Archive for the ‘gay family services & resources’ Category
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Families in the Desert
Family Equality Council is working hard every day to change attitudes and policies across the country, to ensure that all families are respected, loved, and celebrated—including families with parents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. We are a community who has stood together for 30 years now, to raise our children and our voices toward fairness for all families.
Our Families in the Desert event is a unique experience that brings together LGBT-headed families from across the West Coast for a long weekend, designed to offer LGBT parents and their children the chance to celebrate their diversity, connect with other LGBT-headed families, and join in community conversations about ongoing advocacy for LGBT family equality.
The 2012 Families in the Desert is being presented as part of a series of community events that will honor the Family Equality Council’s 30th anniversary – a year-long national celebration of our commitment to create a better world for LGBT-headed families.
During the weekend of October 26th – October 28th, 2012, LGBT-headed families and their friends will gather for the 2012 Families in the Desert at the Embassy Suites Palm Desert in the glorious Palm Springs area – a beautiful and scenic location, rich with a long history of welcoming the LGBT community.
The 2012 Families in the Desert event offers a unique blend of vacation-style fun and family-style programming. In addition to the wide range of crafts and games for kids during Kidapalooza, we’ll be hosting topic-based Parent Café sessions which provide opportunities for families to discuss important issues with experts in the field.
Our LGBT Family Finance Café will address everything from socially conscious investing, to tax laws that impact LGBT-headed families in particular, to real estate planning. Our Finance panelists include Elana Pianko, Financial Advisor with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, David Ellis with Ellis & Ellis CPAs, Inc., and Eric Lavey, real estate expert for Teles Properties Beverly Hills.
Informal gatherings during the weekend will provide opportunities for families to come together around common interests and experiences. One of our meet-ups will bring families together to discuss family creation and expansion options for the LGBT-headed family community. Experts from Growing Generations, The California Cryobank, and RaiseAChild.US will join us to answer individual questions about everything from public adoption, to IVF, to surrogacy, surrogacy – allowing families to tailor the experience to their needs and interests, discussing the most up-to-date advances in family formation.
Family Equality Council’s new Outspoken Generation program, our signature program for teens and young adults with LGBT parents, will also be spotlighted during Families in the Desert. On Friday evening, a panel of authors will join the youth and their families for a discussion about storytelling, authorship, and the importance of sharing your personal story. Throughout the weekend, these young adults will be introduced to messaging strategies that can have a powerful impact on our efforts to “change hearts and minds.” The weekend will conclude with a Youth Panel where members of the Outspoken Generation can share their stories with our families and other community members.
Finally, our Studio 30 Family Dance Party – our 30th anniversary version of a Studio 54 theme – will take place on Saturday night, featuring face-painting, balloon animals, and a glittery disco ambiance. The night is sure to be unforgettable – to double the fun, we’ll be hosting a Halloween Costume Contest at the dance with surprise prizes!
This is a getaway for LGBT-headed families like no other – see you in Palm Springs!
Families in the Desert is a unique experience that brings together families with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender parents from across the West Coast and beyond for a weekend getaway. The event is designed to offer LGBT parents and their children the chance to celebrate their diversity, connect with their community, and join in conversations about our efforts for family equality.
Families in the Desert 2012 will be held Friday October 26 – Sunday, October 28 at the Embassy Suites Palm Desert.
Families in the Desert is three-day weekend full of family-friendly events – Parent & Youth Cafés, musical performances, children’s book reading and more!
The 2012 Families in the Desert is being presented as part of a series of community events that will honor Family Equality Council’s 30th anniversary – a yearlong national celebration during which we will unveil a renewed commitment to create a better world for our community of LGBT families.
During the Families in the Desert weekend, LGBT families and friends will gather for Families in the Desert 2012 in the glorious Palm Springs area – a beautiful and scenic location, rich with a long history of welcoming the LGBT community.
The 2012 Families in the Desert’s unique blend of the vacation experience and family-style programming will include:
•Parent & Youth Cafés
•Activity options, like swimming, hiking, tennis, and badminton
•Arts and crafts
•Seasonal events, like a costume contest, face-painting and prize giveaways
•A magical Saturday Night family event
•And fun galore!
