The first time I met another person with LGBTQ parents I was thirteen in Provincetown. In the back of mind I knew there were others like me out there – I even used to watch the Rosie O’Donnell show to catch mentions of her kids and feel some small nugget of representation. I was growing up in the ‘90s and early 2000s and there was next to zero representation of LGBTQ families in the media. As far as my family knew, we were the only queer house in our whole small town in MA. I was certainly the only person out about my family in the whole school.
Then, in the summer of 2003, my parents took me to Family Week in Provincetown, MA and my whole world changed. In the time it took us to pick up our registration bag, I went from totally isolated and alone in my identity to being surrounded by LGBTQ families. It felt amazing. I felt seen and my family felt safe. Provincetown is the first place I ever saw my parents hold hands in public. It was a jolt to see that as we walked along the main street together.
That first day of Family Week I met other teens who not only accepted me, but understood me on a level I had never known before. Here, finally, were my people. I barely saw my parents after that. I was in workshops, talking endlessly on the beach, or walking up and down the main street with a pack of teens. It was exhilarating to meet a diverse group of people who were so different from me – from all over the country, with different types of families, of different ages and interests – but at the same time we shared something fundamental. We all knew what it felt like to feel unsafe, isolated, and misunderstood because of who our parents were and how our families were formed. We also knew the powerful strength of the LGBTQ community, the ecstatic joy of our first Pride parade, and the beauty of growing up culturally queer.
Family Week in Provincetown has held many ‘firsts’ for me over the years. First kiss. First time performing in drag. First time breaking curfew (lesbian moms will wait up and give you a hard time for being five minutes late, trust me). And today, first time unequivocally loving my job.
Family Week 2018 is the fourth time I’ve been one of the primary organizers of the week. As the Director of Family Engagement with Family Equality Council, I now get to plan the week for the next generation of nervous and inspired young activists and families. With over forty events throughout the week, hundreds of families from more than thirty states, and the most amazing staff and interns you could ever hope for, Family Week continues to be my favorite week of the year.
Family Week means many things to different people. There’s something for parents, young children, teens, grandparents, future parents and everyone in between. Because really, what’s at the center of it all is community. A community that embraces our complex, beautiful families and stretches and grows together. Fifteen years ago the organizers of Family Week – Family Equality Council and COLAGE – and the people I met helped to make me a braver, kinder, and more outspoken activist. All I can do is continue to create a space that sparks that same love and passion for others.
Family Week in Provincetown is July 28 – August 4, 2018. You can learn more at www.ptownfamilyweek.com. A Family Co readers who have not yet registered for Family Week can use promotional code ‘AFamilyCo’ to get 5% off their registration.
Image c/o Emily McGranachan