Monday, November 9, 2009

The Kids Are Alright

As gay parents, Jay and I often get awfull comments from people about our raising Daniel and Selena. Some people raise fair questions while still others resort to ignorant arguments that we will "turn our kids gay". Most of these arguments are emotionally driven, and as such, don't respond well to reasoned argument, but we do our best. I personally have known kids of my generation raised by same-sex parents. On the whole they tended to have the same benifits and challenges as everyone else. In addition...none of them turned out to be gay. They were, however, great friends and a tremendous source of support when I was coming out.

Recently, at Lisa Belkin of the blog Motherlode, wrote on the effects of gay parenting on children and how factors present in same-sex families can help make all parents better parents. Being a gay parent, I couldn't resist. Sorry this is so quote heavy, but so much of this was relevent and needed to be emphasized.

"Protect the children from the Homosexuals!" is the rallying cry of those that wish to deny gays there rights as American citizens. You can hear it in any anti-gay rights campaign, from marriage equality to employment protections. The same tired argument is always made that gay="bad for kids"....On the subject, Belkin had this to say...

It is striking, then, how comparatively rarely children are mentioned as an argument in favor of gay marriage. The issue is framed as a debate over equality and justice, of personal freedom and the relation of church and state, not about what is good for kids.

That’s partly because, until relatively recently, we didn’t know much about the children of same-sex couples. The earliest studies, dating to the 1970s, were based on small samples and could include only families who stepped forward to be counted.

Wow the 1970's....I'm truly surprised that ANYBODY stepped forward to be studied at that time in history. The gay community, at that time, was just coming out of the closet itself as a community. Most people just wanted to meet someone and/or have sex, date, fall in love...oh...and not get beaten up or jailed. Families had to be a real rarity then.

Fast forward in time and now not only is there better data on the gay community in general, there are also more children of gay families to study. So, after having put our families under a microscope all these long years, what did they find out?

“These children do just fine,” says Abbie E. Goldberg, an assistant professor in the department of psychology at Clark University, who concedes there are some who will continue to believe that gay parents are a danger to their children, in spite of a growing web of psychological and sociological evidence to the contrary.

In most ways, the accumulated research shows, children of same-sex parents are not markedly different from those of heterosexual parents. They show no increased incidence of psychiatric disorders, are just as popular at school and have just as many friends. While girls raised by lesbian mothers seem slightly more likely to have more sexual partners, and boys slightly more likely to have fewer, than those raised by heterosexual mothers, neither sex is more likely to suffer from gender confusion nor to identify themselves as gay.

There are data that show, for instance, that daughters of lesbian mothers are more likely to aspire to professions that are traditionally considered male, like doctors or lawyers — 52 percent in one study said that was their goal, compared with 21 percent of daughters of heterosexual mothers, who are still more likely to say they want to be nurses or teachers when they grow up.

You mean:

Yes ...California and Maine voters, the kids, in fact, are all right. Being raised by same-sex parents will not make you gay anymore then shaking hands with a gay person will. Its not taught...and it doesn't creep in by osmosis.

That girls raised by lesbian women have sexual partners and boys fewer ones is for obvious reasons. Clearly these mothers are not telling their daughters that sexual gratification is a thing to be ashamed of...nor are they hypocritacally encouraging their sons to womanize. My guess is that they are holding their children to the same non-shaming standards. Wow...maybe the world has changed.

This is not to imply that same-sex families are better than different-sex ones. This is only meant to point out the difference in how kids were "traditionally" raised in a heterosexual family and how things are changing. I know many awsome heterosexual parents who are not only great parents who let their kids be who they are...they are also awsome human beings. After all we, as gay people, rarely come from gay families (it could happen), Nor do we grow from pods. We come from the very same heterosexual families.

Same-sex couples, it seems, are less likely to impose certain gender-based expectations on their children, says M. V. Lee Badgett, director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and author of “When Gay People Get Married: What Happens When Societies Legalize Same-Sex Marriage.”

They are also, by definition, less likely to impose gender-based expectations on themselves.

"Less likely" is the key word here. We are not immune to passing on the same parenting strategies that were applied to us. All parents know that moment when they channel the spirit of there mother/father and wonder what the hell just came out of their mouth. Its a shocking moment of self realization for ALL parents.

Also, what some child care experts don't take into account is that sometimes, kids just come wired a certain way. I never stop Daniel from playing with his sisters things, yet he hardly ever does and Selena would rather eat a bowlfull of mushrooms (true child torture) then leave the house in an outfit that: A) is't pink and b)isnt color coordinated.