This is a getaway for LGBT families like no other – see you in Palm Springs!
A.J. Walkley is the author of Queer Greer and an out and proud bisexual. As an advocate for sexual diversity, LGBT and bisexual rights, Walkley has spoken from East Coast to West Coast about equality for all sexualities and gender identities. She wrote Queer Greer about a teenage girl coming to terms with her sexuality after realizing the lack of literature available for LGBT teens, specifically bisexual teens, and aimed to publish the book she would have wanted to have read when coming into her own sexuality in high school and college. Walkley also wrote and edited for Rainbow Rumpus for two years from 2007-2009, understanding the needs of LGBT-headed families. Originally from Connecticut, Walkley currently resides in Phoenix, AZ, where she writes for The Huffington Post about LGBT-related issues.
David Ellis is the managing partner of Ellis & Ellis CPAs, Inc. He has over 25 years of experience in the practice of divorce, LGBT, and other family tax matters. His clients include a public company, and he is a tax advisor to the Los Angeles County Office of the Public Guardian. The firm also provides other general tax services and IRS representation. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Southern California in Communications Arts and Sciences. He is a popular writer and speaker on various tax subjects, and has provided continuing education services to other CPAs and tax professionals in the area of divorce taxation.
Elana Pianko joined Morgan Stanley Smith Barney to pioneer the creation of socially responsible financial investment strategies for high net worth clients, corporations and foundations. She believes that corporate responsibility and greater societal concerns should be integral to the investment decision-making process. Elana’s goal is to help preserve and grow her clients’ wealth utilizing socially responsible investment strategies to help ensure a better world for future generations. Elana sits on the Advisory Council for Morgan Stanley Smith Barney Investment with Impact and has earned her Accredited Domestic Partnership Advisor designation. Her key clients are socially responsible investors, domestic partners, business owners, women, families, foundations and corporations.
Amity P. Buxton, PhD, Founder of the Straight Spouse Network and member of Family Equality’s Emeritus Board, has taught almost every grade from preschool to graduate school and trained teachers K-12. Since 1986, she’s written, researched, given workshops, and presented about effects on families when a husband or wife comes out. This year, two co-authored books were published: Herbert the Hedgehog: A Story about Acceptance and Unseen-Unheard: The Journey of Straight Spouses.
Posted February 12, 2012on:
Chad Griffin, Patrick Murphy and Todd Parr Honored
It was a glorious ending to a historic week. The timing of Family Equality Council’s Los Angeles Awards dinner on February 11, and the choice of star honoree Chad Griffin, could not have been more apropos, coinciding with a major victory on February 7 in the fight for marriage equality.
More than 375 guests at the event cheered with gusto as the leader of the American Foundation for Equal Rights took the stage at Universal Studios’ Globe Theatre to accept props for his momentous work to overturn California’s Proposition 8. Griffin and the crowd were galvanized by U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruling earlier in the week, which upheld that the 2008 amendment banning same-sex couples from marriage is unconstitutional.
Griffin, who attended the awards dinner last year, when Prop 8 plaintiffs Kris and Sandy Stier and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarillo were honored, accepted his award decreeing, “I will come back for a third time next year, and we will celebrate a Supreme Court decision that affirms that all Americans have equal rights under the law, and that includes the right to marry.”
Executive Director of Family Equality Council, Jennifer Chrisler, echoed Griffin’s sentiments as she declaring that a the 30-year-old organization, whose mission is to connect, support, and represent the one million lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) parents raising two million children in the U.S., will continue to fight for the rights of all families.
“Our honorees have given us renewed hope that future generations will look back on this time and know that this was the moment when we achieved real milestones in changing attitudes and laws so that our families were respected, protected, and celebrated.
As the group reveled in the past week’s victory and reflected on the successes and challenges of its past, kicking off a year-long celebration of its 30th anniversary, a resounding sentiment among the leadership, members and supporters present was that hiring Chrisler seven years ago was one of their chief accomplishments.
Chrisler, who along with her partner Cheryl Jacques , is mother of twin boys and expectant mom-to-be of a third child, proudly displayed her baby bump and took to the podium modestly waving off the cheers of her adoring constituents and a glowing introduction proclaiming her “Mother of the LGBT family movement.”
