Monday, March 31, 2008

A place for everything

It has come to my attention that some newer visitors to this blog were offended by my recent post about homophobia at our children’s school. So offended that they found it necessary to find read, print, discuss, distribute and introduce it to the headmaster of my children’s elementary school.

Perhaps we should first discuss what a blog is, maybe that would help our new readers have some context for my last rant, and all of my previous years of rants, advice and poetic comments of participatory journalism.

Wikipedia defines a blog as:
(an abridgment of the term web log) a website where entries are commonly displayed in reverse chronological order. "Blog" can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.

Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs. Most blogs are primarily textual, although some focus on art (artlog), photographs (photoblog), sketchblog, videos (vlog), music (MP3 blog), audio (podcasting) are part of a wider network of social media. Micro-blogging is another type of blogging which consists of blogs with very short posts. As of December 2007, blog search engine Technorati was tracking more than 112 million blogs.

Each blog has it’s own raison d’etre if you will. Ours has always been to create and provide a space, a community for gay and lesbian parents to connect, find comfort, seek advice and share stories - commonality. A place for opinioned rants – mine, as the heading clearly states – and most importantly, a place to fit, complain, come together. And all who love, all who want to learn, all who are open are welcome.

That said, perhaps we should also discuss what is and is not appropriate when dealing with conflict - in a child’s educational setting – in THAT context and environment and also in a separate media editorial blog context.

You see
I was SHOCKED when I received a call from the school
Asking me to meet with the headmaster
Telling me a family had read my blog and was upset
In fact one family had informed another of the blog…
So then there were two…
Worlds collided
There is a time, place and way to be in all contexts
Like when you are at work and a colleague introduces a political joke, or over personal conversation. Very uncomfortable – because the two just don’t fit together. I believe there are appropriate places and times to discuss these issues. When I go to work I wear a suit, cover my tattoos and take out my eyebrow ring. Life has its uniforms and frankly I am ok with most them.

This blog
My blog
Has a purpose
An audience
A place that it fits
A need that it fills
An importance
Not just for myself but for many – internationally
Gay families need places to feel – discuss – share and connect
To feel free to express
Just as coats and ties have a place
There is a modality to blogging and ranting that differs from the
Office modality, the subway way of being and the elementary school modes of communication and language.
Look – you don’t wear a tuxedo to go mountain climbing.

When discussing this incident of homophobia at our school
I did not wear the activist hat
I did not use the radical voice
Or the advocate mantra
My hat was MOM
And I speak and spoke with an eye to my kids
And a community that I cherish and greatly feel blessed by.
I would NEVER introduce this mode
Blogging mode
of language into our school
Everything has a place – a uniform if you will
And coming from the side of difference
Of oppression
Of “other” for so long
Perhaps I understand these rules better than most.

We chose to handle this situation maturely
With an understanding of people’s processes
Kid gloves
An eye to, yes, educate
But as organically as possible

I chose to share this incident on my blog
Because it is relevant
And important
And allows dialogue and learning
And a place for me to vent - which was quite needed
And this is exactly the type of moment that
I have written about
and answered questions about for years

But now
Has introduced
My professional activist voice and language
My external poetry
Into the mom, child, educational arena
And is condemning my language
In that arena

I am not naive
I know that what I write is public
We are syndicated
If you Google
“my daddy’s name is donor” (one of our T’s)
Every conservative site across the net has an article condemning us
And I value the dialogue
I value the challenge
Frankly I value the publicity - can’t hurt eh?
I expect it in the world
And in All appropriate contexts

I am shocked however
And I find myself feeling violated and invaded
That parents at our school
Chose to expend time and energy
Seek out, find, read, print, discuss, complain about and
Then bring to the headmaster of our school
Out of the context of the full blog
This one entry
And condemn

The writing was done appropriately in context
Where it fits
It is the bringing of my writing
Where the violation exists for me
Why were they even reading this blog?
Clearly not for advice or to purchase gay baby clothing for their kids
I did not ever intend for this to occur
Good god
Imagine if all of our writings
All of our political views and biases
Our communications at work
Poetry we published in college
from our church sermons to graffiti
Our first novels depicting our hard childhoods to
Letters to the editor of People
Imagine if all of these were brought before all of our peers
In all contexts
My, that would be pretty!

I am so very disappointed
That this occurred
No parent spoke to us directly – as we did out of respect for them
And look, conflicts will arise
Disagreements occur and discussion about them is
Of utmost importance
And how they are handled lays the groundwork for the future

But in this case
what did they seek to accomplish?
To silence us?
Remove us?
Cover up our concerns and erase them?
hide their embarrassment?
Did they assume the headmaster would agree with them?
Gang up with them and bully us into silence
Did they expect the school to participate in quieting us
In our external editorial?
How distressing!

Our school howeveras always
Acted with grace and care
And a huge dose of support and respect for
Our kids - our family - all families
The administrators engaged in a deliberate
Open dialogue with us
And we are grateful for that

The issue for the kids is resolved
But we have no closure

And now here is the rub
There is now
A palpable level of discomfort at school
Once our haven

People are talking – as people do
We handled this situation perfectly calmly maturely
Thought it was done
And yet it is not over
We now do not know who to trust
Who are our friends?
Our allies
Or at least the folks who are open to us or learning more
Who will now become closed to us
Due to this
Due to gossip
Due to discomfort

We feel violated (weren’t we already wronged once in this already?)
We feel somewhat stifled and edited
And now we must be defensive
And wonder what folks think
Who they are talking to
Again we must feel “different”
Must I worry each time I post of who I will please and anger in each phrase?
Of who is reading this blog?

And why come here?
Why read
If our blog does not fit your world view
If you are easily offended
there are 47 million other blogs
Just click and you will be freed from our liberal
Opinionated blathering
If I choose to listen to Imus
Or Dr. Laura or Rush
I am not shocked when I find I am offended

I am at a complete loss now
Mitigated only by the fact
That our children went to school the next day
Blissfully unaware and unpoisoned
By all of this chaos

My wife said to me
What is important
Is our love
Helping to raise our amazing kids
And being blessed to be able to educate and help the world
So be it.

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At April 02, 2008 6:25 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I for one, check this blog every day and cherish everything you write. It makes me feel ok in an otherwise crappy work that I sometimes live in (middle Alabama isn't exactly Gay Family friendly). I am so sorry that this happened and I hope and pray that you NEVER stop blogging here and helping this southern gay Mom out!!!

With much love and a ton of support!


At April 02, 2008 6:29 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was so mad that I typed the word work instead of world.I was typing so fast I didn't think to proof the way, work can be pretty crappy sometimes too!


At April 03, 2008 3:49 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh the troubles and perils of new media! Oh world!
Hate and ignorance has no place in school. Not in college, not in high school, and surely surely at no elementary school that my niece and nephew attend.
I love you guys!
-little sister

At April 07, 2008 8:01 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

But our school is not ignorant and embraces difference. I assume that is why we all chose it. Members of our community were invited to this site when you chose to publicly slander one of us. Whether I support you or not, I ask you to please consider the far reaching ramifications of your actions in the future.

At April 07, 2008 10:06 AM , Blogger Stacey said...

Dear anonymous, if you would like to discuss this issue openly, kindly e-mail me directly. In brief, if you had read the blog or know us, you would know that we have no issue AT ALL, with our school. The outpouring of support we have received from the school and other families has been amazing. The defense to defamation is truth. Think of the long term ramifications of ignorance.


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