Some of the kids other differences are: Selena loves shoes, Daniel lives to DESTROY shoes. Also, Daniel is content to continue to wear his clothes until I force him to change them or they develop sentient consciousness...whichever comes first. Selena has one "Ken" doll in her doll collection and he is the loneliest doll EVER. He also still has all his clothes and his hair is not messed up a bit...which speaks volumes right there. Most of her dolls look like the spend their free time chasing tornadoes on motorcycles while not wearing a helmet.

Jay and I did not want to gender program our kids. We just wanted them to be kids, whatever that means to them. Likewise, we try not to stereotype our roles as dads. Life does a pretty good job of determining who does what anyway. Jay makes more money than I ever did in my 9-5 retail he works. I stay at home with the kids until Selena starts kindergarten. I do most of the cooking and cleaning...Jay helps out as crisis warrents...which is all too often.

One thing being a stay at home dad has taught me is respect for my mother...who, for many years, did this job alone for my brother and me. My hats are off to all stay at home parents.

So are our kids going to grow up to be screwed up sociopaths?...NO...and by the way..DUH! Our kids may be able to fault us, as parents, for a variety of reasons but being gay won't be one of them. I believe our children will grow up just like every one elses. While I, on the other hand, may walk away with a few more gray hairs, but I wouldn't trade them for a twenty year olds body and a fat bank account.

I only hope that I can teach them everything they will need to face life. Its a big, scary world out there and I hope we can prepare them for it. I hope we can help them grow up to be people of empathy and kindness, who don't see differences. Wondering if we've done a good job teaching these things keeps me up at night as I believe it does for ALL parents.


  1. This is one thing that I often discuss with my friends. They are great they support me hay they are just amazing.
    One time we walked by what it appeard as two dads and their daughters, and I just couldn´t stop smile. And one of my friend said: " I don´t know... i mean kids are going to destroy her in high school, is not that i don´t like it, but other wild find uncommon and they´ll be awfull"

    To wich I responded " C´mon Marcos, where we raised by gay parents?"

    Marcos: "No, but"

    Me: "But nothing dude, you and I know, we had it hard in high school, and we both come from mom and dad familys, we were atacked because we liked video games insted of soccer, because i was fat, because you don´t cut your hair, because i´m gay. High school... life is a bitch, life is hell for anyone that doesn´t fit the parameters, and if you deal with it, if you face it you grow up better than the assholes that put us thru(?)all that shit"

    Marcos:"You are right, besides, if no one takes a chance, when will it became normal?"

  2. wow show uncommon maturity for your age. I was still really upset at all the people that did those things to me and upset at myself for being different. Hearing you say that gives me hope...thanks

  3. I think the whole notion that gay or straight couples will make better parents is ludicrous. The only measure of a good parent is one who loves his or her children and wants to be a parent(taking the good with the bad). Seeing some of my friend's moms and dads stay together for the kids made me realize that some 2 parent families are not the ideal.

    Society's view about how playing with certain toys will make children gay is way outdated. Little boys who play with dolls or play with girls are feared to be gay, when just as likely the boy who's a jock and plays every sport is just as likely to be gay.
    The sad thing about those people in Maine and California who don't want the "gay agenda"(?) taught in school is that by making all these ballot initiatives that are in the news, they actually are helping to keep gay marriage in the public focus!

    By showing your family on YouTube, you've become a target for every troll out there who don't know your family at all. I think the majority of those posters just flame at will and don't think about their words. Personally, I'd like to see a night at their house to see how well they would parent!
    As a parent you can only teach them so much of your values, the rest is up to them. It's great that you have the resources to stay home with the children while they're young..when you're working being a stay-at-home parent seems like the easiest job-until you actually are one. Then the admiration for you mother and grandmother kicks in!:)

  4. Bry ou made me blush ^^ ( That conversation happened a year ago I was 18)

    But I think my gratest acomplishment was when i actually had a frindely living rom debate with one of my friends, she was catholic, no problem with they gays at all, but she was against gay adoption, after 4 hours of long discussion, she actually said to me " you are gonna be a grat parent"

    To my response " Not acording to your standars"

    She looked at me and smiled, and we ended the discussion, a few months a go i send her one of your videos, just so she can see an actually gay family, she told me I didn´t need to make anymore arguments, she was ok, still weird about losing but Ok with the idea.
    @the Toy palying thing, I never in my life touched anything girl related, i was too busy playing with Power rangers and barechested Double dragon figures, so much fun.

