Florida Fall Festival: Palm Trees, Food Trucks and One Gay Family

Recently we went to our new town’s Fall Festival. We felt drawn to it immediately, not only being the new town we would call home but because it centered around the Fall Season. A season in which we loved during our short stint living in New England. Pumpkin patches, corn mazes and trees painted in various colors by Mother Nature, fall was by far our most favorite season in Massachusetts. So off we went to take it all in.

Here in Florida, there’s no pumpkin patch or corn maze, rather food trucks and bouncy houses for the kids. The trees are still the same color; bright green palms like time standing still.  I immediately began feeling nostalgic towards New England, wondering what our old friends were doing to take in the fall day far up I-95.

As we entered the festival anxiety set in. I was feeling out of place. It was as if I was dressed in drag, carrying a Rainbow Flag and blaring Cher on my boombox.  We stuck out. “One of these things is not like the other…” was replaying over and over again in my head. I wanted to look busy, like any other family and blend into the crowd but the more I tried to blend the more I felt everyone staring.

We walked through the crowds and I watched as my husband stopped by every booth. He wanted to try the jams, look at the trinkets and talk to everyone he came into contact with. I never noticed the jams or the trinkets, I kept looking to see if anyone did a double-take. What if they don’t accept us? What if our kid isn’t invited over to play with their kids, because of our “lifestyle?” How would I explain that to my son?

By this point Josh had ran into multiple people from high school, all of whom asked for his number and wanted to get together. He was in his element, so happy to be home.  Why was I freaking out? I didn’t want to let on, even to my husband, how uncomfortable I felt – this was his home after all.

As we went to leave our son noticed the balloon booth.  Anyone who knows our kiddo knows he can’t leave anywhere without a free balloon. Back in L.A. he would come home everyday from the grocery store with a new balloon. The ladies in the check out lines always held old balloons just for him. He would walk through our back door proudly holding his “Happy Administrative Assistant’s Day” or “Happy Nurses Day” balloon. That’s my boy, I thought. As I approached the booth I realized it was the local church that was giving them away. We went up to the pastor and he gave Hayden his balloon and immediately a smile came across his face.

His balloon didn’t last very long. Within minutes he let go and off it went up into the sky, but his smile didn’t fade. “Bye balloon!” he shouted.

The fall festival wasn’t exactly as I expected but my boys had an incredible time. Experiences are what shape us and make us better people. We came here to expose those in the South to our beautiful family, I have a feeling they will in turn have a huge impact on me as well. Maybe sticking out is exactly what I need right now.