“We will not stop until all our families, our children, and their children, are treated equal,” avowed Chrisler.
Most of the evening was G-rated, excepting the remarks by writer/director and activist Rob Reiner, who presented the award to Griffin, asserting that Griffin’s court challenge took big balls. Reiner proceeded to ask Griffin’s partner in the audience to affirm that they were indeed, very big, prompting family size laughs from the crowd.
Other honorees were former Pennsylvania Representative Patrick Murphy, who helped lead opposition to the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and Todd Parr, the award-winning children’s book author. Special guests and awards presenters included “Modern Family” stars Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson, the latter who performed a humorous tune about the joys of every day parenting.
The event raised more than $400,000, including $93,000 pledged during the night by attendees and a matching donation of $75,000 by a major donor.
As would be expected of an organization of parents, who needed to get back home to relieve babysitters, the well-produced program went along at a snappy pace, ending before 10 pm, with guests taking home a copy of honoree Parr’s delightful bedtime read, The Family Book.
NEW STUDY: TEENS OF LESBIAN PARENTS ARE JUST AS HAPPY AS TEENS RAISED BY DIFFERENT-SEX COUPLES
AMSTERDAM – January 12, 2012 – The quality of life of 17-year-olds reared in lesbian-parent families did not differ from that of a matched group of adolescents who grew up in heterosexual-parent families, according to a new study published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. “Consistently, over the past three decades, researchers have found that the daughters and sons of same-sex parents are psychologically well-adjusted. And now our new data demonstrate that 17-year-olds raised from birth by lesbian mothers are as happy as their peers,” said lead author Loes van Gelderen, MSc, University of Amsterdam.
The study also found, among teens with lesbian mothers, no difference in quality of life based on donor status (whether they had been conceived by known or unknown donors), experienced stigmatization (whether or not they had experienced discrimination), or maternal relationship continuity (whether their mothers were still together or had separated).
“The favorable outcomes for these adolescents are a reflection of good parenting by mothers who prepared their daughters and sons for the prospect of adversity,” said Principal Investigator Nanette Gartrell, MD, of the Williams Institute.
In the study, Quality of Life of Adolescents Raised From Birth by Lesbian Mothers, 78 17-year-olds with lesbian mothers were matched on gender, age, parental education, and ethnic background with adolescents in heterosexual-parent families that were drawn from a representative statewide sample. The adolescents in both groups gave a numerical score (0 = minimum; 10= maximum) to each of a series of statements such as, “I feel I’m getting along with my parents/guardians,” “I look forward to the future,” and ”I feel good about myself.”
The adolescents with lesbian mothers responded generally in the same way as the teenagers with heterosexual parents The data in the new report comes from adolescents whose families are participants in the National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study (NLLFS), the longest-running and largest prospective investigation of lesbian mothers and their children in the United States. Initiated by Nanette Gartrell, MD, in 1986, the NLLFS examines the social, psychological, and emotional development of the children as well as the dynamics of planned lesbian families.
This study was conducted by Loes van Gelderen, MSc. (University of Amsterdam), Henny Bos, PhD (University of Amsterdam; Williams Visiting International Scholar 2012), Nanette Gartrell, MD (University of Amsterdam; 2011-12 Williams Institute Visiting Distinguished Scholar ), Jo Hermanns, PhD (University of Amsterdam), and Ellen C. Perrin, MD (Floating Hospital, Tufts Medical Center, Boston, MA).
Boston, MA - (May 26, 2011) – The Family Equality Council, America’s foremost advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) families, today predicted LGBT families will continue to travel in robust numbers during the summer season despite the rising cost of airfare and gas prices as well as current economic conditions. The traditional summer travel season kicks off this Memorial Day weekend.
Brent Wright, Director of Programming for Family Equality Council, said LGBT families see their summer travel experiences as more than just discretionary vacations.
“Our families tell us that they place a high value on the opportunity to take their children to destinations they consider life-affirming and culturally enriching as well as fun,” said Wright. “This is the one time of year where some LGBT families feel free to celebrate their diversity and make connections with other parts of their community.”
