Beyond the celebrity and the fame that is so prevalent in our culture, there are many people that are accomplishing many things that may not be seen on a reality show or in the political forum. LGBT parents are not only shaping the lives of their children, but are helping to shape and change the conversation in America. These parents are not exclusive to one area or one community; they are weaved throughout the fabric of our everyday society, raising sons and daughters that will be making changes in our communities.
I am lucky enough to share my own community with some of these fantastic parents, and am friends with others. Some I have known for many years, Others are newer friends. The commonality is that these people are raising wonderful young men and women who will most likely go off and do what we all are trying to do; change the world.
Ralph Ramirez-Maglio and Lester Ramirez-Maglio are doing exactly that. Residents of Wilton Manors, FL they have opened their hearts to their gorgeous daughter Madison, and while her life and adventures are full of beach days (and fantastic fashion) it is clear that Madison is surrounded by so much love.
I'll be sharing stories of a number of LGBT parents and their children. While many of us want to change the world around us and are not quite sure how, these parents are raising people that will hopefully end up doing just that. I could not be prouder to share their stories. Have any parents or stories that you feel deserve to be featured as part of the #PrideSeries? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
What was it like when you and your husband Lester first decided that you would take the plunge into parenthood? Was it a hard or a long drawn out decision?
We both always wanted children, although we were unsure if it would become a reality someday. After we decided to have a child a few years ago, we wanted to make sure we planned properly. We wanted an SUV, to purchase a house and to be in a good financial position. We knew we'd never be totally ready as it's never perfect, so we discussed it and went for when the timing felt right.
What is it like raising your child in an LGBT community like Wilton Manors, Florida? Do you think it would be difficult in a less accepting community of just different?
We are fortunate (and a little spoiled) to have a strong LGBT community around us in South Florida, but we aren't limited to just one community or group of friends. We have friends with children that are same sex couples and we have many friends with children who are straight couples. We spend a lot of time with them and are accepted and welcomed as parents, not same sex parents. I don't feel it would be more difficult raising our daughter somewhere else. We set the expectation of how we want to be treated and surround ourselves with people that meet those expectations. I guess what we're trying to say is that we are just regular parents and if someone decided to treat us differently because we are two men, then they wouldn't be allowed near our family with that type negative energy.
Is parenthood everything you expected or different? How so?
We'd have to say it's a little bit of what we expected and a little different in ways. It's tough and rewarding at the same time. What we've realized is that we get to grow and change with her. She's not the only one doing things for the first time or learning during this amazing journey, and that's a really special thing to share.
How do you and your husband balance a social life with friends with the responsibilities that come with parenthood?
Well, we have to make time for a social life now. We include her in some of our activities such as Crossfit. She gets to come and spend some time chilling out in the kids room watching some fantastic cartoons. We've managed to take a family vacation, had some pool time with our friends and even been to see some movies. She's already been to two of her friends birthday parties, so I think she's winning in the social life area. While we don't have any family down here, we are very fortunate to have an amazing group of friends that just love her as much as we do and are willing to spend time with her so we can have some alone time.
What are some of your favorite things about being dads?
She immediately smiles when she sees us. It could be first thing in the morning, when we're home from work, during a bath, or right before bed. Getting that reaction each day is the absolute best. It's also great to see us coming together as a couple to decide on what values to teach her. There is so much to figure out and doing it together is definitely one of our favorite things. It's a great reminder of why we love each other so much.
Ok now is the time to gush about your gorgeous daughter; have at it!...
She is truly perfect. She is the happiest baby we've ever seen and she just gets happier as the days go on. We live for the way she smiles and wiggles around when she sees us. We are her everything and she is ours.
What is it like to see LGBT parenthood become part of the lexicon and part of the conversation now? It is much more common and accepted than it used to be.
Since we came out, it's always been a part of the conversation but in the most common way possible. Of course it's more talked about and accepted than it used to be but we are both very fortunate to come from large accepting families. It's fantastic that it's becoming more accepted but we need to get to a point where it's just parents. Not LGBT parents or straight parents... just parents. Then we believe we will have truly advanced.
What does "pride" mean to you and your husband? And how do you pass that down to your daughter?
It's quite simple... be proud of who and what you are. We both were faced with challenges growing up and we continue to work hard so that she has it easier, but we do want her to be challenged in order to stay grounded. We are proud of how far we have come as individuals and as a family and will do everything we can to ensure she feels that.
What are your biggest hopes both for your own daughter as well as for the other LGBT parents of children?
Be happy and be healthy. If they have those two things, nothing can stop them from achieving greatness.