Celebrating LGBTQ History on Fathers’ Day: LGBT Parents

17 Jun

When I was growing up in the 70s the gay rights movement was just beginning. While it would occasionally surge onto the news, it was in many ways treated as secondary to other movements like the anti-war protests and Second Wave Feminism. Those early days truly changed the landscape, however, and set the stage for the broader progress we see today. Things really moved backwards in the 80s and 90s, when you consider how easily gay and lesbian references cropped up on 70s TV like Sonny and Cher and the Mary Tyler Moore Show.

One thing that would never get into the press or the programs was the idea of gay parents. Even as laws punishing gay sex slowly were repealed or went unenforced in many places, homosexuality was still used as a legal barrier to adoption or to custody. (Interesting how that shows how obsessed our opponents are with the sexual side of things…) While the legal landscape still has a way to go, LGBT parents are far more visible and that’s a very good thing. It’s hard to fear what you understand, and it’s easy to understand your neighbors.

Starting with famous books like Heather Has Two Mommies, the narrative of gay parents as part of the American fabric has slowly become clearer and clearer. Celebrity parents like Melissa Etheridge and Neil Patrick Harris opening their homes show loving, supportive families that look familiar to most people. Many more movies and TV show LGBT parents and adoptions just as a matter of course. Modern Family does a phenomenal job of normalizing same-sex parenting, and is far more about parenting than making a big deal that the parents just happen to be two dads.  The Kids Are All Right shows that LGBT families are just as normal (and messed up) as any other families – the fact that there are two moms is the least of their issues. JC Penney’s bold new brand is aggressively acknowledging that families come in all flavors with inclusive advertising images (much to the ire of One Million Moms). Even comic books get into the game, with DC’s Apollo and Midnighter adopting Jenny Quantum after their marriage.

Being a parent is hard and being a good parent in a complex world is even harder. We need kids to have strong families and good support; the orientations of the parents are irrelevant. No matter what Mark Regnerus and his funders would have you believe, LGBT folk make great parents, and all the good research supports that wholeheartedly. In fact, same-sex households can turn out kids as wonderful as Zach Wahls. So let’s take time this Fathers’ Day to celebrate the families that often require more intent and face challenges from the narrow-minded no matter how well they work.

P.S. – Let’s also celebrate the straight parents who love and accept their LGBT children unconditionally. Since bullying and abuse of these kids is still a significant problem, a loving home is often the saving grace. Three cheers to the Judy Shepards, Daphne’s Moms, and PFLAG moms and dads all over America.


9 Responses to “Celebrating LGBTQ History on Fathers’ Day: LGBT Parents”

  1. Christine Noble June 17, 2012 at 7:59 am #

    “A” and “men” Michael! It is strange how we seemed to quietly make so much ground in the ’70’s and it slipped away over the next twenty years (well, maybe not so strange taking into account our discussions about push back from fundies and the AIDS scare.) Still, these recent developments (hooray DC comics!) are very nice.

    On a similar note, I thought you might like to read what this young man has to say for Father’s Day: http://artoftransliness.tumblr.com/post/25289162861/to-all-the-fathers-in-the-trans-community

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt June 17, 2012 at 8:28 am #

      I’m glad you liked the story and you obviously clicked through to the Sonny and Cher link 🙂 Thanks also for the link–the more we can support and celebrate our trans brothers and sisters the better!

  2. Jay June 17, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

    Thanks for selecting the charming photo that illustrates this article, Michael, which is from JC Penney’s new advertising campaign. Even though cute pics of romping kids are not usually favorites of mine (I tend to nod politely rather than gush when someone shares family photos with me), I was struck by the warmth, sincerity and cheerfulness of that particular image, which I first saw a few days ago on Dan Savage’s blog. It depicts a real family rather than professional models, which is doubtless part of the reason it is so genuine and convincing.

    And who knew that JC Penney could be hip? I think they should be applauded (and rewarded with a boost in sales) for deliberately choosing to be so inclusive in their new advertising and branding campaigns. They’re typically large stores, and reasonably priced, so virtually everyone should be able to find something that they could use and afford.

    Also a big “Happy Fathers Day” to any Dads who may be reading.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt June 17, 2012 at 7:44 pm #

      What a very sweet comment, Jay. Yes, the picture touched me as well. I had always hoped Robert and I would have kids, but it is not meant to be. I have always had great disdain for JC Penney and now I must confess that if we had one in Portland, I would do all my shopping there.

  3. nevercontrary June 18, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

    you are right. I am a great parent. 🙂

  4. Betsy Swain June 22, 2012 at 2:18 pm #

    I’m a little behind, as you can see! But this is my chance to mention Mona Charen’s disgusting column in the AJC June 20 highlighting Regenerus’ study. She’s thrilled, of course, that he “proves” that there are negative outcomes for children raised in nontraditional families, specifically same-sex parent families. But what caught my attention was Regenerus’ slight of hand in delivering these results: Evidently at the core of Regenerus’ analysis is “kin altruism” [Christopher Hitchen’s as-yet-unproven “selfish gene”], the biological tie between parent and child — the sine qua non in securing the stability required for children to thrive. That stability can come ONLY from this kin altruism, and children can thrive ONLY with this kin-altruism-derived stability. Ergo, ONLY those children raised by their biological parent(s) (who are presumably not drunkards, abusive, mentally deranged, etc.) have the potential for the kind of positive outcomes Regenerus is seeking. Much of this is possibly Charen’s invention. She has no problem presenting his methodology and results as though they were rational, and she is known to invent things to assist her position. Search for the column and decide for yourself. I’ll have to find Regenerus’ piece. And get my hands dirty. Thanks for continuing to publish. I love you.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt June 22, 2012 at 2:58 pm #

      You are such a beautiful strong ally! Just reading the name of Charen, I can smell the sulphur and the magnets on our refrigerator rearranged themselves. Yes, Regnerus’s “science” is appalling and I have no idea how this has not had any ill effects on UT-Austin.
      All my love,

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt June 22, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

        Sara and others, here is just a part of an action response that I received through the blog from the amazing Scott Rose:
        June 21, 2012

        William Powers, Jr.
        University of Texas, Austin
        Office of the President
        Main Building 400 (G3400)
        Austin, Texas 78713-8920

        In Re: Scientific Misconduct Complaint against UTA’s Mark D. Regnerus

        Dear President Powers:

        I have filed, through the “EthicsPoint” online system, a complaint against UTA’s Mark D. Regnerus for Scientific Misconduct in violation of UTA’s Academic Dishonesty Policy, which forbids use of misinformation to hurt others.

        Please respond promptly to this letter, which is being published at http://www.TheNewCivilRightsMovement.com

        Here are some facts of the case:

        1) This is not a complaint that UTA Mark D. Regnerus is active politically. The complaint rather is that Regnerus took money from political persons and groups to further their political goals, and in preparing a study for them, rushed it through production for their use in the 2012 elections, though Regnerus himself has stated in a video interview given to the Daily Texan’s Hannah Jane Deciutus that his methodology for the study does not work “to the long-term benefit of science.” In other words, in order to retain a large grant from political organizations, a) Regnerus knowingly failed to uphold acceptable standards for his discipline, and b) knowingly rushed through his study in time for his funders to use it in the 2012 elections, instead of c) working professionally to produce a study that would work “to the long-term benefit of science.” In that, Professor Regnerus’s behavior is antithetical to the raison d’être of a university.

        I encourage everyone to take the same action steps.

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