Wright said there are more than 1 million LGBT parents raising 2 million children in the U.S. today. Millions more same-sex couples and individuals without children will choose to travel with parents, grandparents, siblings and extended families.
Aside from theme parks and camp experiences, many LGBT families choose community-oriented vacations with other LGBT parents, children and families.
“After Memorial Day, the first of these types of “gay-cations” are local gay pride events,” said Wright. “Cities like Boston and Washington D.C are increasingly planning special activities and programming dedicated to families. That’s also beginning to happen in smaller communities as well. What’s great about Pride is that it helps children understand at an early age that they are part of a greatly diverse and extended family of folks. Although not all of the events are age-appropriate, we do find that Pride is becoming more and more family-oriented.”
Wright says the Family Equality Council will have a presence at the Minneapolis, Boston and Washington D.C Pride events and encourages families to reach out to local organizers in their cities to learn how their families can also participate.
One of the best known family-friendly gay vacations will happen from July 30 – August 6 when families will attend the largest gathering of LGBT families in the country for Family Week 2011. The week-long event, in Provincetown MA, will include programming for children of all ages, from toddlers to teens, community-building workshops, cafés as well as beach parties, family games and a family parade.
“This is one of the events that LGBT families look forward to all year,” said Wright. “When they come, their focus is not only on getting away from it all, but also on coming to a place where their families feel welcomed and celebrated.”
That same sense of LGBT community connection will be emphasized at R Family Vacation’s full-resort charter, from July 9 to July 16, at Club Med Sandpiper Bay in Pt. Saint Lucie, Florida. The trip will include world-class entertainment with Broadway and TV stars, a circus school, R Family Theatre camp as well as tennis, golf and swimming facilities. Parents and kids will enjoy special programming provided by Family Equality Council. In August, R Family is also taking a large LGBT group to Greece.
“Our vacations have an amazing impact on the kids, the parents and the extended family and friends,” said R Family Co-founder Gregg Kaminsky “Why compromise your lifestyle when you have the option to travel with your own community to some incredible destinations?”
Kaminsky and Wright both said that there are vacation options for LGBT families who might decide to stay closer to home. They recommend reaching out to other LGBT families as well as local LGBT parenting groups and community centers to create group “gay-cations”. R Family will soon offer three weekend getaways to Texas, Philadelphia, and Vegas.
“Sharing a vacation to the beach, campground or local amusement park are great ways for our families to have fun, contain costs and still make those connections for their kids,” said Wright.
Kaminsky added, “Our community has always had an inclusive definition of family. So spend the summer with the people you like, love and can laugh with.”
Series Helps to Fill Gaps in Bookstores and Library Offerings, Provide Vital Tool for Educators and Parents
MINNEAPOLIS, May 23, 2011— Rainbow Rumpus, the online magazine for kids and teens with LGBT parents, is launching a free series of downloadable books designed to fight bullying and promote acceptance. Each book tells a story about a child with lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender parents, and gives parents and teachers tools for talking about family diversity. The newest title, “Same, Same,” focuses on two pre-schoolers whose friendship founders when one learns to do something the other cannot. The main character’s fathers support her as she figures out what to do. Young children from all types of families will identify with the friendship dilemma the characters face, be enthralled by the rhythm of the language, and enjoy the opportunity to create illustrations on the interior pages of the book.
There has been an overwhelmingly warm reception to the series with families and teachers downloading an average of 50 books per month in 2011. “We can’t find any books in the bookstores and libraries where we live,” noted one parent. “We’re so glad these are here.” The picture books are available at http://www.rainbowrumpus.org/htm/printable.htm .
The series has been recognized as an important new tool by both educators and curriculum developers. “These types of books are difficult to find at the library,” noted one teacher, “and I think it’s important to have them in the classroom.” The benefits to students are enhanced by a teachers’ guide included with each title. Welcoming Schools, a HRC sponsored curriculum which combats bullying, lists Rainbow Rumpus’ picture books as a useful resource. The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) also works to increase awareness of the books among educators.
