My husband Derek and I were not present at the birth of our children. They were two months premature, and we were working in Cuba. The best we could do was be present via phone and listen. I will never forget the crackly phone connection as our surrogacy coordinator said, “It’s a girl!” and then a few minutes later, “It’s a boy!”
Thanks to social media, the birth of our twins Leo and Luna went viral, and comments quickly started to fill our Facebook pages. We were told everything from, “Your children are so lucky” to “You will never sleep in again” to "You guys have such a great life; why ruin it?”
But the comment that most stuck with me was, “Good luck living in a pink princess prison.”
Not my little girl. She wasn’t going to be one of those girls that refuse to get dirty, don't jump in mud puddles, or run around looking for frogs. My little girl would be a warrior princess, an Amazon, another Wonder Woman. Isn’t that the kind of girl we all want? I remember, to the chagrin of my father, dressing up as Wonder Woman as a kid myself, tiara and all, and I expected Luna to follow suit.
Derek and I had decided we were going to be gender-neutral with the twins as much as possible. We were determined to defy gender stereotypes and, like all good gays, we were going to do it with fashion first.
We had a No Frilly Dresses policy, but then gifts started to arrive: the tulle, the dresses festooned with ribbons and lace collars, and all those pink onesies glitter bombed with What Princess Says Goes!
Don’t get me wrong; I have nothing against glitter or pink. (Give me some body glitter and a tight pink T-shirt and it’s a party.) I just didn’t want my daughter to face the world with I’m a Princess or Mommy’s Little Angel bedazzled across her chest.
For the first year it worked. Leo and Luna were carefree kids learning to crawl and walk in their stylish but comfortable clothes. Luna easily cruised by other baby girls tangled in their tacky tulle skirts.
I thought, "Score!" No pink prison for us.
Then about another six months later, it happened. One day we were dressing Luna in her Gap capris and cerulean tank top when she shouted out, “No, the pink one, the pink one!”
Had it happened? Had the princess program finally downloaded into her hard drive? Was resistance futile?
Yes, our pink princess prison sentence had begun. All she wanted to wear was pink dresses, and the more tulle the better. The more diamante on her skirt the more she would scream in delight. Grief stricken, we endured living in this pink malaise for months.
Eventually, I came to a realization: If my little darling wanted to be a princess, then a princess she would be. “Luna,” I said, “Papi wants to show you a real princess.”
Thanks to YouTube, my little Luna saw in bewildered amazement a montage of Lynda Carter twirling effortlessly into Wonder Woman, her beautiful arms cutting through the air, her delicate wrists deflecting bullets, her hair held back perfectly by a tiara even while holding on to a helicopter in mid-flight.
I told her, "This is a real princess: strong, smart, good, helpful, athletic and not a bad dresser."
As a gay man, I should have been more in tune with the things that we are hardwired to be and do. Maybe Luna is hardwired to like pink dresses and to dream of being a princess, but that doesn’t mean I can’t expand upon what it means to be a princess and, hopefully, give her a better and bigger worldview.
Luna still loves pink and glitter, but boy can she jump and run and find frogs! This Halloween she's making my gay dad dreams come true. She plans to dress up as Wonder Woman.
Watch out world: This princess is real!