  5. I am glad you made a post on this, there has been a lot of good research for a long time that shows what you have pointed out.

    It is the reason that many European countries have allowed gay couples to adopt while still having no gay marriage. You just can't argue with the science.

    There was an interesting article in the New Scientist a few years ago about gay animals. Some work has been done looking at why group living, social mammals have homosexual members and that these members have a long history.

    It was concluded that groups do better with non breeding members. They help look after the children on the group, they contribute to the group in defense, food gathering etc while not directly burdening the group with too many offspring.

    Species who live alone and not in social groups have a much lower incidence of homosexuality.

    I know you are religous so I am not sure how much this all means to you but I think it does show why gay people have not died out. They serve an important purpose in nature. Adopting other poeple children and helping society is sort of what you were made for...

    It is called meta evolution in group living mammals if you want to look it up. I think there is alot of christian bashing of the theory on the web though.

  6. We actually don't consider ourselves religious. I do have a belief in GOD and I was raised, like alot of us, in a protestant Christian tradition. That said, I still don't consider myself to be a religious person. Spiritual perhaps but "religion" to me is mans construct of an experience that has just as much meaning without churches or organizations.

  7. That is pretty much like my partner, his granddad was a vicar and his mum and dad are very much christians. He is spiritual in the same way you are from your description.

    I rush to add his family have never had any problem with gay people however. Before or after he came out. Isn't it sad that the reputation of christianity is tainted enough that I feel like I have to say that?

  8. Hi, Bryan!

    I've read about this study on some other blog, before you mentioned it. Despite of what discrepancies this study showed, they can be really explained by different factors involved, not necessarily parents' sexual orientation. But what is really important is that finally there is compelling evidence that gay families do not make their children gay.

    I live in Russia and I constantly debate with people here on LGBT topics, and you wouldn't believe how many of them keep saying that's what's gonna happen to poor kids (they would become gay), they also imply that kids are most likely gonna be raped by their gay daddies (hence the word "faggot" in Russian sound like "pederast" — people don't see the difference between pedophiles and gays), abused and raised to be absolutely devoted to gay community to make other people become LGBT supporters. As you see, we are like 40-50 years behind USA, and even you still have to fight for your civil rights. I can't imagine living in this country anymore.

    You also mentioned in your comments that you don't consider yourself religious. But I watched all your videos and I distinctly remember Jay saying that you guys are members of some church, you pray to God (I saw it in one of early videos — how you prayed with kids in their bedroom and at the dinner table). So, what, something changed in your life since then? You drifted apart from religion? Don't mean to prey, anyway. Personally, I'm agnostic, but I think it's because I'm in my angry stage of life (I'm angry at bigoted and closed-minded people, and at my parents who would kick me out when [and if] I come out to them), otherwise, I agree with your views. By the way, thanks for sharing your and Jay's coming out stories, as well as Jay's suicide story! It was very touching and very moving (and so close to what I had to go through a year ago)!

    Thanks, it was interesting to find out about meta evolution. I actually really want to know the explanation for being homosexual: why it happens, why it happened to me? I guess, it could give us all (gays and their families) some sort of closure. When we don't understand why it happens, we begin to question ourselves and can't help thinking, "What if Bible is right? What if it's our perversion? What if it's our choice? What if it's devil's work?" (it is actually what I picked up while talking to real priests in my hometown over here, in Russia — that's what they say when trying to explain why homosexuality is a sin and why it can be fixed if a person accepts Jesus as his personal savior).

  9. Hello everyone,

    I guess I need to explain myself and give someback round on my claim of "not being religous".

    I was raised pretty traditionaly protestand Christian. I never was baptised until my teen years when I sought our christianity on my own. My parents took us to church at a large evangelical style church called "the christian life center". It was one of those HUGE churches, newly built to house huge congregations. But all I remember of those times is the sunday school room, celery with peanut butter for snacks, and playing in the playground. The earlies I can remember recieving any kind of actuall information about the bible was the childrens illustrated version left in my room, which I would use to reenact the portions with Adam and Ever when no one was Oh...and my parents always listened to the Sunday morning televangelists that always did there best to scare you into donating to their church and evangelize to anything and everything that moved. I have to say it was from them that I learned a great deal about "Christian guilt".
    During this time my main source for a spiritual education was my grandmother who was spiritually self taught. She came from an abusive alcoholic family and leaned on the Bible to get her through the trials of her life. She taught me that GOD created all of us the same and loves all of us the exceptions. Its the one thing that stands out to me through all the years and it is a legacy I will forever be gratefull to her for. She alway embodied, to me, the concept of unconditional love and was always there for me when my parents divorce was bloody and awfull.

