I like Pittsburgh Dad. He rings true to me – this strange amalgam of adult men in my family and my friend’s fathers. Yep, he’s corny. Yep, he’s sometimes tries too hard. Yep, he’s a little too loose and easy with the insults of others. That’s what I mean – he sounds real to me. He’s not the #NextPgh Dad, he’s the Dad we actually have. (#NextPgh Dad’s are fine, just not the same thing.)
For several years, I’ve been lobbying for a LGBTQ themed episode. It just seemed odd that Pittsburgh Dad didn’t have any LGBTQ neighbors, friends, coworkers, classmates, etc. It rung untrue. And I really have believed that Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ community needs a Pittsburgh Dad moment.
It really boils down to this. Adults who have the opportunity to support their more vulnerable neighbors and send a positive, encouraging message must do it. Or the bad guys win. Guys like Putin. Guys who kick gay kids in the locker room and leave them terrified to go to school. Guys like the men who murdered Cemia Acoff and Diamond Williams for the “sin” of being transgender young women. Guys who call us fags, dyke, freaks, trannies, and more. Those guys win when you don’t say something. And when they win, really bad things happen. You know this because you know LGBTQ people.
Sooooo … I am pleased that in this most current episode (Dad visits the Pittsburgh Zoo) finally had a reference to LGBTQ neighbors. And it is pretty okay. Not a huge statement of support, but no insults. Just a set up joke based on the fact that in nature, animals don’t conform to the mating and reproduction standards we impose on America.
Dad is pointing out (to his son Brandon) that male sea horses are pregnant rather than the females. Pause. Then, no that doesn’t happen to humans. Pause. Unless you are that Kyle and Brian couple who live next door to Grandma.
And on to the next joke.
So okay technically Kyle and Brian didn’t carry the baby. Or maybe one of them did because they are genderqueer, gender noncomforming, trans or somewhere else on the spectrum. But they are perceived as two men with a baby. Who live next to Grandma. And wow, something in nature looks like their family a little bit.
On to the next joke.
He’s talking to his elementary aged son. About gay men. With a baby. And pregnant sea horses. And acknowledging the biological reality that LGBTQ people both live in the neighborhood and are on a first name basis with Grandma. With a baby. To his son.
Like normal people do. When kids say “How come that boy sea-horse has the babies?” it is perfectly fine to point out that their friend Larry has two daddies to remind kids that families look different. And when your kids ask why Larry has two daddies, you can talk about sea horses or the gay penguin couple at the National Aviary to remind kids that not all animal families look the same either.
And on to the next joke.
Here’s the thing. Chris and Curt who are the forces of Pittsburgh Dad have LGBTQ friends. They wanted to do this right. And I think it is a fine start. There doesn’t need to be a gay reference in every episode. But “Pittsburgh Dads” have been coming to terms with LGBTQ Pittsburgh for years and years. It isn’t unrealistic that this particular Dad talks himself through that experience.
Now I really, really want to do “Pittsburgh Dad Mistakenly Ends Up at OUTrageous Bingo and Has No Clue” as a full episode. Jokes related to the LGBTQ community work well when the person is mocking themselves and that’s what Dad does. He stumbles into Bingo thinking he’s picking up Deb and Linda and is oblivious to the fact that its a gay bingo – because it is just so very much like any other bingo. He gets into an argument with “Father Rick” and ends up calling a game and gets a comeuppance on how hard it is.
For now, this is a good start. It is imperfect, but so has been the acceptance experiences of many Pittsburgh Dads. What we need now is for Pittsburgh Dad to avoid reverting to “not talking about it” like so many people who tolerate rather than accept propose.
Kyle and Brian are near, they are queer. Talk about it.