Score one more for the hetero ally column

A rousing cheer for hetero ally par excellence, author of the blog Disney Wonder Baby. She “totally support[s] lesbian couples as mothers and here’s why.”

I was directed to this site by a note about it, a fantastic site parsing and listing scads and scads of lesbo family blogs and more. One of its blog categories is “Supportive Hetero Family Blogs,” of which there are a dozen (& counting). Check ’em out.

Hell I’m so pro-ally I’m making a little blog category for it (what else? “Go hetero ally go!”). So’s I can arrange all the happy posts referencing hetero allys and look at them in a grouping from time to time, and sigh contentedly about how AMOR VINCIT OMNIA, people.

[Update: The publisher of Babes in Blogland, to which the Disney Wonder Baby gal referred in her post, recently set up an LGBT bloggers category. The site in general is a compendium of bloggers who are making or raising babies.]

All dolled up

The horror, the horror!

There I was, wandering around the toy store — a friendly, small-scale, independently-owned one, at that — and what should I espy but a wall of, like, kryptonite, designed to eat away at the natural girl-fueling powers of estrogen! Yes, Barbie has spawned, and the result is even vapider than your worst nightmare. In case you weren’t believing your eyes, I can corroborate that the package does indeed read “my bling bling” at the top, and the gemstone accessory ring is called out with the rallying cry, “Ka-CHING!” Yep, uh-huh.

O lord o lord o lordy-lord, I can only hope and pray this grotesque offshoot of Barbie is not lurking in our daughter’s future. (Or in our son’s! I don’t care if his little fetal self shows early signs of nellie queendom, he still doesn’t get one of these!) Though I no sooner let loose that unbridled shriek of horror than I realize that every iota of my disgust at these nasty brainwashing parasites is certain to engender, in a neat little karmic boomerang, equal and opposite iotas of stubborn Barbie-doll attachment on the part of my kid(s). How will we ever get through adolescence? Mars isn’t colonized yet, so that’s not an option. And I fear we’ll all get shot by latter-day Klan types if we head for the Mountain States to hole up in an off-the-grid bunker. So that’s out, too.

I should just breathe deeply and remind myself that Girl Child is only just two, and Boy Child is not even going to be born until January. I have some time to formulate a plan.

Yet again, I am grateful for the gradual pace of kids’ aging. Don’t know how I’d manage without it. All y’all who start this parenting stuff with kids already underway (i.e. via adoption or step-parenthood), I bow down to you and am struck with the kind of awe one might find in a cat staring at someone showering.

But back to the slop to be found in the commercial media/pop culture trough. A friend who’s Ojibway found that her kids pretty much were going to sip from it right alongside all their buddies, even when it contained things like Disney’s version of Pocahontas, etc. She struck a game compromise and let them go to the movie, on the condition that she come along and they all have a huge long conversation afterwards about the (mis)representations found therein. She and another friend back in grad school were the first peers of mine who were parents. They told me, much to my dismay, that hardcore bans and prohibitions simply didn’t work, at least not in the diaphanous realms of culturural conditioning and taste. You engage in dialogue, they told me, and then hope for the best.

One of the things I’ll hope for is that my kids find a way to engage the culture around them in some kind of conversation. For several years, a long time back, I co-taught an Intro to Women’s Studies class. One of its central tenets was that one must accept that mass media is a huge inculcating presence in this culture at this time. And rather than condemn all its products, wholesale, as the new “opiate of the masses,” we will get farther by (a) picking out and listening to the dissenting, creative voices that can still be found therein, and, (b) striking up a spirited, critical debate with all of what one finds, whether it be stultifying or liberating. Literary critics talk about something like this as a two-pronged strategy of reading with and against the grain.

My Women’s Studies co-teacher Susanne and I collaborated on an article about our pop culture-friendly pedagogy for the journal Feminist Teacher, (reprinted here by Susanne, with kind permission of the editors). In the piece, we describe how two of our students did an analysis of Barbie and body image, and constructed, for presentation in class, re-workings of Barbie into permutations they would have liked to have seen. They padded some Barbies, buzz-cut and dyed others’ hair, stitched baggy clothes, and so on, making lesbian Barbies, punker Barbies, presidential Barbies. Not leaving men out of the gender liberation agenda, they even fabricated home-maker and cross-dressing Kens.

Now that’s initiative.

