Monday, June 9, 2014

DC Pride and Parenting

This weekend was DC Pride. St. Thomas' had a picnic, and afterwards we went to a parishioner's front porch to drink sangria and watch the parade. The sheer length and volume were astounding. The parade lasted from 4:30 until after 7:00, with every sort of float imaginable. It seemed like every politician in the city had marchers, as well as every major Christian denomination, some rogue Mormons, and some Jewish marchers. (My favorite sign of the entire religious contingent: Shabbat Shalom, Queers!) The spirit of campy irreverence and love reigned. The parade was also surprisingly commercial, with banks and hotels sponsoring floats. Chipotle won hands down for best corporate float, with a cowboy riding on a bucking burrito. Usually I don't like seeing a lot of corporate sponsorship in a community event like this, but it was a sign of just how far the gay rights movement has come. Everybody had a good time, except for maybe the protesters, who had to have a police escort for their own safety.

This weekend was also a baptism for a baby in our congregation, a beautiful little girl adopted by a married gay couple. Both parents are pillars in our community, part of who we are, and it was a joy to be a part of that baptism, knowing full well that child will grow to maturity in grace and love within a Christian community. And is she ever loved!

Now, I could write a book about everything that St. Thomas' has taught me, but perhaps the most surprising and lovely lesson of all has been about what it means to be a parent. This lesson began two years ago with one of our first gay adoptions, as I watched two men raise a baby up close for the first time. And it blew my little Central Pennsylvania mind.

First of all, in a same-gendered parenting team, there's no "default" parent. If the baby starts crying, in church or in the middle of the night, it's not automatically handed off to the mother. These parents actually have a conversation about it, and work out a plan. Over and over again, I've seen them take turns and work together to solve the problem. It seems simple, but it makes all the difference in the world. And for same-gendered parents, nothing about parenting seems to be taken for granted. Every child in each of these relationships has been longed for, waited on, hoped for, greeted with tears and joy. This isn't always the case on the other side of the fence, as babies of straight couples sometimes accidentally make their way into the world, unplanned and taken on a burden instead of a blessing. Lastly, I've seen a great deal of imagination and humor in the act of parenting. It's almost as if the joy spilled out and into creativity and laughter.

I'm not saying gay parenting is intrinsically better, or that straight parents can't also be parents who are great at communicating and who are excited and ready to be creative parents. But I know when it's time for us to start thinking that direction, I'll be thinking about my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, and taking a page out of their parenting book.

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