KGO anchor Pete Wilson's idiotic remark calling the birth of Supervisor Bevan Dufty and his friend Rebecca Goldfader's baby Sidney a "travesty" resulted in a firestorm which brought the reality of gay parenting into sharp public focus. Once, parenthood might have seemed to gay men like an exotic tourist destination across the ocean... More and more, however, gay men are snapping up real estate and putting down roots on the "Father Shore." According to the Urban Institute, between 1990 and 2000, the percent of gay male households including at least one child had quadrupled, from 5% to 20%...
What's striking to me is how invisible these men often remain in our community. Until I started doctoring them, I had no idea how many gay men in San Francisco were parenting. Some would say the absence of gay parents from gay culture isn't an accident that "gay parent" is an oxymoron, that the two worlds collide. And Pete Wilson is hardly the only person to suggest gay life and parenthood are incompatible. An April 2006 story in the Los Angeles Times, for example, illustrated the tensions resulting from the increased presence of families with children in the Castro. Concerned over how the street's racy storefront displays might affect their kids, parents - straight and gay - complained to the city. Traditional gay activists countered that there's only one neighborhood in all the world with as unabashed an embrace of gay sex as the Castro, and if parents - straight or gay - don't like it, well, they can live elsewhere.
I live on Castro St. at the Noe Valley/Castro border, and I confess that I've started to wonder how I really feel about Liko seeing posters of men in bondage getup, striking provocatively explicit poses - which, as Loftus notes, is a dilemma that unites gay and straight parents. (I'm actually curious if readers, especially older parents with a bit more perspective, have any thoughts on the issue.) Loftus continues:
What does all this mean for the cultures of gay men in San Francsico and the world-at-large? To my mind, it’s a welcome annex to the ever-expanding Winchester Mystery House of queer life-paths. I also see it challenging assumptions about gay culture, both by enemies external to our communities, but also by those within LGBT cultures. Recent efforts on behalf of gay marriage, for example, have uncovered rifts in our ranks, as radicals worry advocacy for presumably monogamous LGBT marriages may neglect, even undermine, queers with less “conventional” lifestyles. Some may see queers who choose parenting and family paths as “sell-outs” betraying “true” LGBT culture.
Of course that’s ridiculous, and provincial. When you consider that the Castro twenty years ago had taken on the icy pall of a ghost town due to AIDS, its present-day rejuvenation—including the patter of a few tiny feet—is a sign of resilience. What could be a better symbol of hope in the face of so much death, than the smattering of baby carriages and snugglies now spotted amongst the next generation of gay men walking its streets?
Well, it'll be interesting to see how the Castro - and queer families - will evolve over the next several years, and what differences and what common ground they'll find with straight families, both traditional and non-traditional.