There are few issues where the sexism inherent to homophobia is more visible than on the question of same-sex parenting. I'm watching an episode of 30 Days
where a woman (mom) who opposes gay couple raising kids is sent to a same-sex parented family for a month.
Three minutes into the episode and she declares, "if you're raised in a gay and lesbian environment, you're just not going to get both sides of the story. you're going to get two mom points of view, you're going to get two dad points of view and it's just not the best possible environment to raise a child." Of course, the question then becomes... what on earth is a "mom point of view" or a "dad point of view"? That's a rhetorical question, obviously, we all know what the stereotypical mom and dad are like. But boy, that's a very limited view of gender roles...
And actually, a minute later, great answer to this by one of the gay dads: "when someone tells me every child needs a mom, I say if you mean that every child needs someone who's warm and loving and nurturing and supportive of their kids... we do that." It would have been nice to point out there's no reason this role has to be fulfilled by a woman, but that's a good start. :)
Interestingly enough, the woman (I need to get her name so I stop calling her that) speaks of putting the gay family "to the test". I say interesting because families are not usually put to the test unless they've been proven unfit through social services for example. Gay families are in the very interesting position that, solely because the child is going to be raised by a gay couple, we find it appropriate to scrutinize. This does not happen with single-parent households, a necessary parrallel to draw whenever you're talking same-sex parented households; I wonder if it's because we unconsciously think the simple possibility of an opposite-sex parent (in the case of straight single parents) entering the child's life as some point had any sort of consequence?
First day of school for the kids - one of the dads (I'm going to learn their names, too, promise) has this little speech to their kids about how they can decided whether or not to tell their friends and their teacher knows and it's going to be okay and all that. Katie (the woman!) recognizes that this is a lot of weight to put on a 6-year-old's shoulders, but she seems stuck on the idea that kids shouldn't know about gay couples this early on and that's the problem. When really, the only reason the decision to tell other kids or not rises from the fact that other kids
might be unwelcoming of such information and thus other kids might make that 6-year-old's life difficult, not his two dads. Where does the fault lie? It's at the crux of everything, and I'm curious to see if Katie will come to see differently by the end of this month.
"For me to hear that the children are learning at a very young age that it's okay to be like that, it's a little bit scary like that." That's, really, what it comes down to and I really like that Katie's being upfront about it. I'm a little annoyed by the COLAGE people who misunderstood her and started going on about how the kids are not learning to be gay. Katie's right - the kids are absolutely learning that it's okay to be gay. Just like kids raised by parents of two different races would integrate very early on that biracial love is all right. Suddenly the problem has shifted from kids needing a mom and a dad to kids learning that gay is okay. Why isn't gay okay? That's what the women from COLAGE should have discussed with Katie.
A teenager having been raised by her mom and her female partner (plus her dad and his female partner) explains that she's happy her mom decided to be true to herself and live out her homosexuality because the teen believes it would have been a pretty bad upbringing if her mom had been unhappy. "Happy homes raise good kids. Unhappy homes don't."
Now a young woman who was raised by a gay dad who'd talk about bathhouse sex at the kitchen table and would talk her to sex shops when she was very young. Um, anyone want to point out the problem might be with that specific individual and his conception of parenthood rather than with his being gay? Katie also just said there is an icky factor for her with the thought of two men sleeping together with kids down the hall. How is that different from a mom and a dad having sex down the hall? I hope this is going to be raised again. Sexuality is super important in the sense that we make it central when it's not. At least it's not central to homosexuality more than it is to heterosexuality.
"But when gay couples try to have children, human anatomy wins out every time." (Morgan's narrator voice) Two problems with that: first and foremost, gay couples are not infertile, they just can't produce offspring together. This goes much further than we can right now but we really need to question this obsession we have with biological filiation. Second thing, that's got little incidence on the whole issue since nobody's suggesting we stop infertile couples from having kids via adoption or alternative methods.
Dude. In San Francisco at least, you could make $8,000 a year if you donate sperm twice a week for a year. That's impressive. Bothers me a little since that's only an option available for men but I suspect that's me being picky and annoying.
