Last weekend we were attending the Rainbow Families DC parenting conference. We’d planned to attend because it seemed like a good activity for a saturday, and an opportunity for us to connect with other LGBT parents and for Parker to see a lot more families like his own. Then I was invited to speak on one of the panels at the conference. That was exciting enough, but while chasing after Parker during his “post-lunch run” I stopped to say hi to Jennifer Chrisler, Executive Director of the Family Pride Coalition, and she told me to come back and to her later because she had something special to talk to me about. I couldn’t wait to hear, so I tapped the hubby to watch Parker and went back to talk to Jennifer.
Well. Long story short, we’re going on vacation.
What Jennifer wanted to talk to me about was a chance for our family to go on the R Families Vacations cruise in July as special guests of the Family Pride Coalition. (That’s Rosie O’Donnell’s vacation cruise for LGBT families.) Well, we’d been talking about going the cruise sometime next year, so the offer to go in July was one we could not refuse.So, come July, we’ll cruising.
As part of the arrangement, I’l be co-facilitating a blogging and online activism seminar alongside Dana, who blogs at Mombian. It’s part of an effort to get more LGBT parents engaged in the blogosphere, and it dovetail’s nicely with a training program I’ve been developing at work. (Full disclosure: Rosie is one of our clients at work, but I don’t work on her stuff, and this offer came to me through being a gay parent blogger.)
And frankly, I’m glad that the cruise is skipping Bermuda and the protesters, as Rosie says in her letter on the R Family Vacations site.
About a month ago, I was contacted by the Royal Gazette in Bermuda requesting a statement in response to some churches expressing their issue with a GLBT cruise coming to their country.
My response was basically as follows: We are tourists who intended to visit Bermuda to experience their beaches and shop in their stores. Our cruise is designed to offer gay and lesbian tourists and their families and friends the opportunity to travel together “judgement free”. We are not making any statement with our cruise, nor were we looking to change any minds regarding views on religious or sexual orientation. We are on vacation on a cruise ship that was chartered by R Family Vacations.
I also stated that we would alter our itinerary if we felt that there would be ANY incident surrounding our arrival because our guests deserve to experience the best summer vacation possible and we did not want a repeat of what occurred in Nassau in 2004. I offered to meet with any or all churches that would be willing to talk this out face-to-face. Not one church took me up on my offer.
The Prime Minister of Bermuda personally contacted me to let me know that he and his government welcome all tourists regardless of sexual orientation or religious affiliation. We also received hundreds of emails from Bermuda residents welcoming us to their country.
However, Kelli and I are not 100% confident that some protestors would not meet us upon our arrival. While those groups may be the minority voice, we feel that our cruise would be more enjoyable with an alternate itinerary to ports where we know we are welcome by everyone.
Frankly, after watching the protesters in Nassau on the HBO special, if the cruise stopped in Bermuda and there were more protesters, I’d have to stay on the boat rather then take the risk of finding out what I’d say or do if one of them shouted slogans at my kid.
There’s one other thing. The hubby and I exchanged rings one evening seven years ago, privately, on a very romantic beach in Hawaii. But we’ve never had any kind of ceremony. We’ve talked about it, but haven’t done it yet. After Parker was born, we thought we’d wait until he was old enough to play a part in it. After watching the HBO special, All Aboard: Rosie’s Family Cruise, we realized that there was a justice o’ the peace available to perform wedding ceremonies on board. We held hands and shed a few tears while we watched the videos and said that maybe we’d have a ceremony on board, if we ever went on the cruise.
Well, this time I popped the question and he said yes. Long story short, if we make it on board, we’re having a ceremony. That is, we’re getting married.
The best part is that Parker will be there, and will be able to take part in his parents getting married.
It’s not something we ever really discussed with him until recently, when we went to Annapolis for Equality Maryland’s Lobby Day. Our job was relatively easy, as our delegates are very supportive, and our state senator is a gay dad, but we felt it was important to take part.
When we explained to Parker why we were going, the hubby put it this way. “We’re going to see the people who make the rules, and ask them to change the rules so that Daddy and Papa can get married, because Daddy and Papa love each other very much.”
And when Parker asked if we were married I answered, “Daddy and Papa are married in our hearts, because we love each other very much, but someday we hope we can get married in front of everyone else too.”
A couple of days later, Parker turned to me and asked, “Did they change the rules yet so you can get married?”
I had to tell him no, but we were still married in our hearts, and someday soon the rules will change so that we can get married in front of everyone else. As much as it hurt me to have to say that, Parker seemed to understand, and wasn’t that bothered by it. (Why should he be? He’s happy and safe at home, and he’s got Daddy and Papa to love and care for him?) But it became even more important to me that our son know that his parents are married to each other, and what that means to us and for him.
So, we won’t be on a beach under the stars this time. We’ll be miles from shore, under a (hopefully) blue sky. And even though the rules haven’t changed back on the mainland yet, and even though we already are married where it counts, we will get married; under the sun, before the open ocean, in front of the world.
And in front of our son.