“And… Who Is He?”
So 2 kids and 2 adults walk up to the TSA desk at Newark’s Liberty Airport to check in for a flight. I hand the TSA agent identification for all 4 passengers. Confusion is seconds away. The TSA agents are befuddled. Three “Cunningham’s” – one “Michael Spann” – their walkie-talkie’s are squelching in the background – then one of the men motions with his head — “Who is he?”
“He” has a name. He is my husband. At this rate Michael ought to be playing in the philharmonic cause he is so used to playing second fiddle. The TSA agents are bewildered; this 3-person-family-turned-4 has activated an incongruity in their threat matrix. We are profiled as Adam and Steve. Are we the “Gay Banditos?” ready to repaint the aircraft with pastels or bedazzle a 747? After a few moments, things become very clear because the TSA agents – like many so many others, have discovered the postulates of what makes a family, have changed.
Apparently, all of this appears lost on our children but everything I’ve read on that says that I am wrong. Kids listen and sense your feelings – your emotions. I find the most helpful people on our travels are the flight attendants – they get it! But it’s always off the airplane when things turn “south”
For example, in December of 2008 the “Keystone Cops” at the Dallas Fort Worth Airport Police interrogated Michael on suspicion of kidnapping our own children! The Grand Spanish Inquisitor Torquermada would have be less offensive and suspicious. The kids were 2 months old at the time. The “profile” called into police was that 2 men – in long dark coats – without food for the kids – have 2 small children- and they are taking them to the forbidden city of “Hartford, Connecticut.” Put that into the TSA profile and of course, it must be a kidnapping . After all, with Hartford being so close to the Canadian border (side note: Connecticut doesn’t border Canada and the milk for the babies and their food went through the security checkpoint X-ray machine in our carry-on bags. The TSA agent who initiated the call to police missed that; scary huh?). The police officer backed off and a complaint to the TSA resulted in an apology from them but not the Dallas Fort Worth Airport Police Department. To this day it was too little to mollify the outrageous conduct against us by the government.
Challenging and educating society is the new frontier for our kind. We are just like everyone else. Honestly, I feel empowered by our new laws recognizing our marriage (thank you Massachusetts), the acceptance of a new generation of people (the younger generation just doesn’t care as much about homosexuality), and most of all the comfort I feel in my own skin.
Related: Raising Gaybies: Out Of The Closet And Into Full-Time Fatherhood
I used to carry around certified birth certificates for both kids. I don’t anymore, unless I go to Oklahoma; still can’t figure that state out. But it’s nice to feel free accepted and one day, people will stop asking, “Who is he” and say, “Is this your spouse? Can I please see his ID” and no one would be offended, even if they weren’t pointing to Michael.
Is your family dynamic one that makes people stop and wonder? How do you handle it? And do you worry about the effect on your children?
Bennett Cunningham is a Bankruptcy Attorney licensed in Texas and is a former investigative reporter for KTVT (CBS station) in Dallas. Bennett has garnered 7 Regional Emmy Awards, including the Best Investigative Reporter in Texas 2 years in a row, as well as several National Awards for his exposés into the mismanagement of taxpayer dollars and government waste. Bennett is also admitted to practice in the US Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas and the US Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Texas. He is a member of the State Bar of Texas, The National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorney’s and the American Bar Association – and most importantly, a stay-at-home dad.