My little family (one same-sex male couple plus one 6-year-old son) went trunk-or-treating at the YMCA in Wake Forest on Saturday night.
Now, we're completely out to our neighborhood. Everyone knows we're a gay couple with a kid. (I mean, when you work for Equality NC, the gay civil rights nonprofit for the state, you're out!)
Trunk-or-treat is designed to be a fun, pre-Halloween activity where folks at the Y drive out to the parking lot, decorate their vehicles, and give out candy from the back of their cars and trucks to the hoards of costumed kids that other folks shepherd around.
Our kid was dressed up as a ghost. (This was good, since we discovered many flaws to the costume, like the eye holes didn't stay in place, he kept stepping on the sheet, and he couldn't hold his bag. Thanks to this test run, we'll now be ready for the real deal on Friday with costume version 2.0.)
We saw some of our neighbors, Kid's friends, and other children from his school. We talked and chatted and visited with teachers, the YMCA staff, and people from our church.
We walked through the inflatable haunted mansion and marveled at the tombstones. We looked at the shrieking, strobe-light-filled haunted schoolbus from afar but kept our distance.
So, what happened next? Was there some negative event, a taunt or shove, some shouted homophobic condemnation?
No, it was just a plain evening, full of candy and camraderie. And that's the point. We were just another family, struggling to keep their child from running around too wild, up-playing the fun and mystery, and trying to find the balance between safety and terror amidst the spooky decorations during the Halloween holiday.
Here at Equality NC, we're always talking about what we're working on, but at the most basic level, what we're actually aiming for is what we all have in our plainest human moments. We want nothing more than the most basic trappings of normalcy, being caught up in the moment and losing yourself as opposed to always worrying about your identity and the identities of those around you.
It's important that in the fight for fairness and equality, we don't become so focused on what we lack that we overlook what we have. It's the moments in the present that give us the strength and spirit to work towards a just future.
-T. Shawn Long