Some may argue that having a gay parent can be detrimental to a child growing up. People claim that it will “make them gay”, or “they will be made fun of”. My experience was the exact opposite. Growing up with one gay parent I was shown commitment, nurture, and radical acceptance. I believe that having one or more gay parents, whether biological or through adoption can have a positive impact on a child’s life. In the article, “Why Gay Parents May Be The Best Parents,” Stephanie Pappas states, “ Research has shown that kids of same-sex couples – both adopted and biological – fare no worse than the kids of straight couples on mental health, social functioning, school performance and a variety of other life success measures”. I could not agree more with Pappas more on that statement. I come from a home that was very traditional for the first 11 years of my life. I grew up with a mom, a dad, and two siblings. Everything was “normal” until my parents announced they were separating. My brothers and I soon found out that one of the biggest reasons for the separation was because my dad had announced that he was gay.
It was really no surprise to me when my father “came out of the closet”. Growing up I remember him having more of the stereotypical feminine roles in the home. I remember him cooking, cleaning, sewing, putting my hair in curlers, and doing my make up for ballet recitals. When he came out I was not terribly stunned. Although, from the moment he came out everything changed. My mom was very religious and my dad had his own beliefs that were less traditional. However, it was extremely confusing being a teenager and bouncing between such drastic differences in both homes.
In my experience my father was definitely the most nurturing of either parent. Stephanie Pappas quotes Goldberg stating, “The only place you find differences between how kids of gay parents and kids of straight parents turn out are in issues of tolerance and open-mindedness”. I had always felt a closer bond with my dad than my mom. Maybe it was because he displayed the more feminine characteristics growing up, but I am not sure. I know that my Dad taught me about unconditional love and radical acceptance of all people. My father was the Dad to all the kids who were struggling at home, and they came to him because they knew that they would not be judged. He would love them as if they were his own, and give them a safe place to stay. This showed me that not only did he love me unconditionally, but the people I cared about as well. As I got older I struggled with drug and alcohol addiction and I would have to say that my dad was my saving grace throughout it all. My father never asked questions about why I did what I did. He just let me know that I was loved and that we would work through it together.
I have not had this same experience with my mom who happens to lead a heterosexual lifestyle and is very religious. In the midst of my drug addiction my mom was very judging and wanted a lot of answers as to why I was behaving or coping the way I was, and I did not have those answers to give her at that time. I feel that because I was exposed to two very different lifestyles between my parents I was given the opportunity to practice more tolerance and open mindedness when residing with my father. For example, when it was a weekend with mom I was not allowed to watch MTV, listen to non-Christian radio stations, or even say “shut up”. So to think about being accepted by my mother for who I was or how I chose express myself was out of the question. She is very prim and proper. When I was with my dad I was free to be a teenager. I was trying to find my place in the world within his stated boundaries. I attribute this experience to being exposed to more nontraditional nurturing from my gay father. My mother’s style of parenting was very authoritarian and cold. This was a major contrast that changed weekend to weekend. My life was not like everyone else’s and that was not a bad thing.
People may argue that in fact it is a bad thing to grow up with a gay parent. They say that your family will be looked down upon and the children will be ridiculed. According to Brian Powell, “If same-sex marriage does disadvantage kids in anyway, it has nothing to do with their parent’s gender and everything to do with society’s reaction toward the families”. The majority of the people I interacted with had a wonderful reaction to my gay father. He was a warm, nurturing, and caring individual. Occasionally, I was looked down on because of having a gay father but the majority of people supported our family fully and I was never harshly judged.
I believe that gay parents also tend to be more committed because in some instances they have to fight harder for custody of their children. This can have a positive impact on the child as well. This rang true in my case growing up. My parents had split when I was 11, which was in 1995. Being gay wasn’t as widely accepted as it is now in 2015. I remember the custody battle like it was yesterday, and one thing I can tell you is that my dad never stopped fighting for his kids. My mom had character witnesses trying to say that my dad was a bad person because of his sexuality. It was rumored that perhaps being gay would rub off on us kids. One thing I know for sure is my dad never gave up despite all the adversity and that is something that has stuck with me to this day. I have a lot of determination and refuse to give up on anything or anyone that I love, and that was the positive impact that my custody experience had on my life.
At the end of the day I think that all parents are capable of being amazing at raising their children. A child needs a warm, comforting, secure, and stable home. This can be provided by any man or woman regardless of their sexual orientation. In my case it just happened that I had exposure to the best and worst of both worlds. My dad was the better parent in my opinion. I believe that a lot of that came from him being gay. Thanks to him I have learned to be a committed, nurturing, accepting, and caring parent myself, and for that I am eternally grateful.
Pappas, B. (2012, January 15). Why Gay Parents May Be the Best Parents. Retrieved December 2, 2015, from http://www.livescience.com/17913-advantages-gay-parents.html