At 7:30a.m. on a crisp, fall Atlanta morning, the Atlanta StoryCorps team left the StoryBooth and traveled some 40 miles north on I-75 to Woodstock (no, not New York) Georgia. Although the trip was somewhat shorter than anticipated, 40 miles in any direction from Atlanta plops one squarely in the sticks! In this case, we were in the north Georgia mountains. The air was drier, much cooler (actually, cold) and the sunlight seemed brighter. As we left the main road and followed the smaller one that would take us to the dining hall of the Cherokee Outdoor Family YMCA, it was clear that this was not going to be a typical recording day.
Our participants today were in the Atlanta area attending the Speak OUT Camp sponsored by COLAGE. COLAGE is “the only national, youth-driven network of people with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer parents.” Today’s recording booth was a converted sleeping cabin–rustic, worn, dimly lit and cold. My very first participants, Miranda, 22, and Cara, 19, had only met the night before at the airport. They talked about their gay dads. Both women have fathers whom had been married to women but later admitted to themselves that they were gay or bisexual; thus decided to end their traditional marriages.
In Miranda’s case, her dad met and partnered with a Mexican man who “was very dark and from a different socio-economic background.” Cara’s dad on the other hand partnered with someone from a similar background and who, like he, was committed to raising his children in a warm, loving and supportive gay family environment. His approach, however, often clashed with other parents’ definition of warm, loving and supportive–causing Cara (and her sister) many challenging interactions with her peers–particularly in middle school. Miranda’s dad and his partner, however, never demonstrated their love for each other openly, as his standing in the community presented them with other challenges.
Many of the participants we recorded that day had never had this kind of conversation with each other, nor with anyone else, before sitting in front of our microphones. The candor, raw emotional expressions and genuine respect for and interest in the other person’s life and story were impressive. Once again, the dynamic humility of the human spirit shone through–its power and resilience ever-present. We left camp that night understanding even more that we are more alike than different.