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Old 12-02-2006, 11:44 AM   #1
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Ask the Daughter of Lesbians

Partially due to the recent reemergence of the Ask the Homo thread, particularly a few comments within it and the link to the gay adoption thread, and partially because of the fact that the issue seems always to be in the news, and partially because I've found that gay people my own age and a little older enjoy asking me questions about it, here goes...

Feel free to ask whatever.
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Old 12-02-2006, 11:55 AM   #2
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since i don't know if you have two mothers or two fathers, do you feel that you've been denied a fundamental human right by not having opposite sex parents?

i ask, because the new anti-gay marriage line of thought is the idea that, "all children deserve a mother and a father," underscoring the notion that opposite-gendered parents are so critical to the development of a child that we must deny same-gendered couples any rights at all.

also, do you think it would have made any difference if your parents had been allowed to be legally married?
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Old 12-02-2006, 12:28 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
since i don't know if you have two mothers or two fathers, do you feel that you've been denied a fundamental human right by not having opposite sex parents?

i ask, because the new anti-gay marriage line of thought is the idea that, "all children deserve a mother and a father," underscoring the notion that opposite-gendered parents are so critical to the development of a child that we must deny same-gendered couples any rights at all.

also, do you think it would have made any difference if your parents had been allowed to be legally married?
Don't worry, I know why you asked.

I have lesbian mothers, sorry should have said that. They've been together since before I was born (via artificial insemination). I have been denied no such thing - hell I'm fortunate to have had two parents and lived a middle class lifestyle with plenty of shuttling to soccer games, attending school concerts, etc. Lots of kids don't have that and THAT is the real crime, though I'm not sure if I'd go as far as to say parents attending school concerts is a fundamental human right. Anyway, my parents (and I say that automatically instead of mothers, even in open settings, because it's something I trained myself to do when I went into the closet, so to speak, in elementary school) have many different aspects of their personality that are masculine and feminine, and we can have a discussion of the allocation of traditional gender roles if you want, but I have never wanted a father or felt like I was missing out. My parents are loving and supportive and that is what matters. I've had other male role models (I'm female, btw) including friends' fathers, uncles, grandfathers, and that other sort of uncle - my parents' gay male friends who we refer to as Uncle Bill, Uncle Jeff, Uncle Rob, etc. I have no problem interacting with guys, and although my closest friends at school are females and gay guys, I'm in a steady relationship with a guy and I have plenty of straight male friends. (Aided by my love of sports, which esp. straight guys relate to. and to preempt the stereotype, my love of sports was mostly self-developed, as one of my mothers hates sports and the other enjoyed baseball as a kid through her twenties but got away from it until I got really into it in my pre-teens and inspired her to get back into it as a mother-daughter bonding thing. We now have a pair of Red Sox season tickets.)

My parents are legally married, as we live in the greatest state in the country. They only dated for 8 months or so before I was conceived, actually, because they met at a group for single lesbians thinking about having children (kind of halarious, yes?) and my birth mother is 8 years older than my non-biological mother and was getting to the age where having a baby needed to happen soon. Anyway, when I was 2 they had a commitment ceremony with both sets of grandparents, plenty of gay and straight friends, etc. My sister was born (from my non-biological mother) when I was 4 and when I was about 6 or 7, can't remember exactly, we were one of the first families in MA to do a second-parent adoption, meaning that each of our non-biological mothers adopted us and thus both became our legal guardians. Then in 2004 my parents got married the week it became legal. Anyway, to address the substance of your question, yes, to some degree. For me it wasn't so much a big personal deal considring we'd done the 2nd parent adoption except for thinking about medical issues or whatever. But it didn't make a difference in terms of how we interacted as a family unit. When my parents did get married it was a big deal and a very happy occasion, and I don't want to minimize it, but it didn't change anything about our family or their relationship. They still celebrate the anniversary of their commitment ceremony as their primary anniversary, although we acknowledge both "Adoption Day" and their marriage date. But as a way of showing publicly that my family is equal, my parents' love is equal, yes, it is great. Gay marriage is very important to me as a civil rights/equality issue. On the other hand one friend my age felt very strongly about her mothers getting married, so strongly that although they didn't really care they married for her. (That week was quite the busy week for my family and many in the local community, running around to eachothers' weddings! Though my parents chose to have it be a private ceremony in our Rabbi's living room with just us and one set of grandparents that made it)

