return to sender

Dear people who write open letters,

Please stop. No one is listening. Or reading. Certainly not the people to whom you claim to be writing these letters.  I get it. Just as orange is the new black these open letters are the new top ten lists. Huffington Post and Buzzfeed and every upstart website loves them. They are the lazy writer’s new best friend. These open letters guarantee you retweets and shares and at least a few pats on the back from people who are equally as lazy an independent thinker as you are an original writer.

And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?  You’re a lazy writer. Rather than gather facts and then organize your ideas into a well thought out, reasoned essay you …write a letter. How very 1947 of you. Miss Manners and Dear Abby would be ever so proud. But here is my question: if you write a letter and no one reads it did you actually write a letter?

I mean, am I even writing this letter?

I have a suggestion. The next time (five minutes from now) someone offends you or the latest social issue ruffles your feathers rather than chasing the ghost how about you take a moment and put your thoughts into a well written essay.

And failing that, please, at least have the balls to confront the person you’re addressing face to face.


A friend

Sean Michael O’Donnell is the author of the best-selling memoir Which One of You is the Mother? 

Which One of You is the Mother?

Sixteen months ago we adopted our son Chris.  We are trendsetters (not really) so this was way before gay adoption become fashionable.  Kind of like how we got gay-married two and a half years years before it became legal.  Or how we started watching Orange Is the New Black before everyone on Facebook was taking those quizzes to determine if they were an Alex or a Piper.

At that point in our relationship Todd and I had been together for almost 17 years so it was either get another dog, adopt a kid or grow old in a suffocating air of quiet resentment.  As appealing as quiet resentment is to both of us, I think we chose best because Chris is the absolute best thing ever in the whole wide world and I (we) cannot remember what our lives were like before he agreed to let us be his dads.  I know we had a life before Chris, but in retrospect, I think we were just killing time until we could adopt him …because as I said he is the best thing ever in the whole wide world (even when he isn’t and, boy, does that little shit have his moments).

So sixteen months ago we adopted our son Chris and became (hot) gay Dads.  The best part of this (aside from Chris) was that no one noticed.  I mean people were happy for us and incredibly supportive, but in the context of us being two guys adopting a kid, it was not a big deal.  The day after the adoption the headline in the local paper did not read: “Local Gays Adopt 7 Year Old!  Younger of the Two Dads Even Hotter Now!”  It was a non-event and I liked that because it meant we were living in a time and place where something as superficial as our gender was irrelevant.

And for the most part that has remained true.  But every now and again I am met with this question: “Which one of you is the mother?”  The first time someone asked me that question, I laughed, thinking it was a joke.  But when they repeated the question, and I realized they were serious, I was just confused.  I mean, seriously, how in the hell do you answer that question?

“Which one of you is the mother?”  Well if we’re relying strictly on gender stereotypes, then I suppose, as the more emotional of the two, that I fit the maternal role.  But then in terms of household duties it’s a 50/50 split: I clean, but Todd does the laundry and we both do the cooking.  Todd is better at dressing cuts and bruises; while I just look better in a dress.  And although Todd gives better hugs, I am Oscar-worthy in my role as a manipulative, overbearing drunk.

Ultimately, the problem with the question is that it is not the question.  They ask, “Which one of you is the mother,” but what they really mean to say is, “Which one of you is the WOMAN?”  It’s that age-old heterosexual preoccupation people have with two guys and sex: what goes where.  I hate that question and I hate that anyone even considers it when they see me with my family.  But oh well, there you have it.  I should probably just be happy they gave me a kid.

As for which one of us is the woman?  That’s easy.  The slutty one.