Thursday, October 16, 2014


Protesters peacefully march in Ferguson, honoring the murder of Michael Brown. 

“’Black lives matter!’ the crowd chanted. ‘All lives matter!”’ reported the New York Times, referencing the recent protests in my hometown of St. Louis, two months after Michael Brown, a young black man, was shot by a white cop.
The Chicago Tribune reports: “A white Ohio woman is suing a Downers Grove-based sperm bank, alleging that the company mistakenly gave her vials from an African-American donor, a fact that she said has made it difficult for her and her same-sex partner to raise their now 2-year-old daughter [Payton] in an all-white community.”
Michael Brown and Payton share something that is deemed by many to be “wrong” in many of America’s racially complex neighborhoods: the color of their skin.
The white lesbian couple, disgruntled because they accidentally received the “wrong” semen share something with cops who routinely murder black men in the Midwest (and elsewhere): Racism.
I wanted a child, not a color.
Would mommy be suing the sperm donor if her baby had autism and she lived in a “non-autistic” community? I think not. Yes, the Midwest Sperm Bank made a grave mistake but the bigger mistake is a mother who is suing for $50,000 because of the “mistaken” race of her child.
And another question: Do Jennifer Cramblett and her partner, Amanda Zinkon, live in an all-lesbian neighborhood? Presumably, their gayness has not prevented them from surviving Uniontown, Ohio.
Please hear me—no matter what color you are or what your sexual identity may encompass or what fucking neighborhood you live in—being a parent does not come with any guarantees. And often what you perceive to be the presumed “negatives” turn into the glorious gifts.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Cramblett “did not know African-Americans until she attended college at the University of Akron.” Oh, my. And if that isn’t drastic enough, she has to take her daughter “to a black neighborhood” to get her hair cut. I have a picture of a distraught lesbian couple walking warily into a movie in which Eddie Murphy plays all the roles, including their 2-year old.
So Cramblett is forced, as most parents are, to make some big adjustments. Hire a moving van, honey. But please don’t say that you do “not want Payton to feel stigmatized” when you have engineered a public lawsuit that has placed your child’s picture all over the media, presumably to let us see how burdensome her skin color is.
If these two transparently disingenuous moms don’t know that they are the ones who have “stigmatized” their daughter, they are delusional.
Kearns with his daughter Katherine.
I can weigh in on this scenario because I—as a single gay man—raised a black daughter in a neighborhood that was not perfect in terms of its ethnic balance. I adopted Katherine twenty years ago—before the onslaught of gay marriage, before Ellen and before Modern Family.
It is, in fact, safe to say that there were no other families like ours, modern or otherwise, living in our neighborhood. And believe me when I say that we were subjected to impolite stares at the supermarket and asked some preposterous questions. Was I “the nanny?” some numbskull asked. However, by integrating into a mixed neighborhood, we found friends and allies of all stripes.
Get a van, honey. 
I acknowledge that the comparison is not entirely fair. I did not care what race my adopted child would be; I wanted a child, not a color. I was not confronted with a Big Surprise that shook my sensibilities. And I don’t suggest that every GLBT person (especially those who live in Ohio) has my stamina or particular purview.
What I do suggest, however, is that the child they brought into the world—however imperfect and unexpected the circumstances—is a magnificent human being just as she is. And to bring the color of her skin into a lawsuit that might benefit mommy’s bank account is a travesty.
I can’t imagine how much Leslie McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr., the paralyzed parents of the college-bound 18 year old from Ferguson, wish that they could recapture the birth of their dead son; see the promise in their baby’s eyes, caress the texture of his silken skin, hear his first words, recall catching him when he fell, hugging him if he cried. Remember seeing him turn 3 or 13.
But they won’t see him turn 19. They just won’t.