The new math teacher called to introduce himself. Chris’s class had been without a permanent math teacher since the second week of school when Miss Perky, a first time teacher who cited Lassie as her favorite movie, failed to show up for work…much to the surprise of everyone at the school, most notably the administration.
But all of that was behind us now and after a revolving door of well-meaning substitutes the school had hired a new teacher, a veteran of the New York City schools who, according to the letter of introduction he had sent home, would “not tolerate any disrespect”.
I was at the library reading with Elijah when he called, but seeing the school’s phone number on my caller ID I decided to answer.
“Hi. This is Mr. Smith. I’m Chris’s new math teacher. Is Chris’s Mom or Dad there?”
“This is Chris’s Dad,” I said. I hesitated a moment and then continued, “Actually Chris has two dads. There is no mother.”
A brief pause followed and then, “Oh. Two Dads. Okay. That’s cool, I’m from New York.”
I’m from New York is code for I’ve seen it all.
“Actually Park Slope. It’s in Brooklyn, so…”
It was the most ridiculous response and I immediately liked him for saying it. We chatted for a few more minutes and then I went back to reading to Elijah.
Later when I would play back the conversation in my mind I became fixated on that moment of hesitation right before I had said, “Actually Chris has two dads.” Why had I hesitated? It was a matter of fact that my son had two fathers and in that moment when I corrected the teacher I was doing it, not to make a statement, but simply to inform.
Yet still I hesitated as if I had felt that I shouldn’t say it.
When I read clickbait headlines on Huffington Post like My Son’s School Discriminated Against Him Because He Has Two Dads or Everybody in the World Is Out to Get Me Because I’m a Black Christian Homosexual Transgendered Woman I immediately think, “Or maybe you’re just an asshole and it has nothing to do with your race, religion, sexuality or gender identity.”
We are so quick to assume that people are discriminating against us based on what we are rather than who we are and I suppose because of that I have become hyper vigilant. If someone is going to dislike me I want it to be based on the person I am and not the labels that have been attached to me.
And I realize that sounds hypocritical coming from a guy who calls his blog seansbiggayblog and then wrote a book called Which One of You is the Mother? The Absolutely Positively True Adoption Story of Two Gay Dads, but then I am an enigma wrapped in cheese.
I hesitated because in that moment I wanted to present a fact to the teacher – my son has two dads – but at the same time I did not want to label myself or make our family dynamic an issue because it’s not an issue.
The point of this blog and my book is that we are no different than any other family.
Now I’m not some Pollyanna. I understand that in the real world gays with kids is an issue for a shrinking percentage of small-minded bigots and as I’ve unfortunately discovered a growing number of paranoid gay parents, but for me and my husband and our two kids it’s a non-starter.
We are who we are and if you don’t like us we hope it’s because we’re assholes and not because we’re gay or because our kids have two dads. Although honestly, whatever the reason we don’t much care.
All we ask is the next time you call our house, please don’t ask for the mother and not because it’s a big deal but because we told you our sons have two dads and now you know.