Family / Parenting

Guerrilla Queer Playdate

http://cymaticsconference.com/cymatics-conference-nov-6-8-in-atlanta-ga/ IMG_4066Remember Guerrilla Queer Bar?  In the early 2000’s there was a movement where hundreds of LGBT people (I may have been among them a few times) would descend upon a random bar and make it queer for one night.  It was a phenomenon that was happening in cities across the country and it was quite popular among young queer people.  It was fun – not at all aggressive.  We arrived, spent our money, mingled and danced.  We interacted with the usual (usually non-queer) clientele and answered many “What’s going on tonight?” type questions.  We were usually met with interest and bemused surprise.  Much like a dancing flash mob – I guess we were a sort of dancing flashmob.

The motivation was simple – wanting to get out and check out new places without losing the comfort, safety and (not least of all) flirting opportunities of being amongst other queer people.  There were several LGBT bars in my area – and they were fantastic, but there was a whole city full of bars to explore.  Guerrilla Queer Bar was an easy way to get out there without having to be the token queer.

It had been years since I thought about those guerrilla bar outings – heck, it’s been years since I set foot in a bar of any kind.  But this past Saturday, as I sat playing with my two year old and his baby sister at a popular playspace I had a sense of deja vu.  You see, I was there with a group of LGBT parents – and at a certain point I think we may have outnumbered the non-queer parents.  I’m used to be being the only lesbian at the playground/baby gym/music class/story time – and it felt unfamiliar to be in the majority.

Our group holds events regularly at kid-friendly places around the city – and yes, a dozen or more LGBT families show up at a family-oriented attraction.  Last month we attended an event at the aquarium, in warmer weather we’ve visited the zoo, and each year we have an event at a local waterpark.  The goal is not to “take-over” it’s just to gather and let our kids play.  The parents get to talk about queer parenting (or not, we just as often talk about sleep, poop, or any other universal parenting topic) and the kids get to interact with other families that reflect their own.  No big gay agenda – and yet, there we were, being unintentionally subversive.

As I looked around at my fellow queer parents, no one was doing anything particularly radical.  A pair of fathers were engaged in a rousing game of peek-a-boo.  A baba built a block tower with a toddler.  A mother was spooning puree into a baby’s mouth.  I did spy a parent using a plastic corn on the cob as a pretend telephone – that was perhaps crossing over into radical territory.

Our playdate was so mundane, and yet, it was quietly revolutionary.  Simply existing as a queer parent is so often tacit activism.  Just being present in the world.  Perhaps crossing out mother/father on a form when it doesn’t apply.  Answering (sometimes intrusive) questions about the creation and make-up of our family for the millionth time with a patient smile.  Gently explaining we are both the parents when someone is struggling to piece things together.

I won’t lie, living in a teachable moment can cause poster parent fatigue – and that’s one reason it’s so nice to get together with other parents that understand that.  Of course, I’m all too aware that the burden isn’t mine alone – kids are much more aware than we realize, and they too, pick up on the subtle cues pointing out we are different, perhaps even unwelcome in some circumstances.  These guerrilla playdates are an opportunity for them, too, to let down their guard.  Hopefully seeing a playground full of families like their own will instill a sense of normalcy that might otherwise be difficult to assure them of.  My toddler revolutionary has enough on his plate.

[Cross-posted from West Philly Mama.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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