I guess, not to minimize the importance of marriage, because it is exteremly imortant as a civil rights issue, a practical/legal issue, etc, but as the slogan went at the many gay pride parades I went to as a kid, "Love makes a family." Marriage was a wonderful formalization of that, but to the idiot conservatives who think that by preventing gay marriage they will ward off the danger of gay couples having families, I've got news: There are thousands of gay families around the country and married or not they will still be families, act as families, and (gasp!) raise children.
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Old 12-02-2006, 12:52 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by Varitek
I guess, not to minimize the importance of marriage, because it is exteremly imortant as a civil rights issue, a practical/legal issue, etc, but as the slogan went at the many gay pride parades I went to as a kid, "Love makes a family." Marriage was a wonderful formalization of that, but to the idiot conservatives who think that by preventing gay marriage they will ward off the danger of gay couples having families, I've got news: There are thousands of gay families around the country and married or not they will still be families, act as families, and (gasp!) raise children.



you. rock.

your post made me choke up a bit. thank you, very much, for sharing.

another question: do you think it's "easier" for female couples to raise a child than male couples? i'm speaking not to any sort of gender-role stereotypes of women being better with kids (hey, i've taught preschool), but in terms of social expectations. we hear of lesbians with children all the time, but what about gay men with children (that arent' from a previous marriage)?

also, do your parents know any male/male couples with children?
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Old 12-02-2006, 01:21 PM   #5
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Thanks, Irvine.

Yes, my parents do know several male/male couples with kids. I only know a few kids my age (I'm in college), one who was adopted and another whose family situation confuses me but I know he's got two gay dads, one of whom is biological, and his biological mother may or may not have been gay but they were friends or maybe romanically involved at one point. We know some gay male couples more recently who've had kids with surrogate mothers - one couple has used the same surrogate for 3 kids so far and refuses to tell anyone whose sperm went into which kid.
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Old 12-02-2006, 01:49 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by Varitek


Don't worry, I know why you asked.

I have lesbian mothers, sorry should have said that. They've been together since before I was born (via artificial insemination). I have been denied no such thing - hell I'm fortunate to have had two parents and lived a middle class lifestyle with plenty of shuttling to soccer games, attending school concerts, etc. Lots of kids don't have that and THAT is the real crime, though I'm not sure if I'd go as far as to say parents attending school concerts is a fundamental human right. Anyway, my parents (and I say that automatically instead of mothers, even in open settings, because it's something I trained myself to do when I went into the closet, so to speak, in elementary school) have many different aspects of their personality that are masculine and feminine, and we can have a discussion of the allocation of traditional gender roles if you want, but I have never wanted a father or felt like I was missing out. My parents are loving and supportive and that is what matters. I've had other male role models (I'm female, btw) including friends' fathers, uncles, grandfathers, and that other sort of uncle - my parents' gay male friends who we refer to as Uncle Bill, Uncle Jeff, Uncle Rob, etc. I have no problem interacting with guys, and although my closest friends at school are females and gay guys, I'm in a steady relationship with a guy and I have plenty of straight male friends. (Aided by my love of sports, which esp. straight guys relate to. and to preempt the stereotype, my love of sports was mostly self-developed, as one of my mothers hates sports and the other enjoyed baseball as a kid through her twenties but got away from it until I got really into it in my pre-teens and inspired her to get back into it as a mother-daughter bonding thing. We now have a pair of Red Sox season tickets.)

