Thursday, February 14, 2008


Last week, Dani and I went to an Ourstory (local lgbt history project) event. This involved bumping into people that we both knew many years ago – Dani more than me, really. Back in the days of Section 28, twenty years ago, Dani was a high profile local activist. She was massively involved in the campaign against the Section. That was how we met. Everyone knew who Dani was, even if they didn’t know her well. I was one of several admirers and it was strange to be there as the one she ended up with! It really took me back, to find myself in a room full of people greeting her with joy, while I waited for her. I honestly used to agree to dates at 10.45pm (after the meeting and in time for last orders!) and find out where she was by checking listings of meetings and benefits.

Anyway, what I wanted to blog was a bizarre comment that was made to Dani from a woman at the event. I didn’t know her but she knew Dani and knew that there were kids in the picture.

“How old are your kids now, Dani?”

“ten and seven”

“Oh, so they’re getting to be interesting people now then?”

“They’ve been interesting all along…”

In that moment I felt the great distance that parenthood has placed between much of the lesbian and gay scene and me. I still couldn’t live in a place that didn’t have a big gay community. I love to sit (as I did for a while this week) at the bus stop in St James’ Street and watch the boys and girls go by. I love it that my kids were petting some Chihuahuas there a while ago and their, mega-camp, owner told the kids that the dogs’ names were Hinge and Bracket and they were brother and sister, “like you two”, and he smiled at me. I love the flirtation opportunities in getting on every other bus in this city - flashing my annual pass at some capable dyke behind the wheel. I love it that I can go and buy a Valentine’s card in a gay shop – relaxed and easy. I love it that my children are so comfortable here – not by any means the only kids with gay parents – wherever we go. But, that little comment about children took my breath away.

If I could choose one word about parenthood, from day one, I think it would be interesting. Babies, toddlers, young children are fascinating people – like all people. The wonderful thing about our kids has been that I’ve been there every day and seen all those tiny changes. How can you explain to someone that first words are amazing, miraculous events that you value above almost any words at all? If they haven’t carried a flailing, raging child, who was aiming kicks at their belly, can they appreciate the all-consuming nature of a relationship with a child? I guess the truth is that the woman who made that remark has never had a close relationship with a baby or young child and she sees only the fleeting moments in the street – dropped bottles and runny noses. Maybe it does look like slog from the outside. But the ignorance did astound me somewhat. I guess we do all exist in our own realities and see other people’s lives through a mist of our own assumptions. I’m sure I do it too.


Elle said...

What a lovely post. Elle

Gill said...

I wrote out a long comment for this, then my power unit packed up just before I sent it!

In a nutshell, I said:

great post;
you make Brighton sound v. attractive;
and a lot more about children being interesting and what kind of people might appreciate them more than others etc.

Allie said...

Oh, that's a shame about your comment, Gill! But thanks for the edited highlights.

Thanks, too, Elle.

Wobblymoo said...

Children ARE facsinating people from day 1, but sometimes I don't think even parents realise it so I expect maybe your aquaintance had heard that phrase from a parent.