March 18, 2015
Every so often an article comes along that is so moving it puts all the extemporaneous analysis and opinion that floods the Internet into the background. “Dear Gay Community: Your Kids Are Hurting” is such an article.
In her loving, gentle, but painfully honest open letter to advocates of same-sex marriage, Heather Barwick describes being raised by two lesbians. Her mother and her partner loved Heather, but couldn’t replace her “deep-down unquenchable ache for a father, for a man.” Following are some excerpts from her moving piece, which is addressed specifically to same-sex partners raising children:
“I’m not saying that you can’t be good parents. You can. I had one of the best. I’m also not saying that being raised by straight parents means everything will turn out okay. We know there are so many different ways that the family unit can break down and cause kids to suffer: divorce, abandonment, infidelity, abuse, death, etc. But by and large, the best and most successful family structure is one in which kids are being raised by both their mother and father …
“Gay marriage doesn’t just redefine marriage, but also parenting. It promotes and normalizes a family structure that necessarily denies us something precious and foundational. It denies us something we need and long for, while at the same time tells us that we don’t need what we naturally crave. That we will be okay. But we’re not. We’re hurting …
“It’s not just me. There are so many of us. Many of us are too scared to speak up and tell you about our hurt and pain, because for whatever reason it feels like you’re not listening. That you don’t want to hear. If we say we are hurting because we were raised by same-sex parents, we are either ignored or labeled a hater.
“This isn’t about hate at all. I know you understand the pain of a label that doesn’t fit and the pain of a label that is used to malign or silence you. And I know that you really have been hated and that you really have been hurt. I was there, at the marches, when they held up signs that said, ‘God hates fags’ and ‘AIDS cures homosexuality.’ I cried and turned hot with anger right there in the street with you. But that’s not me. That’s not us.
“I know this is a hard conversation. But we need to talk about it. If anyone can talk about hard things, it’s us. You taught me that.”