My parents are legally married, as we live in the greatest state in the country. They only dated for 8 months or so before I was conceived, actually, because they met at a group for single lesbians thinking about having children (kind of halarious, yes?) and my birth mother is 8 years older than my non-biological mother and was getting to the age where having a baby needed to happen soon. Anyway, when I was 2 they had a commitment ceremony with both sets of grandparents, plenty of gay and straight friends, etc. My sister was born (from my non-biological mother) when I was 4 and when I was about 6 or 7, can't remember exactly, we were one of the first families in MA to do a second-parent adoption, meaning that each of our non-biological mothers adopted us and thus both became our legal guardians. Then in 2004 my parents got married the week it became legal. Anyway, to address the substance of your question, yes, to some degree. For me it wasn't so much a big personal deal considring we'd done the 2nd parent adoption except for thinking about medical issues or whatever. But it didn't make a difference in terms of how we interacted as a family unit. When my parents did get married it was a big deal and a very happy occasion, and I don't want to minimize it, but it didn't change anything about our family or their relationship. They still celebrate the anniversary of their commitment ceremony as their primary anniversary, although we acknowledge both "Adoption Day" and their marriage date. But as a way of showing publicly that my family is equal, my parents' love is equal, yes, it is great. Gay marriage is very important to me as a civil rights/equality issue. On the other hand one friend my age felt very strongly about her mothers getting married, so strongly that although they didn't really care they married for her. (That week was quite the busy week for my family and many in the local community, running around to eachothers' weddings! Though my parents chose to have it be a private ceremony in our Rabbi's living room with just us and one set of grandparents that made it)

I guess, not to minimize the importance of marriage, because it is exteremly imortant as a civil rights issue, a practical/legal issue, etc, but as the slogan went at the many gay pride parades I went to as a kid, "Love makes a family." Marriage was a wonderful formalization of that, but to the idiot conservatives who think that by preventing gay marriage they will ward off the danger of gay couples having families, I've got news: There are thousands of gay families around the country and married or not they will still be families, act as families, and (gasp!) raise children.

I cannot believe you are only 19. Wow. You are a living breathing example of why all children are entitled to parents ( I really don't care what anatomy they come with and if they come in singles, pairs or even threes, a parent is a parent, and not everyone should have the right to be a parent).

I try to live a life in which the word line is nothing more than a function of linear imagery, and based on that premise there are very few role models out there. Your post gives me hope that while there are not many older role models, there are certainly some younger ones on the way

Irvine said it best: You. Rock.

Thank you for sharing
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Old 12-02-2006, 02:02 PM   #7
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I don't have a question for you, but wanted to thank you for sharing about your family situation.

You're very intelligent and articulate, and like Irvine and snow said, I think you rock!
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Old 12-02-2006, 02:14 PM   #8
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Thanks for sharing. I don't have a question, I'm just glad you cleared up some misconceptions about gay relationships.
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Old 12-02-2006, 02:36 PM   #9
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I like this thread. I like it when people are happy.
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Old 12-02-2006, 03:15 PM   #10
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how did you come to understand that your family structure was a little bit different than others? did this ever cause you any angst/pain? how did you deal with it? how did your parents explain this difference to you?

(actually, i have a million questions ... now is a time when this forum feels too impersonal)
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Old 12-02-2006, 03:18 PM   #11
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Great thread, I hope everyone reads it.
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Old 12-02-2006, 03:31 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511

another question: do you think it's "easier" for female couples to raise a child than male couples? i'm speaking not to any sort of gender-role stereotypes of women being better with kids (hey, i've taught preschool), but in terms of social expectations. we hear of lesbians with children all the time, but what about gay men with children (that arent' from a previous marriage)?
Realized I didn't answer this one. I think it might be easier, due to the very gender-role stereotypes you speak of, and to society being more accepting of lesbians in general.


And thanks guys, an embarassed/blushing smiley would be convenient here.
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Old 12-02-2006, 06:33 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
how did you come to understand that your family structure was a little bit different than others? did this ever cause you any angst/pain? how did you deal with it? how did your parents explain this difference to you?

(actually, i have a million questions ... now is a time when this forum feels too impersonal)
This is hard to answer, because I don't really know when I became aware of it. As I mentioned earlier I've always had a group of friends with 2 mothers (our mothers were all in a baby-having support group). First there were babysitting arangements with them, then sleepovers and other gettogethers, for many years when I was about 8-13 there were week-long group vacations that involved other families with kids our younger siblings' age, then their younger siblings. To this day we all get together on christmas day, attend a hannukah party, and have a post-pride barbeque, and we used to do every new year's eve together and the aids walk together. So throughout my childhood I had a support group and a place to go where my family was "normal."

