Okay, I admit it. Other than for a couple of critical issues, I am just not that into politics. When an election rolls around, I try to pick people who will run things for me the way I want them to, and that’s about it. So when I realized that today was the primary election here in California — on the way home from taking the kids bowling — I was seriously considering blowing off voting.
If you’re a parent, you’ve undoubtedly heard plenty of stories of kids coming out to their parents that they are gay or lesbian. Some of them have been amusing, others endearing, and some, unfortunately, have been heartbreaking. Parents have responded with humour, with understanding, and with fear and loathing. Some parents have gone so far as to disown their children and kick them out of the house. That won’t happen in my house, but I’ll tell you that there also won’t be any “coming out” either.
Amongst the five of us, we have three mobile phones, two tablets, a Kindle, five iPods, a couple of cordless Bluetooth headsets, and miscellaneous other bits of electronics that are charged via a USB connection. Sure, most of them came with a charger and, of course, they can be plugged into a computer to charge them, but in practice, we usually end up playing musical chargers with the two we leave plugged in in the hall. Until now, that is.
A few weeks ago, my daughter came home with a list of topics and an assignment to do some sort of project about something related to San Francisco history. She had been instructed to pick one that her parents knew about so she could get help with it. I scanned the list of possible subjects and spotted The Gay Rights Movement. That was a no-brainer. I grew up in San Francisco and remember the assassination of Harvey Milk as if it were yesterday. I spent a lot of time — for a straight kid with straight parents — in the Castro because it was close to where I had rehearsals and not too far from the Opera House. It was a neat place to hang out on the way home. So, it seemed obvious which topic would be best. After all, what do I know about cable cars?
In 2004, newly elected mayor of San Francisco Gavin Newsom threw away his political future when he directed the county clerk to begin issuing marriage licenses to all couples, regardless of their genders. This kicked the fight for marriage equality into high gear and here we are, almost ten years later, and we are well on our way to universal marriage equality in this country. And that’s not acceptable. Or, rather, it’s not enough.
Although I was raised a devout Catholic — none of this Easter-and-Christmas-only business for us, we were in the front pew every single Sunday — I’ve not been to a religious service in years and, other than Passover Seders with family, I’m not sure my kids ever have. In general, I firmly believe this is a good thing. I certainly don’t forbid them from going to church and, if they were interested in going, would definitely facilitate that, but, for the most part, I think they’re much better off spending Sunday mornings in swim lessons than in church. And yet, as a parent, I recognize that there are some benefits to raising church-going kids that I’m missing.
I grew up in San Francisco, California and was definitely raised a city boy. As a child, I could make my way around the Tenderloin at night as surely as Grizzly Adams navigated the Sierras. I grew up on food from around the world and could use chopsticks as deftly as a country boy could handle a whittlin’ knife. Buses and streetcars were my horses, alleys my hiking trails, skyscrapers my hills and mountains. Guns, even the aquatic variety, were verboten (hunting was something done at antique stores or garage sales) and I think the only reason my mother allowed me fishing gear was because there weren’t any fish anywhere near us to be caught, other than at the grocery store; neither one of us would have known what to do if I actually did catch one. In our family, “roughing it” meant going to “Opera in the Park”.
As if the whole “we hate gays” atmosphere weren’t enough reason to avoid the Boy Scouts of America, there’s a whole ‘nother reason to stay away — a significant number of adult volunteers and employees of the BSA have been accused of using their position to molest boys and the organization has, in many cases, failed to report such allegations to authorities. Even worse, in more than 100 cases, the group worked to cover up the accusations. This really gives new meaning to the Boy Scout motto of “Be Prepared.”
Well, J.C. Penney is at it again. They’re trying to destroy the very fabric of our society, causing social upheaval, widespread misery, and universal damnation. Yep, they’re running a father’s day ad with real-life dads in it. Two of ‘em, to be exact. But how is that any different from the hordes of other advertisements we’ll be subjected to over the next couple of weeks as we work our way towards Dad’s day? It’s because the couple in question is just that — a couple.
In our house, Friday nights are Burrito night. My oldest son has his dance class and, afterward, he and I go pick up burritos in the mission. Naturally, after dancing enthusiastically for an hour, he’s worked up a powerful thirst. Sometimes, therefore, I’ll get an agua fresca — a Mexican fruit drink — for him while our food is being made. Last night, however, he got a lesson instead.