Gay Nanny Lani Trail; Gay Civil Rights Protest This Saturday

Dump Dobson Protest For Gay Rights in ChicagoThere’s another big gay rights protest this Saturday November 15 at 12:30 at Federal Plaza (on the corner of Adams and Dearborn Streets). This one is happening in cities across the US, since the issue of gay marriage is now being debated at a national level.

If You’re Straight, Why Should You Care?

My roommate and I, though standard-issue heterosexuals, feel very strongly about gay rights issues, adhering to the wacky belief that all Americans deserve the same legal rights (including the right to marry). And what with the recent influx of Obama-inspired hope, we whipped out the colored markers, put together some signs, and joined a few friends at last Friday’s protest against Prop 8 (which re-wrote the California state constitution to strip gays of, among other things, the right to marry).

The location of a particular downtown hotel was chosen as the protest location because inside, a media group was giving an award to James Dobson, who poured millions of dollars into the efforts to strip people of civil rights. He is aggressively homophobic, has considerable resources to sink into his efforts to keep gays second-class citizens, and he’s a big proponent of a therapeutic approach to “treat” homosexuality. His views are not supported by the mainstream mental health community, like the, you know, American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association.

Really? People really believe that gay people choose to be gay? Choose to be part of an oppressed minority subject to violence and discrimination, when they could just take a couple of seminars and re-program their sexual orientation? This flies in the face of biology, neuroscience, and common decency to fellow human beings.

As has been pointed out in recent media examples, so what if changing the law to include homosexuals in marriage rights is “redefining marriage in America?” If we hadn’t redefined marriage at other points in history, it would still be illegal for black people to marry each other. In 1967, it was illegal in 1/3 of states for President-elect Obama’s parents to have been married to each other, because marriage between a black person and a white person was illegal.

Gay Nanny Lani Trail

"I love my gay nanny" - Dump Dobson Protest For Gay Rights in ChicagoAmong the peaceful protesters (there was no counter-protest) we saw last Friday was an adorable little boy holding a sign that said “I love my gay nanny.” I snapped a quick photo. Turns out he was there with both his mom and his nanny, who ended up emailing me when she saw the picture on my blog. Well, the internet is a magical place, so now Lani and I are Facebook friends and I hope to bump into her again at tomorrow’s protest, where a filmmaker friend and I will be doing a little mini-documentary.

And now, a little bit about Chicago’s most internet-famous gay nanny (at least, that’s what we’re hoping for), Lani Trail:

Lani describes herself and her partner Sharyl as “recovering evangelicals.” “I am a survivor of ex-gay reparative therapy so we wouldn’t have missed this for the world,” she explained. “I was there because Dobson promotes reparative therapy which is damaging our community and stunting sexual growth. I attended a group called Redeemed Lives in Wheaton, IL. Redeemed Lives has the ludicrous idea that overcoming homosexuality is the same as overcoming drug or alcohol addiction, which is why they group them together in therapy. Dobson supports this.”

Lani believes that surviving reparative therapy is a challenge in and of itself. Even now, long after her attempt to “un-gay” herself, Lani still struggles to accept that she’s not harming her nanny kids when they see her and her partner together.

She feels very fortunate to be nannying for a loving, accepting family. Her partner and her employer are both psychology professors with clinical psychology degrees, and she says that the child she nannies for gets the appropriate level of explanation for the family’s involvement in gay rights issues. “His mom and dad have worked tirelessly to help him understand that my partner and I love each other just like his parents do, but that we can’t get married and that some people are mean to us. That’s enough for him.”

And knowing that my friends Tom and George, who have been together for years, finally got married a few weeks ago, only to have their marriage struck down by people like Dobson, is enough for me. Pick up some posterboard and join me tomorrow for another exercise in free speech.

Photos by Elizabeth McQuern.

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