So, when did I realize my family was different? I insisted as a toddler/little kid that a gay babysitter (one of the "uncles") had two dads. And apparently for a while I called all parents Moms, which is ironic because around 1st grade I realized my life would be easier if I stopped calling my parents "moms" and called them "parents" and didn't explain to random kids in the girl's bathroom that I had two mothers, was artificially inseminated, etc. My family being different didn't cause any angst/pain directly, it was the homophobia around that caused angst and pain. For a while I tried telling people in 1st-3rd grade, when they asked what my father did, the job of one or the other of my mothers. My birth mother is the more traditionally male-gender-role parent, so it was confusing which one I should make my "father," (note that both are and always have been equally my mothers in emotional and practical manners, though only my biological mother nursed me because they hadn't been together for very long when I was born and she wanted that for herself. As a result, when my sister was born only my other mother nursed her. But I guess that little squabble isn't a concern to male couples...) and I switched off and generally confused myself. Then I started saying that I didn't have a father, which inner-city kids understood to mean he was dead or absent, and I'm not sure if they picked up on my use of "parents."

Anyway by the middle of elementary school I was fully hiding behind the word "parents" and general avoidance of conversations like that, though my close school friends were from my neighborhood and they and their parents were cool with it. Still, I'm not sure if it's how I am or because of my parents (mothers! see? even today...), but I was never the type to have friends over to my house very often, I usually went to theirs. The hurtful times came often, though, when "gay", "fag" etc were used as playground slurs. I always have been outspoken and socially concious, but on this one issue I could never speak up, afraid that by doing so people would somehow (I knew this was irrational) know I had two mothers. I remember one occasion in 3rd grade when my best friend stuck up for me, well maybe not for me but it felt like it, saying in response to somebody saying the word gay, "you shouldn't say that, that's racist, or sexist, or something," which I told my mothers later, giggling that she didn't know the word homophobic as a 3rd grader.

I went to a really liberal hippy-ish overnight camp starting when I was 9, with only about 25-30 kids in each age group who would return every year. There was a lesbian couple on staff and all the kids came from really liberal families and my councilors knew and there were other kids in other age groups with two mothers and plenty of older kids/counselors who were gay, but only a few of my closest friends knew until once when we were 13 and the whole group was having some discussion about gay rights (this was a very socially concious place). I "came out" to the whole group. Some of my closests friends there were just beginning to realize they were gay themselves. (by the way, I've always had remarkable gaydar.) That was the beginning of my own "coming out" experience, and before freshman year the girls on the soccer team (I'd been on it for a year already, I went to a 7-12 school) kind of guessed and asked and I remember standing by the goal and thinking "oh what the hell, time to stop hiding, there's nothign wrong with it and if people have a problem with it that's their problem and they're probably people who aren't worth worrying about anyway." I joined the GSA that year and never again lied or hid from it when it came up, though I certainly wasn't and still don't come right out and say "hi, I'm soandso and I have two mothers," as my younger sister was known to do on occasion (she has basically no social tact, actually diagnosed with social learning disabilities, and she mortified me at more than one doctor's office, public place, etc by doing this...)

My parents never really "explained this difference" that I can remember. My family was the way it was, and others were the way they were, and I never really asked them about it, though I related a few stories to them here and there and I'm sure they said all the right things. My mother (see I always go singular with that word, without specificity, which confuses people to no end..."wait, your mother is a software engineer? I thought you said she was computer illiterate!") was always amused by the girl in 2nd grade who thought it wasn't fair that I had 2 mothers and she only had 1.

I think especially for the oldest child that the kind of peer group I had is really important and I can't imagine growing up in isolation, rurally or in an isolated suburban situation. In high school I spent a few months as an older-but-not-as-old-as-the-social-worker role model for a group of middle school girls whose mothers had put them into a program run by a local gay-oriented health center. These girls hadn't had anything like the support system I'd had, and were all at that awkward awful preteen moment anyway. Some had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the group, one wouldn't talk about her parents even though they and we had made it perfectly clear this was a group full of girls with gay parents.

