We really are family

Moms group takes a field trip
Moms group takes a field trip.

All week I have been contemplating what I might put in my heart-rending concession speech, to be published promptly after the polls close on this Weblog Awards whirligig. Then I thought: why wait ’til the end of the night? Because what I was going to say would have been identical regardless of the outcome. Plus I have been studiously unaware of the proceedings for days, anyway.

See, I stopped checking the Weblog Awards “Best New Blog” poll numbers a coupla days back, after the party got really nasty. Don’t get me wrong; I appreciated that some folks stepped up and reigned in their over-zealous party guests who had been hurling epithets and eggs and ad hominem attacks in good-natured fits of enthusiasm. “No offense,” I imagine the freshly chastised party guests saying, “you pathetic little salad muncher.” Tosser. Whatever it is. My Know-It-All Brother-In-Law has intimated that if I watched more late night television or read more Hustler I would know that this not a reference to vegetarianism.

Ah, but the feel of spittle on the face is just gross, and you know, there are two kinds of people. People who haul off and punch someone who spits on them, and people who remove their pressed hankie out of their breast pocket, daub the spit off, carefully re-fold the hanky, return it to the pocket, and then turn and walk away. Which, after leaning over to a friend or two and saying “That was totally gross” and then thanking the civilizing party host over at the blog whence the spittle came, I did.

See, I thought I was standing in line at the carousel. Let me explain. Some other lesbian parent bloggers and I were interested in opening up lines of communication between our rich online community and that of straight parent bloggers. So we encouraged folks to nominate LGBT family blogs for the “Best Parenting” blog category. As an afterthought, I included my blog in “Best New Blog.” What the hell, I thought; more folks will stop by and take a look as they’re idly perusing the nominees.

Imagine my surprise — shock, flabberghastedness, and sure, glee — when I found that this here blog was selected as a finalist. By what process heaven only knows; I’m still convinced it was a typo. (“Thespian Cad?”) But suddenly I was no longer in line for the carousel, chatting with other parents, whose shared guardianship of young people would help us speak to each other in tones we both understood. Now I was lined up for the roller coaster. A really raucous roller coaster, with some nice people onboard (Konagod and Reformed Chicks Blabbing were both quite gracious quite early). But packed in with us in those close quarters were also a handful of chumps capable of sucking the fun out of any roller coaster ride.

This week’s “Best New Blog” voting ride — this relatively inconsequential facet of blogospheric navel-gazing — rapidly became highly polarized between Right vs. Lesbian. And it did so for reasons that I’m convinced have very little to do with the merits or demerits of any finalist blog’s content, or the value it provides to its intended community, or the elegance of its graphic design, user interface, or copy. Which is a pity, because if these factors were the only ones influencing this contest, I suspect we’d see a pretty different voting outcome for all the finalist blogs. I certainly doubt it would have become what has amounted to a protracted, two-blog, arm wrestling match.

But regardless of the content of any of our blogs, they — not to mention the dedication and GOTV acumen of the friendship networks that have propelled their votes — speak to central issues at this cultural moment. The ascendancy of the “gay marriage” movement. The “gayby” boom. The exhaustion a great many people have over the amplification of divisive “values” issues when our nation is engaged in a calamitous war, when the economy and global climatic issues cry out for attention. I believe that it is the collective weight of these larger cultural issues, for which our blogs are mere stand-ins, that have propelled this hundred some-odd-post, single-authored, very narrowly defined niche-market parenting blog into any kind of competitive position against a group-authored, broadly defined political commentary blog.

Whether on a roller coaster or a carousel, what unites our community — and in this case, by this “our” community I mean not just LGBT families, but people who support us, and they are obviously legion — is a very, very strong desire to see to it that the world our children grow up in is more filled with love, less filled with hate. I could be more complicated about it but there’s no need. We work toward this by supporting one another, in person, in groups, at events, and online. And many of us believe that the more other folks know about LGBT families — and the clearer it is that legions support us — the less spittle there’ll be. Not on us queers; we’re frickin’ used to it. I mean on our kids.

