Keshet is a national organization that works for LGBTQ equality in Jewish life. The organization equips Jewish leaders with tools to build LGBTQ-affirming communities, creates spaces for queer Jewish teens to feel valued and develop their own leadership skills, and mobilizes the Jewish community to fight for LGBTQ justice. Keshet’s blog spotlights this work, as well as the voices of LGBTQ Jews, our families, and allies.
Earlier this month an article entitled Dear Gay Community: Your Kids Are Hurting hit the web and was widely circulated. The author compared her childhood to Heather Has Two Mommies… But, she now identifies as a “former gay-marriage advocate turned children’s rights activist,” arguing that same-sex parents can’t provide as fully as heterosexual parents.Today’s post from Rachel Leary offers quite a different picture, showing that the only thing better than one mom is two moms.
I wanted to start this post with a story from when I was little.
I’ve been trying to think of just the right memory to explain how I ended up where I am, doing the work that I am doing. But no one story seems to do it justice.
I remember the time I ran over my mom’s foot pushing my brother in a stroller at the gay pride parade and how my other mom balanced helping her with making me feel like I didn’t ruin the day. I think that memory is part of a bigger picture of how much I enjoyed those pride parades, because as a kid how cool is it to be the center of attention and part of such a great community?
I remember summer weeks spent on the Cape with families with two moms and two dads and everything in between. I think about how annoyed I used to get when adults would say “your mommy and daddy” this and “your mommy and daddy” that and how I used to get all sassy and tell them I didn’t have a daddy I had TWO mommies.
I remember my first kindergarten play date telling her mom how lucky I was to have TWO mommies.
I think about my parents’ friends and the trips we took and the ways they helped me become a strong, confident (albeit still sassy) adult.
All of that didn’t come from their being lesbian parents, but it helped. When they went to my school to consult the class about families like ours, they showed me how to teach others to accept you rather than just get mad. They showed me how to stand up for myself (whoever I was at the moment) and be my own person unapologetically.
They showed me how to form a circle of friends and family that truly meant something to you; some of that has to do with being lesbian parents and some of that has to do with who they are as people outside of their lesbian identity. Similarly, some of who I am has to do with what they taught me and some of it has to do with innate characteristics.
And all of this, my parents, myself, is unique to our family and our own experiences and personalities. I spent a lot of time thinking about this when I first started my doctoral program in clinical psychology. It’s a logical requirement that you reflect on who you are and where you came from before you think about analyzing other people.
So I thought about what it meant to be Italian, to be the daughter of lesbian parents, to grow up in the suburbs, to live in Massachusetts. And I read A LOT. And I realized that my experience was not mirrored in literature about LGBT parents. So I wrote about not being represented. I criticized the research for being outdated. I criticized how oddly specific current research is, like who cares how lesbians divide housework?
And then I got to a point in my criticism and speaking out and being annoyed where I sat back and realized, I am not the spokesperson for LGBT parents.
My experience is not a universal experience. I am so many other things beside the daughter of lesbians and all that other stuff matters too. Or I think it matters. So I decided to ask LGBT families, all kinds of LGBT families, what matters to you as a parent? More than anything I think this is a story about understanding myself as part of this community and passing on the idea that everyone in a community is unique.
No one’s story is everyone’s story. By listening to all these family experiences I hope to bring to life this statement. Because stories do that, they paint a picture far more interesting than my own opinion.
Rachel Leary, a doctoral candidate at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology, is researching the experiences of LGBTQ parents. Her research is inspired by her own experiences as a child of two moms. Interested in participating? You can reach Rachel here.
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