations prior to adopting about how to raise a child and what will it mean to raise a child.  One of the most frustrating aspects of being a queer family is that people will often look around for someone that presents as female-bodied, and then look to them as though they must be Sophie’s mother regardless of context (despite obvious social cues as to who is parenting Sophie).  One thing I love about our parenting is how we talk about gender, sexuality, and body parts without shame. We make deliberate efforts to raise her in ways that don’t limit her own expression of who she is and that don’t oppress other people (reinforce socially constructed dichotomies)—we raise her with great intentionality—which is a continuously active, intentional process and we are better at it some days than others.

What made you become an activist for people living with HIV?

I stumbled into this accidentally.  When I was 17, I participated in a peer HIV education program and fell in love with working with the community and contributing to making sure people had information so they could make decisions that were right for them.  What I love about working in the field of HIV is that it truly is social justice work—working with the intersections of oppression that continue to fuel HIV. You can’t do this work without addressing issues of social justice.  It feeds a part of who I am.

What should marginalized communities do to have a stronger voice?

The biggest thing is that we need to come together; we need to stop playing into the game of who is more oppressed, which does not serve us.  To realize we are stronger together than divided.  We have a lot we can learn from each other.  I grew up with multiple identities.  I grew up not white enough, or not a person of color enough.  My identities were not integrated, so I went to hang out with the gay community when I wanted to celebrate my sexuality, but then I lost my Vietnamese ties. If I wanted to hang out with the Asian community, then I lost my gay ties.  All of the various intersections of oppression fuel HIV—all of the inequalities, homophobia, racism, transphobia—we have to address all of these if we are going to be successful in stopping HIV.

I don’t like the idea of “look at us! We are just like heterosexual families, so accept us”—we should be accepted regardless.  I don’t want to be considered the model queer family—I don’t think there is a model queer family, just as I don’t believe there is a model heterosexual family—those concepts just further ostracize other people in our community and I don’t want to be a part of that.  I don’t want my personal experience to be deemed acceptable at the expense of others in our community.  Who am I to say what a model family or what a queer person should look like? Doing so only further divides our community—who is the good gay who is the bad gay—and I think that is fucked up.  Ultimately, it is not their acceptance to grant and by doing so we subscribe to a heteronormative power differential.

Marriage Equality:

Is it the issue for the Queer Community?   Personally, it is not my top issue, but just because I don’t think it is the top priority does not mean I’m against it.  I think the whole “you’re either with us or against us mentality” of this movement oversimplifies a highly complex social issue and further divides us.  My main question for the movement is: At what cost does marriage equality come and who within our community is being left behind in our pursuit for marriage equality?

I want to thank Michael for taking the time to visit with me. I am most certain his words will inspire many, as does the way he lives his life.

Dear Dr. Mark Regnerus and Other Homophobic Bigots…

24 Jun

Who Cares About Science?

I was fortunate enough to get a great many responses to my BWA for Mark Regnerus.  Along with the responses came many wonderful ideas for a call to action.  I would like to share a key call to action and I have to thank Scott Rose from The New Civil Rights Movement for leaving this item on my blog. I also need to thank my friend and ally Sara Swain.

First, one needs to point out just some of the flawed science of Dr. Regnerus: the core of Regnerus’ analysis is “kin altruism”, the biological tie between parent and child, a mythical sine qua non in securing the stability required for children to thrive. That stability can come ONLY from this mythical kin altruism, and children can thrive ONLY with this kin-altruism-derived stability. Ergo, ONLY those children raised by their biological parent(s) (who are presumably not drunkards, abusive, mentally deranged, etc.) have the potential for the kind of positive outcomes Regnerus is seeking–I would love to see some meaningful data he had, presuming Dr. Regnerus knows what that is.

