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Coming out as gay parents

Social Chaos: Raising Alek

One thing that I have gained doing this weekly column is the terrific insight to parenting I’ve received from interviewing so many gay and lesbian parents. I can only hope that some of their wisdom rubs off on me and increases my chances of being a better parent.

I’ve also found it interesting that a fair percentage of people that I interview wish to remain anonymous, for various reasons. My first reaction is it is sad that even though we are making progress in civil rights, the reality is we have so much further to go. There are parents like me who are completely out and have no fear of being so public, and there are those who choose to keep out of the spotlight. This terrific lady I met today summed up her and her partner’s feelings this way:

“Our request to remain anonymous began from the core concern for our kids’ safety. We did not want our children to be targeted in any way, so we have always been very cautious about keeping them out of the limelight, or making them a focus on anyone’s stage but their own. Now that they are older this is still a concern, but not as much. The bigger concern now is our awareness of their own coming out process of their family. We want them to be in control of how and when they come out. We had our time and day when we each came out. We believe strongly that our children should have their time and place.”

I completely respect “Lisa” and her family’s request to remain anonymous during this interview. I found them to be amazing parents with some great insight to parenting.

Sam: How did you go about becoming a parent?

Lisa: I gave birth to both by insemination, using an anonymous donor sperm.

Sam: Do you have any comments or thoughts on the process you’d like to talk about?

Lisa: The process was frustrating when we used Kaiser. We felt they did not take the process seriously and used it more as a testing ground. We wasted a lot of time, money and energy with them.

After many unsuccessful attempts, we decided to go with a private doctor. He was much more professional and took us and the process seriously. I became pregnant the first time with my son and the second attempt with my daughter.

Sam: Did you experience any prejudice or bigotry during the process?

Lisa: Not in a flagrant way. As I mentioned, Kaiser seemed to take it as a money maker and used nurses for the insemination. When we went with a private MD, he completed the process from beginning to end himself. Gabriel Garzo was the doctor we used and we really respected him.

Sam: As your children have grown up and more social awareness occurs, has their identity of children of gay parents changed in any way?

Lisa: What has changed in the past year is he is realizing his own coming out process as a son of two moms. Previously, he was very proud of both of us and showing off a bit in having something that no one else had. He was very excited to share his family and both his moms.

Now he is much more reluctant letting his peers know about his second non-biological mom. He does not want her to be obvious on campus, but incognito. He is afraid of being teased. The kids make gay jokes in a group, not focused on him but in his presence, and it makes him angry, but he does not feel comfortable saying anything.

He is sure to tell us he loves us both and he is sorry for the way he feels. We reassure him that we will respect his wishes. We also try to educate him on how to handle ignorance and discrimination when he hears or sees it.

Both my kids have been around and have gone to school with many kids with a variety of disabilities. I use examples of these kids when I discuss discrimination with them. So they see it from many perspectives, not just their own family.

We also let him know that it is his choice to come out to his friends when he is ready, it is not ours. However, what is funny is that these are the same kids and families he spent Kindergarten through Third Grade with, and they all know his family has two moms.

Sam: If you had to do it all over again, is there anything you would do differently?

Lisa: I only wish I would have had more role models to discuss the challenges to the relationship that comes with having kids. I did not listen to my straight friends because I thought I was different. But it was not. Kids add a whole new dimension and it’s very challenging whether straight or gay.

Sam: To what degree do you think you are a different person today because of being a parent?

Lisa: I am much more protective than I thought I’d ever be. I am more humble and happy. I am less selfish and more grateful for the little things. I am more willing to let the small stuff go. And I believe strongly in the quote, “This will pass.”

Sam: What message do you think is important the gay community knows in regards to gay people becoming parents?

Lisa: A couple things. It really changes your life in a way that you do not expect. It is good and challenging. It challenges your core. It challenges your relationship with your spouse and all your friends without children.

When we had kids 11 years ago, it was tough finding families like ours. As a matter of fact we were part of the first Lesbian Moms Group, started out of Considering Parenthood. This was a lifesaver for us. Many of our friends without kids think it’s great the first year but then they don’t quite get it after that and friendships begin to wane.

As I finished talking with Lisa, I couldn’t help but agree with her that one of the most important things I’ve found as a “lifesaver” is reaching out to other gay parents.

To the many parents who have opened up their family lives to our community through this article, bless you, you’re an inspiration to our awesome community.



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Posted by LGBT Weekly on Feb 17, 2011. Filed under Raising Alek. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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