Our Family Coalition, the Bay Area’s queer family organization, held its tenth annual LGBTQ Family Night at the Berkeley YMCA this past weekend. And I won’t be the only one to tell you that when they say in their notices about the event that “hordes” of LGBTQ parents and their children attend, they are not exaggerating. The hordes were even more copious this year than first time we went, two years ago.
Back then, we were shaky and vulnerable following the year anniversary of our nephew’s death. It was our first outing to an Our Family event, a sign, at least to me, that we were beginning to restore to ourselves some of the resources I had once imagined we’d be in the thick of, back before our nephew’s cancer battle broke open the ground underneath our feet, transforming our hearts, our priorities, and our capacities. The first half of our daughter’s first year was consumed with the fight for his life; the year following that, we simply made do, holding our daughter and each other close. We made very little in the way of connection outside our immediate sphere of family and friends.
That spring two years ago, we steered our weary trio into the Y and were met with hundreds upon hundreds of queer families; many with kids around our girlie’s age, but even more of them farther down the path than we were. It was heartening, absolutely; inspirational. But all of it was in greater volume than our grief-thin skins could bear. So we packed up after dinner and headed home, exhausted.
We actually skipped the festivities the next year, deciding at the last minute that we didn’t have it in us. What ground we had gained in our recovery from sorrow had been lost to the strain of the First Year of the Second Kid. And by spring, we’d gotten far enough into that year to know that we were not up to juggling the both the kids amidst swarms of other people. Even if they were supportive, fun-filled swarms, reflective of the sex/gender demographic of our family unit. “Know your limits!” and “Less is way more than enough!” were the rallying cries of the time.
This year, though, things were different.