Family Week: One Family's Perspective.
Today's guest post comes from Brian and Steven Bush-Frank. Brian and Steven, along with five year old son Darius, consider themselves to be just your ordinary gay, foster-adoptive, transracial American family. They are currently liveblogging their visit to Family Week 2008 at http://greendads.wordpress.com.
This year is our fourth year coming back to Provincetown for Family Week, and for us the experience just keeps getting better. We come back to get away from our hectic lives for a summer vacation as a family. We come back to enjoy the unique flavor and history of Provincetown. But most of all, we come back for the sake of our son.
Before Darius joined our family, like many prospective parents we read every book on parenting (gay or otherwise) that we could find. The one that influenced us most was Abigail Garner’s Families Like Mine: Children of Gay Parents Tell It Like It Is, in which adult children who have been raised in our families talk about their experience in their own words. What struck us most deeply was the experience of one person who wrote that while it had been important for them to be able to say to another kid, “I have gay parents” and hear the other kid reply, “Oh, yeah? That’s cool,” what was essential for them was to hear the other kid reply, “Oh yeah? Me too!”
Darius is five now, and while he understands that he has two dads and that everyone in our family is a different color, he is still not fully aware of how different that makes us. This is due in part to his attendance at our socially progressive Montessori school and Unitarian Universalist Church. It’s due in part to our participation in our local gay parenting group and adoptive families group. And it’s also due to our annual participation in Family Week. Here, our son can look around and see not one, not two, but hundreds of children from families just like his.
We look forward to the time when Darius will be able to participate in COLAGE, and in some ways coming to Family Week is a long-term investment for us for the day when he’ll be ready to take that step. Yet even at his age, even before he’s fully able to articulate his needs and issues as a child of a GLBTQ family, even before he’s fully encountered the issues of self-identity, homophobia, and racism that we know he’ll encounter, we can already see how the experience of Family Week affects him deeply. We see how quickly he bonds with other children here, and how comfortable and included he feels. He knows, without being told and without having the words to describe it himself, that here at Family Week he is fully at home with his own tribe. We see, too, how closely he watches older children from families like ours, how he senses they can be role models for his future self, and how he flourishes under their attention here.
And just as we see him during Family Week, he sees us as well. As parents, we all know that children watch everything that we do. When they see us form friendships here at Family Week, whether they are the casual ones that come from brief meetings with other families on the beach or at events, or whether they are lifelong ones that are reaffirmed every time we meet again at Family Week, it shows them more eloquently than words how strong and how unique our queer parenting culture can be. At Family Week, Darius can see families like his own joyously coming together as a community, sharing strength, and simply celebrating being with each other.
These are all powerful lessons for our son, and Family Week provides them like no other experience. At heart, that’s the reason we came back to Family Week this year. And that’s the reason we’ll keep coming back.