Over at Gays with Kids, award-winning journalist E. J. Graff (herself a lesbian mom) is “Talking with Kids of Gay Parents.” She offers 10 smart tips for us parents, based on feedback from grown kids of gay and lesbian parents. Her piece brings to mind Abigail Garner’s 2005 book Families Like Mine: Children of Gay Parents Tell It Like It Is, which I’ve long recommended. Two of the points highlighted by both Graff and Garner that I’ve found particularly useful are, first, that kids of LGBTQ parents having a “coming out” process about their families; and second, that many don’t identify “allies,” but rather as “culturally queer,” even if not LGBTQ themselves. (The phrase “culturally queer, erotically straight” was coined by advocate Stefan Lynch, the first director of COLAGE.) There’s much more, so go have a read.
In the New York Times, Roni Caryn Rabin reports on “Back-to-School Worries for Gay Parents” and some recent research on how children with gay and lesbian parents may encounter “slights and microaggressions” in school, and how they and their parents may respond. One point stood out for me as the parent of a seventh-grader. Rabin cites Dr. Abbie Goldberg (who has done a lot of work on children of LGBTQ parents), who notes that compared to what we know about younger children of LGBTQ parents, “less is known about how these children are treated by their peers in middle school and high school, an age when children may become less communicative with their parents.” Clearly, there’s still work to be done to better understand this age group.
The above inspired me to compile a list of other good resources by and about children (young and old) of LGBTQ parents:
- COLAGE’s publications the Donor Insemination Guide (for kids created through DI; my review and author interview here) and the Kids of Trans Guide, not to mention the rest of their resources, both for kids and to help us parents better understand our kids’ perspectives.
- Garner’s website, Families Like Mine, which archives her years of advice columns in which she answers questions from and about the kids of LGBTQ parents.
- Let’s Get This Straight: The Ultimate Handbook for Youth with LGBTQ Parents, by Tina Fakhrid-Deen, for teens with LGBTQ parents (more here).
Movies, Videos, and Television
- Meema Spadola’s documentary Our House: A Very Real Documentary About Kids of Lesbian and Gay Parents, first released in 2000 and updated in 2008 (my review and author interview here).
- In My Shoes, an award-winning short film from COLAGE. (Stream free at the link.)
- Queer Spawn, a documentary by Anna Boluda that shows the life of several teenagers with two dads or two moms. (Stream free at the link.)
- Sharon Shattuck’s memoir From This Day Forward, about her father coming out as transgender when Sharon was in middle school.
- Becoming Us, a reality series on ABC Family about a teen whose father is transitioning as a transgender woman.
- My YouTube playlist of nearly 70 videos featuring the children of LGBTQ parents.
- Gayby Baby, by award-winning Australian filmmaker Maya Newell (who herself has lesbian moms), profiles the lives of four young people—Gus, Ebony, Matt and Graham—who also grew up, or are growing up, with same-sex parents in Australia. The film recently made headlines when the New South Wales Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, banned its showing during school hours. (It’s getting good reviews, though, and you can watch a trailer here.)
Projects for Storytelling and Activism
- The Rainbow Letters, a collection of letters by people of all ages and walks of life, revealing their experiences growing up with or discovering that they have a parent or parents who identify as LGBTQ.
- The Gay Dad Project, a place for conversation about families, aiming to connect other children and families who are going through, or have gone through, having a parent come out as LGBTQ (not just gay dads).
- One Million Kids for Equality, an organization working collectively to engage, educate, and empower youth with a voice around LGBT equality.
- The Recollectors, a storytelling site and community for the many children and families left behind by parents who died of AIDS. (Not exclusively for those with LGBTQ parents.)
Memoirs by Children of LGBTQ Parents
- Gringa: A Contradictory Girlhood, by Melissa Hart. A memoir of growing up separated from her mother, who lost custody of her children after she came out as a lesbian.
- My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength, and What Makes a Family, by Zach Wahls. The civil rights activist and YouTube sensation’s “response to all those who say I am ‘different’” because of having two moms.
- Family Outing: What Happened When I Found Out My Mother Was Gay, by Troy Johnson. A scathing, funny, ribald case study in what can go wrong when honesty and openness are missing in a parent-child relationship, by a man whose mother was outed to him by her ex-girlfriend when he was 10 years old.
- Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father, by Alysia Abbott, tells of the author’s childhood and young adulthood being raised by her single gay father in 1970s and 80s San Francisco. Her father, Steve Abbott, was a poet, author, editor, and a leading figure in the New Narrative poetry movement. After he died of AIDS-related complications in 1992, Alysia began reading his journals, and eventually interwove them with her own memories to create a compelling tale that is part history, part memoir, and part coming-of-age story.
- The Voices of Children brief, filed with the United States Supreme Court by the Family Equality Council, COLAGE and Kentucky youth Kinsey Morrison in the case that eventually legalized marriage equality throughout the U.S.
- Ruth Krebs Buck’s piece last year in Slate, “I Grew Up Going to Pride With My Moms. Do I Still Belong in the Parade?.”
- The speech that 12-year-old Corin gave in Victoria, Australia, at a seminar of the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority (VARTA). He explains why it is important to discuss with young kids how they were made, what it was like to meet his donor and donor siblings, and what kids should do if they get teased for having a donor—or simply asked intrusive questions. I also like the observation from his mom, Jacqui Tomlins, that “Once you tell your kids their story it belongs to them and you have no control over who they tell, or how they tell it. And that can be a bit scary, or not.” Kudos to her for posting his unedited words (with his permission).
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