Twenty years ago, I worked at this small public relations firm in San Francisco called Access Partners. It was a whacky place. We held morning staff meetings seated at a round table so no one would be at the head and no one spoke until the “spirit” moved them. Sometimes we practiced our winking skills.
The crazy juxtaposition to all this business peculiarity is because wealth managers and investment banks comprised our client base. I literally would go from practicing winking to working on getting my clients quoted in The Wall Street Journal. It was through one client that I met my friend, Jan. For whatever reason, we hit it off and — although we’ve never met one another in person — we have maintained a friendship for two decades.
A handful of times a year I call Jan at her 200-year-old farmhouse on Cape Cod to check in and catch up. She starts and ends every conversation the same way: by telling me how proud she is of us. And that makes me proud.
We are far from being perfect parents. The boys are far from being ideal children. Of course, no parent is perfect; no child is ideal. But I sometimes think gay parents push themselves and their kids to try to meet those standards. Maybe it’s the fact that we so often have to jump through seemingly unending hoops to become parents, or perhaps it’s a perverse need to prove naysayers wrong. Either way, I for one am proud of our efforts.
Pride is about celebrating the accomplishment of living our lives openly, happily, and equally. Although we designate one weekend in June to gather together to revel in these accomplishments — in reality, pride is an everyday occurrence. And for LGBT parents, our kids help make that true.
Kids make gay parents lead a life that is open and proud. We have no choice but to come out to a myriad of people whether we want to or not. Over the past 15 years that Kelly and I have been dads, we’ve had to come out to other parents, coaches, teachers, doctors, Scout leaders, neighbors — you name them, and we’ve outed ourselves to them.
Kids make gay parents challenge the status quo. Standing awkwardly while the front desk person at a pediatrician’s office tries to decide which of the two men standing in front of her should be listed as the boys’ mother was worth getting the office to change their forms.
Sometimes we get surprised. Like Gus’s first Sunday school teachers, who took it upon themselves to ask him whom he wanted to make a Mother’s Day gift for, and gave him options. And there was a Cub Scout leader, who long before the ban was lifted, said she didn’t care what the “rule” was, a gay dad was just the same as a straight dad when it came to assistant leaders…and in everything else.
The reason I’m willing to go through all this is simple: I’m very proud of my family. My kids are amazing. Kelly is an awesome dad. And me? Well, I have more faults than the California Coast, but I try.
I admit that I’m my toughest critic. I go to bed every night wishing I had been a better dad that day. But kind words of encouragement from family and friends help me go on. I’m incredibly thankful that my friend Jan is proud of us. I’m proud of us too. And she hasn’t even seen me wink!
Happy Pride, everyone!