I’m often asked, when sharing My Purple Umbrella, about my own child(ren). I answer that I don’t have children. Sometimes the follow up question is why I do the work I do. This has sometimes stumped me and sometimes caused me to feel insecure. When Peterson Toscano was in town, he and I chatted about this.
Peterson reminded me of a podcast that he had done (Moment to promote his Queer and Queerer podcast with Zack Ford, the LGBTQ issue writer for Think Progress: you can find the podcasts on iTunes or here http://zackfordblogs.com/queer-and-queerer/.) Peterson and Zack interviewed Carl Siciliano, founder and executive director of The Ali Forney Center in New York City, which provides shelter for LGBT homeless youth. Mr. Siciliano commented that he did this work because the homeless LGBTQ youth are “our children.”
Mr. Siciliano reminds us that we have encouraged our children to come out and to be true to who they are. He challenges us to set the family values of caring for the children in our community; I am a member of the LGBTQ community and a member of Tacoma. This is my responsibility. Peterson helped me reframe my answer.
“Jane, why do you do the work you do if you don’t have children?”
I do have children. I have an entire community full of children. We have asked our children to be authentically who they are. It is up to me to ensure that the community they live in is safe. It is up to me to set family values of love and acceptance. It is up to me to be an ally and to recruit more allies. Parents can’t do the work of creating a safe, caring, and affirming community on their own. We need to gather round them and lend our support. We have much to share. We have much to learn.
Who’s with me, for OUR children?