Tonight was the night. President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden hosted the annual Pride Reception at the White House.
I was not invited.
I can admit and for the sake of keeping an accurate record of the impact of this blog, I had hoped that the work leading to a second GLAAD Media Award would be enough to generate an invitation. But it was not to be.
I’ve been to the White House several times. I went to college in Northern Virginia (Marymount University) and had several tours led be esteemed alumnus, including a chance to watch President Bush disembark from a helicopter while crowded alongside Betty White and Gerald McRaney. Yep. That happened in 1992. Boris Yeltsin was also there. It was actually a pretty big deal.
But I wanted to take my wife so she could have that experience, too. Tonight, President Biden signed executive orders to resist the hate legislation targeting queer youth and children. Historic. She goes to work every day fighting the good fight as a public servant of nearly 25 years with very little fanfare. I want her to experience some fanfare.
She told me not to get my hopes up and even though she was right, I’m not sorry for hoping for something special to happen. It has been a tough few years and magical memories have been in short supply.
I’m not ashamed to say I’d like to have my work acknowledged. I don’t want to be showered with gold coins or anything, just to have those sort of touchstone memories you can stretch out in your mind (a trauma processing tool) to navigate the low moments when it seems I only write about death and trauma and bigotry. Not so much rewards as reminders to continue on and to know that people who make decisions are aware of what’s happening in Western Pennsylvania.
For example, parents in Mt. Lebanon are suing a teacher and the school district over what’s described as teaching about gender identity. It is a ridiculous and factually incorrect lawsuit, but resources will have to be deployed to fight back. Mt. Lebanon is one of the few municipalities that has a nondiscrimination ordinance including sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
On the state level, vicious State Senators are planning to introduce a ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bit of legislation to stifle the lives and voices of children in grades K-5 who are part of queer families or themselves queer. My youngest nibbling will be in 5th grade in the fall. He’s not to see any educational materials that represent his family? How exactly does that empower his learning? It doesn’t.
Frankly, I’d like to see legislation that bans parents from cooing at their toddlers and preschoolers about their boyfriends/girlfriends – is it really normal or healthy to teach children that they should pair off girl/boy at such tender ages? Doesn’t that encourage warped thinking about gendered expectations and the autonomy of our bodies? Sure it is cute when kids mimic adult lives spontaneously and based on their actual feelings about other children, not because their mommies are BFF’s.
Back to the point, I can see us battling these legislative attacks for several years with our trans neighbors enduring the worst abuse. So it is not wrong for me to wish for a bit of something special to keep slogging along and fighting the good fight. Between the blog, PLC, and the City LGBTQIA+ Commission co-chair role, I’m pretty damn busy. I don’t mind because I signed up for all of it. But I can’t keep up this pace forever. Nor should I.
So clearly, I will have to up my game for the remainder of this year and keep plugging away to earn that coveted invitation. I’ve asked a few folks if Western Pennsylvania was represented with no response. It isn’t like there’s an official person to ask or a guest list published (I don’t think.)
Sometimes this is just so fucking hard. Not being disappointed about receptions, but just finding ways to write about the hard things without losing more of my soul and sanity.
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