Posted May 20, 2011on:
May 29 Finale on E! Features Benefit for LGBTQ Suicide Prevention Group
We’ve seen them laugh, we’ve seen them cry and boy have we seen them dance! Now, as the season finale of THE DANCE SCENE approaches Team Boomkack is ready to go out with a bang. Be sure to tune- in on May 29th for the final episode of the premiere season of THE DANCE SCENE at 10:30 PM ET/PT following Khloe & Lamar on E!
All season long viewers have seen the show’s star, Laurieann Gibson, and her team break a serious sweat with A-list artists and promising new talents. From music video shoots to fashion shows, and even across the pond to London, Team Boomkack has been giving their all to keep up with Laurieann’s demands.
In the final episode, the group has been asked to perform at a benefit for The Trevor Project, a charity organization that is dedicated to end suicide among LGBTQ youth by providing life-saving and life-affirming resources, including a nationwide, 24/7 crisis intervention lifeline, digital community and advocacy/educational programs that create a safe, supportive and positive environment for everyone.
Laurieann is extremely passionate about this organization and its mission, and this particular gig holds a special place in Kherington’s heart as she tearfully confesses that she lost her cousin to suicide the year before. As viewers can attest, Laurieann is always pushing Kherington to the brink because she believes in her potential and she uses this opportunity to encourage Kherington to connect with her emotions like never before and give the performance of her lifetime in honor of her cousin.
For the past seven weeks viewers have also been privy to an intimate look at the private lives of Team Boomkack. Will Sarah give fellow dancer Paul another chance despite how he has failed as boyfriend in the past? And what does the future hold for Laurieann and her long-term boyfriend and business partner Joe? Can she balance their new public relationship, her crazy work schedule and, perhaps even children? Find out when the season finale of THE DANCE SCENE airs on May 29th on E!
Posted January 31, 2011on:
Thanks to my official photographer and unofficial BFF Jen Frankovitz for capturing the event with her artist’s eye.
This morning I got my blog readership data from WordPress, and I earned a “WOW rating!” More than 10,000 readers visited my blog in 2010, up from last year and growing! Thanks!
My opinion of my best-written pieces didn’t necessarily match up with the most-read. Though I think it was well-written, I would have never suspected that my top post of the year would have been The Sweethearts Valentine’s Day Gift Guide. Hope that means lots of gals got some great V-day gifts!
Where did they come from?
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that one of my favorite blogs (and organizations), Family Equality Council, was a top referer! Also, I was gratified to know that my very basic little web site served its purpose of sending readers my way. The top referring sites in 2010 were outwithmommy.com, facebook.com, familyequality.org, en.wordpress.com, and mail.live.com.
Some visitors came searching, mostly for life as we know it, lesbian cougar, legends of the guardian, lesbian cougars, and sunbeam tabletop popcorn maker.
Attractions in 2010
These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010. Here are all of the year’s most-viewed posts:
Win Prizes from Legends of the Guardian: The Owls of Ga’HooleSeptember 2010
THANKS to all who read. I hope to deliver more material of interest in 2011, time willing!
Happy New Year!
For all of you in LA, this show has a great line up and will raise $ for the fight against Prop H8. Please buy tickets and go if you can. It will be a hilarious show. Remember, Groundlings has been the training ground for some of today’s biggest talent in comedy (famous alumni include Will Ferrell, Paul Reubens aka Pee Wee, Kristen Wiig, Phil Hartman, etc.).
A Special Benefit Performance for Marriage Equality on November 2nd
Los Angeles, CA (October 24, 2010)– The Groundlings Theatre is coming out… for one night only. Join us on Tuesday, November 2nd for a hilarious night of gay-themed sketches and improv as Groundlings Goes Gay for A Good Cause! supports the ongoing fight against Proposition 8.
All of the proceeds from the benefit will go directly to the American Foundation for Equal Rights. The American Foundation for Equal Rights is dedicated to protecting and advancing equal rights, for every American. Through its groundbreaking federal court case against California’s Proposition 8, The Foundation is leading the fight for marriage equality and equality under the law for every American.
Join Groundlings and Groundlings alumni Tim Bagley, Jordan Black, Patrick Bristow, Stephanie Courtney, Rachael Harris, Mike Hitchcock, David Jahn, Kevin Kirkpatrick, Charlotte Newhouse, Jeremy Rowley, Lisa Schurga, Mitch Silpa, Alex Staggs and special guests. Karen Murayama directs this special performance.
