queer rage, school forms, homophobic, administration, heteronormativity, three parent family, correction
Ben: Daycare. Well, the story that I remember most involved me and you [indicating Ian], where, um, so at U of T there’s the childcare benefit, and there’s a form, that the daycare has to help me fill out, so I give it to them, they’re very helpful to fill it out, and they put it in an envelope with my name on it. And then Ian, because he has the car and was in Mississauga, went to pick up Joshua and saw the letter and – or went to pick up Joshua and they – I asked him to pick up the letter, and they – when he arrived and asked for the letter, um, they weren’t sure whether or not they were able to give it to him, and then Ian said, “but we’re married”.
Ian: Well I can go on… So I’m a bit of a hot head. I’m also constantly – I’m constantly full of queer rage, right? You just have to understand, like, I am waiting for people to be homophobic, right? And the truth is, it hasn’t happened often. It honestly hasn’t. But this one moment was not – I wouldn’t say it was a moment of overt homophobia, but it was going down a path that was going to make it difficult for me to participate in that community. And the administrator was a very… I’m not sure how to put this: well-meaning, but…
Ben: She was lovely.
Ian: Very lovely but it was clear that sometimes she was operating, um, where she was applying her rules and allowing us to just be who we were and ignoring the truth in front of her, and this was one of those moments. So as – as I was talking to her, I asked for the letter, and I said it’s my spouse’s letter, and she inquired something else and I said, “we’re married, he’s my husband”. And she said, “well I don’t know how you…” and I said “Stop. Before you continue that sentence I want you to know that you won’t be able to take it back and if you say something offensive I will use it against you”.
Ian: Because she started down a path that said “I don’t know how you” and I’m like – the next word out of her mouth was people, I don’t know what was happening but it was escalating on both sides, and I stopped her. And I’m like, “no”. Because this is about to go somewhere where it can’t.
Ben: And she picked up the phone and called me to get my consent. And she said, “can I give your letter to your wife?” And I went, “he is right in front of you!”
Ian: She started with – she started with “friend”. She said “friend”, then she said “wife”.
Ben: I don’t even remember, I had so much blind rage.
Ian: And as I’m standing there, looking at her going, I reached out for the document, and I grabbed it, and I pulled it out of her hands, I turned around and I walked away.
Ben: It was absurd. She wasn’t ever – It wasn’t aggressive.
Ian: No. Not at all.
Ben: It wasn’t exclusionary in a, “we’re trying to exclude your family”. It was just…
Alexis: Just did not understand.
Ben: That’s right. It was just the heteronormativity was so deeply entrenched that she couldn’t quite, in the moment of a phone conversation, couldn’t quite adjust quickly enough.
Alexis: And earlier on we’d had to correct – you always have to verify forms with tons of information. I’m sure every other parent has talked about excessive amounts of paperwork.
Alexis: Um, and Ben had originally been listed – so it was like “mother, father, friend,” on the form. So we, like, corrected it and gave it back, “mother, father, father”.
Tara: Which did you use, what words did you use on the form?
Alexis: I just wrote “father”. Yah.
Ian: Well, and to be – and by the way, this situation got cleaned up, so in the following week the other administrator apologized to me when I was in the office. So – and she explained, she said, “look, there was no intent, she just doesn’t understand”. And it was – it was a good experience and I think, um, the conversation ended with this: “we’ve never had to deal with a family like yours, there’s no issue whatsoever, but we just haven’t had to”. And that’s what it came down to, but they were always willing to try.