Tag: Mom

Bernie’s Mittens Were Made by a Queer Mom

Bernie's Mittens Were Made by a Queer Mom

Senator Bernie Sanders’ wooly mittens, which he wore to the inauguration, have been taking the Internet by storm. The woman behind them is a second-grade teacher in Vermont—who just happens to be a queer mom!

Bernie Sanders mittens

Jen Ellis lives outside Burlington, Vermont “with her partner, Liz, and their kindergarten-age daughter,” reported Jewish Insider yesterday. (It’s unclear if Ellis is Jewish or if the publication’s interest is just because of Sanders’ Jewish heritage.) Ellis has apparently been flooded with e-mails by people interested in the cozy coverings, but alas, she is not selling them any more. As she said to the Guardian, “I am a second grade teacher, and I’m a mom, and all that keeps me really busy.”

She does give them as gifts, though, creating what she calls “swittens” from old sweaters plus fleece lining made from recycled plastic. In fact, her gifting was the origin of Sen. Sanders’ pair. At the time of the 2016 campaign, Ellis’ daughter was attending a preschool directed by Sanders’ daughter-in-law, Liza Driscoll. Ellis was making mittens for all the teachers, and gave an extra pair to Driscoll to give to Sanders.

Despite the international coverage of her mittens, she related to NPR that her students “thought it was cool,” but “I don’t think that they’ll view me any differently in the end. I still was bundling them up in snow pants and their own mittens and sending them out into the snowy day for recess.”

Clearly she’s staying humble. She told Jewish Insider, “I’ve tried not to let all of the mitten business overshadow the gloriousness of sitting with my five-year-old daughter and my partner and watching the first woman be sworn in as vice president.”

(H/t to Cindy Rizzo for the news.)

An Open Letter to Joe Biden from a Lesbian Mom

An Open Letter to Joe Biden from a Lesbian Mom

Dear President-elect Biden:

I’m writing you this open letter as you prepare to take office as president. My son was just a few months too young to vote in the last election, but watched it with great concern, for its results would directly impact him and his family. Would the next administration be one that treated our family with equality? Would it view families like ours as part of the rich fabric of American diversity or as aberrations?

Joe Biden

I’d like to think he has reason for hope. Since this is an open letter, I’ll recap one example, though I’m sure you remember: In 2012, you attended a fundraiser held at the Los Angeles home of husbands Michael Lombardo, an HBO executive, and Sonny Ward, an architect. As reported by Jo Becker in the New York Times, political strategist Chad Griffin (later head of HRC) saw you talking with the men’s two young children and was motivated to ask you your stance on marriage equality.

According to Becker, you responded: “I look at those two beautiful kids. I wish everybody could see this. All you got to do is look in the eyes of those kids. And no one can wonder, no one can wonder whether or not they are cared for and nurtured and loved and reinforced. And folks, what’s happening is, everybody is beginning to see it.”

You said this at a time when the Obama administration was still officially opposed to marriage equality. Some thought your remarks were a planned “trial balloon” for the issue; Becker disagreed, but said that they “inadvertently set off a chain reaction.” Either way, within weeks, President Obama announced his support for marriage equality, relating that his own daughters had friends with same-sex parents and “I know it wouldn’t dawn on them that their friends’ parents should be treated differently.”

Marriage equality didn’t hinge on these encounters alone—it was the work of thousands of people over many years—but your remarks were a turning point for the administration’s willingness to back it publicly. I hope that as president, you will continue to champion equality for all families.

I am encouraged that you have named two lesbian moms and one transgender parent to your administration: Karine Jean-Pierre as principal deputy press secretary, Pili Tobar as deputy White House communications director, and Rachel Levine as assistant secretary of health. And Pete Buttigieg, whom you nominated as secretary of transportation, was asked during his own presidential run if he and his husband might start a family while in the White House. “I don’t see why not,” he replied. Perhaps this might happen even as he takes on a different role.

While their work will not revolve around LGBTQ issues, I hope that their presence will continue to remind you that all parents and our children deserve equality. Despite the progress made under President Obama, that equality has been chipped away at during President Trump’s time in office. Even now, the U.S. Supreme Court is considering a case about whether taxpayer-funded child service agencies can claim the right, on religious grounds, to discriminate against LGBTQ people, people of different faiths, and others. This would reduce the number of otherwise-eligible homes for children in need and could mean that LGBTQ youth get placed with families that don’t support their identities. That case aside, eleven states now allow child service agencies to cite their religious or moral beliefs as a reason to discriminate against someone; nine of them permit it even if the agency receives taxpayer money.

