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June 30, 2006

soapbox: Pride in the Heartland

[A guest soapbox from Hope Berry Manley who recently relocated to Ohio from San Francisco.]

This weekend I went to my first Pride celebration....in Columbus, Ohio. I have been to many Pride celebrations, mostly in San Francisco where I just moved from. In the 14 years I lived in San Francisco, I missed one, or two, Pride weekends. I have also been to Pride in Atlanta, New York, San Diego, San Jose, and Washington DC. Each are unique, here is what I found special about Columbus.

The crowd was wonderfully diverse and full of women. Lesbian women. Women with mullets, athletic uniforms, young, and older. It was wonderful. There were men into bears, bands, chorus and clubs. There were drag-queens, and a few trans-folks. LGBT families abounded, the package of COLAGE literature I had went fast. The festival started at 11AM and I had personally exchanged all the newsletters I had for email addresses by Noon. There was a giant gated area for children, with day long activities, story-telling, music, wading pools and lots of shade. There were funny t-shirts "All I want is world peace, and a boyfriend" and the hottest seller, that simply read "01-20-09" which upon asking I found out is Bush's last day in office. There wasn't a Log Cabin Club member in sight!

The booths were run by people, not professionals. They weren't being paid to be there, they wanted to be there. They were very approachable and all conversations were started off on a first name basis and exchange of contact information. OK, OK there were a few corporations (all events need some sponsorship) but they were discreet, there were no advertisements of on the stage and they were mostly banks and insurance companies, things we all need right? Not tequila, vodka and gin. P-FLAG, youth groups, local churches (with lesbian ministers, and they weren't MCC!) and a democratic club were in the fore. It was the richest Pride experience I have had in years.

I have watched San Francisco Pride grow from a daylong celebration to a weekend celebration that spills over, to the days before and after. Leaving some reminder of it all year long. Kind of like fog or dry ice swirling, Pride is always swirling around at your feet in San Francisco. It is wonderful, but not so in Columbus. Pride is a one day, and abruptly, one day only event, with no local media coverage.

After a great day at Pride on Saturday, I found myself gardening in my backyard on Sunday. That was hard. I wanted more. I wanted the the fog to roll in and Pride to swirl around my feet and follow me home.

June 27, 2006

spawnosphere: post-pride

Another Last Sunday in June has come and gone.

Here and San Francisco COLAGE partnered with local organization Our Family Coalition for a large parade contingent and the ever popular "Family Garden." The garden is a wildly successful sectioned off playground area for kids to play during the festival.

Meanwhile, pride thoughts out in the spawnosphere...

Abigail posted a great photo of herself at a previous NYC pride parade.

Susan indulges in the Twin Cities' pride despite the growing corporate presence at the festival.

Am I Nuts? finds the queerspawn community, pointing out that all too often we ignore the people in our community who have bisexual parents who happen to be married in "straight" relationships.

June 14, 2006

Mass Media Makes a Big Soapbox

I know this will come across as shameless self-promotion, but then again, isn't that what a soapbox is all about? Getting attention?

The short story:
My brother and I are featured in the Advocate this month (6/20/06 Pride Issue) along with a bunch of other second generation adults, talking about what we learned growing up gay with gay parents.

The long story (or the story behind the story):
During all of the Brokeback Mountain media attention I was amazed at how little coverage there was from the kids' perspective. I felt like this frame of the story was being ignored. I approached a few people about doing a story, but I missed the boat shall we say. By the time I had enough personal momentum the moment had passed. But the conversations with the Advocate led me to discussing another thing I am passionate about... the invisibility of queer kids of queer parents. (And to a greater extent, the invisibility of all adult kids of queer parents.)

The story I hoped to tell was how a large number of queer activists working in the movement right now come from queer homes and that their activism is hugely informed by their upbringing. The Advocate assigned reporter Fred Kuhr to the story who interviewed a bunch of us and wrote a very informative piece. I was particularly pleased that the article was not just a "lifestyle" type of article but one that conveyed the message I was hoping to get across. I think my brother said it best: "Having a gay parent connects me to the struggle and gives me a sense of history.... Just having that kind of knowledge takes away the apathy and inspires me ot make a difference."

Thank you to Fred and Sean at the Advocate... to Brendan and to my dear friends Asha, Meredith, Ryan and Jesse who also appear in the article. You are all a part of my family and make the "work" of being an activist much more fun.

And while we are here... don't forget to check out COLAGE and Asha's current project: South Carolina Equality Coalition

June 13, 2006

Fun Home in San Francisco

Have I plugged this book enough yet?

This evening, 6 of us COLAGErs stopped by the SF LGBT Center to hear Allison Bechdel. She read two sections of the book and demonstrated her creative process by showing what it takes to draw one panel. (About two weeks worth of work.)

And she took questions... Allison seemed shocked that the audience was interested not only in her family's reaction to the book but also the nitty gritty details of her construction. Down to what software was used to make the font of her handwriting. You gotta love the tech-saavy Bay Area crowd.

Having finished the book I am equally amazed by her drawing skills as I am by her writing/storytelling abilities. Go. Read it.

Especially since this is a book that makes no attempt to beautify growing up with gay father. So often queerspawn feel obligated to put on a pretty face, to be that perfect "poster child." Allison tells her story, with unabashed and non-judgemental honesty. Refreshing.

Thank you, Allison. For using your gift to tell a story that we can relate to.

allison bechdel tonight

I'm going to catch Allison Bechdel in SF tonight with a bunch of other queerspawn.

