Friday, 26 June 2015

A Gay Family Friendly Trip...or Just a Family Friendly Trip?

This post originally appeared as a guest blogpost for We Are Family Magazine:

In a previous blogpost I talked about the difficulties of visiting countries where homosexuality is illegal, in our case Singapore but whereas others have a choice as to where to spend their pink pound we do not – Papa’s family are Singaporean and our choosing not to go would be to deny our boys their Grandparents, who are too old to travel, and Papa’s extended family.

But we manage it and continue to plan for our yearly expedition to the city-state.

However, to put the boys sense of travel into perspective we also try to visit at least one gay friendly destination each year and for our last trip we took the short flight over to Barcelona and the travelled further to the beautiful gay friendly town of Sitges – we even had my Mum, the boys Granny with us – so it was a real family affair.

What’s lovely about Sitges is not the nightlife – Papa and I used to partake when we were younger and it is pretty vibrant, nor the culture – there are a lot of art galleries and things to see but it’s the fact that being gay is not something to hide. There are other gay families mingling naturally with straight ones and couples of all persuasions and ages holding hands as they stroll along the beautiful promenade.

Its great for the boys to see that their family is just the same as everyone else’s. I know there are events and holidays run by organizations such as New Family Social in the UK, and they do a brilliant job, but its also good for the boys to see gay families in a ‘real life’ context. The boys made friends with another boy at our hotel – the convenient and friendly Medium Sitges Park – and they were soon playing football on the beach with their playmate’s dad and Papa whilst his mum and I sat sipping a sangria with Granny.

It's that sort of natural behaviour that should be emulated across the globe – its only a shame that it isn’t.

After a week in Sitges we travelled back to Barcelona for a long weekend, Granny had never been and we promised to show her the sights. We decided to stay self-catering at the Serrenia apartments, which were well placed to explore the city – particularly if you have two young children and an… ermmm… older lady with you.

Again, the sight of an inter-racial gay couple and their sons didn’t raise an eyebrow – although one waiter did think that Papa was my Mum’s toyboy – which she was very pleased about, him not so. But the boys loved the tour bus – they weren’t too happy about the churches and museums although they did have a great time at Camp Nou, the Barcelona FC stadium which Papa took them round – whilst I accompanied Granny on a shopping trip.

Mixing the two destinations meant that everyone had something to do and no-one got too bored. Plus finding destinations that are both gay friendly and family friendly can be quite difficult but Catalonia definitely offers it all. We’ll be back!

Friday, 19 June 2015

Rewards in Heaven...

A couple of weeks ago we went 'oop north' to go and see Granny.

My Mum is also the carer for my Nan, who is still going strong at 91 - although she is convinced that any day now she'll be saying farewell to this earthly life - although, to be fair, she has been saying that for thirty years - but I guess at 91 you can be excused. However, she keeps giving things away - buy Nan anything new and guaranteed you will have to go and buy it back from the church jumble sale at a fraction of the cost you paid for it. Some people in that village have found some pretty amazing bargains I can tell you.

Anyway, whilst we were there the time came to 'do' the supermarket shop. Nan finds walking difficult, so I've set her up on online shopping - but she won't have it - I've even told her about the cute young delivery men from Waitrose, but she prefers Sainsbury's and they're not quite as cute.

Anyway, my Mum takes Nan weekly to their local Tesco - which is enormous - and this week was no exception and we had the two boys in tow as well. The boys aren't known for their love of supermarkets and they were led to the car protesting their innocence and pleading to be allowed to stay at home - I was reminded of the scene in 'Tale of Two Cities' when Dirk Bogarde is proclaiming 'tis a far, far better thing... as the little seamstress is led to the guillotine.

But they duly got into the car and off to the land of Tesco we went.

KC decided that if they helped Nan and Mum (Granny) with the shop then they could probably get back to the TV quicker and may even get a treat for their trouble - my Mum has Sky, we don't - apparently our lack of TV channels is tantamount to abuse.

We went into the store and Nan produced a list. My Mum had warned us that Nan takes a long time debating over most of the products on the list before eventually buying the same items she buys every week, but I guess when your are in your 90's you can do as you like.

KC was brilliant with Nan, he ran backwards and forwards collecting her items on the list, only for them to be rejected, but undeterred he then took them back and reselected the requested item in the right size, or colour... or whatever.... It was good exercise for him and, as he suffers from severe dyslexia, it was also a useful way to put into practice all the extra support sessions he is given in school.

I was so proud of him and Nan was equally impressed. She patted him on the head, "You are a good boy," she said, "You'll get your reward in heaven."

KC looked at her, "In heaven?" He looked at me...

"Do they have DS Games in heaven?" he asked.

"In your heaven I imagine they do," I replied. He gave a big grin and immediately went back to helping Nan with her shopping.

Mind you, this weekend is Father's Day and TJ has already been complaining that he has to buy two presents instead of just one. I told him he could get something for us to share - "But you don't like football!" he cried.

"I meant for Papa and I to share," I told him, "Not all of us."

"Well, that's not fair," he said. So I've booked a family trip to see Jurassic World on the Imax screen on Sturday night and will await my football themed present on Sunday, which TJ will then happily play with all day - still at least it will keep him occupied.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

An NSPCC Assembly????

So this morning I was walking the dog when I bumped into a doggy walking friend. Our only connection is that we both walk our dogs at the same time every morning and we got chatting about the normal mundane things that dog walkers discuss.

Despite having 'chatted' for over two years the lady finally asked me what I did for a living. "I was a teacher," I told her (I never say I used to be an actor or anything like that - that leads into huge conversations regarding the fact that not all working actors are mind blowingly famous - and anyway, I haven't done it for ages... adoption enforced 'resting', I like to call it..) 'And," I added, "I'm going back to work in September at my sons' school."

"I'm going to be running an assembly at that school next week," she told me cheerfully. "I work for the NSPCC and we go in and talk to children about domestic abuse and the fact that children can use Childline etc."

She must have seen the colour drop out of my face.

"It's ok,' she said, "It can be a bit full on and some children do get upset but we've only ever had a few actual disclosures."

I decided to come clean. I told her that our children are adopted and that our eldest, who would be attending the assembly, had only recently come out of therapy to help him understand his past and the 'parents' that they would be discussing could very well be the birth family he experienced.

She listened and advised me that maybe my son should not be taking part. I agreed and went home to speak to the school and find out why I knew nothing about this.

I wrote a long email to the Head, also including the fact that the genetics lessons (see previous post) had also caused some upset and asking if the school could keep me in the loop about such things - I asked he if she could let me know when the assembly was in order that I could find a reason for KC not to attend that day.

I wasn't at all happy.

But I was also wrong.

The Head had already decided that KC wouldn't take part, she was waiting for confirmation of the assembly and then she would arrange for KC to be doing something very important that day, which would mean he would 'unfortunately' miss assembly. Once everythin g was in place, she had intended to give me a call...

She also took my point about certain classes, such as family trees and genetics and would have a quiet chat with all the staff because, obviously, it didn't just effect adopted children but also those with single parents or those in care.

She was completely open and lovely and thanked me for my openness (I don't think you can hide much when you are the only gay family in the school - but there you go.)

But it also goes to show that it really is worth talking to the people you meet every day... properly!