Next weekend my partner and I are headed to Palm Desert to part-tay, with sippy cups in hand. Our three-year-old son will be along too as we join an estimated 60 LGBT families October 8-10 for some wild GLBT family fun, including rubber ducky races and a wildlife show, all part of Families in the Desert, sponsored by the Family Equality Council.
It’s still Palm Springs though, or at least the vicinity, so our first stop will be the pool at host hotel Embassy Suites Palm Desert, but instead of dykes with Nerf footballs and boy-shorts, the scene will be tykes in swim diapers and floaties. After fun in the sun, there’s family trivia, followed by a great big gay family dinner and karaoke and dessert. It reminds me of the family vacations of my childhood, if my parents had been gay and all their other parent friends were gay.
Times, they are a changing, and this refrain is echoed by the choice of Family Equality Council to host their event for the past several years in Palm Springs, home of the Dinah and the White Party. Just like their choice of Provincetown for the annual Family Week in August, it’s a sign of the times that our community’s adult playgrounds are now the playgrounds for our children.
“It is important to FEC that we hold events in communities that are welcoming and supportive of the LGBT community. We also want them to be accessible to large populations of LGBT parents,” says Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of FEC.
Chrisler, mom of twin boys with her partner Cheryl Jacques, is a regular fixture at all of the events, ever playing the host and making everyone feel at home. If charity starts in the home, so does community, with Chrisler as the indefatigable super mom overseeing her amazingly efficient staff and a top-tier team of volunteers who put on these regional events as well as a series of fundraisers and community-building events around the country.
As someone who’s been to more galas, awards dinners and community networking events than I can shake a plate of chicken or an Absolute cocktail at, I vouch that FEC holds some of the most organized and entertaining events out there for the GLBT community, and it figures a mom is running the show.
This upcoming weekend includes programming for both kids and adults, including educational sessions on topics such as battling homophobia, dealing with gay bullies and the process of adoption. Chrisler will lead a keynote workshop entitled The State of the Movement with an update on the work FEC does to forward its mission of ensuring GLBT families are recognized, respected, protected and celebrated.
Other activities for the whole family include a family BBQ, storytelling and s’mores, a special screening of the film “Expecting Mary” www.expectingmary.com at The Living Desert Museum, a safari tour, and a Wildlife Wonders Show of the animals of the African Desert. Teens and ‘tweens will have their own meet-and-greet mixer, chaperoned of course. Leaving no detail unattended, FEC provides free babysitting by professional child care providers so that parents can attend adult sessions.
It’s no wonder that families come from all over the country, and even as far as Australia, to come together with other GLBT families at these events for affirmation, enrichment and inspiration to make a difference in our children’s lives.
“We hope to deliver an event that our families value as an opportunity to strengthen their ties to the LGBT parenting community and a place where they continue to learn from each other how to navigate the journey of LGBT parenthood,” said Chrisler. “It’s also an opportunity to see old friends and meet new ones and enjoy some much-earned time off with your family.”
I know I speak for the rest of the grateful GLBT parents when I say, “Thanks mom.”
For more information, go to www.familyequality.org/desert
Family Equality Council Hosts Annual Families in the Desert for LGBT Parents and Kids