The Groundlings will be gay for one night only
– Tuesday, November 2nd at 8:00pm. Tickets are $50.00, cocktails will be provided and 100% of proceeds go towards the American Foundation for Equal Rights. Tickets are available at the box office or via phone at (323) 934-4747 ext. 37. The Groundlings Theatre is located at 7307 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles.
For more information or to purchase tickets online, please visit www.Groundlings.com.
I was thrilled recently to attend the one-year anniversary party for The Next Family, a wonderful site that enlightens, enriches and inspires with its portrayal of an array of loving families of all types. Founder Brandy Black, whom I meet at the LA pride parade of ago, has been an incredibly energetic and positive-spirited force that has made the site a success in all ways.
As the site has grows in followers and contributors (which I am proud to consider myself one), it grows in depth, richness and significance. More and more diverse families are created everyday, and The Next Family provides a place for information, support and belonging.
Congrats to Brandy and all those who have helped to build the site and make it the terrific destination for families out there!
Here are a few pics from the party, atop the glamourous Hollywood Tower Rooftop.
Posted October 13, 2010on:
Fun, games and activism were the order of the weekend at the annual Families in the Desert event, as sponsored by Family Equality Council on October 8-10 in Palm Desert, Calif.,
Held at the Embassy Suites Palm Desert in Palm Desert, Calif., the event, now in its fifth year, resembled a summer camp for LGBT families, where family meals, pool games, movie night, BBQ and s’mores, an African animals safari and other activities brought together 60 families from San Diego, Los Angeles, and across the West Coast to meet other families like theirs, enjoy fun family activities and learn how to get involved in their community and make a difference in the lives of LGBT families.
At the annual State of the Movement address, Family Equality Council executive director Jennifer Chrisler updated families on current laws and policies affecting LGBT families and the efforts by FEC to lobby for fairness for our families. Christer urged parents to become activists, even though she understands why many parents are hesitant.
“There’s a tendency of LGBT parents to want to normalize our lives for our children. We don’t want them to experience thier childhood differently from other children who do not have LGBT parents. But then we are forgetting our jobs as parents, which is to make the world a better place for our kids,” she said.
Family Equality Council is living proof that charity begins in the home, as the group continues to grow in size and stature as the number of LGBT families continues to grow. Currently FEC boasts a staff of 14 and an annual budget of $2 million, earning Chrisler and LGBT families a place at the table with the heavy hitters of the LGBT movement as issues of LGBT parents and their children become part of the mainstream of the LGBT movement.
Next weekend my partner and I are headed to Palm Desert to part-tay, with sippy cups in hand. Our three-year-old son will be along too as we join an estimated 60 LGBT families October 8-10 for some wild GLBT family fun, including rubber ducky races and a wildlife show, all part of Families in the Desert, sponsored by the Family Equality Council.
It’s still Palm Springs though, or at least the vicinity, so our first stop will be the pool at host hotel Embassy Suites Palm Desert, but instead of dykes with Nerf footballs and boy-shorts, the scene will be tykes in swim diapers and floaties. After fun in the sun, there’s family trivia, followed by a great big gay family dinner and karaoke and dessert. It reminds me of the family vacations of my childhood, if my parents had been gay and all their other parent friends were gay.
Times, they are a changing, and this refrain is echoed by the choice of Family Equality Council to host their event for the past several years in Palm Springs, home of the Dinah and the White Party. Just like their choice of Provincetown for the annual Family Week in August, it’s a sign of the times that our community’s adult playgrounds are now the playgrounds for our children.
“It is important to FEC that we hold events in communities that are welcoming and supportive of the LGBT community. We also want them to be accessible to large populations of LGBT parents,” says Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of FEC.
Chrisler, mom of twin boys with her partner Cheryl Jacques, is a regular fixture at all of the events, ever playing the host and making everyone feel at home. If charity starts in the home, so does community, with Chrisler as the indefatigable super mom overseeing her amazingly efficient staff and a top-tier team of volunteers who put on these regional events as well as a series of fundraisers and community-building events around the country.
