This morning's post on the adoption initiative for black and black gay parents leads to another story that is somewhat bittersweet: A 7-year-old black boy in rural Washington has sickle cell anemia and is badly in need of a bone-marrow transplant, the Seattle Times reports. Zyreal Oliver-Chandler is being raised by two gay men and the reception to the story has been marred by racism and homophobia.
Thomas Oliver and his partner, Jeffrey Chandler adopted Zyreal when he was only 7 months old, knowing the infant had sickle-cell anemia. Oliver and Chandler say they fell in love with Zyreal when they first saw him— a wide-eyed baby who easily fell asleep in their arms. "He had a round head just like Charlie Brown," Oliver says.
In Zyreal's room near Seabeck, he chatters happily about all the books he's read and Blueie, a stuffed elephant. "I found Blueie walking down the hall at Mary Bridge (Children's Hospital in Tacoma) looking for somebody to love him," Oliver says as Zyreal tosses Blueie into the air. Zyreal says little when asked about his many hospital stays. And his two fathers hope he'll someday be free from pain and medical procedures.
Thomas Oliver and partner Jeffrey Chandler —who are not black—have another adopted black son with special needs who is a Western Washington University student.
The comment stream at the Seattle Times is noteworthy: Several of the comments are downright homophobic (some have been removed), while many others spout proto-racist, faux scientific gene theories or just plain ole racism such as the succinct "Does the Seattle Times put black people on the cover of their paper so often because of white guilt?" One commenter asks: "You guys need to look in the mirror and figure out how you can take this where you took this. It's just a story about a child whose parents are trying to save his life and you find fault in that?"
It's also worth noting that supporters of Washington's Referendum 71, which would rescind the state's recently passed "everything but marriage" domestic-partnership law, would intentionally harm families like the Oliver-Chandlers'. A letter to the editor at the Times asks: "What would the Rev. Ken Hutcherson, the anti-gay, black preacher, say to Zyreal about the only two parents he has known?"