My family attended our first drag brunch recently. It was a holiday affair, advertised as a family-friendly event where Santa Claus would make a very jolly and gay appearance. To be honest, it felt a little strange bringing my two and four-year old children into an environment that's usually reserved for cruising and after-midnight merriment. And yes, there was some side-eye from the elder gays, rallying for their noon meet-up after what was undoubtedly an evening of college boy cruising and dollar give-a-ways at the go-go bar.
But damn be the side-eye! Living in a rural area, when I have the opportunity to expose my children to my community, you'd better be sure we'll be there. There were six children in attendance, and the lovely Nina West made it a point to talk with each of them, exuding a sassy kindness we expect from our drag superstars. My daughter sat in her seat, asking for more tickets (apparently what she now calls dollar bills) to hand to the ladies as they walked by lip-syncing to their favorite holiday tunes.
For gay and lesbian parents, it becomes too easy to fall into that typical "gay" agenda – praying the children let you sleep until 7:00 a.m., feeding and dressing them, taking them to pre-school, going to work, picking them up, feeding and bathing them, and then passing out, only to start the whole agenda afresh tomorrow. We become disconnected from our community – especially if your sense of gayness coming of age was wrapped in a Show Tunes Mondays veil of bar identity. Welcoming us into our former gathering spaces, with our children, not only brings a familiar sense of home but allows our children to normalize our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, and feel comfort and warmth in a space that isn't a typical learning environment.
There will always be those who say they go out to experience a good time, and a two-year old screaming with a dinosaur, in a space that is usually reserved for Hollister and Axe Body Spray, has no place blocking their server from bringing them a much-needed Bloody Mary. But I would argue, we need those runny noses and 4T dresses now more than ever. Our community is changing. Gay spaces are no longer about finding a safe space, but are now venues that can expand and inspire our growing community. We can marry. We can have children. For the 21-year old coming to the big city for the first time from his family farm, we're showing that your dreams are limitless. You certainly don't have to conform with society and manifest a heteronormative lifestyle, but if you want to raise children and jointly file a tax return with someone, you can do it.
But be sure, we'll only come on those days we're invited. On our once-a-year night away from the children, there is nothing better than throwing back a few drinks, watching music videos of people we've never heard of, and, invariably, talking about our children the entire evening. The invitation, however, now and then, to return with children is much appreciated. And it's not about finding that perfect dress or shirt so they gays don't judge them, but allowing my children to be a part of my community. After all, they may grow up to be straight. And allies with an intimate knowledge of the entire LGTBQ experience are invaluable. Their dedication to what is just and right will always win over those bachelorette parties. And guess what, we've taught them to tip better too.