At this year’s FRIGID Festival in New York City, one of the offerings is a one-woman show named “Upstream Swimming” about the playwright’s experiences as a girl growing up with two gay dads in the ‘80s. The show is written and performed by Lindsey Steinert, who herself was raised by two gay dads. TimeOut New York named “Upstream Swimming” a Critics’ Pick.
For performance dates and ticket info (including how to get free tickets), see end of article.
A Blog Post From Lindsey About Herself
Here’s a little background about Lindsey, in her own words:
My Challenges of Growing up With Two Gay Dads
I’ve been performing for as long as I can remember. Whether on stage as a character, or in life as a normal child in spite of my abnormal upbringing as a child of same-sex parents, each role I’ve taken on – whether voluntarily or not – has presented a set of unique challenges.
I’ll never forget my first day of kindergarten because it was the day I learned that not everyone had two gay dads, two brothers and a beagle named Hymie. While I suspect my peers were in the midst of their own earth-shattering revelations, my revelation was unique in that there wasn’t a single person in my class, in my grade, or in my school who had same-sex parents. I was the first.
This notion of being the first continued throughout my childhood permeating my life in unique ways that at the time seemed less significant than they do upon reflection. For instance, when I started ballet at age 5, my Pop was told to get me dressed for class in a separate room from my classmates because his presence in the girl’s dressing room made my classmates’ mothers uncomfortable. Or constantly getting asked “Where’s your mom?” and having to explain that I have two dads. Then having to correct and inform the inquisitor that my dads were gay when they just assumed my parents were divorced and remarried which resulted in my having two dads. Or not being able to complete the Common Application for college because it required specific information about the applicant’s mother and father – rather than their parents or guardians – a simple change I suggested in the additional essay I had to write as an explanation for my incomplete application.
My Dads’ Challenges
While being the first wasn’t always easy for me, it was equally challenging for my parents who were the first in their own right, and subsequently faced challenges from the day I was born – literally. My birthmother lived in a different state so the day after I was born my parents boarded a plane to bring me home with them, and mid-flight one of the flight attendants started asking them where my mother was, and why they were traveling with a newborn. While they attempted to explain, their efforts weren’t successful, and their flight was greeted by the FBI who were responding to a possible kidnapping – reported by the airline. Two years later when my brothers were born, my parents learned their lesson and brought my godmother with them. She sat next to my Pop on the flight home and pretended to be their mother, while my Dad sat one row behind them. There were little challenges too, like having to change my diaper on the floor of an empty stall in the men’s room because changing tables were restricted to women’s restrooms at the time (and in many places still are). And other not-so-little challenges, like when I was 9 and someone spray painted the word “F*GGOT” in big, blue, capital letters on the side of my family’s brownstone. Even more vivid than my parents’ attempt to explain to us what that word meant, was the police’s refusal to classify the act as a hate crime.
In 2017 with shows like “Modern Family” and “Orange is the New Black” where same-sex relationships are depicted as the norm, it’s becoming increasingly hard to believe – let alone recall – a time when having same-sex parents wasn’t considered trendy or cool. But when my two dads met 40 years ago the notion of starting a family as an openly gay couple wasn’t just far-fetched, it was unheard of. Five kids, two birthmothers and four beagles later, my parents not only created a loving family, but raised five children who collectively have no interest, despite having the option and ability, to meet their birthmothers. A phenomenon I can only attribute to my Dad and Pop’s parenting, and their insistence that we be surrounded by strong, female figures (such as nannies and aunts), whose presence likely circumvented the void that some children ascribe to not knowing their birth parents.
My One-Woman Show
When I graduated college in 2014 and realized that people were still shocked to learn that I have two gay dads, I knew it was important for me to use my unique position as a child of same-sex parents to contribute to the normalization of families like mine – something that as a child I had always yearned to do, but at the time lacked the resources to accomplish. Combining my love of performing with my desire to provoke social change is what led me to write a one-woman show titled “Upstream Swimming” about what growing up with same-sex parents is really like. Writing and performing “Upstream Swimming” provided me with a unique outlet where I cannot only share my story with strangers, but can share my experience as a child of same-sex parents with members of the LGBTQ community who continue to fear the repercussions of a less traditional family dynamic when deciding whether or not to start a family of their own. The show, not unlike most of my childhood experiences, is the first of its kind and will be taking part in this year’s FRIGID Festival in New York City that runs from February 16 to March 4; same-sex couples who attend the show together can see it for free.
Although I continue to be encouraged by the progress being made by and for the LGBTQ community, progress that I know will continue to dismantle the still widely held belief that a child is best raised by a mother and a father in a traditional family, as the successful product of a family that breaks with tradition, I feel it’s my responsibility to insure such progress continues. And the best way I know how to do that is by sharing my story with others, and encouraging potential same-sex parents that the only way to alter society’s understanding of what it means to be a normal family, is to redefine it.
This blog post first appeared in the Huffington Post. It is republished with some changes.
The 2017 FRIGID Festival Presents: “Upstream Swimming” – A One-Woman Show About A Totally “Normal” Girl (With 2 Gay Dads) – Written & Performed by Lindsey Steinert
In the late ‘80s (before having same-sex parents was considered cool), Dad and Pop decided they wanted to have a family. A few years and many unique attempts later – enter Lindsey: your typical 20-something girl, who just happens to have two gay dads. From justifying her singleness to her puzzled fathers, to addressing her anxieties – which range from not being interesting enough to stalk, to contracting malaria on the subway – it’s clear she isn’t always as put-together as she looks. But is her untraditional upbringing to blame? Join Lindsey in this first-of-its-kind show, and hear an actual child of same-sex parents explain why, despite having spent a lifetime swimming against the current, she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Because the desire to provoke social change is what compelled Lindsey to write “Upstream Swimming,” she will be offering same-sex couples who either have children or are considering starting a family (and attend the show together) FREE TICKETS to see the show. It is her hope that hearing a first-hand account from an actual child of same-sex parents might alleviate some of the doubt and fear that society imposes on less traditional parents and their family dynamics.
Dates & Times:
Thursday, February 16 @ 7:10 p.m.
Wednesday, February 22 @ 5:30 p.m.
Friday, February 24 @ 8:30 p.m.
Sunday, February 26 @ 1:50 p.m.
Saturday, March 4 @ 5:00 p.m.
60 Minutes (No Intermission)
The Kraine Theater
85 East 4th Street
(between 2nd Ave & Bowery)
New York, NY 10003
*Please note: the theater is NOT wheelchair accessible
$15.00 or FREE for same-sex couples who bring their kids (14+), or same-sex couples considering starting a family!
Tickets can be purchased or reserved online or purchased day-of at the box office.