This is a tale of two gay moms, a straight black Christian family and the Bible's teachings on judgment.
In the mid-nineties my family moved to the community of our dreams, Oak Park IL, land of beautiful historic homes, good schools and a healthy dose of black folks to make us feel at home. The diversity was a convergence of dichotomies. Traditional families intermingled with interracial ones, bi-racial children of various hues and mixes frolicked the parks, artsy folks displayed their talents on public walls next to the athletic fields. Gay and straight people walked about holding hands. People of faith broke bread with atheists. Oak Parkers wore their tolerance well. We were a straight, African-American Pentecostal family from Chicago. We moved to Oak Park for the multicultural family atmosphere and better education for our sons. We felt we made the right decision.
The Oak Park white folks, in general, didn't seem threatened by our presence, which allowed my husband and I to loosen up a little. I got my feet wet quickly on my block by co-organizing their first block party in over 50 years. My two young sons, then 6 and 12, brought home a diverse group of friends from the neighborhood. They were nice kids with good home training. The boys watched our TV, ate our snacks and played with my kids' toys. They displayed good manners and respect toward me and my home.
As customary to our family philosophy, my husband and I believed in knowing our kids' friend's "people". After nearly a year, we realized we hadn't met Aaron's parents yet. He was a quiet caramel colored boy on the next block who was in second grade with our youngest, Kai. We asked him about Aaron’s people since he had played at Aaron’s house on occasion. Kai just shrugged. The next day he announced at dinner that Aaron had two moms.
"Oh,” does he live with his step mom and dad or his mom?" I asked.
"No mom”, Kai corrected, “Aaron has two moms”. Darryl and I looked at each other perplexed. 'Two moms', Darryl mouthed to me. Then we both received the revelation at the same time. Two moms!
Devin snickered at Kai as he forked down his meatloaf. Kai kept eating like nothing was odd. He was seven. Devin chided, " And they're both white”. Not only were Aaron's parents gay they were a gay white couple raising a child of color. I felt like I had just read an article from The Enquirer, but I kept my composure. “Oh… okay”, I drawled cautiously. Darryl and I kept forking down our food while exchanging I-can’t-believe-it looks.
Aaron was rather nerdy in a cute way, with wired glasses and curly hair. Was I now searching for some quirk or abnormality- perhaps some angst? It wasn't there. He liked Power Ranger toys and GI Joes like Kai. He didn't seem conflicted or melancholy. He did not fit the image I had of a kid being raised by two same sex parents - let alone two white ones.
In high school I met a brother and sister who were angry and resentful of their mother for being gay. They lived with their two moms on the Gold Coast. I remember the boy, a white heavy set kid of 15, breaking down and crying over the situation. I also read articles about black kids growing up confused and longing to fit in because they were adopted by white parents. I also saw some families in Oak Park who carried around black babies like toy poodles, whose hair was dry and unkempt because their parents didn't know how to comb it. This left an indelible impression on me. I took the position that such arrangements would be devastating to any child. And such a situation was not of God.
But how come Aaron seemed so well adjusted?
Fact is, my husband and I got to know Aaron before knowing of his home life. Were my beliefs, based on what I've observed and read unfounded? I knew plenty of damaged kids from traditional straight homes too. Did it matter who or what the parents were, but how they raised their kids? I prayed about it.
I was led to talk to one couple who share the same faith as me and my husband. They had never met children of same sex couples before but nevertheless had wary thoughts about allowing their kids to play with such children. But my son had gone over to Aaron’s house several times and came back unscathed. The couple felt that maybe trying to explain the situation to Kai was too complicated for a seven year old to comprehend. But Kai was not confused at all. My friends wisely concluded that God would lead our hearts.
Darryl and I made a casual date to meet the two moms at their home. They had always kept a low profile, and were very particular about who came to their home or associated with their children outside of school. Kai had already passed the test. The two women were quite cordial and inviting, but were just as observant of me and Darryl as we were of them. Were we acceptable parents for Aaron to be around? I quickly discovered one thing we had in common: It was important for all of us to meet the parents of our kids’ friends.
One Mom was sturdy and blonde, the other petite and Jewish. They were funny and geeky like Aaron. We also met Aaron’s little sister; a Nubian princess. She was all cuteness and corn rows. I thought, ' Thank God they got her hair right'. The two moms were especially grateful that my husband provided a black male presence for Aaron. His Godfather they shared, was also African-American.
After we completed our meet n' greet/ inspection, we knew all was well. We weren’t the fanatic self–righteous Holy Rollers primed to judge and condemn, and they weren’t a pair of kinky recluse lesbians aching to rub their lifestyle in our faces. They were – we were - two decent families committed to raising our kids well. Aaron and Kai remain friends to this day.
"Judge not, that you be not judged. 2. For what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you." Matthew 7: 1, 2 NKJV