A Place at the Table

I didn’t start this blog with a particular purpose in mind but this place has become more than a series of stories about everyday life, more than vignettes about taking my kids to school in pajama pants or dropping muffins on the floor. The words I’ve shared here are about family, about my imperfections as a mother and my struggle to be better but my story is more than that.

I continue to share my family with you because I believe in the power of visibility to change the world. This may not be The Gay Agenda but it’s certainly mine. When we come to know those who are different than us, we want the best for them and their families. We want the world to change for them, even in the tiniest of ways. This is when we are at our best, when we find that we can love across difference, when we begin to speak up for each other.

In September of 2013, Guido Barilla said that he would not include a same-sex family in the company’s ads because the company valued the idea of the traditional family. Many in the GLBT community were outraged and many families – families like mine - were hurt by his comments. Anger and sadness led to a call to boycott Barilla pasta.

I was hurt but I wasn’t angry because I wasn’t surprised. His words were simply a reminder of how much work is still to be done on the road to equality.

Since then, Guido Barilla issued an apology and met with GLAAD, GLSEN and the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force. Barilla created a Diversity & Inclusion Board and elected to participate in the Corporate Equality Index created by the Human Rights Campaign. They are re-launching their Share the Table program which reinforces the importance of shared family meals and invites all families to share their stories around family mealtime.

And they invited me to participate, invited my family to share our experience and our story.

I talked to Luisa, to trusted friends and – finally – to my kids. We have some of our deepest conversations over dinner so, one night, I brought up Barilla and told the kids about the comments that had been made. Zeca shook her head, “That makes me sad and it’s wrong.” Miguel slammed his hand on the table and said, calmly but with resolve, “Boycott.”

I turned to him and said, “Do you believe people deserve a second chance to do the right thing?”

He stared back at me, his voice quiet, “I don’t know.”

There is so much that he doesn’t know.

My mother never wanted us to have children. She felt it was wrong, an unfair burden for the kids. I had to work hard to set her hurtful comments aside but I did and Luisa and I created our family despite her disapproval. We maintained a relationship with her and were patient and watched as our children brought more joy to her life than any of us could have imagined. My family – Luisa, Miguel and Zeca – brought me closer to my mother and, before she died, she told us that we were good parents, that we had a beautiful family. I will forever be grateful for that peace.

I know the power of second chances. I believe that from deep hurt comes the possibility for great change and that is why I have decided to partner with Barilla on the Share the Table program.

Family mealtime has always been important to me and some my best memories are of meals shared with family, in the many ways I define it. In the coming months, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on family mealtime and telling our story as I always have. By using the hashtag #sharethetable, you too can tell your story and every time you use that hashtag, Barilla will donate 10 meals to Feeding America.

We can be visible. We can learn from each other. We can give back.

And maybe – just maybe – we can be a part of change.

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Barilla, however, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive sentiments towards Barilla or their products.