Like millions of other American families, my husband, our toddler son, and I are heading out on a trip for the long Memorial Day weekend. Unlike most other travelers, I'm suddenly thinking twice about our travel arrangements.
Do gay dads and our kids have to worry about being treated differently when we travel this summer?
We've seen two upsetting gay dad travel stories cross our Facebook feeds and gay news sites: Southwest didn't allow a gay dad family traveling with their kids and an 83 year old grandmother board together and United detained a gay dad for having his hands too close to his son's genitals.
Maybe my privilege is showing here, but I have to say that as a gay dad family in New York City, I don't often think about our family standing out or being exposed to problems like this. I'm spoiled. We are welcomed with kindness---and maybe even an extra nod of encouragement---wherever we go at home. As my childhood hero Mr. Rodgers would say, "the people that we meet when we're walking down the street each day" in our neighborhood show us tremendous support. In the brilliant year and a half my husband and I have been dads, I can only think of one time, at a bank, when we were treated differently---and the manager quickly addressed our concern.
For our first big-ish family trip this coming weekend, we are heading to a gay wedding in a small town in a red-leaning state. I expect that we'll be fine, but I did fall asleep last night thinking about what we might encounter on this trip or other summer travels. Could we get the stink eye from a hotel manager? Would a taxi driver decide not to pick us up because we're a gay dad family? Or maybe something worse.
I appreciate that the dads in both of these travel nightmares went public and shared their stories. I hope the extra attention and awareness helps the travel industry become more accommodating to our families and to all modern families. Gays With Kids is here for our families: to help us learn how to travel safely and to make sure our stories get attention when things don't go as they should.
Taking our baby on the road makes me feel vulnerable. We shouldn't have to worry about United, Southwest or any other travel company treating us or our kids differently because of who we are. We won't travel back in time to being treated like that anymore.