My name change (see #14 at 100 Details About Me) over 30 years ago was not a way to distance myself from my youth so much as it was looking forward. Actually, there was a fair amount of separation involved; much of my youth was decidedly unpleasant. I don’t know if there is something specific behind my starting to connect my current name and identity with my birth name. It may well be a natural part of growing old and re-examining my past and future. It is most definitely not any shame or embarrassment over the name or my family.
My then-partner and I each changed our names to have the same last name in the early 1980s. He was the first to use Gryphon unofficially, although I was the first to complete the legal name change. Back then it was a formal judicial proceeding, not an administrative action. Many documents; most typed in triplicate (NO photocopies permitted) each with its own (not photocopied) back sheet. The ex really did not care for his birth name and as we’re both gay we knew we weren’t going to be ‘carrying on the family name‘. I have a brother and two sisters and the bloodline continues without my genetic contribution.
This is not the beginning of a ‘childless couples are discriminated against’ screed; although I do appreciate how annoying most such couples must find the relentless questions. Sure there was a time (thousands of years ago) when it was incredibly selfish not to breed if one could. As the world’s population approaches SEVEN BILLION I feel no pressure to ‘save the species’. The concept of ‘race’ as a biological fact has been discredited; and I never really cared about skin colour. Estimates of the number of children available for adoption vary; from just over 100,000 to well over half a million just in the US. That doesn’t include the number of ‘exotic children’ available from various second and third-world countries for those that are so inclined.
1980 was before marriage equality arrived in Canada. And long before most gay men contemplated having children outside of a “traditional” (i.e. heterosexual) marriage. I believe that my lack of interest in siring offspring has nothing to do with growing up in that environment; I think I would be part of a ‘childless relationship’ regardless. Of course there is no way of knowing. It’s certainly not that I hate children. I love the various children in my extended family and would take in any of them if (gawd-forbid) it was ever required. I would not have taken the job doing school photographs this summer if I didn’t have patience and some affection for children. In fact their innocence is a boon to my soul; a reminder that there is always hope.
Oh, and I’m not revealing my birth name here. Family and close friends know it. People who find my entry on Classmates under my old name know it and may find this post to know my new identity. Friends on ‘the Book of Face’ might be able to catch at least part of my birth name.