On May 7, blogger and writer Dana Rudolph will be receive the Hostetter-Habib Family Award at Family Equality Council’s annual Night at the Pier gala in New York. Dana is founder and publisher of Mombian, an award-winning blog that since 2005 has offered a mix of parenting, politics, diversions, and resources for lesbian moms and other LGBTQ parents. We caught up with Dana about the joys and challenges of LGBTQ parenting and about her commitment to writing for LGBTQ families.
Family Equality Council: What does receiving the Hostetter-Habib Family Award from Family Equality Council mean to you?
Dana Rudolph: I’m humbled and honored that my work has meant so much. The honor also goes to everyone who’s read my blog or newspaper columns, commented, shared, suggested topics, or corrected me when I was wrong. I give credit, too, to everyone who’s let me interview them over the years and to my editors at various publications. Everyone who has participated in my annual Blogging for LGBTQ Families Day (now #LGBTQfamiliesday) and shared their thoughts and stories is part of this as well. We are a diverse and wonderful community and we each have something different to offer.
FEC: How much would you say has changed for queer families since you started your blog in 2005? How different are the challenges (and joys)?
DR: When I started my blog, Massachusetts was the only state that let same-sex couples marry. Same-sex parents could not both be put on their children’s birth certificates as a matter of course in most states. Florida still banned all gay men and lesbians from adopting, and several other states restricted LGBTQ people in numerous ways. Transgender parents in particular, like transgender individuals generally, had far less visibility than they do now. And the number of children’s books and other media that depicted LGBTQ families and individuals was very small.
All of that has changed for the better. Our visibility overall has increased tremendously. The number of LGBTQ-inclusive children’s books and shows has grown, though it is still far from what we need, given our varied, intersectional identities and experiences. At the same time, we are now fighting religious exemption laws in several states that allow discrimination against LGBTQ parents and youth in adoption and foster care. We have a federal administration that supports such religion-based discrimination and wants to limit data collection related to sexual orientation and gender identity in foster care and adoption.
The joys for queer families, luckily, remain the same. We watch our children grow and learn, laugh and love, and we do so alongside them. That’s what gives us the fortitude to handle the challenges.
FEC: You and your spouse, Helen, have been together for 25 years. We have to ask: what would you say is the key to such a long and loving partnership?
DR: She puts up with my bad puns. And I bake a mean chocolate cake. Actually, I think a big part is the fact that we both have a sense of humor and are willing to laugh at ourselves (individually or together). I don’t think we have any secret except that we’ve both managed—with difficulty sometimes—to change and grow over the years. We’ve always offered each other support and sympathy, and remembered that ineffable something that drew us to each other in the first place.
We’ve also been willing to be flexible around jobs and childcare. She gave birth to our son, and was planning to stay home with him. When he was about eight months old, though, I chose to leave my job because of a reorganization. We both sent out resumés with the understanding that whoever got the better job offer would take it, and the other would stay home. I ended up staying home, started the blog when our son was two, and got part-time outside employment when he was seven. It’s worked out well for us.
Additionally, we believe it’s important for us to have time apart as well as together. Marriage, legal or otherwise, doesn’t mean being joined at the hip. (Except sometimes. Ahem.) Giving each other alone time, or time for other interests and friends, is critical for a balanced life and makes us appreciate each other anew when we’re reunited.
FEC: What is next for Mombian?
DR: #LGBTQfamiliesday on June 4 is the next big thing! See below for more on that. I’m also excited about continuing to promote LGBTQ-inclusive children’s books and media through my blog and newspaper column, and finding new ways to bring together authors, publishers, librarians, parents, and advocates around this topic. I’ll also continue elevating the personal stories and experiences of LGBTQ parents and our children, charting the ways federal and state laws and legal decisions impact us, and offering resources to help us thrive. I may also have a thing or two up my sleeve I can’t talk about quite yet….
FEC: What inspired you to start #LGBTQFamiliesDay, and how can readers of this post get involved?
DR: Two reasons. One, I wanted to help LGBTQ parents, our children, and allies share our stories with each other as a way of strengthening ourselves and building community. The event began in 2006 (when it was called Blogging for LGBTQ Families Day), before Facebook and Twitter had officially launched. It was harder to find people with common interests then.
Two, I wanted to showcase these stories to the broader world so other people could.get to know us better–our challenges, our strengths, and our diversity.
I chose to hold the event at the start of June, between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, in order to honor both, but also to highlight that not all families fit into the traditional structure of one mother and one father. Additionally, June is LGBTQ Pride Month.
This year, I’ve changed the name to emphasize all types of social media sharing and posting, not just blogging. All LGBTQ bloggers, children of LGBTQ parents, and allies are welcome to take part! Here’s how:
- Post, tweet, or share on any social media channel in celebration and support of LGBTQ families on June 4, 2018, and include the hashtag #LGBTQFamiliesDay.
- Follow the hashtag throughout the day and share the stories, images, and thoughts from other participants.
- If you post on your own blog or social media channel, you may also submit the links to those posts, and I’ll add them to the master list for all to see on June 4, 2018. (Please make sure submitted posts are set to “Public” viewing.)
Join Family Equality Council at 2018 Night at the Pier Awards at Pier Sixty, Chelsea Piers, in New York City on May 7, 2018. For tickets and more information, visit: https://www.nightatthepier.com/