Because when people spit on me for being a lesbian, that spit hits my kids. And my kids will watch people spit on me, and they will look at those people, and remember what their faces looked like when they were spitting. My daughter will grow to be a woman one day; my son, not yet born, will grow to be a man. Chances are they will be heterosexual, and I suspect they will not for a moment tolerate a world in which that kind of hatred is tolerable, not for one post, not for one day. At a party, on a rollercoaster, or anywhere.

Until my kids grow up, my job is to squat down next to them, when the situation calls for it, and do a very good job of explaining why anyone might spit on Mama and Baba, essentially because we love each other. I will hazard an analogy. I will try to explain how most people are right-handed, and some people are left-handed, and it’s always been that way. I will try to explain how no one knows how a person acquires “handedness,” but in the past left-handed people have been quite persecuted, and even without outright persecution, the world is organized around the presumption that everyone is a “rightie.”

Now imagine if “right-handedness” was thought to be natural and “left-handedness” unnatural; imagine some thought the one is following God’s plan, the other is a sin; the one deserves full legal rights and protections, the other should be grateful for some variant on Separate But Equal. I will then say, Love, at this moment in history, is like this. Mama and Baba’s love is “left-handed” in a “right-handed” world.

Then after I do a decent job of making hate and fear seem reasonable, I will try to explain to them how critical it is — how very vital it is to the purity of their spirits — that they not do the same. Love the spitter; hate the spit.

At the outset of this week, in reference to the heterogeneity of the various “Best New Blog” finalists, I wrote:

I find the fresh breeze flowing back and forth across heretofore unlikely combinations of authors and readers really interesting. If we were all at the same cocktail party we’d be in opposite corners of the room, either studiously ignoring the others, or maybe even pitching Vienna sausages at The Enemy. Me, I’m a wannabe Bodhisattva, so it is my position to be the Enemy of no one, except perhaps Time. (Though I do think Time started it first.)

Yeah, well it’s all fun and games until somebody puts out an eye. And promptly after I caught a Vienna sausage in mine, I stopped sniffing that fresh breeze. Said to myself: “Woops! I knew there was a reason I never wandered over to that side of the cocktail party.” But I know from another finalist in the “Best of the Rest” category that dialog has continued to one degree or another, and she, for one, has been contributing to a respectful exchange. For which I am infinitely grateful. Because if anything of any real benefit comes of this week’s horse race, it will be some degree of increased mutual respect, maybe even for some, increased compassion. All our children desperately need that to be able to face the real issues of their generation. And that’s the only prize worth fighting for.

28 thoughts on “We really are family”

  1. Polly, you are a diplomat as well as a writer. You do honor to our community by taking the high road on this one, and not letting the situation devolve into a festival of mutual mudslinging.

    Good luck as the competition enters its final hours. I will enjoy your blog no less regardless of the results.

  2. I never had a doubt you would be able to transform this crazy ride into something meaningful and true, but you exceeded all expectations. You have a great heart, and (to your readers’ great benefit) the talent to put it into words. Keep writing, my friend!

  3. At this point (actually have been secretly for several days) pulling for you to win this thing. Good luck! If I can get in to vote tonight I’ll cast one for ya.

    Speaking of vegetarianism, you might enjoy the post I just put up. 🙂

  4. Thank you, Mr. Kona. For your perennial good will. I’m glad, through this, that I’ve gotten a chance to read your blog. Am still digging for a reason, in your post on vegetarianism, why my kid eats so few veggies yet is so clearly such a prodigy. I may have to read it a second time.

  5. Polly ~ Thank you so much for sharing such thoughtful, beautifully expressed moments of your life that I believe are helping to change the landscape of our society one moment, one comment, even one word at a time.

    So many prefer to live their lives rather than to help change the world. I’m grateful to those like you who take the time to share a life well-lived, and by doing so, you improve the world for our children.

    In the past, I’ve been a marcher and a crusader of sorts, and oddly enough, I’m more feminist, more open-minded and more able to help make changes than I was in my active years when I probably actually helped change minds. For the moment, I am caught in life transitions and hope that by living I am a positive example and that quietly I make some impact on those around me; and that when I see someone doing something as profound as your blog that I speak up and share and support you.

    I support you because I live, because I have family and friends like yours. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    I am moved, and therefore, I speak.


