The Right to Love
"This is a celebration of individual freedom, not of homosexuality. No government has the right to tell its citizens when or whom to love. Because honey, the only queer folks are those who don't love anybody." Those are the powerful, vivacious words of Rita Mae Brown, a famous feminist novelist.
This quote is one of the most famous gay liberation statements to have impacted both the homosexual and heterosexual communities. It is not just a statement of gay rights, but human rights. We human beings have the inalienable right to love, and to heal in any way we choose. We as people of any orientation, thrive and grow on the love shared by those around us. As people, we all have the ability to love, and therefore to guide our peers, our students and our children.
Recently, I have been personally exposed to the issue of gay parenting. The question in my mind is: Are homosexual parents qualified to raise children? I think before questioning who is qualified to guide children, we must first ask what is needed to bring up children. The basic needs of children are that they be physically satisfied, socially satisfied, and emotionally satisfied. By physically satisfied, I mean that a child is fed, clothed, and provided with all that is needed to survive. By socially satisfied I mean that children should be exposed to all types of people. In a study done by E.E. Rofes children of gay and lesbian parents were just as likely to be exposed to those of the opposite sex, as of those with straight parents.
Finally, by emotionally satisfied, I mean that the child needs to feel loved. There is no proof that gay parents are not able to fulfill any of these basic needs. There is no proof that children of lesbians and gays are more likely to encounter physical or emotional abuse than that of straight parents. Homosexuals can provide financially for their children. Gay parents can put their children into diverse environments. Gay parents can love their children. If gay and lesbian couples are just as qualified to raise children as straight parents, why should they be denied that privilege? In order to see if more gay parents should be able to raise children in the future, we should look to the past. According to the American Bar Association, there are presently, approximately six to ten million children of gay and lesbian parents. There have been many studies on these children since the beginning of the nineteen eighties. Most studies say that these children come out just as "normal" as their straight-parented counterparts. According to a study from 1981 published by COLAGE , a group for children of gay and lesbian parents, "any problems associated with children of gay and lesbian parents come from the heterosexual divorces that usually proceed their parent's gay relationships, and not their parents sexual orientation."
Not only do the children of homosexual couples come out "all right", there have been studies from groups such as the Alternative Family Project that prove that children of gay and lesbian parents are more open minded and have higher self esteem than those of heterosexual couples. If the children of gay and lesbian couples are not affected negatively by their parents orientation, maybe even impacted positively by their parents orientation, why should gay parenting even be an issue?
But this issue is not just an abstract debate forum, I have a story to tell -- about a girl we all know and love. She is girl next door, the perfect girl. I met her at summer camp. When I first saw her, with her faultless hair and makeup, I assumed she came from the "perfect, conformist" family.
Her name was Beth, and I was wrong about half of my first impression. While Beth may very well have the most efficient family I have come to know, it surely is not traditional. You see, Beth's family is not at all considered "normal." Beth's father, a successful professional, came out of the closet when she was seven years old. Her parents separated, and her father met his male lover. Beth lived for nine years with two fathers and one mother, all of whom loved her and each other. While, her two biological parents may not be romantically involved, they share the responsibility of raising Beth and her brother. Her biological parents are still best friends, and, essentially, still living their life together. When Beth's fathers were diagnosed with the HIV virus, everyone in the family supported them- Beth, her brother, and her mother. When Beth's step-father died of AIDS everyone in the family was there for her father -- Beth, her brother, and her mother. When Beth's father was hit hardest with the AIDS virus, who was there to nurse him? Beth, her brother, and her mother. If this is not a functional family than what is?
Even though Beth's family was physically separated, they were never truly apart. Everyone in the family loves each other, truly cares about each other, and truly takes care of each other. Beth's family is a loving family.
Beth's family is a functional family. Beth's family is a gay family. There are many children waiting to be adopted. There are gay parents waiting to adopt. Gay parents are qualified to raise children, because they are just as capable as loving a child as heterosexuals are. Homosexuals can be stable and productive citizens, who are currently creating and raising healthy families. We cannot fear the idea of gay parenting any longer -- not when there are people who need love, and people willing to provide love. Gay families are effective, loving, and here. Beth's father wrote a poem about fear that that I would like to share with you:
" I release you, fear, so you can no longer keep me naked and frozen in the winter or smothered under blankets in the summer.
I release you.
I am not afraid to be angry
I am not afraid to rejoice
I am not afraid to be sick
I am not afraid to die
I am not to be healthy
I am not afraid to be hungry
I am not afraid to be full
I am not afraid to be hated
and I am not afraid to be loved..."