Thursday, December 1, 2016

On Growing Up with a Lesbian Parent

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Here’s something you probably don’t know about me: I grew up as the only child of a lesbian parent. Now, keep in mind that this was in the 80s, before the advent of Ellen and sitcoms where the gay character isn’t just another token.

My mom wasn’t out and proud back then – very few people were – but she did have a partner, and it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that something was different about our household. Kids are pretty savvy, after all. Not that they jumped to the immediate conclusion that I had a lesbian parent. After a while, enough information about my house would funnel back to parents who would then draw their own conclusions.

And those conclusions? Weren’t always so nice. Like I said, this was the 80s, back when people still thought being gay was something you could catch from a used tissue. While many of my friends had perfectly tolerant parents who were either accepting of my gay mom or just plain didn’t give a fig, I apparently lost a few friends after certain moms and dads decided I wasn’t fit to play with their kids.

Oh, and I was even kicked out of my Brownie troupe by one of those less-than-accepting parents!

Luckily, my mom kept me shielded from all of that until I was an adult and could handle knowing that she had to deal with all of that. Now that I’m a parent myself, thinking about it is a little more painful since I can’t help but put myself in her shoes.What must that be like… to watch your child be rejected because of who you are.

Right now, I can’t really totally internalize it, but though I’m not gay, it could still happen. I could at some point in the future watch other moms deliberately avoid planning playdates with my children because we’re not wealthy enough or we don’t belong to the right church or because we don’t dress a certain way or heck, because my mom is now a lesbian grandparent. People are still funny about that stuff.

My guess is that back in the day, my mom struggled with how to meet moms who would be tolerant – or at the very least accepting of my friendship with their children.

I can’t even imagine how difficult it was for her to put a playdate invitation out there for me knowing it might be rejected because of another parent’s prejudices. And while I wish that moms weren’t facing the same challenges in 2017, I know that any mother who falls into some category defined as “different” will probably have to go through the same internal struggle every time she puts herself and her family out there.

My heart goes out to those mamas when I think about my own!

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