As someone who’s been to more galas, awards dinners and community networking events than I can shake a plate of chicken or an Absolute cocktail at, I vouch that FEC holds some of the most organized and entertaining events out there for the GLBT community, and it figures a mom is running the show.
This upcoming weekend includes programming for both kids and adults, including educational sessions on topics such as battling homophobia, dealing with gay bullies and the process of adoption. Chrisler will lead a keynote workshop entitled The State of the Movement with an update on the work FEC does to forward its mission of ensuring GLBT families are recognized, respected, protected and celebrated.
Other activities for the whole family include a family BBQ, storytelling and s’mores, a special screening of the film “Expecting Mary” www.expectingmary.com at The Living Desert Museum, a safari tour, and a Wildlife Wonders Show of the animals of the African Desert. Teens and ‘tweens will have their own meet-and-greet mixer, chaperoned of course. Leaving no detail unattended, FEC provides free babysitting by professional child care providers so that parents can attend adult sessions.
It’s no wonder that families come from all over the country, and even as far as Australia, to come together with other GLBT families at these events for affirmation, enrichment and inspiration to make a difference in our children’s lives.
“We hope to deliver an event that our families value as an opportunity to strengthen their ties to the LGBT parenting community and a place where they continue to learn from each other how to navigate the journey of LGBT parenthood,” said Chrisler. “It’s also an opportunity to see old friends and meet new ones and enjoy some much-earned time off with your family.”
I know I speak for the rest of the grateful GLBT parents when I say, “Thanks mom.”
For more information, go to www.familyequality.org/desert
Family Equality Council Hosts Annual Families in the Desert for LGBT Parents and Kids
On our way to dining and art walk adventures last night, we went by Crown & Anchor, one of the landmark gay bars of P’town, where Family Equality Council set up Family Week headquarters, but alas we were too late and they had wrapped up registration for the day. We had planned to go to the family beach picnic and campfire, but with high winds whipping up, and us feeling daunted by the prospect of finding where to catch the Provincetown shuttle to get us to the Truro beach point landing, we opted to pass on what would have been our first official Family Week activity. Better luck tomorrow.
Again, best of intentions. Our itenerary had us up at 8:30 am and heading to Family Week’s Little Gatherings for Little Ones, arts & crafts, games and a bounce house for ages 4 and under. Perfect! But at 8:30 rolled around, Stephen was still snoozing, so we set our sights on the next scheduled activity at 10 am.
Stephen finally awoke around 9 am.
After several trips to the breakfast extravaganza at our B&B, feeling replenished with fresh fruit and warm muffins, we set out on our day-two mission: get a stroller and get to Ptown High School for the 10 am to 12 noon Rainbow Friends Activity Time for ages 3 to 8. On a tip from our friends who we had met last night, we went looking for Arnold’s bike rentals, where we heard we could rent a stroller. Already temperatures were souring to the 80s with high humidity. Not only was the weather not good for hair, it was tiring to be out in it dragging around a preschooler who would rather run into the street and pick up and throw rocks every few steps. Hot and sticky, we trudged onward, slowly but surely. Only the slowly part went very slowly, partly owing to a short stop for Stephen get a balloon hat from a man entertaining children from a bench in front of Town Hall. Before we could get to Arnold’s, we realized we’d missed half of the activity time, so we detoured straight to the high school to catch what we could of the program.
The high school was a beautiful classic old building, the kind you’d see in a movie set in a stately old New England town. The staff who greeted us were friendly and helpful in guiding us to the room for 3 year olds. We stopped off first in the auditorium, which was dark and cool. Kids on the stage were laughing and running around, playing a game with the staff, all outfitted in orange T-shirts. As we found at every Family Week sponsored event, everything was impressively organized and orderly.
We placed Stephen in a room with about 15 other kids his age who were being supervised by half a dozen orange-shirted staff who were keeping them all happy and in line with games, crafts, songs and other activities. We stayed and watched for about 10 minutes, ever the overly protective parents, and when we realized Stephen had totally forgotten about us, we crept out to the parents’ program downstairs.
Family Equality executive director Jennifer Chrisler was speaking on several subjects: State of the Movement Address; then Talking to Your Children about Being in an LGBT Family; followed by Schools and Our Families with Stephanie Hazen and Tricia McCarthay, two experts on the topic. It was a standing-room-only crowd, so we stood outside the doorway to catch what we could of the program, which again, was highly organized and professionally presented.
