My name is Summer Davidson Gomez. I am the LGBTQ+ Project Manager, and I have been at Penny Lane Centers for 10 years now! When I first came and interviewed at Penny Lane, one of the things that caught my eye was a small rainbow flag sticker on someone’s cubicle. That little sticker sent me the message that Penny Lane is a place that celebrates diversity, that embraces ALL identities, even my queer identity. I knew this was a place that I wanted to be!
I “came out” as queer in my early 20s. I was fortunate that my family accepted me. However, my queer cultural identity became more important to me when my wife and I got pregnant with our son. When I was eight months pregnant, I received an anonymous letter that said, “Dykes should not have babies. I feel sorry for your illegitimate son.” That was the moment that it really struck me that I was bringing a baby into this world, that this baby would be a part of the LGBTQ+ community by virtue of having two moms, and that the world was not going to be as accepting of my child as I needed the world to be. That was the day that I became proud of my queer culture, and I made the decision to try to raise our son to be proud of his queer culture as well. To that end, we have told our son his truth, we celebrate June as Pride Month, we spend time with other queer families (our GAYcation!), and we celebrate holidays with our chosen family.
We were very open with our son Henry about how he came to be, from the beginning. As a baby-shower gift, my mother illustrated a short story my wife and I wrote about Henry’s conception. This book held a prominent place on the bookshelf. Several times a year, my son will bring it out, and we will read it together. Each time we read it; he asks new, more evolved questions about his beginnings. We explained to him that his mothers fell in love, decided to have a baby, and needed help. We shared how we went to a sperm bank and chose a donor from a catalog. We shared how babies are made (!) and how he came to be. And finally, we let him know that he can meet the donor, if he desires, when he turns 18. Telling Henry about his truth from the beginning has resulted in it not being a big deal. He knows he has two moms. He knows there was a donor. It has never been a big deal to him, because we addressed it from when he was young.
In the LGBTQ+ community, Pride Month is celebrated every June. In the early hours of June 28, 1969, New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, an LGBTQ+ club located on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, New York. Police roughly pulled employees and patrons from the bar, arresting many. This raid sparked a riot among bar patrons and neighborhood residents, resulting in six days of protests and violent clashes with law enforcement outside the bar. The Stonewall Uprising served as a catalyst for the LGBTQ+ rights movement. Every year in June we honor this uprising, celebrating the strides that we have made and considering the battles still needing to be fought for our rights. Many neighborhoods have Pride celebrations, and we make it a point to bring Henry and let him celebrate alongside us.
My family also finds it important to spend time with other queer families. In our day-to-day lives, most of our friends identify as heterosexual and cisgender (the opposite of transgender). We want Henry to be exposed to other families that look like ours – and ones that are unique in their own ways. A highlight of our year is our annual GAYcation in July. Every year, we meet up with a group of LGBTQ+ folks from all over North America, and we have fun! Some years we go on a cruise, other years we go to a resort. It is amazing! The first year that my wife suggested we go, I laughed. “Do gay people vacation differently than others?” I asked. But when we got there, I saw couples that looked like us, kissing in the pool! And nobody was making a big deal about it! This was a place where I was safe to express my relationship in public.
Another thing that is an important part of the queer culture is the concept of “chosen family”. Since so many of our LGBTQ+ siblings face family rejection upon coming out as queer, chosen family has become a way that queer folks bring those that do support them around them. Although my family (and most of my wife’s family) continued to support us after we came out, we have embraced this concept of chosen family. My son has many “aunts” and “uncles” that are not technically related to him, but that we consider family. Major holidays are spent with our chosen family. Christmas Eve, Mother’s Day, even Sunday dinners are spent with our chosen family. As a joking twist on this concept, our son has even taken to calling a close friend of ours “Mother” – so now he has “Mom”, “Mama”, and “Mother”!
I am so fortunate that I found Penny Lane. It is a place that allows me to express my identity and to be myself. Thank you all for helping to make this such an open and accepting place!
-Summer Davidson Gomez, Penny Lane Centers
Check out some photos of my chosen family, my son, and more below!