In the continuing saga that is my fangirl relationship with Ms. Melissa Etheridge, I got to be a call-in guest on her Radio Show. It all started when post-bothering her at breakfast, I came home to see whether I might continue to bug her, preferably through social media. Though I was sad to find her missing from Twitter, some consolation was found in the discovery of her aforementioned radio show. Who knew she was a radio personality?
On the website for her show there was a contact form to fill out if you wanted to talk to her. They offered the chance to call-in to Melissa! Well, I pounced on the chance and filled out the form, explaining my run-in with her and how I’d love to talk to her about gay parenting.
In the end we did talk parenting a tad, but the gay part wasn’t mentioned. What happened was that they called me one morning and asked if I wanted to join in on a conversation about who I’d rather meet the president or a big celebrity. They mentioned that back in the day everyone would have picked the president but that it was no longer the case. I’d much rather meet Obama than Brad Pitt, but if it was Bush being talked about the story would be different. They said they’d call me back in a minute because the connection was bad.
I formulated some cool response about how it comes down to the impact people perceive either of the profferred figures had on their lives. Like people care to meet those that matter, that have somehow touched their lives. It used to be people felt the President, regardless of Party, had the greatest power over their lives. People might not feel that way as much these days given all the talk of corporate interests running things behind the scenes. I knew I wouldn’t get a chance to say all of that but I figure’d I could come across smart. They never called me back. I called them twenty minutes later, cold tea in hand, and they said they’d try to call a bunch of times but it hadn’t gone through. It happens sometimes, they said, and promised to give me a call again in the next couple of days.
I was bummed. But early the next week, as I was clocking hours at my own personal version of the office, aka the playground, who should call? The guy from the radio show. This time he asks me if I consider myself a patient person or an impatient person? I think I’m somewhere in between, personally, but since I was at that moment rather patiently following a two year old aorund a park I thought, let’s go patient. He asked if that meant that extended into my tech life- So I don’t pay the extra money to overnight things and such? I thought about my old-ass computer at home and how being broke really does train one patience wise. Yep- definitely not overnighting things. This time he put me on hold and when a few minutes later it reconnected, Melissa Etheridge was the voice on the line.
Hey, We’ve got Kellen on the line who says she’s patient and do I hear children in the background? Because kids will definitely require someone to be patient…We bandied about over the idea of patience being really tied to staying in the present moment and about how kids will force one to be present as well. She mentioned a line about the present being a gift.I said something about how I bet she was a great parent and she said, well, now you’re just being sweet. It was pretty sweet all around. Although, I didn’t get to mention meeting her. She has a real knack for framing short interactions gracefully, saying well, thanks for calling Kellen as she leads me off the line once I’ve given my soundbite on patience.
I call a mom immediately to brag about it. Afterwards a mother at the park tells me that she couldn’t help but overhear and did I really just talk to Melissa Etheridge? I’d say only in Hollywood folks, but I’m pretty sure you can call-in from anywhere.
Zach Wahls has gone viral. The video of the handsome young man speaking to the Iowa legislature on the subject of his lesbian mothers has been viewed over fifteen million times. He has become the face of children with gay parents for a large part of society. He sat down with Ellen Degeneres, he’s writing a book. The response to the video has been overwhelming. Though it originally came out last year, in the past few weeks it’s been sent around the internet with the kind of fervor usually reserved for cat videos. I was sent it by at least thirty Facebook friends, each of whom must have thought upon seeing it- I know someone with gay moms, I better send it their way. Thanks guys- I got it.
Reading over what people posted in the comments section, I was struck by how many people’s minds were changed by the viewing, Marines and Baptists who, once devout homophobes, had been shown the light. There is something about the speech he gives that is so identifiable, so trustworthy and persuasive that it makes you want to vote for him,(many people have suggested he go into politics) or buy whatever he’s selling. The comments on the video lean heavily towards proposals of romance, from both men and women. If I didn’t realize that I’m ten years too old for him, I’d probably give it a shot. It’s no surprise everyone wants to marry him.
He’s just so perfectly American. Sweet, Wholesome, perhaps even slightly sanitized- though when he offered the Reddit community the chance to ask him anything he was refreshingly candid about his porn viewing habits. He comes across as hardworking, loyal and achingly earnest. If you didn’t pay attention to his being an engineer, you might assume he’s a farmer- he’s got a touch of salt-of-the- earth charm. I think it’s the line- “We’re Iowans. We don’t expect anyone to solve our problems for us. We’ll fight our own battles. We just hope for equal and fair treatment for our government.” In another moment he goes a tad Italian, his hands folded in front of him, a slight jersey lilt to his voice. Then he strikes a more preacher like tone, a man on a pulpit. He settles eventually into the stride of a natural orator, passionate but in control. He lists his academic achievements and tells the chairman he thinks he’d make him proud if he was his son.
He is the perfect representative for us, I just wish that we didn’t need someone quite so Perfect. We shouldn’t all have to be Eagle Scouts. Our families right to exist shouldn’t hinge on being well spoken, well educated and well behaved. We should allowed to be starving artists, rabble rousers and dilletantes like everyone else…
I also felt some concern with his ending. He says, “In my 19 years, not once have I ever been confronted by an individual who realized independently that I was raised by a gay couple, And you know why? Because the sexual orientation of my parents has had zero affect on the content of my character.” Because being raised in the gay community had a huge influence on who I am (check out my blog post for Inculture parent magazine, “Why Gay Parents are Superior”). Why are we back to pretending we are like everyone else?
I spent a bit of time playing normal in the media myself. In seventh grade- 1993 – I appeared on CNN to speak about having lesbian moms. The soundbite chosen was very much in line with Zach’s perspective. I said something to the effect of, “We’re like any other American family. We eat dinner, they help me with my homework, we watch television.” The discourse centered around us proving our normalcy, as though that were the trade for equality. We promise we’re normal and therefore deserving of your acceptance. In the years that came after, I slowly changed my arguments in the media towards a perspective that celebrated the differences in our families instead of trying to downplay them. There is something frustrating and sad for me in the fact that twenty years later we are back in the same place dialogue wise.
That being said, I have always believed in dealing with what is instead of dwelling on how we wish things were and in that case Zach Wahls is the perfect person to convince middle America that Gays parenting people is alright. I am much less normal and it would be a burden to have to pretend otherwise. So thank you Zach, from all of us freaks. Fight on!