Sorry I'm so long-winded! Anyway ask all the questions you want - sorry you can't PM me, I haven't paid up, but my email is raizen head@hotmail. com.
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Old 12-02-2006, 08:12 PM   #14
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Quite a few of us are long-winded around here , I wouldn't worry about that.
Quote:
Originally posted by Varitek
As I mentioned earlier I've always had a group of friends with 2 mothers (our mothers were all in a baby-having support group). First there were babysitting arangements with them, then sleepovers and other gettogethers, for many years when I was about 8-13 there were week-long group vacations that involved other families with kids our younger siblings' age, then their younger siblings. To this day we all get together on christmas day, attend a hannukah party, and have a post-pride barbeque, and we used to do every new year's eve together and the aids walk together. So throughout my childhood I had a support group and a place to go where my family was "normal."
Actually, as a parent, that kind of support system makes me feel envious--other families may be more "normal" but a network like that, where parents and children can socialize simultaneously with people of like sensibilities, you can know and trust your kids' friends' parents because they're your friends too, and you can all do almost extended-family-type stuff together that you'll remember for years--that sort of thing is a treasure, something that pretty much any family would benefit from but which all too few have. It's hard enough to cultivate that sort of connectiveness-affirming environment, no matter what your family is like. It's not compensation for the stigma of being different or anything, and I can only imagine how much harder it must be for kids who have neither the "normal" pass nor the support network, but it's a blessing, I think, to know that kind of community as a child, regardless of what other relationships you may have outside it.



Was it ever awkward coming of age as a heterosexual with gay parents? Do you think that's ever an issue for children of gay parents more generally? I can't imagine it'd be as difficult as being a gay child of straight parents, but it's not like like I'd know much about either from experience. Also, do you find that as a heterosexual you relate to all the reflexive, taken-for-granted iconic status our culture bestows on heterosexual relationships any differently?

And, totally off-topic...but, since these "Ask the...." threads tend to veer into autobiographical generalities anyway...what is it that you're studying abroad? Apologies if you've already discussed that elsewhere and I've just forgotten.
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Old 12-02-2006, 09:43 PM   #15
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Yes, that kind of community is a treasure, an amazing experience. The 5 of us are very, very different now, as different as can be, people I'd never, ever hang out with if we met in college or something. People who wouldn't go to my college. But they are extended family, we keep in touch (badly sometimes), and most of us still make it to christmas. Two of the couples are "divorced" (long before they could actually have gotten married), one pair is the most amicable divorce in existance, no kidding they both got new houses but from day 2 interacted perfectly fine. The other divorce involved a much younger woman and now one of them is in NY, so we're scattering, but definately invaluable growing up and great to see people once or twice a year now.

I think it's not awkward at all. Gay parents know what it was like to have a sexual orientation that didn't feel normal or accepted, and I can't imagine any would create an environment in which their kid felt like their sexuality would be received hostiley. I never felt like I had to "come out" and if I'd been gay I probably wouldn't have felt that way either. In fact, not because they're lesbian but just because I'm me, I didn't tell them anything about my boyfriends until I got with the guy I'm with now in college, it became serious, and I wanted him to visit me over winter break. I'm sure they knew I was straight but still when my younger sister would be a nosey pest and say "Do you have a boyfriend" my mom would go "what if she has a girlfriend?" The tone was not one of pressure, or expectation, or hope, just teasing my sister for making an assumption. And I think having lesbian mothers left me more open to experiences with girls, not really bi-curious in the traditional sense but just "whatever happens happens." Then again it might not have been my mothers as my "experimentation" (meaning making out) was done at camp with a bunch of straight-spawn, so it could have been the liberal environment at camp. One of my friends from the childhood group is bisexual (truly so, though she goes for very effeminate guys). One of the guys is gay but won't admit it, well at least me and aforementioned girl think he is, which is strange because you'd think lesbian mothers would make you more open to your own sexuality, but to each his own.

The last part of your question is really interesting. I guess I'll answer its compliment first - I do relate well to gay culture, I have a lot of empathy for gay friends coming out as I had to "come out" at an age where my family was inseperable from myself and lived "in the closet" for a while. So get disgruntled that the heterosexual family/relationship is the norm, always have. (My parents were very good about providing me with the entire children's literature children-of-gays cannon - when I get back into the country I could type up a whole long list if anyone is interested.) And I do relate to the heterosexual symbols in our culture, but probably with a more open eye, knowing they aren't the only "normal" thing out there. I dunno, tough question. I'll have to think about it more.

At home I'm studying politics/economics with an eye towards the political/social side of development in Africa, but my program offers classes that are regionally focused but pretty general (and easy). Just enjoying a good travel base with family history and a language I've wanted to learn (though one that shouldn't be my accademic priority). Kind of like a semester off, but I have to sit in class several hours a week.
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