By Lillian Rivera
When my wife and I became parents nearly four years ago, we worried about raising a child in a world that wasn’t accepting of our family, the kind that has two moms raising a child. But watching Olivia in the playground reassures us that she’s going to be just fine.
Olivia is an energetic, feisty and extremely opinionated three-and-a-half year old. She has a fierce sense of self and is incredibly strong willed. Olivia is brilliant beyond her years, and will stand up to injustice inside and outside the playground.
Just today at the park, Olivia was playing ball with a friend of hers. A boy their age suddenly interrupted their play and took the ball away from them. Olivia immediately jumped in to help her friend whose ball was abruptly taken. She told the boy that he couldn’t do that, run off with the ball. The boy of course, hit her, and then Olivia did something that comes so naturally to her, she didn’t back off. When she realized that she couldn’t talk her way out of the confrontation, she tackled the boy.
As parents, we teach our children not to resort to fighting, but in my heart, I was very proud of her courage. Proud that she stood her ground and fought for those playground injustices that parallel so many injustices that gay family’s experience. Proud that she is a confident toddler who has a voice and isn’t afraid to use it.
My wife and I will always worry about the injustices that Olivia will face throughout her life. But bullies beware; these two mommies are raising a young woman who will tackle your prejudice, your non-inclusive laws, and homophobia.
It seems to us that Olivia is not the only one being raised in a family that will name the injustice and tackle it head on. Fifteen years from now, we will see the fruits of the generation raised with a clearer sense and commitment to end inequality within our society and we will be all the better for it. Odds are, they will probably be heterosexual with a strong sense of a queer identity. These are our straight allies that will change our world, the ones who we spend endless nights nursing when they are sick, the ones whose boo-boos we make better, and the ones whose broken hearts we will mend. These are the children who will fight for their mothers and fathers and uncles and aunts and strangers because they know their families deserve equality. The fight will no longer be about “them”…it will be about us. To our future…to our fierce toddlers…to the potential the next generation possesses…to our families.
Lillian Rivera is currently the Director of Advocacy and Capacity Building at the Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI), the nation’s oldest and largest LGBTQ youth serving agency with sites in New York City and Newark New Jersey and was a participant in the 2011 GLAAD People of Color Media Institute.