EXPLAINING EQUALITY SHOULDN’T BE THIS HARD
I was talking with a neighbor the other day while my son played in the common space. He asked me if I thought we would be in North Carolina for the long haul. I replied that the politics of the state are really hard for my family so I don’t how long it makes sense to stay here: “We’ll have to see how the Supreme Court rulings go.”
“What do you mean ‘the politics are hard’ for your family?” he replied.
I took a second to look around for the hidden cameras. Surely this moderately progressive, early-forties, father of two has noticed a little thing called DOMA or maybe he was awake during the last election when our state passed a constitutional amendment declaring my partner of 16 years and I legal strangers. Or maybe he was asleep that day. I am getting really tired of being people’s teacher on the subject of the state of queer rights in this country, so I decided just to not go there. I might have even rolled my eyes a little before changing the subject.
I am tired of all the red equal signs on Facebook (though I am also totally appreciative of all of the support). I am tired of the term “gay marriage”. I am tired of thinking about the possible decisions that could come down from the Supreme Court and what they may or may not mean for my family. I am tired of hearing about straight couples getting married or adopting children from outside this country or in states that say I would be an unfit parent. I wouldn’t want to deny any of those things to any of those people. I am just tired of being on the headlines and not knowing what comes next. Just tired.
I hope that my son has no recollection of a time when his family was unequal under the law. I hope my son doesn’t remember a time when people asked me, in front of him, how he was conceived or who his dad is. I hope…that’s just it: I hope. Maybe too much, maybe not enough, but I do feel hopeful. I think part of my desire to stop being anyone’s teacher on the subject is that talking about being hopeful, especially with people who don’t fully get the struggle, opens one up to being vulnerable. I don’t want to be vulnerable. In a self-protective way, I don’t want to be hopeful (or at least admit to being hopeful). I want to be cynical and jaded, no room to be disappointed. But I am hopeful and I will teach, even when I am tired, though sometimes, I might take the day off.
Betsy Fife Archer holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and a Master of Social Work degree from Smith College. She has spent seven years as a therapist working with children, adolescents and families of all configurations in various contexts. She has presented to college audiences in Massachusetts and North Carolina around being a queer parent, being in a long-term relationship and working against unjust laws that make her marriage in legal limbo outside of the northeast. She is a founding member of YouthPride, a queer youth organization started in Atlanta in 1995 that continues to this day. Betsy continues to volunteer her time with the Campaign for Southern Equality, an organization based in Asheville North Carolina which serves to promote the “full humanity and equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in American life and to increase public support for LGBT rights.” Betsy is also an active artist specializing in hand-hooked rugs, fine art embroidery and wedding photography. Betsy teaches fiber arts workshops across the south and photographs weddings wherever someone will pay her to go. Betsy lives in Asheville, NC with her partner of more than 15 years and their amazing toddler son. Betsy is working with her friend and fellow blogster, Charlotte Caponga-Amias, on a guidebook about becoming a queer, non-gestational parent. She and Charlotte blog at turkeybasterandabottleofwine.wordpress.com.