Archive for June, 2012

Shopping for Wedding Bands at Tiffany’s

By Ben Suazo

Shopping for Wedding Bands at Tiffany’s

This is a photo of the ring. The actual rings are being engraved B&D for David’s and D&B for my ring.

 

Took a walk this afternoon to Tiffany’s to meet my partner David to purchase our wedding bands. For several weeks now I have been feeling anxious about this day but not for the reasons one might immediately assume. Two men walking into Tiffany’s shopping for wedding rings. Would they stare? Maybe we would be ignored?  What about all those customers, what would they think? I have been creating and imagining all sorts of things. When I arrived, David was already there. He told me that the wedding section upstairs had some 50 people – all men and women…. straight couples!

I have to admit that I was too busy looking to see if anyone was staring and so was David. Maybe we were being silly, after all, this is “gay marriage” New York? Not surprisingly, we were the only gay men choosing rings…. and as with many instances in our lives, like attending PTA meetings or little league games we are always coming out and the only gay men. They are little courageous steps that challenge us to live freely and be our true selves. It can sometimes be an isolating feeling which only bonds my partner and I even more. Our son will be our ring bearer and I made sure to let the staff know this. It turns out David was feeling the same way.  They were wonderful, by the way and we purchased our wedding bands.  But, one day it will be nice if we didn’t have to have these concerns.

Ben Suazo is Gay Parent magazine’s Marketing and Administrative Assistant.

Forever Dads – One Child’s Empathy

By Tony Zimbardi-Le Mons

Tony Zimbardi and family

The author Tony Zimbardi, far right with (left to right) John, Antonio, and Erik

 

“Tell me again, Papa, who are we visiting in Palm Springs?”  Erik asks from the back-seat.  “Remember guys, my ex, Terry?  We all went Kayaking together when he lived in Long Beach?  Well now he lives in Palm Springs.”  “Oh yeah,” they respond in unison.  It’s early October and Antonio is out of town for the weekend, so I thought I’d take the boys for a father-son getaway to Palm Springs before it gets too cold to go in his pool.

“Hey guys, how are you all?” Terry warmly greets the three of us at the door of his new home in a gated community in Palm Springs.  “Now the first rule of the house boys is that you don’t open any windows or sliding doors beyond where they already are,” Terry begins.  “I put pieces of wood between the open door of the window and the jam so no one can try to break in by sliding any doors or windows further open” Terry adds.   “Why did you do that?” Erik asks.  “Well, because of burglars” Terry answers.  Turning to me, he goes on “You know, the only thing I don’t like about living in this community is that the security walls around the homes are only about seven-feet high, I feel they should be much higher. Why, I could scale one of these security walls myself!”  Terry offers.  I observe the boys getting a little restless.

‘You have burglars here?” John asks a little alarmed.  “Well,’ Terry begins, “Burglars are everywhere, you can never be too careful.”  Don’t you know that burglars are everywhere?  Why I’m sure they have them in your neighborhood too, you can never be too cautious!”  I’m lugging our suitcases into the bedrooms listening to all of this thinking that this is the kind of bad combination of mingling a paranoid aging man and little kids, it’s not sounding too good to me.

My fears are realized when together the boys begin, “Papa, we’re scared!  Papa, do we have burglars in our neighborhood? “I shoot Terry a look much like the days when we were a couple and I was annoyed by something that came out of his mouth.  I look back at the boys, “You don’t need to worry guys, we DO NOT have burglars in our neighborhood.  I’ve lived in our house twenty-one years, never a problem, never! Let’s change the subject, Terry, why don’t we, Terry?”  Without missing a beat, Terry goes on, “Maybe it’s my grief, you know, I couldn’t bear the thought of having my father move in with me when his health began to decline, but after two years of having him live with me, and now that he’s been gone for six weeks, I can’t believe how much I miss him.”  I see that Terry is looking emotional.

“Our Mom’s in jail!” John blurts out.  “Yeah, our mom’s in Jail!” Erik repeats.  “And we’ll never, ever, see her again!” John adds.  We’ve been in Terry’s house all of fifteen-minutes and I’m thinking all three of them are losing their minds.   “Alright everyone,” I announce emphatically, let’s get out of the house and down to the pool.”  “This is what happens when you put older people and children together and throw in their fears and paranoia, I mutter to myself as I exit the room to unpack their bathing suits.

Few hours later, Erik and Terry are in the pool and I turn to John, “Sweetie, what was all that business about your mom being in jail?  You never mention her at home, and all of a sudden you’re blurting it out here where we’re guests in someone else’s home?  What’s going on?”  “Well you know… Terry” John answers.  “What about Terry?” I ask as I coat his arms with suntan lotion.  “You know, Terry’s dad.”  “What about Terry’s dad?” I ask.  “Like, our mom abandoned us when she went to jail.  When Terry’s dad died, Terry felt like his dad abandoned him!”  I turn away, not wanting him to see how touched I am by his explanation in that moment; my eyes instantly fill with tears.  I realize that he didn’t quite have the words at the time, but this is genuine and accurate empathy John was trying to express to Terry.  I turn back to John, “You mean, you wanted to let Terry know that you know how he felt?  Because he lost a parent and you lost one too?”  “Yes!” John said declaratively nodding his head forward for emphasis.  “Come here, sweetie,” I grab John, pulling him in for a warm embrace as I kiss the top of his head, my heart breaking open with love and pride.  “You are just the sweetest, boy,” I stand him back a little so I can make eye contact with him. “That was a very nice thing you did, trying to let Terry know he wasn’t alone in his experience.  You are a very special child John, do you know that?”  “Papa?” He looks up at me with his big brown eyes.  “What sweetie?” I ask tenderly.  “I love you.”  “I love you, too,” I reply, knowing this is a moment he’ll probably never remember but I’ll probably never forget.  “Now can I go jump in the pool with Terry and Erik?”  “Yes, sweetie, now you can go jump in the pool with Terry and Erik.”  I sigh a proud sign as my little empathic-one leaps up into a ‘cannonball’ and then hits the water.

Tony Zimbardi-LeMons and his partner Antonio LeMons are raising their sons John and Erik in West Hollywood, California. Zimbardi-LeMons is a psychotherapist and writer. His book, Forever Dads, A Gay Couple’s Journey to Fatherhood chronicles the adoption of his sons from the Los Angeles County. Read more of Zimbardi-LeMon’s column Forever Dads (formerly Bringing Up Gayby) in issues of Gay Parent magazine (use our search tool for Tony Zimbardi) or go to back issues.

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