Radical RelationsI’ve written a lot about the history of LGBTQ parents to help show that we’re not really a newfangled and untested phenomenon, despite opinions to the contrary. We have a past to be proud of and the shoulders of role models to stand on. Here’s a recap for LGBTQ History Month.

  • Milestones in LGBT Parenting History” is a brief list of a few LGBTQ parenting “firsts” during the era of out LGBTQ parents, with a great visual timeline done by Jason Parsley of South Florida Gay News. You’ll learn the answer to questions like “What was the first television movie to depict a gay dad?” and “When did a court first rule that a transgender parent could retain child custody?”
  • In “Seeking LGBTQ Parents in History,” I look back to the 19th century and even further to discover our queer parenting roots.
  • Choosing Children, by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Debra Chasnoff and her then-partner Kim Klausner, was the first documentary to look at lesbians who became parents after coming out. It offers a snapshot of lesbian life in the early 1980s, a crucial turning point in LGBT family history. The six lesbian families profiled in the film had their children through known donors, unknown donors, and adoption. Stream it online for just a few dollars or buy the DVD for a bit more—find the options at Chasnoff’s Groundspark website. Here’s a longer piece I wrote about it, and here’s the trailer:
  • Another documentary, Mom’s Apple Pie: The Heart of the Lesbian Mothers’ Custody Movement, gives us a look at several early custody cases involving lesbian moms—and shows how the activism they spawned has had a direct impact on LGBTQ people and organizations today. Here’s my longer piece on it. The film, by Jody Laine, Shan Ottey, and Shad Reinstein, can be bought as a DVD for individual viewing at Frameline (Amazon only has the much more expensive version that includes public performance rights), or streamed for even less via Vimeo. Here’s the trailer:
  • The closest thing we have to a comprehensive history of modern-era gay and lesbian parents (but alas, not the whole spectrum) is Radical Relations: Lesbian Mothers, Gay Fathers, and their Children in the United States Since the Second World War, by Daniel Winunwe Rivers. Rivers, an assistant professor of history at Ohio State University, draws on numerous LGBTQ historical archives and 130 personal interviews, and was clearly motivated by his own childhood in a lesbian feminist community during the 1970s. The book has a few shortcomings, which I detailed in a piece at the Women’s Review of Books, but it gives a better sense of the overall sweep of our history than anything else so far.
  • Carlos Ball’s The Right to Be Parents is a thoughtful and thorough look at the legal history of how LGBTQ people have protected our families.
  • Finally, I drew together a lot of the above in an article last year on “LGBTQ Families: Past, Present, and Future,” calling for a broad and inclusive view of what it means or has meant to be part of an LGBTQ family.

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