It’s LGBTQ History Month, so I’m going to celebrate with a series of posts linking to historical stories, including primary sources, that help illuminate the history of LGBTQ parents and our children.
I’ve mentioned some secondary resources before—here’s a post from last year that covers a bunch of them—but this year, I want to highlight a few personal stories and primary sources, tales from decades ago that show some of the triumphs, challenges, and joys of queer parents and our children.
Let’s start with a story about Bill Jones, the first gay man to adopt a child in California, and one of the first nationally. When Jones first applied to adopt, the agency was looking for someone with family in the area and who had contact with children. Jones had been a schoolteacher for six years, he told StoryCorps in 2015.
The agency was trying to place a boy whose mother was a heroin addict, and who had to go through withdrawal himself as a newborn. Five couples had already turned him down. Jones and the boy bonded, however, with the help of a teddy bear.
The social worker who interviewed Jones dropped a big hint that if the adoption committee knew someone was “homosexual,” he wouldn’t be allowed to adopt. Jones kept silent, and the adoption was approved in 1968 and finalized in early 1969.
The boy had neurological damage and later became addicted to heroin himself, dying of an overdose at age 30. Listening to Jones’ story, though, it seems that there was much love despite the difficulties. Go listen to or read the rest of Jones’ story at StoryCorps. NPR also ran a segment about the StoryCorp piece that fills in a few details.
Stay tuned for more posts this month about meaningful moments in our shared history.