Today I had the honor of taking my family to the 2011 White House Easter Egg Roll. It was the very first time that gay military families had been officially invited – kudos to Servicemembers United for helping to facilitate this. Sadly, at the last minute my partner was called to duty and could not attend – but it was this very fact that made us that much more the ‘typical’ military family. How many of us, gay or straight, have had our most awesome plans dashed because the military had a last minute change of plans? It just comes with the territory…
I see this watershed event as being important for two reasons. Firstly because of the absolute commonness of our experience. Yes, it was an incredibly special day that I will remember for the rest of my life, but we were just two more faces in a crowd of thousands. The makeup of families was so diverse that we were truly able to experience the event the same as any other family.
And secondly because our attendance was a testimonial to the diversity of LGBTQ military families. There are those who say that my family does not count – that my family should not qualify for such an honor. You see, throughout our 18 year relationship we have had no children of our own, but we have spent over seven years raising the children of family members who were unable to care for them.
Although it was an early dream of ours, we decided not to have our own children when the opportunity arose – in large part because of the stresses of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Thousands of queer servicemembers have succeeded in raising beautiful families on their own, but many of us don’t fit into neat little categories that can be easily defined.
After our trip to DC, my niece surprised us all by researching and locating the grave of her great great great grandfather who served in the 14th U.S. Colored Infantry during the Civil War. We were able to go the African American Civil War Museum, and were able to locate his name on the memorial near the U Steet – Cardozo Metro station. She has started paying attention to current affairs, and is asking LOTS of questions.
I hope in some small way that our attendance of this event honored and paid tribute to the queer fathers, mothers, grandparents, aunts and uncles that have become caregivers and role models to a generation who will prosper in an era free of DADT.