National Commentary

Johnny’s World: Baby

jworldI was always taught that the American dream was to be a member of the home ownership club, to have babies, and to vacation regularly. Owning a home, for a Birkin bag obsessed person like myself, may be something that comes a bit later than normal. I already have a cool job that lets me see the world regularly and slip in some beach or spa time when needed. So I suppose the weirdest idea at the moment is the idea of babies. The recently passed Russian laws concerning gay propaganda targeted at children’s welfare and the law that Americans can no longer adopt orphans from Russia got me thinking – not only about my position as a gay sportsman who regularly performs for Russian children, but also as a future father.

Realizing wholeheartedly that I am a gay man, and that the chances of creating a life the old-fashioned way – through consensual relations with a female – would have a zero possibility of success, I had to start thinking creatively.

Before I was married, I thought primarily of adoption as my means of giving a child a nice, opportunity-filled life. As a Russophile, I have studied the many good things about Russia’s history as well as many bad things including the ongoing struggles of Russia’s orphan community. I thought it only natural that I would one day adopt a Russian girl, bestow upon her a name worthy of a Tsarina, and treat her as the princess she is. It was a dream filled with difficulty and hoops to jump through but it was a journey that, come a certain age, I would be prepared to complete. Because of ill treatment by some American adopters of their Russian charges, my future family now hangs in the balance.

I can’t imagine that any orphanage is a fun or nice place to be for a child. Having worked with the Russian Children’s Welfare Society in New York, I was able to learn a lot of facts concerning the conditions afflicting the children and also the conditions of their living quarters. Drug addictions starting in the womb, children born with alcoholism and living in squalid, overcrowded rooms seems to unfortunately be the norm. To deny any of those children the opportunity to go to a loving family anywhere seems just as archaic a rule as the anti-gay laws of Russia’s modern history.

Hearing about the anti-gay propaganda law constantly on my end, I have thought a lot about my meetings with children, performing for them, and even the things I tweet or say in interviews with Howard Stern and the like. While my personality has been criticized in the past for not being “family friendly,” I think I’m a nice guy with a lot to say. Now that there is an “anti-people like me” law in a place I love so much, it really has me second guessing the things I say and do and definitely how I interact with kids.

Just this past weekend I performed at a resort perched atop an idyllic mountain in Idaho. My audience was primarily families, and after the show I had the opportunity to do a meet-and-greet. So many children stayed up past their bedtime either because they were skaters or because their parents wanted to see what I was all about. I found myself, usually a warm and hug-loving type persona, staying behind my table and waiting for the audience to ask for a hug or photo instead of simply offering. I found myself saying very little to the kids so as not to offend them or their parents. I felt uncomfortable wearing theatrical makeup in close proximity or talking about my wedding rings to adult fans when kids were within earshot.

This new law, while it doesn’t pertain to me directly as an American citizen, has affected me to my core. I question, should I even be a father? The indignant, steadfast optimist in me tries to immediately shake those thoughts away, but it’s hard when there’s even a question of my moral compass’ integrity, just because I’m gay.

I once read a quote pertaining to Jewish children growing up during World War II, a father tells his daughter, “Because you’re Jewish, you have to be faster, smarter and stronger than anyone else. That is how you will win.” I repeat that quote every day so I can reassert myself as a future “World’s Greatest Dad” sweatshirt wearer.