Take Action:

Here is just a snippet of the action Scott Rose took and I encourage all LGBT folk and our allies to take similar action:

William Powers, Jr.
President
University of Texas, Austin
Office of the President
Main Building 400 (G3400)
Austin, Texas 78713-8920

In Re: Scientific Misconduct Complaint against UTA’s Mark D. Regnerus

Dear President Powers:

I have filed, through the “EthicsPoint” online system, a complaint against UTA’s Mark D. Regnerus for Scientific Misconduct in violation of UTA’s Academic Dishonesty Policy, which forbids use of misinformation to hurt others.

Please respond promptly to this letter, which is being published at http://www.TheNewCivilRightsMovement.com

Here are some facts of the case:

1)        This is not a complaint that UTA Mark D. Regnerus is active politically. The complaint rather is that Regnerus took money from political persons and groups to further their political goals, and in preparing a study for them, rushed it through production for their use in the 2012 elections, though Regnerus himself has stated in a video interview given to the Daily Texan’s Hannah Jane Deciutus that his methodology for the study does not work “to the long-term benefit of science.” In other words, in order to retain a large grant from political organizations, a) Regnerus knowingly failed to uphold acceptable standards for his discipline, and b) knowingly rushed through his study in time for his funders to use it in the 2012 elections, instead of c) working professionally to produce a study that would work “to the long-term benefit of science.” In that, Professor Regnerus’s behavior is antithetical to the raison d’être of a university.

Please contact the University of Texas, Austin and let President Powers hear our collective voice that homophobic non-science is not acceptable!

Celebrating LGBTQ History on Fathers’ Day: LGBT Parents

17 Jun

When I was growing up in the 70s the gay rights movement was just beginning. While it would occasionally surge onto the news, it was in many ways treated as secondary to other movements like the anti-war protests and Second Wave Feminism. Those early days truly changed the landscape, however, and set the stage for the broader progress we see today. Things really moved backwards in the 80s and 90s, when you consider how easily gay and lesbian references cropped up on 70s TV like Sonny and Cher and the Mary Tyler Moore Show.

One thing that would never get into the press or the programs was the idea of gay parents. Even as laws punishing gay sex slowly were repealed or went unenforced in many places, homosexuality was still used as a legal barrier to adoption or to custody. (Interesting how that shows how obsessed our opponents are with the sexual side of things…) While the legal landscape still has a way to go, LGBT parents are far more visible and that’s a very good thing. It’s hard to fear what you understand, and it’s easy to understand your neighbors.

Starting with famous books like Heather Has Two Mommies, the narrative of gay parents as part of the American fabric has slowly become clearer and clearer. Celebrity parents like Melissa Etheridge and Neil Patrick Harris opening their homes show loving, supportive families that look familiar to most people. Many more movies and TV show LGBT parents and adoptions just as a matter of course. Modern Family does a phenomenal job of normalizing same-sex parenting, and is far more about parenting than making a big deal that the parents just happen to be two dads.  The Kids Are All Right shows that LGBT families are just as normal (and messed up) as any other families – the fact that there are two moms is the least of their issues. JC Penney’s bold new brand is aggressively acknowledging that families come in all flavors with inclusive advertising images (much to the ire of One Million Moms). Even comic books get into the game, with DC’s Apollo and Midnighter adopting Jenny Quantum after their marriage.

Being a parent is hard and being a good parent in a complex world is even harder. We need kids to have strong families and good support; the orientations of the parents are irrelevant. No matter what Mark Regnerus and his funders would have you believe, LGBT folk make great parents, and all the good research supports that wholeheartedly. In fact, same-sex households can turn out kids as wonderful as Zach Wahls. So let’s take time this Fathers’ Day to celebrate the families that often require more intent and face challenges from the narrow-minded no matter how well they work.

P.S. – Let’s also celebrate the straight parents who love and accept their LGBT children unconditionally. Since bullying and abuse of these kids is still a significant problem, a loving home is often the saving grace. Three cheers to the Judy Shepards, Daphne’s Moms, and PFLAG moms and dads all over America.

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