Additionally, on January 7, the day after insurrectionists stormed the capitol, the Trump administration finalized a rule that will allow foster care and adoption agencies, along with other public health and social service organizations receiving taxpayer funds, to discriminate against LGBTQ people and others. LGBTQ populations are among the most vulnerable here. LGBTQ organizations are already suing HHS for other recent discriminatory policies; you could save everyone time and money, while helping those in need, by changing these policies as soon as possible.

To guide you, the Every Child Deserves a Family Campaign, a coalition of LGBTQ, civil rights, and faith organizations, has released a set of policy recommendations to set us on a renewed path towards inclusive, affirming care for LGBTQ youth and families, people of color, and people with disabilities within the child welfare system. I hope you will take these recommendations seriously.

Equity for LGBTQ families—and all families—goes beyond just child services and healthcare, however. It extends into educational policy, housing, employment practices, and even foreign policy, for we LGBTQ families exist around the world. There are no areas of your administration that will not touch us, for we are woven into the fabric of the American people.

I hope our voices (broadly speaking, not just those in your administration) are among the many you will listen to in order to guide our country forward. I am not asking you to prioritize LGBTQ families above any others, but rather to ensure that your policies include and protect us equally so that we have the same chance to thrive. The more Americans who thrive, the stronger and better our country will be as a whole.

I want the country in which my son reaches adulthood to be one of equality, justice, and compassion, not only for LGBTQ people and families, but for all. I’m sure that as a parent yourself, you know what it is like to want such good for your children. Please be the president our country—and our country’s children—need.

Originally published with slight variation as my Mombian newspaper column.

Oscar-winner Mary Steenburgen of ‘Happiest Season’ wants to play our mom in a movie / Queerty

Oscar-winner Mary Steenburgen of ‘Happiest Season’ wants to play our

Happiest Season

Yes, our mom loves Mary Steenburgen.

But then, who doesn’t? The classy, Oscar-winning actress has one of the longest resumes of any actor working today, having appeared in such films as Back to the Future Part III, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Philadelphia, Nixon and Parenthood, among many others.

For that matter, how could anyone not love Alison Brie, the versatile star equally at home as a series regular on the drama Mad Men as well as the sitcom Community?

We landed time to chat with the two ladies about their latest outing, the queer-themed holiday comedy Happiest Season. It arrives on Hulu November 25.

Happiest Season casts Kristen Stewart as Abby, the doting girlfriend of Harper (Mackenzie Davis). When the two decide to get engaged, Harper invites Abby to spend the Christmas holidays with her family. There’s just one problem: Harper isn’t out to her perfectionist family. Things get even more awkward when Harper’s Dad (Victor Garber) announces some new political ambitions, while her mom (Steenburgen) plots to reunite Harper with her high school boyfriend. The situation also gets tense when Harper clashes with Sloane (Brie), her hyper-competitive sister. By the time Abby’s best friend John (Dan Levy) and her secret high school girlfriend (Aubrey Plaza) arrive on the scene, is there any hope of preventing holiday chaos?  Mary Holland and Ana Gasteyer also star, while openly gay actress/writer/director Clea DuVall helms the project.

Chatting with the two actresses also gave us the opportunity to mention our mom’s love of Ms. Steenburgen. Don’t begrudge us. Happiest Season streams on Hulu November 25.

 

Video Editor: David Beerman

Author and Queer Mom Jacqueline Woodson Named a 2020 MacArthur Fellow

Author and Queer Mom Jacqueline Woodson Named a 2020 MacArthur

Author Jaqueline Woodson yesterday was named one of the winners of this year’s MacArthur “genius grants”—one of at least three queer moms ever to win the accolade.

Jacqueline Woodson - Photo Credit: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Jacqueline Woodson – Photo Credit: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

The MacArthur Fellowship, as the grant is officially known, is a “no-strings-attached,” $625,000 grant “for individuals who have shown exceptional creativity in their work and the promise to do more.” The MacArthur Foundation says of Woodson:

Jacqueline Woodson is a writer redefining children’s and young adult literature in works that reflect the complexity and diversity of the world we live in while stretching young readers’ intellectual abilities and capacity for empathy. In nearly thirty publications that span picture books, young adult novels, and poetry, Woodson crafts stories about Black children, teenagers, and families that evoke the hopefulness and power of human connection even as they tackle difficult issues such as the history of slavery and segregation, incarceration, interracial relationships, social class, gender, and sexual identity.

