It happened at the beach campfire picnic - the pinnacle of my summer plan. We'd happened upon the Family Equality Council's Family Week in P Town a few years ago when Kody was just an infant. We hadn't been able to join then, as it was too late, and hadn't been able to find boarding during that week any year since as we booked our P town plans.
This year I was feeling without culture. DOMA was derailed. Prop 8 was finally a thing of the past. All of this due in no small way to Family Equality Counsel and the efforts of our kids to express the intricacies of growing up "gay" so to speak. It's a rapidly changing world, but as my community celebrated Pride this year in NYC, we couldn't justify dragging our two young boys out in that 5th Avenue madness. Little by little our annual Pride month events that had once filled the calendar had dwindled off into a five minute Long Island Pride march and an occasional moms spray park event or zoo trip. Every parent knows, family changes things. There's a lot less spur-or-the-moment celebrating and a lot more plans including naps!
So this year I booked our favorite place early. I invited friends, and made sure we could at least catch a few events including the beach picnic and campfire (which is very special in Massachusetts.)
We had such a good time - scouring the shops, owning the street, laughing over lunch with good friends and laughing over dinner and drinks with new acquaintances. There were introductions, babysitting and everywhere people are happy and smiling. It's the middle of summer. The weather has been perfect. There is just the right balance of time to chill here and time to explore new things and meet new people.
I was alone in the beach when it happened - abandoned by my son. Trying to make our flat triangular kite take flight was not working for me at that moment. I'd been so happy to find a rainbow kite (You know real red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple rainbow - not the rearranged-for-homophobia varieties scattered all over the place these days?) Conditions for flight were ideal; but I was competing with giant dragonflies, flapping bird kites and UFOs! Gay families seem to go all out on everything.
My son had lost interest my measly diving kite bomb and had run off to join his Ema and brother on the blanket playing in the sand with our friends. Tylenol had donated sand pails and shovels to all the families, and light-up braclets for all the kids. There were glow sticks, and Hershey's chocolate, graham crackers and marshmallows from Stop n Shop. And everywhere you looked in either direction there was our families. The entire beach was filled with little tribes of two moms or two dads. Never have I seen a more beautiful mix of races and colors and people and ages together - never as outsiders but as real honest to God legal families!
That's when this man with a pout/scowl, a little boy on his shoulders, and a young girl by his side emerges pointedly up to me. "Excuse me, excuse me..." I look up from winding up my kite cord.
"Yes?" I manage wrestling with a knot in my kite string.
"What is all this... these bracelets and glow sticks?"
"Family Equality Council." I look up. No recognition. I do hesitate, but I mean this is P Town, right? "It's a gay family picnic."
There was a pause. Then he let out a tuft of air and rolled his eyes. "Let's get out of here" he said to the young girl at his side.
This is the moment I want back.
I mean, I lied - I do miss him. Can you imagine the absurdity of a moment like that? There I was, angered as commonplace, but for once in the majority! I mean there was thousands of us on that beach at that moment. My friends had just shared how some idiot yelled "faggot" out the window of his passing car at their toddler, and how a fleeting moment for that insecure guy turned into a day long contemplation for the two of them. I could have yelled back at this one. I could have turned around and announced to the crowd what he just did to us. I could have escorted him back to the parking lot announcing to everyone what he just did! And why shouldn't I? Nobody outside understands. I marvel at the conversations I'd just had even with people I just met about similar absurdities like parents not attending their own child's wedding, or the new arguments for the expiration of affirmative action from those so caught up in privilege they can't imagine giving up any of it. I'm on Facebook trying to explain the consequences and dynamics of Zimmerman's racism to a guy I went to Catholic elementary school with who thinks the way to end gun violence is with more guns, and is updating a "speedy recovery" for George W. Bush's heart surgery as we speak. I had my wife, my old friends, my new friends, - I had a mob on my side! This was an opportunity!
But, no. I did nothing. I looked around all these beautiful happy faces, smiled a good bye and let it go. And I'm ok with that now. I just needed to write this blog. What would you have done?