(This post is something I started, slogged through, and then felt ambivalent about once it was done. I think maybe it was helpful in opening up the door to discuss some other issues in my life related to connectedness and culture. I’ve decided to post it anyways)
After a week of starting and restarting a blog post (it lived in draft form as “Pioneer” for a bit) – after a week of struggling to come up with just the right words – after a week of restless nights and racing thoughts, it hit me some time in the pre-dawn hours of Friday morning.
I do not want to be the only black
So let me try to explain how I arrived at that thought. Be forewarned, the journey is not exactly linear and, by the time you finish reading, you may be left with nothing more than “huh?….hmmmm”. I’ll risk that.
Last week, I posted Race Matters. Juan followed up with More on Race. We talk about race as one of the decision criteria in our adoption process, and we explore some of our thoughts and feelings about the idea of adopting a white child.
The subsequent online and offline discussions about race and adoption fueled my determination to find others like me (gay. Black. male.) going through the adoption and/or parenting process. I enlisted the help of Google and tried various combinations of search terms – “black gay fathers”, black and gay and dads, “black gay dads”, black and gay and adoptive, african american and adoption and gay, “black dad” and “white son” (that one elicited some odd results) etc. etc. etc. I searched Yahoo Groups, Google Groups and even Meetup.com. Juan can testify that I’m a pretty thorough, effective web searcher. I figured that there must be others like me out there somewhere. I found lots of articles, blogs, groups and web sites related to transracial adoption, but, as I alluded to in Race Matters, there doesn’t seem to be identifiable examples of black men adopting white children.
(By the way, for those who know the blog The Republic of T – Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal., yep, that one came up often in my searches. I’ve known about it for a couple of years. Great blog.)
My unsuccessful searches left me feeling more than a little disappointed. I wondered if I was part of a group so small that it would be difficult for anyone to easily find it. How many black, gay, out-of-the-closet, adoptive men are out there? Are they out there? Based on the 2000 US Census, Blacks make up about 12.9% of the population. I don’t know if there’s any census data on it, but I’m figuring Black gays and lesbians are probably a small percentage of the 12.9%. Adoptive Black gay men are most likely a small percentage of that small percentage of 12.9%. I am in a small subgroup of a small subgroup of a small subgroup. Maybe I and a few other black gay men around the country are pioneers of sorts?
While the prospect of being a pioneer definitely has its appeal, I’m not really looking to be a pioneer right now. What I’m wanting is to meet other black, gay men going through similar experiences. I’d love to hear their stories, and I want to share mine. Several years ago, I knew of one such group in DC – for black gay fathers – but I’ve had some trouble finding any information on it.
One of the things that struck me in the very early hours of Friday morning is that there’s more to what I’m feeling than just “Black Man, Black Man, Where Art Thou Oh Adoptive Black Gay Man?” I am already “the only” in many cases. I am the only black man on my street. I can probably count on one hand (maybe two) the number of black men I pass on any given day as I walk and run through our neighborhood. My work setting could use some help with diversity. I am the only black man and, in fact, the only black professional in my department. I do know I’m not the only adoptive black gay male in Baltimore. A few months ago, we met one other and are enjoying a growing friendship with him, his partner and their adorable son. For the sake of the argument though, hopefully they’ll let me go out on a limb and say that two, in a city the size of Baltimore, might as well be one.
These types of moments – eating out, socializing with neighbors, interacting with coworkers – are often times when I sense my “oneness”. I can and sometimes do feel disconnected and isolated. And, as I imagine us – Juan, Child, Me – in these moments, I feel some internal resistance to me imagining a white child.
I don’t want to be a gay, black man in predominantly white settings…with my white child.
I don’t want to be the only black
So, that’s the original post. While I was writing it and as I read it now, one thing that’s clear to me is that I’m struggling to deal with some recurring themes and issues, primarily isolation and disconnection. I’m hoping to write more about that. But for now, I’m giving my typing fingers a rest. Plus, this post has made my head hurt.