In a stroke of inspired generosity my old friend Sybil found a doll that had a remote resemblance to me and, as an art project with her girls, retooled it as a gift for our daughter. She knew that I was kinda invisible to my daughter, insofar as doll culture was concerned. I mean, if anyone locates the mannish lesbian section of the doll aisle, do send me a note. (Hell, send me a note if you find the Reubenesque woman section, or the mixed race section, or the fey, bookish boy section, too!) But Sybil was not to be deterred by what was commercially available. Back to folk culture, and the unbeatable power of Doing It Yourself! She took what was initially a boy with short dark hair, a backwards baseball cap, and jeans. Then she removed the shirt, which was somehow not right, and re-did one with a black sock. Behold, Tomboy Girl in action:

Perty spiffy, eh? Now that’s a heterosexual ally for you. As if suggesting we borrow a cup of her spouse’s sperm wasn’t enough.

I doubt I’ll be able to come close to her makeover artistry, or that of the gals in the Women’s Studies class. But with any luck I can interest the kids in pre-fab Alternative Dolls. Which brings us back to the scene of horror at the toy store. I’m happy to report that, after tearing myself away from the wall of kryptonite bling (picture my eyes superimposed with big scary swirling spirals), I was able to refresh my hopes for the future in front of this selection of fine dolls–oops! I mean, action figures:

So I didn’t find a mannish lesbian. But guess which one I did buy, and later stash in the closet for future use as a kryptonite antidote?

[Later note: want some really thoughtful reflection on this topic? Read Lesbian Fatherhood’s post “A Christmas Story: Version 2.1: For the Girls.”]

Happy Blogging for LGBT Families Day!


June first’s Blogging for LGBT Families Day, the brain child of Dana Rudolph, who publishes Mombian: Sustenance for Lesbian Moms. An exciting idea, especially for me who is: (a) still fairly recently a parent (lil’ monkey is clocking in at 22 mo. old later in June); (b) still fairly new to bloggery; yet (c) decades into a dedication to civil/human rights advocacy & community network building, via whatever means works best. And obviously the uncensored, unmediated, under-the-radar, into-your-home access of blogs would be a very effective means. So, first, a resounding Huzzah! to Ms. Rudolph for a great idea.

As with many of the other blogs who’ve participated in Blogging for LGBT Families Day (corralled here; it’s a thrill to see the number & range), the whole topic of this blog falls squarely in the midst of queer/lgbt family. By that measure, any ole entry might do to honor the occasion. I’ve already talked about my personal path to parenthood in an essay in Confessions of the Other Mother (the opening section of my piece is excerpted on editor Harlyn Aizley’s site). So in honor of Blogging for LGBT Families Day, I thought I might share my thus far warmest most revelatory moment, regarding the impact queer families will have on queer civil/human rights, and hopefully all civil/human rights.

Last year we marched in San Francisco’s bodacious queer family contingent, reportedly one of the largest in the parade, and collected, as did most families, in the kiddie playground at Civic Center Plaza. (Our Family Coalition and COLAGE and legions of volunteer help see to it that this space happens, which is a post-parade godsend.) Oh, certainly, strolling up Market Street with my impossibly adorable daughter atop my shoulders was a huge thrill; huger still was the thrill I got whenever I had a chance to see how much fun she was having, too.

monkey owns Market St., SF Pride, 06.27.05

One among many high points en route was a crib on wheels, emblazoned on the side with the sign “Rainbow Kids Will Save the Day.” That might have been what got me thinking. Because when we got to the end of the march, and encamped in the kiddie playground with our posse of lesbo family friends, I had a revelation.

The playground was choked with kids: big kids, little kids, kids sporting the entire gorgeous range of possible human complexion, tired kids, crying kids, drooling asleep on their parent’s shoulder kids, hopped up kids, totally immersed in their play kids. And I realized: 100% of these kids’ parents are queer, in one way or another, yet only a handful of these kids will wind up that way, most likely. And by handful I mean the standard 15-25% we expect in any given cohort, under current heteronormative/homophobic cultural conditions. But that makes for something really interesting.

These kids will grow up and be whoever they are (gardeners, cooks, CPAs, teachers, mechanics, bike messengers, capitalists, collectivistas, what have you) and take for granted the necessity that their family be legally and socially recognized. And when the straight kids among them advocate for queer civil/human rights, they will be doing so from a unique position. They will be both outside and inside the group whose civil/human rights they are agitating for. They will be both personally unimpeachable, on the one hand, and yet personally utterly committed and immersed. That paradox is fascinating to me.

And I know this is old news to folks who have older kids, and for those who are activist kids in lgbt families (god love ya, you people!). But it’s brand new to me. As I took in the riot of possibility in the “Family Garden” at Civic Center, I thought, Hot damn, I cannot wait for these kids to grow up and see what they do. Then I looked down at my wee sleeping daughter and thought, But none too fast, little monkey, none too fast.

Amor vincit omnia.