When we first started dating, my wife and I had an inside joke we called Tap Tap. Whenever we saw another queer couple, or a rainbow flag, we tapped each other excitedly. We gathered these moments greedily over the decade we lived in Texas. Seeing other couples, and, later, other families, who looked like us, seeing public proclamations of pride, made us feel empowered and visible.
One of the reasons we love Portland is the city’s widespread and visible support for the LGBTQIA+ community: rainbow flags adorn homes and businesses in every neighborhood. Sure, we tap much more often here. But there is still a lingering fear and distrust in my body when coming out to someone new at parenting events, playgrounds, or birthday parties.
Last fall, my wife discovered a group via Instagram called Queering the Family PDX. Tap Tap. We scrolled through photo after photo of families who looked like ours, holding paper plates of pizza, lounging on blankets, blowing bubbles… We knew we had to attend the next meet-up.
When we arrived at the event, my instinct was to tap tap with an extra level of freneticism, and I had to catch my breath. Everyone here is queer, I reminded myself. All of us. When I exhaled, I felt lighter, as if I had released tension I forgot I was carrying. We weren’t the only multiracial family, we weren’t the only ones who used gender-neutral pronouns, we weren’t the only ones with a unique family-building path. We blended in — our child could look around and see his family, his normal, reflected back.
Fueled by a mission “to liberate queer families by fostering environments where we are seen, affirmed, and celebrated,” the members of Queering the Family PDX “envision living in a world where queer families can exist without having to engage in emotional labor or assimilate for the sake of connection, and, instead, can lean into the joys of our culture.” The group has planned park gatherings, a holiday celebration, a parents’ night out, a Spanish-speaking meet-up, and a kid-friendly dance party (with pizza, of course!). A group camping trip is in the works for the future, along with incorporating as a non-profit and engaging in more direct advocacy work. One key detail is that Queering the Family PDX is an explicitly queer space; straight allies are respectfully directed to the group’s Venmo.
Queering the Family PDX does the same thing that rainbow flags do, just on a bigger, more impactful scale. Knowing we’re not alone on this journey to build a better, safer, more inclusive world in the face of discrimination and violence means everything to my family. When it starts to feel like all this living out loud isn’t worth it, when it starts to feel like there’s a huge target on the backs of queer families, there is power in being surrounded by other people who are saying, “We’re here, we’re queer — we’re parenting.”
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