This picture of two black, gay fathers preparing their daughters for school one morning has been making its rounds on the Internet over the past few days. Along with the picture was the following caption:
Being fathers is getting our daughters up at 5:30 am making breakfast getting them dressed for school and putting them on the bus by 6:30. This is a typical day in our household. It's not easy but we enjoy every moment and every minute of #fatherhood. #proudfathers #blackfathers #prouddads #gaydads
The picture is originally from the Instagram page of two young men: Kordale, from Chicago, and Kaleb, from Atlanta. Their page is filled with ridiculously adorable pictures of their normal lives, and that's the point. Their life is normal for them, and their love for their children, their care and attention to each other and their development of a solid family foundation should be celebrated, regardless of how you feel about homosexuality.
In the rush of modern life, it's important to pause for moments like these and celebrate them for the right reasons. One reaction some may have to this moment is that in a world where so many young black children grow up fatherless, we should celebrate any time we see black men taking care of their children. For me, this answer, while likely common, commits a fatal error. First, it assumes that only black fathers are absent, which simply is not true. Black fathers are more likely to be absent than fathers of a different race, but given high poverty rates and mass incarceration rates for black men, this is not surprising.
This is not to say that we in the black community don't have a problem. But when the Washington Times can write, "In all but 11 states, most black children do not live with both parents. In every state, 7 in 10 white children do," without it being a significant miscalculation, we have a crisis.
Instead, I would suggest that we should celebrate this depiction of black gay dads raising children for two reasons. First, we should celebrate every type of family in which children feel loved, cared about and respected, as absent fathers is a cross-racial problem in the United States, currently experienced by a third of all children.
And secondly, in the society and cultural community in which Kordale and Kaleb, and other black gay parents, generally exist, the struggle for a sense of normalcy is even greater than for gay parents of a different race. Although I do not know Kordale and Kaleb personally, I am sure that they have experienced the struggles with which all black gay men in the United States wrestle. I explained these issues — lack of black community acceptance, the significant challenge of being devalued by the black church and the experience of being forgotten by the gay community — in a previous article.
Nevertheless, in spite of those challenges, these young men, and others like them, have been courageous enough not only to be "out," but to also make the difficult choice to raise children under these circumstances. Most parents never have to consider the idea of raising children in a world where the people, institutions and communities most important to them may never be shared with their children. But black gay parents, especially black gay dads, do.
That's what makes this moment so powerful.