STANDARD WARNING: This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to individuals, living or dead, is pure coincidence. Do not read this story if you are offended by man-to-man romance or sex. Do not read if you are underage according to the laws in the country, state/province, county, city/town/village or township where you live. There is sex between males. You have been warned!

Copyright 2001 by Nick Archer. Permission is granted to Nifty Archives, ASSGM, and gaywritings, to post one copy. No part may be copied, reproduced, republished, or reposted on another website without written permission from the author.

Thicker Than Water

By Nick Archer

Prelude/We’re Not Doing Enough

The following is a transcript of a speech Matt Rosato was asked to give at The Unitarian Universalist Community Church in Park Forest. The speech was given on Sunday, July 10, 1994.

The invitation came from the pastor himself. Matt and Tim discussed the possible ramifications for weeks. Although Unitarian congregations are overwhelmingly liberal, there was the possibility that by giving the speech in Park Forest, he might be opening up himself and his family for ridicule, ostracism, harassment and perhaps even worse. Eventually, Tim and Matt involved the kids in the discussions and they all were adamant that he should make the speech.

While Matt did not suffer from stage fright and was comfortable in front of an audience, there was another reason for his hesitancy. He didn’t see himself as a crusader or hero or anything else out of the ordinary. He was just a father.

"Good Morning. I want to thank you for inviting me this morning. Your welcome has been so kind and enthusiastic and sincere. The moment I walked into the building, I was greeted with smiles, warm handshakes and hugs. It’s a wonderful feeling. It seemed everyone wanted to talk to me, ask questions, and ask about my sons. I feel like some sort of celebrity.

"But, of course, I’m not. I’m actually uncomfortable with celebrity and the trappings that surround it. I’m just a modest guy who really hasn’t done anything extraordinary. As I have said in the past, and I still maintain, I really haven’t done anything worthy of celebrity status. I’m just a single parent who has adopted two sons. There’s nothing terribly unusual about that. The only unusual thing, really, is that I happen to be gay. I am in a committed, monogamous relationship. And my two sons are gay.

"Well, if you want to be technical, one is gay. My younger son is really too young to be making decisions about his sexuality. At this point, he’s much more interested in the menagerie of fish and small rodents he has in his bedroom than either the same or opposite sex.

"And I want to point out that being gay is only one aspect, one tiny part, of my sons. They are kids first. They have the same needs, the same challenges and the same difficulties as your kids. They have the same discoveries and joys and rewards that your children have. They test our limits and try our patience. They try to get away with stuff. They break curfew. Just an aside, our family’s curfew is when the streetlights come on, so if you see them when it’s getting dark, please send them home. Our boys are loving and intelligent and creative. My older son brought home all A’s on his final report card this year. My younger son has made so much academic progress that he will be in a regular classroom next year. Of course, I think they are the most wonderful boys in the world.

"I would have been content to live a peaceful life here in our beautiful town. But, that was not in the cards. When Tim, my partner, and I took Brian to Northhalsted Market Days last August, we consented to an interview by the Windy City Weekly. At that point, the dam burst. Suddenly, everyone wanted to talk to me. They wanted to know what I was doing right and how I had become such a good parent. They asked if I had a magic formula for turning their own unruly teenagers around. They wanted my opinion on everything: The state of adoptions and fostering, custody, fathers versus mothers and different parenting styles, global warming, O. J. Simpson’s guilt or innocence, the price of gas and Saddam Hussein.

"I want to state this very clearly and unequivocally right here and now: I am not an expert on any of these topics and I have never claimed to be.

"I understand that this congregation is a welcoming congregation which means that all people, no matter what their prior religious background, and regardless of race, gender, income or sexual orientation, are welcome to worship here. I also know that Unitarian Universalists are very big on justice and peace issues. Many of our nation’s leaders were Unitarian. So you have a history of leadership coupled with a larger view of the world.

"My sons and my husband have given me many gray hairs as well as great joy. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Being a parent has been one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done. And it took prodding from a non-gay friend, who noticed the strong paternal instincts in me, to get me to initially sign up for a foster parenting program.

"Sometimes, when I’m looking at the night sky, I think about the people in my life and how lucky I am. I’m fortunate to have such a partner as Tim, who not only takes an interest in the kids, but also in improving his own parenting skills. I have been blessed with two wonderful, intelligent, funny, creative and loving boys. I have been given the gift of two foster sons, so far, and the knowledge that I have helped to change their lives.

