Remember the Neighborhood potlucks that were stuctured in such a way that, while paying lip service to community-building, were actually not very inclusive? Remember the email that I sent to the Valerie, the director of our Community Center that is sponsoring the potlucks? Well, here is the response I got back. Unedited.
Thanks for sharing your concerns. Valerie and I have discussed this, and she has asked me to respond to you. We fully understand where you are coming from and appreciate your feedback. Here at the Community Center it is difficult, (if not impossible!) to meet everyone’s needs with each program. As it is currently set up, the Neighborhood Potlucks meet a certain need for adult programming. We would also like to offer a potluck that meets the needs of families! In order to be able to do so, we would need a volunteer willing to be the captain of the family potluck. We would like to offer you the opportunity to volunteer in this capacity if you are interested and able.
The “Potluck for Parents” would be managed the same way that the Adult Potlucks are managed, but this one would be inclusive of children. That way anyone signing up for the Potluck for Parents would know in advance that children are welcome at each Potluck and will have the responsibility of knowing that if they host, children will be in their home and if they attend, children will be present. We can start with one potluck for the Wasatch Front, and if it grows we can begin to separate into neighborhoods with this one as well. I have put a call out to our affiliate program, Gay and Lesbian Parents of Utah to see if they would like to be involved in this. I do not know if you are already a member of that group: but they get together once a month for activities. Their calendar is on line at www.glbtccu.org/GLPU.
Hopefully in this way we can try to met the needs of both adults without children and those with children, and expand the programs offered through the Center. Please let me know if you would be interested in doing this. I would love to chat with you in person, so please give me a call, or send me your phone number. Thanks Trista!
Ok. Where to start. First of all, I had no idea that in the larger gay community children are something equivalent to a virulently infectious disease; something that must be surrounded by quarantine signs WARNING: CHILDREN! And something that would require additional responsibility from the host. I know that when I take my child to someone else's house, I bear the responsibility of making certain that she is safe and behaves. And yes, I know she's only 6 months old, but when our friends with older children came to our (childless) house, they made certain that their child didn't break our things, or fall down stairs. In fact, though certainly not a universal behavior, MOST parents I am acquainted with take responsibility for their children when at people's houses.
Beyond that, this response shows me clearly that they didn't read my letter to them very clearly or they would have understood that 1) I am already an active member of the Gay and Lesbian Parents of Utah and 2) A "Parents Potluck" is not at all what I was asking them to create. I was asking them to stand by their own words of inclusiveness and make it so that all members of the GLBTQ community actually were welcome at the neighborhood potlucks that claim to welcome them. I feel that this response brushes aside my concerns, disregards what I actually had to say, and pushes responsibilty back upon me to comply with their rigid ideals. If I do not accept their offer of chartering a "parents potluck" then I look like one of those complainers who refuses to step up to the plate and work towards a solution. If I agree to help I will be contributing my scarce energy and free time toward something that I find insulting (the seperation of families from "family") while at the same time validating their artificial division and the hypocracy that hides it.
Am I wrong about this? Am I crazy? Am I expecting too much from our community center? What would you say in response to this? I am going to respond, I just need to calm down first so I don't hurl epithets around. Oh, and I am NOT going to agree to charter a "Parents Potluck". I would charter one that was set up so that EVERYONE felt welcome and EVERYONE knew that they could come, not just parents. But not this. The way this sounds to me is that only parents would want to be around children, so only parents would be interested in coming to this, so only parents will be targeted and invited. But I could be overreacting. Am I? Are children really that bad?
I guess I'm just disappointed because I thought our community center was interested in serving the needs of everyone in the community as best they could and trying to bring the community together as a whole, instead of creating and reinforcing divisions. I had expectations I shouldn't have.
Oh, PS. Last April I applied for the Director of Youth Progams at the center. I made it up to the last cut and then was not chosen in favor of someone who had been volunteering with the youth for many months. That is as it should be. I believe very strongly that if someone is a volunteer in a program and a permanent position becomes available then the volunteer should get first shot at that position. But I wonder if they're thinking that I'm causing problems because of sour grapes.