Recently an article was written by gayrva.com (see link) about a lesbian couple, and their daughter, being denied a family membership at the American Family Fitness Center on Brook Road in Richmond. Oddly, the couple had already held a “family membership” at AFF for some time but it had lapsed. When they wanted to renew their membership and include their daughter the staff’s excitement over their return quickly became dismissive and rigid. “It is policy.” “We only allow family memberships to those who meet the Virginia definition of family – a man and a woman…” Really?? This family that they rejected is a good friend of ours. Anyone who knows them will tell you that they exemplify the best of parenting. They are family focused, faith-centered, and driven by their hearts – for the betterment of all. The AFF staff’s solution was to offer one woman with the child a family membership and the other parent to sign up as a single adult. Oh sure, that makes perfect sense. No problem. Although the storyline infuriated me, I had to laugh out loud when I saw Wikipedia’s description of American Family Fitness. from Wikipedia >> AFF’s mission is centered around providing a positive fitness experience for the entire family except for gay and lesbian families http://www.gayrva.com/2010/08/03/american-family-denies-family-membership-to-lesbian-couple/
What I have to wonder now is: will AFF ultimately lose memberships, on principal, because of their policy and exclusionary practices (and if they do, will anybody know about it); or, will AFF become the fitness center of choice for hardline right “families” who don’t want to mix with the unenlightened – guilt by association. I’m sure there is a less black and white response to that question – and I won’t presume that membership with AFF implies support of their policy – but I’m wondering … can’t help but wonder…
There is something to be said about being a Daddy’s Girl! And anyone who has ever felt this way knows exactly what that means. My daddy (though I pronounced it “diddy” which often came out more like “deity” with a southern drawl – go figure) just had a way with life. Don’t get me wrong, he was no saint, and I know it. But he was perfect for me. From the time I was a little child, I thought that I was the sun and the moon – so did each of my sisters, and all of us were right.
He just had a perspective on life that I believe contributed significantly to my own outlook. He found humor everywhere. He never met a stranger. He had tough expectations, but he never left me hanging without the tools to meet them. He found value in everybody and every situation. He genuinely cared about the wellbeing of everyone he encountered, as well as those he would never come across. If he had it, he gave it. If he knew it, he shared it. He was my worst critic and he was also my champion when I got in trouble, in either case always with unquestionable love.
He passed away 5 years ago and I miss him every day. I hear him in my thoughts and see him in my dreams. The “contract” we operated under was really very simple and worked in almost all situations. I knew it, even though it was never written down or discussed. If it had been written down it would have said: “1. I get to say/ask/confess whatever I want; 2. Sweetpea gets to say/ask/confess whatever he wants to about it; 3. Sweetpea gives me the choice to create whatever outcome works for me and he (does) say, “Whatever you work out, I will support it.” And he meant it. I think that was the birth of my critical thinking skills. He knew that he had guided me as best he could, that I valued his opinion, that I knew right from wrong, and good from bad. He was clear that if I was going to be the best I could be that I would have to know how to think through things – not from concern about what everybody else would think or do, but from a place of love and integrity. He understood that making choices in life would rarely satisfy everyone but that ultimately, for my own sake, they would have to satisfy me. There were no rose colored glasses and there were missed opportunities. I made some choices better than others and sometimes the outcomes were painful for more than just me. But NEVER did I have to worry that any of my choices/decisions would result in him pulling back on his love! The contract intact, I always knew that I had his love and support. Not a saint. And not a deity. Just Sweetpea!