The name Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere (COLAGE)makes for a nice acronym, but member Daniel Wayne Lessem is also fond of another, slightly more irreverent label for himself and his compatriots: queerspawn.
Whatever its constituency is called, COLAGE is a safe place for the children of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender parents to meet, discuss issues, and have a good time. Gay and Lesbian Community Center youth services coordinator Melanie Joy Cohn and graduate student Lessem, both in their twenties, saw the need and put together a local chapter of the international organization.
The group has been holding meetings for adolescents and teens twice a month. This Saturday gay parents and children of all ages are invited to meet one another for the family picnic and day at the beach. Food, fun, and games will be provided. Kids can meet other kids who have lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender parents; parents can meet other parents; and friendships can take off.
Lessem, the child of a straight woman and a bisexual man, joined COLAGE several years after his father, who had remained closeted, died of AIDS.
"I am really, really big into COLAGE, because if my dad would have been able to live in a community with an environment that was understanding, it wouldn't have been the hardship it was," he says. "COLAGE creates a more open, accepting place."
Organized by gays and lesbians but not for gays and lesbians, COLAGE offers the kids of queer parents, whatever their own sexual orientation, the opportunity to be around other kids with similar family structures. And unlike most other groups in the gay community's alphabet soup of social and activist organizations, COLAGE is not "problem-based."
"We have created a forum for kids that is fun," Cohn explains. "It doesn't have to be about having a problem with gay parents. That's important."