This question comes from a conversation I was having with a friend in San Francisco. I was in the Bay Area working on a client project and while I was at lunch one day we got to talking about the differences of the city and the suburbs. I think I live in the epitome of the quintessential New England town. It’s a small town population wise but big in terms of the amount of lands – lots of farms, homegrown things, 4H clubs, etc. It’s really small town at its best.
As we were talking about my neighborhood versus hers where she lives right in the heart of San Francisco she had this look of worry for a moment and said “Are you the only gay people in your neighborhood?” My response was, “Well, we don’t have any gay neighbors that we know of, but I’m certain there are at least a few others.”
This may sound crazy but until that moment it hadn’t occurred to me that we are the token LGBT family of the neighborhood. I’m not sure why it never ever crossed my mind before, but it does seem a bit strange. I guess it’s one of those things I’ve never thought about because I’ve never really had to. It’s come up in the past where our children know they are the only ones in the class with two Mom’s. Although in their daycare there were a couple of LGBT families so they weren’t completely alone.
This makes me think of when I was growing up. I also grew up in a really small town but in Rhode Island. It was similar to where I am now with the exception that it was even more remote than I am now, lol. More cows and less people essentially. But our neighbors across the street were lesbians. My entire childhood I would refer to them as “The ladies across the street.” At the time I had no idea they were lesbians I just knew them as the ladies across the street that were both very nice. It wasn’t until I was in my early 20’s that I was reflecting back on something and it dawned on me that they were lesbians. Interesting when I think back on it now. It makes me wonder if we are the “Ladies across the street” for any one of the kids in our neighborhood. Perhaps.
I think this is an interesting topic because geography plays a huge part in our LGBT identities in the United States and abroad. The difference between myself in small town New England, versus the friend in San Francisco, versus our LGBT brothers and sisters who are enduring such suffering in Russia – is pretty drastic and dictates how out we can be or how hidden we must remain.
I truly look at everything from a learning opportunity stand point. We have kids, who are active, therefore we must be active. So whether its at the school Open House or the kids soccer games we are the ‘gay family’ whether we like it or not and therefore have a responsibility to educate all those around us that we are no different to them in any way. I sometimes find it a struggle to verbally explain to somehow how our lives are literally no different than any straight couple with kids. But as we all know actions speak louder than words so it is our actions as involved moms in a small town that will hopefully keep moving that LGBT acceptance and tolerance needle just a bit further along.