    Beyond that. and the fear that GOD was always watching me(thank you so much Sunday Morning Televangelists :P) Beliefs of any kind didnt play a big part in my life.

  10. Later, in my teen years, I was living with my dad long after my parents split up. The divorce hit all of our lives like a planet killing asteroid and left its mark on all of us. My Dad drank heavily and suffered from awfull depression that later manifested itself in health issues.
    I was a scrawny kid with no friends and no hope what so ever. One day I picked up the Bible. Not sure what motivated me to...maybe me Grandmas example. I read the story of David from start to finish. The part about David and Jonathan moved me soooo much I cried when Johnathan died. I grieved for them both...that really should have been a "your gay" tip off for me...but it wasn't. At any rate..I marched over to the nearest baptist church and asked to be baptised. I began regularly attending church and youth groups.
    The funny thing is that all the same dynamics that I hated in high school were right there in those youth groups. I never got away from being bottom of the social ladder.
    Another really horrible thing to note from this time is who I became. I became Mr. Uber morality cop. My family hated to be around me because I would call them on things I felt were "sin". I had alot of other screwed up traits at this time too...but this one was probably the worst and not something I like to remember. I was hardest of all on myself. Even a random curse word roving through my head was not allowed and since I attempted to suppress "bad thoughts" of course they multiplies a thousand fold. This resulted In HOURS spent in prayer until one day my dad had to read me the riot act about it.
    This was an awfull period of time for me marked by a lot of darkness but it did teach me what I am capable of and I never want to become that person again. Continues...

  11. Later...the hormones finally kicked in. Puberty about 5 years too late I would say. I stepped away from all belief what so ever. I dated a broken heart and mended it. Finally acknowledged to myself that I was gay and came out. My first boyfriend Jamie launched me back into the waters of spirituallity. He was very much into psychic things(until I started to get into them of course). I had seen that if Gayness wasnt what I thought it was, then mayby spirituality wasn't I dove in head first again. Channeling, Reiki, crystals, you name it, I gave it a whirl. It was a while before I could separate myself from this as well. Everyone who had "the secrets of the universe" also had a book to sell. After a while that pattern of selling spirituallity became deafening and again I stepped away from spirituallity....still too burned by the tradition of my youth....continues...

  12. I lived my life like any young man does. Work, food, sex, repeat.By this time Jay and I were together but working odd hours. I worked till I was exhausted during the day and then went home to an empty house(jay works nights still).

    I picked up a book from P.M.H. Atwater called "Beyond The Light". Basically a Near Death Experience book. I had heard of NDE's before but this really schooled me on them. I began to thing about the Bible as a story passed down through generations, much, altered, and here were supposed first hand of accounts of what happens when we die. It relit the spark for spirituallity in me that has not gone out since.
    I still voraciously consume all accounts I can get about NDE;s and Out Of Bodie accounts. I know there are plenty of people who will now think I am a complete nutbag..but oh well. read before you judge. I still look at NDE's through a skeptical eye too. For me though, its just that there are soooo many accounts...hundreds. If even ONE is true it drastically alters how you look at the world. I will not evangelise for NDE's...I've been down that path and wont go down it again. But if anyone wants to ask me..I love to talk about them.
    In the long run ..what I learned from NDE's helped me look at Christianity differrently. I could see in it the core of love that was its original intent. They help me realise that, what ever I think I know..there is always still more. It helped think of questions like "What makes GOD belly laugh?" It helped me look at Christianity again...but this time as a growing attempt by mankind to come back to a spiritual source of being that also wants to reach out to us....and that there are plenty of mans mistakes present in that attempt. But at anyrate...this is my story...its why I dont need a church to express my belief and why I think everyone is entitled to whatever they believe...sooner or later everything we believe changes in someway and it is NEVER my province to judge the path another person walks.


  13. @K!r!lleXXI
    You know in your heart that your feelings for those of the same sex as you are fundamental. you will not be able to make them go away no matter how much you me...I know from experience. I don't believe GOD makes mistakes and that he made us too. It only the rest of humanity that cant handle that fact.

  14. Wow Bryan you should have made that an actual blog post! I love that you were the skinny nerd kid who found god and judged everyone for a while.

    That was basically my first boyfriend, he and I used to do stuff (if you catch my drift) and then he would pray for forgiveness right afterwards. While I was actually still in his room.