"Still, when I look at that sky, I wonder how many more children are out there under that same sky. I ponder how many children have become "throwaway" children. These are children who are tossed out of their house as easily as someone would toss a used paper towel. I think about the number of children who are neglected, hungry and cold because their parents are suffering through their own trauma and do not have the skills or resources to provide for their children. I contemplate how many are lonely and frightened. I weep when I consider how many may be abused, physically, emotionally or sexually. And to tell you the truth sometimes I despair.

"When I think about the sheer numbers and the overwhelming tally of kids who need help, I wonder what I can do as just one man. Even with the help of people who love me, two children are just about the limit of my own resources.

"There are groups of people like yourselves, congregations, societies, organizations and groups, who are concerned about the welfare of children. But even with all these well-meaning resources we are not reaching all the kids who need help. I feel that we haven’t done enough.

"We haven’t done enough when we perpetuate male myths to our sons. Such myths as boys don’t cry and you’re too old to sit in Dad’s lap and never show your true feelings need to be buried in the nearest landfill with the rest of the stinking, rotting garbage.

"We haven’t done enough when we send the message to our sons that parenting is women’s work, and the job of the man of the house is to work hard and bring in a regular paycheck. That entitles him to plant himself in front of the television all day Sunday watching football.

"We haven’t done enough when a boy or girl can’t read and write well enough to complete a job application. And who is to blame for their illiteracy? The school system that allowed him or her to be teased or harassed. When a child no longer feels safe at school, and their pleas for protection go unheeded, they are left with one alternative. That alternative is to drop out of school. Many school districts are just now starting alternative school programs, but it’s still a very small number. It’s like trying to put out a house fire with an eyedropper.

"We haven’t done enough when fine mini-series like Tales of the City are censored or, worse yet, televised in the wee hours of the morning. It’s not that I’m promoting nudity or drug use on television. I’m promoting sitting down with your children and viewing the series together. I contend that most parents aren’t really afraid of letting their children see a glimpse of mammary glands but are afraid questions from their children which that little glimpse will inevitably bring.

"We haven’t done enough when we put young teenagers on trial as adults and locked away for life. We are denying the powerful, creative force out there that prompts people to turn their lives around. And we ourselves are criminally negligent when we ignore our duty to help these children change their lives. It’s so much easier to warehouse them in a jail than to rehabilitate them. It’s so much easier to quarantine them from society instead of teaching them appropriate behaviors within that society.

"We haven’t done enough when people feel they have to get married because of their religion or because they have succumbed to peer or family pressures. To these people, it is better to marry someone of the opposite sex than face the reality that they might be gay. Look at how many people are deceived in the process. There are the spouses, the parents, brothers and sisters, friends – not to mention the children the couple might have – that are all cheated out of the truth. All these people are living lies, and they are perpetuating the biggest lie of all to their children. That lie is that it’s better to deceive yourself and the people closest to you than face up to who they really are.

"We haven’t done enough when we react to coming out with dread and sorrow. We haven’t done enough when parents disown their own children because they are gay. Imagine a society where the news is greeted with celebration, even parties. I can’t wait until Hallmark introduces their line of ‘Congratulations For Coming Out of the Closet’ cards.

"We haven’t done enough when teenagers and children feel like they have to sell their bodies in order to survive. This is especially true of young men. The research shows that women enter the sex industry because of abusive relationships. Men enter the industry because of their sexuality. I am not here passing judgement on adults who choose to be part of the sex industry. I understand that portions of our society condone, even promote it. It’s perfectly legal in the state of Nevada. But they are adults and in American society that is their free choice. But when children feel that prostitution is their only choice, that is really tragic. We haven’t done enough when young, underage teenagers are working the streets instead of being secure at home playing video games and worrying about a blemish on their chin.

"When one child is crying from loneliness or fear or hunger or poverty or pain or guilt or worry, we haven’t done enough.

"It would be easy to despair over what we haven’t done, and to berate ourselves for not doing enough. But, we’ve still come a long way. Even ten years ago a gay man adopting a gay son would have been looked upon with suspicion if it were allowed to occur at all. I’m not sure my family and I could live in any other suburb besides Park Forest. For all its faults, Park Forest is a very tolerant and welcoming community. I’d like to thank this congregation for helping to make this suburb a comfortable place where a nontraditional family can raise their children. I am confidant that they are getting a good education in the public schools and that they can play outside safely.

"I only present these examples to remind you, as well as myself, of the things that need to be done. And to remember the is work still ahead of us.

"Thank you."

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