Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Mystery Award

We were given a "award" at the dinner last night. The agency had nominated us for a different award for foster parents who are engaged in activities to improve the lives of foster kids. We were nominated because of my "children who foster" work and because of our work in PFLAG, especially our work in PFLAG.

They are very impressed that we do that.

Anyway, we did not get the award that they nominated us for and so they wanted to give us their own award at the dinner. It was nice and all. We certainly do appreciate the gift certificate that will pay for our upcoming anniversary dinner.

However, it was a very odd experience. They told us that they were giving it to us (so that we would be sure to come to the dinner). The certificate is nicely framed, but only says "Certificate of Appreciation." At the end of the dinner they called up the parents who had been working for the agency for 5 or 10 years (no 15, 20, etc were there) and gave them framed certificates which say:

Certificate of Appreciation
For 5 years of service

Then the young social worker who is now the family developer says that she has an award for me and Hubby.

"I really appreciate Yondalla and [Hubby]. I learned more about being a social worker from them than any of my teachers. [Laughs] We all really appreciate all the things they do. They are so involved in the community and they really care about making things better for our kids."

That was it. That was what she said.

Now there was nothing wrong with it, but if I had been one of the other parents I would have thought, "What did they do that was so special? Why are they getting this award? Aren't we all involved in the community? Don't we all care about the kids?"

At the time I just sighed and and took the certificate and the hugs.

Today I am feeling downright peevish about it. They were giving us the award because we have worked to make things better for the gay kids. We have worked hard in PFLAG; we have lobbied the legislators; I have written letters which have been published in local papers; Hubby has given presentations to groups of school counselors and psychologists. If I were being given an award because I had made a commitment to kids with any other special need, they would have mentioned it.

It feels creepy to me. I mean, they didn't have to give me the certificate or gift certificate at all. I don't do what I do in order to get recognized. But if they are going to give us an award, shouldn't they be able to say what it is for? Shouldn't they be able to say "for working hard to increase undersanding for gay and lesbian kids"?

If it is award-worthy, shouldn't it be speakable?


  1. This reminds me of the early queer advocacy groups like "Laywers for Human Rights" whose names were illegible as homosexual.
    I am peevish, too, on your behalf. A little reminder just in case you were thinking that the queer kids didn't need you anymore...

  2. But if they said you were working with GAY kids, then the fundies would have to come after with tar and feathers.

    Be peevish, but not too peevish. Enjoy your dinner and be glad you got the award anyway.

  3. I'd be peeved too. Not knowing everything I can only ass-ume the situation.

    I understand Oinkstops opinion, I even agree with it. Fundies like nothing more than to have something to rally around.

    But by being silent the agency has sent a message on it. On one hand they are recognizing the importance of what you do, but on the other that it isn't worth rocking boats.

    If you are really comfortable with the Family Developer it might help to ask her about it.

    Maybe next year we need to get you a rainbow vest a' la Sharon Gless. Although the boys may not appreciate the vest as much.

  4. I don't mean to deny the presence of implicit homophobia (as a fellow resident of The Big Red State, I know it's everywhere), but isn't it possible that this is just a result of the chaos of producing one of these evenings? Our department has a banquet every year, and people are so caught up in figuring out various details that our award winner announcements always end up being pretty half-a$$ed. Last year the person doing the announcing forgot that we had two outstanding graduate award winners, and the person doing the announcing forgot to mention one of them (who had spent a LOT of money making sure her family was there and had given many of us thank you cupcakes). I was so embarassed that I'm still upset about it--still, it wasn't an intentional screw-up, just the result of flakiness. It seems like foster care agencies aren't necessarily the most coordinated organizations around. Either way, I'm sorry that your moment to be honored was unsatisfying.

  5. Yeah, I'd be tempted to chalk it up to air-headedness or nerves. Or maybe she just assumed that everyone knows what it is you do and it didn't cross her mind that it needed repeating.

    Surely if they nominated you for an external award for your PFLAG work, they can't be too shy to mention it internally. It's got to be just a badly put-together speech.

    In any case, congratulations. :)

  6. I have so lived this! Just like you, I get peevish later. Like the time they asked me to represent the agency because we are so good but then told me to not be open about our relationship.


  7. Bring on the homophobia....

    Maybe it was better they didn't say anything though so as to not bring the fundies knocking on your door!!


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