20 Jun 2017 Asia Trip Reminds of Continued Relevance of LGBT Pride Month
As an attorney with a busy practice, a husband and a father of two boys, my days usually fly by juggling responsibilities and deadlines, and there isn’t much time for reflection. But every now and then, the stars align and events coincide, and it almost seems like there’s some rhyme or reason to it all.
That happened recently, as I found myself, during Pride Month 2017, traveling around China and Japan to talk with LGBT people dreaming of becoming parents and hungry for information, not just about assisted reproductive technology, but about my personal experiences as a gay dad. That personal element really brought home to me the realization that celebrations of LGBT pride and equality are still critically important as signals of hope and encouragement to places and cultures where being out and proud is still not possible. That in itself has made this a meaningful and emotional trip.
Then, after some three years of writing, rewriting, editing, proofreading and more of the same, the American Bar Association, as I was across the world talking about surrogacy, released the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” which I co-wrote with colleague and fellow ART attorney Stephanie A. Brinkley. More about the book in a follow-up article, but suffice it to say the timing of the book’s release was personally moving.
Our trip was organized in part by Shanghai Pride and PFLAG China. On one leg of the trip, a cruise, I was asked to make a 90-minute presentation to 300 or 400 passengers. I covered the basics of surrogacy and related legal issues, but the cruise organizers were particularly interested in my sharing my and my family’s personal story… about how my spouse and I, as a same-sex couple, found out about surrogacy, navigated it, had children, and have been navigating personal and family issues since then.
The struggle for LGBT people here in China is still “acceptance,” and it takes a lot of courage for LGBT Chinese to be out. Many are not fully out and hide their true selves, and this is even harder when they want children, so beginning a family becomes part of what they must navigate. They were hungry for personal stories of how my spouse and I overcame similar situations, how I dealt with not being accepted by my in-laws for a while, and how the children helped everyone get past this.
Interestingly there were many families on the cruise, older parents of LGBT individuals and couples interested in starting a family. The future grandparents bring their kids on this PFLAG-sponsored cruise to learn about family building. That there is such an organized function for LGBT intended parents indicates at least a degree of acceptance, so it's not all dark and hidden behind the pink curtain. In summary, much of the trip has been about providing encouragement and sharing personal stories about LGBT family building—the societal/social aspects as well as the medical and legal processes.
I am honored to have had the opportunity to share resources and hope with LGBT people who still struggle with socially imposed limitations and stigma because of their orientation. The experience served as a great reminder that, despite how far we have advanced the cause of LGBT equality, there is still so much further to go, and more reason than ever before to be out and proud, if you are lucky enough to be able to do so.
Click here to see the photo album from our trip!