Woodson served as Young People’s Poet Laureate from 2015 to 17 and the National Ambassador for Children’s Literature from 2018 to 19. This past May, she won the Hans Christian Andersen Award, “the highest international distinction given to authors and illustrators of children’s books.” She has also won the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the world’s largest award for children’s and young adult literature, the Margaret A. Edwards Award “for significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature,” and the Children’s Literature Legacy Award (then known as the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award) for ” a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.” Her 2014 Brown Girl Dreaming won the Coretta Scott King Author Award as well as Newbery and Sibert Honors, and her 2005 Coming on Home Soon, illustrated by E.B. Lewis, won a Caldecott Honor.  (For the entire list of her accolades and books, see her website.)

One of her earlier books, the Coretta Scott King Honor book From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun (1995), is about a Black boy whose single mother starts dating a White woman—although not all of her books include queer parents. When I posted about her last May, I shared some quotes from her about her real life and being part of a two-mom family.

At least two other queer moms, to my knowledge, have won MacArthur Awards. Mary Bonauto, a leading attorney in the fight for marriage equality, won one in 2014, and quantum astrophysicist Nergis Mavalvala won one in 2010. That shouldn’t make the rest of us feel bad if we haven’t yet changed the world—sometimes, being a parent is enough in and of itself. Still, I always find it inspiring to know that I have at least one thing in common with these cool folks. I hope they inspire you, too.


(I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program that provides a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.)

My grandma recently passed away, and my mom wanted me to have this mug which my grandma had originally given to her. She said, “It’s for my rainbow girl!” ❤️ : actuallesbians

My grandma recently passed away, and my mom wanted me

A place for discussions for and by cis and trans lesbians, bisexual girls, chicks who like chicks, bi-curious folks, dykes, butches, femmes, girls who kiss girls, birls, bois, aces, LGBT allies, and anyone else interested! Our subreddit is named r/actuallesbians because r/lesbians is not really for or by lesbians–it was meant to be a joke. We’re not a militant or exclusive group, so feel free to join up!

Lesbian Mom and Veteran Political Organizer to be Kamala Harris’ Chief of Staff

Lesbian Mom and Veteran Political Organizer to be Kamala Harris'

Karine Jean-Pierre, a veteran political organizer, commentator, and author, will be the chief of staff for newly announced VP candidate Kamala Harris. She’s also a lesbian mom—and her daughter was her inspiration to join the campaign.

Karine Jean-Pierre

Karine Jean-Pierre at BookExpo at the Javits Center in New York City, May 2019. Photo: Rhododendrites. Used under a (CC BY-SA 4.0) license.

Jean-Pierre, who served as Regional Political Director for the White House Office of Political Affairs in the Obama administration and as Deputy Battleground States Director for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, was more recently chief public affairs officer for MoveOn and an NBC and MSNBC Political Analyst. She had already been serving as a senior advisor to the Biden campaign, and will continue that role while also acting as chief of staff to Kamala Harris, NBC News reports. She is also on the faculty of Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

In an interview with Hollywood Life at the end of July, she spoke about her reasons for being part of the Biden campaign, saying, “I felt like this is my job as a mom to step in. I thought about my six year-old and I thought about what kind of planet or world or country are we going to be leaving to her and her peers,” adding, “I’m a Black woman, I’m a gay woman and I’m an immigrant. And Donald Trump, he is someone who hates everything I am.”

Jean-Pierre was born in Martinique to Haitian parents but raised in New York City. In her 2019 book, Moving Forward: A Story of Hope, Hard Work, and the Promise of America, she writes about her unconventional path to political involvement and how and why others, no matter their backgrounds, need to step up and participate today.

Being a lesbian mom alone isn’t enough—but Jean-Pierre has the experience and insight to make many positive contributions to the campaign—and to our country. And having a Black lesbian mom as the closest advisor to the person who could be a heartbeat away from the presidency? That’s pretty cool. (Though admittedly not quite as cool as having a Black lesbian mom president. Maybe someday….)


(I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program that provides a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.)