Getting to Know You: Organizing on the R Family Cruise

As noted in the Family Pride panel discussion, “The Personal and
Political,” held Sunday, July 8 on the R Family July 2007 Cruise,
it takes everyday people doing everyday things to bring full
equality to all loving families. As a member of the Family Pride
team, part of my job is organizing LGBTQ parents and allies to take
action. Part of my job is also to build lasting, meaningful
relationships with the other “full-time” activists in our community
who make this work possible, too.

It’s not often that I get to have breakfast with leading family
advocates from three of the four corners of the States. The R
Family Cruise gave me that chance, since it’s such a wonderful draw
for our families–a place to gather, share, rest, relax, learn and
grow as a community. On this summer’s cruise we had more leading
advocates than ever before: Arielle Rosen, Family Services Manager
at the LA Gay and Lesbian
; Marci Bair, Program Coordinator for San Diego Family Matters; Kathy
Kelly, Executive Director of the MEGA Family Project in
Greater Atlanta; and Terry Boggis, Director of Center Kids at the
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and
Transgender Community Center of NYC

I have and continue to work with all of these fine folks on issues
that matter most to LGBTQ-headed families: safe schools, access to
information on family creation; marriage equality and relationship
recognition; fair adoption; and more. But I don’t often get to
strategize about how we as national, state and local leaders can
pool our resources and make even greater change. We had a great
time at our breakfast meeting, visioning how we could reach
equality for families like yours even sooner than we thought. We
talked especially about how to better educate our own community and
others on the many ways race, ethnicity and national origin relate
to and affect our families. We’re excited to partner together to
create programming and resources on these topics in the near
future. And we also spoke about developing local leaders outside of
the “paid few.” We have hundreds of local parents group leaders and
others around the country who have varying levels of experience and
expertise and we want to spread our resources more effectively to
those folks, giving the most experienced in our community the
opportunity to share knowledge, tips and skills with those just
starting out.

And even though it was AMAZING to spend this time with Arielle,
Kathy, Terry and Marci, the week just wouldn’t have been the same
if it had all been about those of us who already know each other
meeting over pancakes and eggs! I LOVED meeting parents and
families I’d seen before and especially those I’d never seen. I
heard so many inspiring stories (both good and bad) that
reinvigorate me in the work I do. As I head back to the office
Monday, I’ll be thinking about the difficulties of family surrogate
situations, where the birth mother changes her mind. I’ll be
thinking about international adoptions that almost fall through and
the worry that causes for prospective parents. And I’ll be thinking
about the many high school aged children of LGBTQ parents who daily
balance both the normal, everyday love and drama of being in a
“regular” family with their added burden of explaining and
defending themselves to others.

So my thanks, again, to all of you who came on the boat for sharing
your time and your stories with me and the Family Pride staff. And
a special thanks to the visionaries of R Family–Rosie and Kelli
O’Donnell and Gregg Kaminsky! What a great gift you’ve given

And now if I could just shake these sea legs of mine…

Happy Sunday, everyone!