“Yes, I’m sorry.”
“Of course, you are right, I can’t understand.”
A few months ago I was in conflict with a woman who was the mother of a child with an intellectual disability. She and I had been in discussion about the sharing, or in my opinion, the over-sharing, of the private details of children with disabilities lives by parents on social media. I thought it was a discussion we were having. It wasn’t. She got angry really, really, really, quickly. She let me know that parents had every right in the world to share information about their children, that “parents know best” and that “parents needs support too” and finally that I would never understand because I’d never been a parent.
The situation we were in was semi-professional and I understood that I needed to, at that moment, stand down. I didn’t change my opinion, because I can’t do that on command, but I did apologize for having an opinion when, apparently I had no right to one. Because I’d never been a parent.
Those words flew out of her mouth with the intention of putting me in my place. They were spoken with a freedom and a privilege that she simply didn’t understand. My job was staying calm while she called me out, called me down and spat out her observation about something incredibly personal. In the back of my mind I screamed the words: HOW FUCKING DARE YOU!!!
I am a 64 year old gay man who has been in a relationship with another man for 46 years. Do you know what that means? Do you? It means we lived at a time when it wasn’t okay to be a couple. When Joe and I met, our love was a crime. A fucking crime! Do you think we even spoke about children? Do you think we’d ever be allowed to adopt a child. We came from the time when we were all called pedophiles and accused of all being child molesters. We came from that time. HOW FUCKING DARE YOU!!!
Did you know that years ago, by chance, I was working, weekends, providing recreational service to children with physical disabilities when I met a little boy who had been abandoned on the street by his parents? A boy who needed medication every single day to live? Dumped. Too much bother. No meds. No food. No clothing. Dumped. He was 6. I took him on an outing to the CNE and when going on a ride with him he said, “They think you’re my dad,” pointing at the staff at the ride, “I wish you were my dad.” He cried a little. I comforted him and cried when I got home.
We actually spoke to a social worker about adopting him. No one wanted him. He was 6. He had a disability. He needed pills every day. He would probably die very young. We got through the paperwork. The social worker said that there had never been a gay adoption in the province but she would try. He needed a home. We had one. The visits happened. We answered questions, insulting ones, fully.
Then, the parents showed up. They were apologetic. APOLOGETIC! They dumped him on the street. Alone. He was found by a police officer. He talked about pills, needing his pills. They took him to a hospital. Then, to where I met him. But hey, they apologized. They were given him back. Because a weak straight apology was better than a strong gay home.
He died, months later, because they didn’t feel like giving him his pills.
He’d just turned seven.
I don’t have kids.
No I will never have kids.
Yet you shoot your mouth off assuming that only you have a story. That only you have history. That only you have feelings. I am a professional. I support. That’s what I do. So I fucking apologized.
But let me be clear …
… in my mind …
… and in my heart …
… and in my soul …
… I screamed: HOW FUCKING DARE YOU!!!