After the program let out, we headed back to the activity room where Stephen was enjoying a rousing chorus of Ring Around the Rosies. We signed him out (again, the organizers had the entire process down to a science), and went on our way into town, finally got a rental stroller and strolled to the Crown & Anchor for lunch. We figured we should patronize the restaurant/bar since they had been so generous to host Family Equality’s registration for the week, but honestly we did not expect much in the way of cuisine. We we were very pleasantly surprised that our lobster mac-n-cheese and lobster lunch (when in New England…) would be the most delicious meal of our visit! We also had a terrific server who brought us a cup of Crayons upon our arrival for Stephen to draw right on the table, covered with a paper roll.
After lunch we swam in the Crown & Anchor pool which was open to the families attending Family Week every day leading into a daily family happy hour at the bar! The scene was like any resort pool, crowded with kids and parents, except on closer inspection one would notice all the couples were of the same sex. Completely wholesome.
After lunch and swimming, it was nap time. Back at the inn we rested up for our next adventure, a guided sunset tour of the dunes. When we booked our tour we learned just how unaccustomed P’town was of pint-sized tourists. None of the cars in the fleet of Chevy Suburban’s at Art’s Dune Tours www.artsdunetours.com had a child car seat. Thanks to the kind folks at Dorel, makers of children’s gear, we accessorized one of the trucks with a hot pink Cosco Scenera car seat ($59.99, Target) which not only provides a secure ride with a 5-point harness and a clear view with an up-high profile for tiny travelers but is also ultra lightweight and comes with its own plastic carry bag which makes it perfect for air travel. Art, the owner of the tour company took one look at the bright pink seat and declared, “It’s perfect for P’town!”
Off we went for our off-road tour experience through the heart of the National Historic District of the Cape Cod National Seashore Park. There we saw the majestic dunes where our guide pointed out the “dune shacks” where famous artists and writers like Eugene O’Neill and Harry Kemp became inspired to create their art. We also passed the remains of the Peaked Hill Life Saving Station and learned how the brave “life savers” enacted their heroic efforts to save the lives of thousands from the doomed shipwrecks.
The climatic moment of the tour was the sunset, for which our trucks pulled over near the shore for us to enjoy sitting on the beach. Some of our fellow tourists brought blankets, picnic baskets and wine. Stephen was unimpressed as we watched the sun dip into the Atlantic, preferring us to chase him into the water where he would shriek and run away as the waves crashed. We didn’t mind his shenanigans, as it was a great way for him to burn off energy before our dinner at a fine dining restaurant.
After landing back at Standish Street where our dune tour dropped us off, we hurried to get to dinner at the Waterford Inn, Cafe & Tavern (386 Commercial Street, 508-487-6400, www.thewaterfordinn.com) where we were already late for our 8 pm reservation. The host was gracious about our tardiness and seated us with a smile.
Despite the fact that the restaurant catered to discerning palettes and tastes, we were pleasantly surprised to find a cup of Crayons on the table and we were handed a kids menu. Then we learned why this elegant establishment was so kid friendly when we met the wonderfully affable proprietor Al Gordon, who quickly bonded with Stephen, making it evident he was a family man. Al told us he had two children of his own, so he sympathized with parents who often feel children are not welcome at gourmet restaurants, so he strived to make the environment at Waterford Inn inviting for families while still providing the upscale atmosphere that the adult diners seek in a fine dining experience. He succeeded!
To fully appreciate the Waterford Inn experience, we ordered several of the house specialties. We started with the lobster sliders, mini lobster salad sandwiches served on home baked brioche minis with Asian slaw; and the Waterford wedge, a flavorful iceberg wedge topped with shitake mushrooms, sun dried cranberries and homemade bleu cheese dressing. We followed with the Asian tuna entree of seasame enrusted and seared rare tuna with orange soy reduction, wasabi mashed potatoes and steamed bok choy; and the filet au poive, a succulent tenderloin griled with cracked pepper and served over goat demi glace with potatoes au gratin and asparagus.
A delicious ending to our delightful day.