The Gayby Boom and LGBT Equality
There have been many reports in the news lately of the generation gap on the acceptance of LGBT people. Most younger people just don’t see sexual orientation as a big deal. Some of the reason for this is, of course, that most young people these days have a least one friend or family member who is openly gay. Some of the credit for the change, however, also needs to go to those of us who have been raising children within our same gender relationships for the last 25-30 years. Before the 1980’s LGBT people were raising children, but most of these children were the result of prior heterosexual relationships. In the 1980’s, however, artificial insemination became available to open lesbian couples. If you didn’t have a sperm bank in your own state, you could travel to one, or even do it all via the mail. It wasn’t cheap, but it was possible. Adoption and foster-parenting also became more common among LGBT people, some being open about their relationships and others posing as single.
It was the beginning of the “gayby boom” and that boom has continued. Some research even suggests that lesbians are now just as likely to become parents as heterosexual women. Gay men are adopting in ever greater numbers and some are also using surrogate mothers. The impact of discrimination on the children of LGBT families was one of the arguments that led to the overturn of DOMA.
But there is more to it.
Once you become a parent, it is impossible to stay in the closet. One, it wouldn’t be good for the kids if they thought you were ashamed of your family, but beyond that, kids will out you all the time. They say loudly in the grocery line, “Mom, mama says we need to buy more milk.” They talk about their parents at school. You attend school and athletic events and other kids come over for sleepovers. Maybe you join a church. We joined a Unitarian Universalist congregation when our kids were young partly because we wanted to raise them in a supportive religious community. I have heard (either directly or from their parents) that several young people who grew up in that church and later came out as LGBT, feel that knowing our family made their own coming out process much easier.
It is a little funny, but whenever we go back to the town where we raised our children, people we couldn’t pick out of a line-up recognize us. We were the lesbian couple with the 3 kids and everyone knew us – and still knows us – on sight.
Our kids had friends. Their friends knew us as parents just like their own. We fussed at them just like their parents did. Our kids complained to them when they were grounded or when we said “no” to something they wanted to have or do. We were just parents; weird to their children in a variety of ways just like all parents are. No wonder their friends all grew up to think sexual orientation is no big deal. Multiply our experience by the hundreds of thousands of families like ours. Multiply it by all the friends of all the children who grew up in GLBT households.
Thanks, kids, you helped make it possible for your parents to finally get legally married.
Photo is from 1991-1992 I think.