I really have a problem with the way that Katie is making this a battle for laws - "we'll see who wins". First of all because I think it's very unhealthy to present it as a war, it's likely to leave much deeper wounds like this. At the same time it's a reality that people feel they're both defending the "right" side. But truly my problem is that this isn't happening on equal ground, and there's a real problem with the majority deciding what rights a minority can or cannot have - based on a random common characteristic of a minority group (here, sexual orientation) rather than on an element that's been proven to be hurtful to children in itself
Katie - like a lot of people out there who are opposed to same-sex parenting - are ultimately uncomfortable with homosexual behavior, meaning really, sexual behavior, which is amazing to me, because that really, really doesn't touch how people raise their families. Moreover she's making assumptions about how Tom and Denis have (or don't have, who knows) sex. I wish she'd get to discuss that with someone.
Fascinating - Denis and Tom have invited over one of their adopted son's biological family, including an aunt and uncle who took care of him for a while, and they're the ones who are being most hostile to Katie's moral judgement which is based on something she's decided on rather randomly (and because of what her church told her) rather than based on facts and knowledge of the situation. Anyway, so the aunt is being really angry that Katie doesn't want gay and lesbian families to raise kids because the aunt says why does it matter, and woah, that should mean a lot coming from a straight woman who's had to deal with a foster situation. (Why does it matter - because of the openness of homosexuality and lesbianism, says Katie... what openness? Sexual openness or open-mindedness to homosexuality? These are too radically different things and I'm surprised she hasn't said anything about that considering we've yet to see Denis and Tom peck.)
"Our fear is that having her beliefs challenged is not opening her mind but rather cementing her opposition." (Tom? I think.) That's the real difficulty when dealing with those situations - you have to challenge but not attack. People are going to be very uncomfortable and they need a space where they can learn to ride out this discomfort. P-FLAG (and in France, Contact) are usually a good space for that but in the context of the show, Katie is not getting that and I think that's not helping.
"I know it in my heart that I am right." Hm. See, that's a big problem I have with a lot of religious people. Now, there's nothing wrong about feeling right, we all do; but there is a point where belief needs to be supplemented with facts. And if facts don't match belief, there is nothing wrong with reevaluating beliefs. There's nothing belittling about that, but it always feels like we're losing, and it shouldn't. We would really be better off teaching kids that it's okay to learn and adapt what we think based on what we know.
For Katie there is also a very, very strong religious component that makes her unwavering in what she believes. I wish we would talk to an open-minded priest for example. I think that could really help to see how some people (straight, gay or religious authorities) manage to reconcile the reality that same-sex parented families can (can, not necessarily are) be good homes with her god's words.
At the end, Tom pretty much tells Katie he doesn't think he can be friends with someone who's so fundamentally opposed to what has brought wonders to his life and Katie leaves upset. I understand why she would be, but isn't it amazing? That we could be expected to be rejected and take it; even be friends with the people who reject us. Turn the other cheek - isn't that what Christians are supposed to do? Yet if we do that, it still doesn't make us any less sinful because ultimately, homosexuality trumps everything else
that we are and do as humans.
"Everybody is allowed to have their feelings." Katie is remarkable for at least admitting that. But like Tom says at some point, the problem is when someone takes their feelings and tries to turn it into laws by banning gay couples from adopting. That doesn't allow everyone to have their feelings - that forces everyone to act according to one group's beliefs.
Anyway - so after the episode around animal rights where we really saw progress in the guy's attitude, this one was vaguely disappointing. Because of the outcome but also because there is so much more I would have liked to see, as someone who knows a lot of this issue. The outcome wasn't unexpected, though, especially because of the religious aspect that ties the issue to a greater value system and makes it feel like changing opinion on this one thing threatens the whole value system. Plus people are often very slow to change opinion on gay issues, because it's engrained so deep inside us... and we have this amazing capacity to say "I like you as a person and think you make a great parent but I disagree with the idea of homosexuality thus I feel entitled to forbid you from having kids". The contradiction would be funny if it didn't affect thousands of lives - of parents and kids alike.
I'm not so naive as to think it's all going to be all right, but this kind of thing reminds me just how difficult it will be to be able to reach that point where gay and lesbian are treated just like everyone else and not judged on who they love alone.