Children of Same-Sex Couples: A Turning Point
I am a professor. Among the many farces of academia, hiring season is exceptional. Everyone in the department pretends that we are completely collegial and endearing, while job candidates arrive and audition for us. We go out to lunch with the aspirants and small talk ensues.
This time around, many of my colleagues courted the candidates by musing about their childhoods over dinner. Colleague X talked about how he was the first one to attend college because his father only finished up to tenth grade. Colleague Y recounted arguments about classic books with her parents who were both English teachers. Colleague Z reminisced about the days when her father, a preacher, prepared for his weekly sermons.
And then there’s me sitting there. I’d love to say: “I was raised by a lesbian who took me to a motor home on the weekends so she and her lover could hike and build wooden decks together. When I worked in my mother’s clinic doing typing and filing, I transcribed the files of her mentally ill patients, some of whom were gay or transgender, so I knew everything about sex a kid could possibly imagine by the time I was fourteen. By the time I was sixteen, I was getting in lots of trouble. By the way, because this was my life and I refuse to lie about the problems it caused me, I have been dubbed an anti-gay bigot by all the major gay advocacy organizations and the other people at this table have banned me from the department listserv and newsletter.
“But please, go ahead, tell me how you grew up.”
For all the talk about fighting privilege, “speaking out” and “breaking silences” are actually not what the left wants children of gay couples to do. Everything about my life is dangerous to discuss, because if I tell the truth about where I came from, I can be accused of homophobia (which has happened) and fired (which has come near to happening).
I wish they -- the pro-gay liberals -- would make up their minds. Either be radical and anti-establishmentarian, and accept uncomfortable voices into the conversation -- or else shut up and let me talk about Homer’s Iliad. Which I’ve read in Greek.
Children of gays, or COGs, are ready for a turning point. I recently ran a column in Daily Caller to begin a framework to understand what COGs’ stories, in our own words, can teach society about the stakes of redefining marriage. We just want to be heard -- and we haven’t, up until now.
The gay community raised us, sometimes with love, and often with a bit of inconsiderate self-interest. Too many of us were asked to keep secret how hard the whole experience was. Many times siblings turned against each other based on which brother or sister “broke ranks” and decided to speak the truth while others played along to keep Mom and Mom or Dad and Dad happy. After decades of decrying the pain of “the closet,” the gay community remains largely unwilling to uncover the true feelings of the children raised in their midst. It’s like saying, “I can’t live a lie but my kids must.”
Don’t think we are only disappointed with liberals. We find ourselves wondering what happened to conservatives opposed to same-sex marriage. The anti-gay-marriage activists gave us much less attention than they gave to the cake-bakers, florists, and innkeepers who were Christian and who didn’t want to service gay weddings.
The debate about same-sex parenting always seemed to degenerate into an insulting ritual, in which we had to listen quietly to other people scream at each other about us. Those of us COGs who were already past the age of thirty had to watch, with broken hearts, all the teens and toddlers dragged by gay guardians to rallies, knowing from our own experience how much pressure and stress must be involved. The whole debate proceeded with both sides acting as though kids of gay couples never actually grow up, get jobs, move out of their parents’ houses, and speak their opinions from an adult vantage point.
Aside from canned platitudes extorted from kids still under gay adults’ custody, the terms of the same-sex parenting debate were always dehumanizing statistics. “Who had better outcomes?” “Who has a lower percentage of autism?” “Who has greater attachment security anxiety?”
“Kids do best with a mom and a dad,” is the argument that the anti-gay-marriage side likes to bring up. Which shuts up the COGs really fast, for two reasons. If you are a COG who did okay in life, as I would say I did, then the experts are basically saying your experience undermines their argument. If you are a COG who screwed up, then the experts are saying your experience confirms their sense that you didn’t “do as well” as others and are therefore worth less, which is why the people who raised you should be punished for raising a screw-up by not being able to get a marriage license. Either way, you don’t exist in all your complexity and nobody wants to listen to you.
Until now. The dissident COGs who refuse to follow either side’s party line are growing in number. We will not be left out of this marriage showdown about to go before the Supreme Court. This time around Anthony Kennedy will not be able to assume he knows what we are thinking, and the Human Rights Campaign will not be able to tell us what we are supposed to want. We won’t let people use us anymore. Keep your eyes out for our briefs against gay marriage. Even if we can’t change history, at least we want to be part of it. Our time has come. We deserve it.
Robert Oscar Lopez is the author, along with fifteen contributors, of Jephthah’s Daughters: Innocent Casualties of the War for Family "Equality,” which will be available at the CreateSpace E-Store and Amazon by February 22. He is the president of the International Children’s Rights Institute. You can follow him on English Manif.