Did you really think the positivity would last?
Some people recently emailed wanting to know if they were among the kind-faced, bat-wielding foes I mentioned in an earlier post. Needless to say, they are not. So, I thought I would provide an example of kind-faced nastiness that STILL has me sputtering in rage and disappointment.
Salt Lake is celebrating our very first Winterfest here. Winterfest is intended to be a sort of mini pride celebration organized around Valentines' day and celebratory of families and love (can you hear the sarcasm dripping in my voice yet?). One of the activities planned was the kick-off of Neighborhood Potlucks. Let me quote the Neighborhood Potluck Network Mission Statement so you can see what they say they're trying to do.
Objective of the NPN
Aside from downtown Salt Lake City, the outlying areas are unique. Unlike Salt Lake City proper, there are limited or no “gay hangouts,” meeting places, community centers, theaters, coffee shops, etc. that serve the queer community, compared to the venues that are immediately accessible to those living in or near Salt Lake City. Therefore, the Potluck Network wishes to serve ALL LGBTQ people by:
- Providing a forum to meet other LGBTQ folks in each chapter’s area.
- Continuously introducing members to new people who have just moved into the area and/or are attending for the first time.
- Assisting in easing feelings of isolation that result from not knowing LGBTQ people in your area, or moving into new and unfamiliar areas.
- Acting as a springboard for creating friendships and alliances with other LGBTQ folks in each respective area.
- Helping to create a group of neighborhood "family" members.
- Enriching and creating “community.”
- Providing a place for us to meet NEW friends.
- Introducing people to others like them, who will readily accept them for who they are.
- Providing a safe place to socialize and deepen relationships with neighbors.
- Assisting people in getting to know those who live in their immediate city or area, which in turn can make their lives more familiar, comfortable, and enjoyable.
- Helping to make our neighborhoods feel like home.
- Facilitating the formation of allies with neighbors we would trust to water our plants and feed our fish while we’re away! Someone to call with a spur-of-the-moment invitation of pizza and blender drinks! Someone to run to for help when we’ve locked your keys in our house!
Doesn't that sound wonderful? Wouldn't you want to join? So Kristin and I went to the website and got the email address of our local chapter and sent an email stating that we would love to come to the kick-off potluck. All the potlucks are scheduled for Sunday afternoons. They're all casual events. We were very excited to finally be able to meet our GLBTQ neighbors, particularly since the couple we normally call for spur-of-the-moment pizza and drinks and such are moving away.
This is the email we got in response (well, part of it anyway)
The SOLE purpose of the NPN is to provide a forum for LGBTQ folks to meet other LGBTQ folks who currently live in the same area and within the boundaries of their specific chapter. The NPN is being run as a GLBT Community Center Adult Program and is for adults only, no children please. For people who want a group in which they can bring their children, please contact Jennifer at the GLBTCCU for information on groups that cater to families, email@example.com.
Do you see that? No children! "Cater to families" indeed! So, the network wishes to serve ALL LGBTQ people as long as if they have children they find babysitters on Sunday afternoons and don't bother any of the adults with them. I'm still so upset by this. I don't even know how to express it. Here is the email I wrote in response:
My partner and I were looking forward to attending the Sugarhouse Neighborhood potluck this Sunday; however we will not be coming because we have a 5 month old daughter and we are unwilling to try to find a babysitter for a Sunday afternoon. We were surprised and disappointed that children were not welcome at something that is advertised as a community-building event and planned for a weekend afternoon. Frankly, we are reluctant to join a social group that plans weekend afternoon activities but does not welcome children. Excluding a portion of the GLBTQ community from these events seems contrary to the mission statement you attached to your email, especially since GLBTQ parents often feel particularly isolated from a community that does a great deal of socialization at night in bars and other adult venues. I will be contacting Jennifer Nuttall for information about another potluck to attend. If or when the Sugarhouse Neighborhood Potluck Charter decides to change their stance on children my partner and I will be happy to join. Until then, please remove our email address from the list.
The woman wrote me back and said that it was not her decision to exclude children, it was a joint decision of the woman who thought this concept up and the Center staff. I did write to Jennifer Nuttall at the center and was told that there simply isn't enough interest from other parents to create our own chapter of the NPN and that we should join the parenting group. I haven't written back to her yet. I AM a member of the parenting group, in fact I just turned down an offer to sit on their board. But the parenting group and the NPN have very different missions. The parenting group is not much more than a large play group. There are people who drive from all over the valley to attend. It's good, and it's useful, and we've met wonderful friends (especially Merr and Summer), but it is DIFFERENT than an event where you go and meet your neighbors. Just because we're parents doesn't mean we should be grouped only with other parents. Just because we want to be able to bring our child doesn't mean we want to attend a play group. I know that there are children who are so badly behaved that they ruin any attempt at socialization that isn't a playgroup. And I know that there are parents who are such poor parents that they bring their children to adult events and rely on other people to watch and rein that child in. I don't want to socialize with those kinds of people either. But I simply don't see why well-behaved children can't attend an afternoon neighborhood potluck. Children don't learn how to behave around adults unless they are taken around adults.
In speaking with other, veteran lesbian mothers, I learned that they never expected to be welcome at this event. They understand that parents are welcome in the "official" GLBTQ community here in only a very limited capacity. We are welcome to walk in the parade. We are welcome at a few public events. We are welcome to leave our children with sitters and come out to the bars. We are welcome to engage in the legal struggle for civil rights for them. We are not welcome at their homes, at their picnics, at their parties unless we set part of us aside.
I am not one of those women whose life is only about her children. But after working full time all week, and leaving Julia in daycare for 8+ hours on weekdays, I am not willing to find a sitter for her on the weekend just so we can go socialize with people who don't want her around not because of who she is, but because she is a child. If we're getting a sitter, by golly we're going on a DATE!
I am fucking bitter. It occurs to me that the community will rally around a lesbian mother who has lost her child, but was there any support for her before she lost her child? Was there any support for their family (other than the gay and lesbian parents group, which I know they were members of) before everything split apart? I doubt it, because there's very little support for mine. And now I think the "official" stance toward lesbian mothers here was made very clear in an event that occured recently. There was a fundraising event for Keri Jones. It was held in a bar. Kristin and I wanted to go, but the fact that it was held in a bar made it impossible for us to attend. At the time I wondered why they held it in a bar. Now I realize that it wouldn't have occurred to the organizers not to hold it in a bar. Lesbian mothers who actually have their children, and are unwilling or unable to find sitters so they can go to a bar, are unworthy of consideration. They should stick to their homes, their straight friends with kids, their own families (if they have any), and their gay parent's group and not ask or expect anything more.
Or I could just be overreacting because I'm bleeding again and this means that my last cycle was only 15 days long and I've spent 2 weeks out of the last month being PMSy.