The portrait of American families has changed immensely over the past years. Single parent households or same gendered couples with children are far more common now than they ever were back in the 1980s.
Even in a city as progressive as San Francisco, gays and lesbians who had kids were rare. Rachael Garvin recalls a time when she was the only girl in her class with two moms at her Castro District elementary school.
Adopted as an infant by her mom Pam, and later co-raised by Pam’s partner Christine, Rachael grew up in an all-woman cooperative.
“Some kids called me names like faggot and dyke, but as I got older, that changed,” Garvin said. Slowly, other kids whose parents came out of the closet later in life started to appear in her Duboce Triangle neighborhood.
Both of Rachael’s moms were heavily involved in gay politics and community events. One of her fondest childhood memories is sowing panels together for the AIDS Memorial Quilt that was first displayed in Washington D.C. Oct 11, 1987.
“Christine used to take me to the shop and together we’d patch panels with items belonging to the AIDS victims.” she adds.
Rachael is straight and works as a nurse at a Bay Area hospital. Her moms are no longer together but she feels fortunate for having such a great upbringing. She still wonders how Pam made her adoption happen and thanks Pam’s friends for supporting her during the adoption phase.
Last June, during Pride weekend, Garvin was driving on the freeway and caught a glimpse of the pink triangle over Twin Peaks. Her eyes watered as images of her early male role models who died to AIDS, and memories of the whistle she and everyone else in the Castro had to carry filled her mind. For Rachael, San Francisco symbolizes family and overcoming intolerance.
***Belo Cipriani is a freelance writer, speaker, and the author of Blind: A Memoir. Learn more at www.blindamemoir.com.