Tonight, Tuesday June 13:
Q Cultural Center, co-sponsored by the Cartoon Art Museum and A Different Light Bookstore, 8:00 pm, 934 Brannan St, Second Fl., Rainbow Room

Wednesday, June 14:
Cody’s Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley, 7:30 PM

Allison's Fun Home Tour Page

June 06, 2006

spawnosphere: Kaitlin Colombo

Today's lesson: Abigail is far more on top of the "spawnosphere" than I.

Since I did a run through of the queerspawn bloggers for last night's summary I decided to one of my semi-regular checks on technorati for today's check into the "spawnosphere."

More than a few bloggers mentioned watching Last Comic Standing and hearing contestant Kaitlin Colombo's jokes about having a gay dad. News to me... but of course Abigail's on top of it. She posted about Kaitlin days ago and even included news of her upcoming appearance on a Rosie R Family cruise.

It's nice to see queerspawn out and about, even if I wasn't totally into it... but in her defense, I'm picky about stand up and two minutes barely gives you time to warm up a crowd. And her "smother" joke did make me laugh out loud. (So maybe I'm just up too late.) Personally, I'm more curious to see her commentary on E! specials like "101 Celebrity Slimdowns" and "10 Ways to Superstardom."

See her for yourself and watch Kaitlin's clip on Last Comic Standing.

Or... become Kaitlin's friend on myspace. There are even a few blog posts there. (See how this all comes back around.)

Kaitlin... welcome to the spawnosphere.

June 04, 2006

summarySunday: June 4, 2006

It's like the Sunday Times' Week in Review... only not...

On Thursday, the first annual Blogging for LGBT families day occurred. An amazing 132 blogs posted. Congratulations to Dana Rudolph for organizing the successful day. (For more, listen to her interview on the Gay Parenting Show.)

I did a run through and scanned, if not read, all 132 postings. Overwhelmingly, the majority of the posts were parents of young kids or couples trying to become parents. There were also a number of postings by people who wanted to raise awareness of LGBT family issues even if they might not be in one themselves. Surprisingly, only a few posts from people who identified themselves as having one or more gay parent.

There's lots of great stuff out there to read, but if you only have a few minutes here are my three favorites:

Abigail Garner's brilliant welcome to queerspawn post on Damn Straight. While you are there, check out the comment by a parent a non-parent lesbian who cringes at the term "queerspawn." Reminds me of the debates of use of "queer." [Thanks to Abigail for correcting me. Late night posting got the best of me.]

Lukas Blakk's great video blog on growing up with "a couple of moms a couple of times."

Januari's anecdote of meeting her lesbian birth mom.

Enjoy! And see you Monday...

June 03, 2006

"Your Dad is gay too?"

Yep. So is my brother. Gay just seems to run in our family.

For me, being a "second generation" queer means I've been going to Pride longer than I've been out. It means that I've been shaped not just but my dyke peers but also by my father's network of gay men. It means that I listen to showtunes more than I listen to the Indigo Girls, and my queer cultural references are about a decade or two off my friends.

It also means that my brother and I feel a deep connection to queer history. And with it, a great responsibility.

As second generation queers, we are generational links in our community. We have the opportunity and the challenge to share our experiences growing up in the queer community with our peers. To pass on the oral history, the culture and the politics.

Of course not all second generation queers have the same story. In fact, a number of my friends came out first... only to have their parent to come out later. Adding a whole other twist...

come back next week with for an interview with Dan Cherubin,, founder of the first Second Generation group and zine.

June 02, 2006

our fifteen seconds of it

I recognize that it's quite self-indulgent to focus on myself for the first fameFriday but stay with me for a moment...

First off, I am not famous. I'm no celebrity (nor do I want to be). But like many other queerspawn, I often feel like a poster child for the movement.

Many of us in the queerspawn community are thrust into the spotlight, by choice or by circumstance. Some of us choose to speak out in order for the outside world to understand about our families. And sometimes we have no choice. When the legislature decides one of your parents is not legally allowed to adopt you, you no longer have the privilege to stay quiet.

Thankfully for me and my family, appearing in the media has always been on our terms. When my father came out he told me never to hide, never to be ashamed of my family... and I never have been. Talking to reporters, appearing on TV, writing letters to the editors... these are the tools that we queerspawn have to share our stories with the rest of the world.

It's been fifteen years since I first talked to a reporter about my family, and the idea of having gay parents is still news.

on future fameFridays we'll dig deeper looking at the queerspawn that become "celebrities" and celebrities who happen to be queerspawn.

June 01, 2006

Queerspawn heart June.

What is there not to love?

June not only brings us great weather but also one whole month of queer pride.

In honor of June and all it's fabulousness, queerspawn.community is going through a complete overhaul. New content, new voices and a new design.

New Content.
The intention of queerspawn.community was always something a little bit beyond the blog... but it never quite got there. Thankfully web sites get second chances. Beginning today daily content will follow along a regular schedule:

spawnosphereMonday... profiles of qs bloggers, new blogs etc.
historicalTuesday... don’t know much about (our) history? study up.
soapboxWednesday... focusing on the politics and viewpoints of the lgbt family movement
orgchartThursday... profiles on the organizations serving our community
fameFriday... celebrity queerspawn and families (the fabulous and the fictional)
secondgenSaturday... a focus on queers of queers
summarySunday... the week in review

New Voices.
There is an exciting line up of contributors and guests make appearances this month. Interviews with longtime queerspawn activists. Opinion columns. Self-indulgent rants on the media. Unashamed fawning over queerspawn celebrities. Hours of entertainment await. Want your voice heard? Drop us a line... contribute [at] queerspawn [dot] com.

New Design.
Check out this preview of the new look and feel for the site which will (fingers crossed) will make its debut next week!

The changes will be rolling out as the month goes on so keep coming back for more.