Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Ho Ho Homophobia

Trista has a really great discussion going about homophobia, queers raising kids, and standing up to our own families' ignorance. So, this has me thinking about many things- maybe this will actually be a few different posts. The first part, about whether we as a lesbian couple should feel badly about wanting to have kids because homophobia and heterosexism might be hard for them, really bugs me. All kids run into some kind of bullying at some point- anything from teasing to legal discrimination- and the ones who fare the worst are the ones whose families don't provide them with the emotional support and critical thinking skills to see through all that. Those with loving and supportive families generally do well. This is exemplified all too well in the stories of many GLBT teens who don't have family support due to homophobia, transphobia, and heterosexism, and who lose their childhoods and sometimes their lives because of it. Opposition to same-sex parenting based on the supposed concern over the possible difficulties in the lives of kids of same-sex parents seems to me to be a disguise for two things- not holding people responsible for their prejudices (of all kinds), and trying to get away from our responsibility as a society to protect GLBT kids in particular from the damages of homophobic/transphobic family life. This all inspired the rant below, largely a description of my experience as a lesbian girl, which was actually my comment to Trista's post.

"That stuff drives me crazy, too, especially from my parents- not surprisingly the people who have hurt me the most in my life, though they have loved me and tried hard, especially in the last couple of years. As straight and heterosexist parents, they provided me with zero knowledge about anything but straight sexuality. So, as a lesbian girl I couldn't imagine what my future would be, and I experienced internalized homophobia that really destroyed my mental health for all of my tween and teen years. I was harassed at school during that time, but I wasn't so much hurt as angry about that, and I started a Gay-Straight Alliance in response. The pain I remember is from the fear of my parents' rejection and the void that was the future in my imagination, because no one let me know that I could have one. When I finally came out, my parents rejected me and we had no relationship for more than two years, some of the worst emotional trauma I've known. I have always felt that homophobia from society and my peers was not what hurt me as a child and young woman- it was my fear of (and later experience of) my parents' rejection that hurt me. This is true now, as ever- the homophobia of others doesn't really phase me- I am still frequently amazed by my thick skin- but my parents still have the ability to shake me with their now-much-disguised homophobia. It isn't so much society or peers that hurt children who are or live with parents who are not white, straight, middle/upper class, Christian, without disability, etc. After all, careful parents have been raising strong and happy children to see through the prejudices placed upon them for generations upon generations- one of the best examples of which might be the careful parents of children of color in our particularly racist society here in the U.S. who have worked to strengthen their children and help them to see racism for the set of lies that it is, and to see the truth of their own value. It is society that needs to change, this is true. But it is parents (of any race, gender, sexual orientation, class, religion, ability, etc) who can fulfil the needs of their children by being the most empowering parents they can be. And to quote Sadie F. Dingfelder's review of 30 years of research into the topic: "Patterson's and others' findings that good parenting, not a parent's sexual orientation, leads to mentally healthy children may not surprise many psychologists. What may be more surprising is the finding that children of same-sex couples seem to be thriving, though they live in a world that is often unaccepting of their parents."

1 comment:

Trista said...