A couple of generations have passed since Stonewall, and more and more people are acting upon Harvey Milk’s declaration that the closet is the biggest enemy to the queer community. This not only includes those who are gay and lesbian, but those who are children of gay and lesbian couples.
A recent article interviews several of these children, now adults, and how their family structure affected their childhood and well-being.
Opponents claim that raising a child in a home lacking in a parent of either gender will cause the child to become psychologically damaged, experiment more with their sexuality, and grow up “missing” the parent of the gender not present in their lives. They even go so far as claiming that gays and lesbians who adopt children are engaging in a selfish act; treating their child as a “trophy.” The members of the LGBTQ community have long spoken out against such claims, and indeed no mainstream medical organization in America can point to definitive proof that such negative consequences occur with same-sex parenting. But it isn’t just members of the gay community that are fed up with such questions: the children themselves are tired of it.
While many grew up hiding the families they dearly loved from bullies at school, they are now writing memoirs and speaking out about their experiences. It turns out that the children of gay parents are as varied as the children of straight parents. Jesse Levey, a heterosexual republican who believes in “family values,” is fighting for his lesbian moms’ right to marry. Growing up he did not feel sexually confused; nor did he miss having a dad in his life. He was never lacking in male role models, and his mothers were able to provide all the typically “male” activities their son loved, such as hiking or having a catch.
As acceptance grows for gay couples and more and more people personally know someone who is gay, so too is acceptance growing for the children of those couples. Waning are the stereotypes of the damaged, confused child of gays.
Some children of same-sex couples say their upbringing actually makes them psychologically stronger.
Abigail Garner, author of “Families Like Mine: Children of Gay Parents Tell It Like It is,” calls her upbringing a “fabulous gift.” She is the daughter of two gay dads and a straight mom.
She says her interviews with other children of gay or lesbian parents showed that those who shared her upbringing tend to be more empathetic and unafraid to take unpopular stands.
In fact, the ones making children sexually confused are those seeking to spread misinformation and stereotypes about gays:
Some of the same children, though, face more difficulties dealing with questions about their sexual orientation. Garner, 37, who identifies as heterosexual, says some repress their sexuality because they don’t want to give ammunition to their parents’ critics.
“I know story after story of children who started to question their sexuality but stayed quiet about it out of fear that the truth would reflect poorly on their parents,” Garner says.
So those seeking to “protect the children” are in fact harming them with their rhetoric. Such children bare the brunt of sexual confusion because they are trying to protect the parents they deeply care for.
The only negative voice in the article is that of Dale O’Leary, a Catholic who believes children can only be raised healthfully in a one-man-one-woman marriage. Not surprisingly, she admits that she does not personally know any same-sex couples or their children. O’Leary spouts off the same tired stereotypes about the children of gay couples, but tides are turning for the side of the LGBTQ community.
…according to COLAGE (Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere). At least 10 million people have one or more lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender parent.
And more and more people are getting to know those couples and children.