  6. Thanks, Yamara. I do agree about the perspective all this should be kept in. I am mindful that they’ll take a few days to tally the numbers, and that the % difference between the two is for all intents and purposes so infinitessimal as to be insignificant. And I must say there’s a lot more humor value in being the lesbian Al Gore, if by Monday the tables are turned. (e.g., Do I have to grow a beard and get fat now? I’m so far from menopause; how am I going to manage the beard part? etc.)

  7. Is ‘Baba’ a word for ‘daddy’ in a language you speak? Because that’s what it means in Bengali.

    You’re a wonderful writer, by the way.

  8. Brilliant… I will have to borrow your left-handed, right-handed way of explaining things when my son gets old enough. My partner and I are still taking things as they come and trying to figure the parenting thing out as we go. Our son is 6 months old.

    I just found your blog and I’m hooked… thanks.

  9. Neiladri: thank you for the kind compliment. “Baba” has provided us a way to name two Mamas, where one gave birth and the other didn’t. For me, it’s also a way to name a “father-like” mother, a parent who plays some parts of both roles. I know it’s also diminutive in Russian for grandmother (shortened from “babushka”). A German friend suggested the name “Baba” to me, before our first child was born, when we were casting about for what I might be called. It’s diminutive for “father” in her regional dialect of that language, and then of course the name for father in about a dozen more. Here’s a neat page with other names — though they don’t know the Bengali. Also here’s another.

  10. bug: thank you. Though I have to give proper credit. Long ago I poached this from Warren Blumenfeld and Diane Raymond’s Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life, which I think may have been written as a high-school or college classroom text (social scientific, but not for a specialized audience).

    As a grad student, when I was giving a guest lecture in a class, I described the treatment of left handed people throughout history, had the students think about how desks and scissors and all sorts of innocuous things presume right handedness, and lefties just find novel ways to accomodate, or make their own tools. If you had to use your right hand, you could, but it would be awkward, and not as “right” feeling as using your actual proper hand. Some people are ambidexterous. It can work well as an introduction.

    Mid-way through my chat, a young man gingerly raised his left hand, then stopped, and raised his right. “Yes?” He muttered and stumbled a bit and then hazarded, “Does this mean if you’re a leftie you’re also…” “Nope!” I interrupted him, before he made himself more miserable. The gals on either side of him (his friends) leaned into him and intoned, “Its an analogy.”

    Years later one of those gals saw me on campus and told me it remained one of their favorite jokes.

  11. Brother Kona sir: many thanks, again for your good cheer and civility, and also for your generous forwarding of eleventh hour voters. Geez. This whole beeswax. Tempest in a blogular teapot, man. I consider it a functional tie (never was good at math, anyway, and hell’s bell’s, we’re talking about tenths of percentage points here). If as of Monday I am the lesbian Al Gore, GREAT! Even the lesbian John Kerry! Whatever! Things’ll go back to being nice and quiet around the house either way, and I can return to the relative obscurity (not to mention the civilized readership) from which the finalist nod snatched me. I so like your comment on “Reformed Chicks'” note (or was it hers?), that no one has even heard of last year’s “winner.” !

  12. I’m sorry that the experience was tainted for you. It was a shame that you had to be thrown into the right vs. left world of political/current events blogs and not had the nicer experience of parenting blogs. But you would have gotten your clock cleaned with that vote total :-). At least here you won! Congratulations on your victory.

    (BTW, I was the one who noted on my blog that last years blog winner was yellow dog, a blog I’ve never heard of).

  13. Thanks for the kind words. Back to the carousel for me. I woulda been grateful to sit back and watch my clock get cleaned by my fellows, that’s for sure. Now I’m off to root around in the dustbin of history for Mr or Ms Yellow Dog. So’s I can ask him or her to move over and give me some room!

  14. P,
    Excellent blog and, as always, wonderful writing. Congrats on a well deserved victory!

    Here is an article from the cold north about the rights in Norway for registered partners (gay and lesbians) to adopt the other partner’s child (official Government website):


    “As from 1 January 2002, it became possible for registered partners to adopt the other partner’s child (stepchild adoption). This statutory amendment was introduced to ensure that children are provided with a safe, predictable legal framework during their childhood and adolescent years. The same criteria that apply to stepchild adoption for spouses apply to stepchild adoption for registered partners.”

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