    This is one of the many reasons that I never want to be a teenager again, why did I stick with him!?

    Personally I think it all builds character. Growing up in a bit on an odd way is good in the long run.

  15. I may post it below my real post tommorow. Jay was on me to clarify what I mean by "not religious" and I had a lot to tell to tell it right.

  16. orangegoblin82, I concur: Bryan's story in comments should be a standalone blog entry!

    Thank you, Bryan, for paying so much attention to answer the "not religious" question! Your story is important, it would be helpful for many of those who come from religious families and who always thought they were religious themselves, which may truly become a problem for dealing with homosexuality. I can't help thinking about this movie, "Prayers for Bobby" (it was on Lifetime on January 24, 2009). Sad story, but it's a true story, it really happened to Bobby. But he's not the first one who went through that, and sadly not the last one. That's why stories like yours, Bryan, are important.

    Your comment for me reminded me a poster I saw the other day on YouTube: "Pray Away The Gay? No Way!" :) No, you can't pray it away, I didn't even try (mostly, because I didn't believe in prayer). And you know what helps me to believe that "Gay is OK"? People. Like you and Jay. And other real people I talk to every day. I see that we are just regular folks with our regular problems in our regular lives, and we're not that different from other people. So your YouTube channel does not only help heterosexual people to see that gay families are just as normal as traditional ones, it also helps gay & questioning people to see the same. And we thank you for that!

  17. Great post! I was raised from birth by gay parents and was born in 1969. I thought you might like to know, that even though it may not have been mainstream, that indeed gay & lesbians in the 1970's wanted a family and at least in the LGBT community I grew up in, they weren't all that rare.

    I suppose it might have had something to do with logistics, or more likely whom my parents chose to befriend (Other LGBT families).

    I guess we've all got our own personal & unique story and I am just thankful that I had the parents I did. They gave me the best of both worlds and for that I am grateful.

    And for the record, every argument against gay parenting is hogwash. A wicked tale spun by wicked storytellers.

  18. @ Bryan: there's a simile difference between being religious and being spiritual: religion is for those who fear going to Hell; spirituality is for those who've already been there.

  19. Hey Bryan!

    dude, sorry I've been off the rdar for the lst few months - its been an ... interesting ...time, and I havent even been able to check ur blog or watch your and Jays videos, but will do so and write to you guys soon.

    anyways, just read your post and have to say:

    "I only hope that I can teach them everything they will need to face life. Its a big, scary world out there and I hope we can prepare them for it. I hope we can help them grow up to be people of empathy and kindness, who don't see differences. Wondering if we've done a good job teaching these things keeps me up at night as I believe it does for ALL parents"

    - dude, beautifully written, really. If you don't mind, I'd like to send some of the stuff you've written to my parents who I think *need* to read stuff like this.

    the section section:

    "I, on the other hand, may walk away with a few more gray hairs, but I wouldn't trade them for a twenty year olds body and a fat bank account"

    aw man... again beautiful but also makes me a bit sad. the reason being that whilst I love ot around kids and am very good with them (just had to do two months of paediatrics and loved it :) ) I kind of don't really believe It'll ever happen to me cuz I won't find anyone for the long term, and I have very ambivelant thoughts on being a single parent (especially if added to already being a gay parent).

    So I've spent a lot of time thinking about the "consolations" of not having a "normal" family life like - being able to trael more, enjoying the finer things in life more, etc etc but then whats the point of any of it if you dont have anyone to share it with? On of my friends Chie recenly summed it up when talking about herself an how she's torn between staying in the UK and making a career for herslf or returnign to Japan where all of her family is, she was sayiing about all the great benefits of stayign but then paused looked down and said "demo hitori de imi ga nai" which means "but if alone, [all of it] has not meaning", and thats what I think if I'm honest with myself I think too.

    yeah it would be great to have way less responsibilities and more time ot myself so I coudl maybe do better in my career etc and look after how I look, maybe even spend more time with my mum - and maybe dad - to show them the world etc etc, but if deep down I know I' probably prefere to just settle down and raise some kids and have less but, you know actually have more (god that sounds so cheesy, sorry).

    ah, anyway, as usual I've rmpled far longer than I actually intended to.

    thankyou once again for all your work and posts, nd please say hi (and sorry for diappearing) to Jay.

    I'm gonna be away in Hong Kong again over christmas (the one bonus of not spending christmas with the family), so let me know where to I can send you guys a postcard or summat.

    k, thanks, bye!