Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Changing Face Of The Gay Community And Just Who It Belongs To.

By Dara Fisher

Recently I had a conversation with a friend from high school that caused the wheels in my head to start turning. 
He is gay, though we’ve been friends since before he came to that realization.  He jokingly called me a “fag hag” and I was taken aback.  I’ve had several people call me that name before but they were folks that didn’t know me personally or at least well enough to know that my existence in the gay community is one I was born into, not chosen as a social situation.  This friend however is very familiar with my family and knows my gay parents.
When I protested his label by saying that I’m not a fag hag but rather a member of the gay community, he informed me in no uncertain terms that I was not actually part of the gay community because I am not a lesbian myself.  We had a few little exchanges and ultimately, we left at the agree to disagree point because he wasn’t willing to listen to my point of view and being as stubborn as I am, I certainly wasn’t going to let him tell me that I didn’t deserve to be part of a community that technically I have been a part of longer than 
he has.

KGP’s, (Kids of Gay Parents) are part of the gay community.  I jokingly say that we are the chosen ones but it’s not far from the truth.  Our parents intentionally created us, adopted us, or inherited us with the purpose of having a family and being part of the gay community.  Very few of us are “accidents” because homosexuals of the same gender can’t get each other pregnant, no matter how hard they try.  When our parents decided to raise kids, it wasn’t with the intention that they were going to raise us like straight people.  Most of us have a social group of adopted lesbian aunts and gay uncles that make up our family units.  We aren’t raised with the same limitations as some of the kids in the straight community. 

I can’t speak for all KGP’s but in my case, my parents couldn’t have cared less what my sexuality ended up being.  They also didn’t care that I was a girl but spent the majority of my time on hobbies that would be considered masculine.  Being a tomboy was perfectly okay and neither of my parents ever made a judgement call on it.  I didn’t have traditional gender roles that taught me to adhere to a specified path based on my genitals so I got to explore the world as a human being, not just a girl. 
Ultimately, I ended up being a girl who is brave, opinionated, intelligent, and kind.  I don’t fear judgement because I grew up with people around me who supported who I was and who I became. I also learned that opinions are like backsides, everyone has one. 

As a parent myself, I adhere to the same policy as my parents in regards to how I raise my kids.  I don’t want my children to follow the rules society has decided must be enforced.  I want them to be who they want to be.  My son is a soft spoken self-professed nerd and my daughter is a tough as nails, take no crap girl who is tougher than most boys I know.  Rather than force them to adhere to the rules society has assigned to their gender, my kids live as individuals.

Interestingly, there is no official inclusion of KGP’s in the gay community.  The community has expanded to include transsexuals, gender fluid, pansexuals, and more yet there isn’t an actual statement of inclusion for those of us who are born into the gay community.  That makes me sad.  I feel like I have to explain why I am part of the gay community because we aren’t openly accepted yet.  Sometimes it feels like we are a suburb of the gay community when we should be treated in the same regard as everyone else.  

My friend’s reaction to my statement about being part of the gay community pretty much sums up how I feel about it.  Because I am not a homosexual myself, I’m not allowed to consider myself part of the community.  Like the gay community is some type of exclusive club.  When I think of the gay community, I consider all forms of alternate sexualities to be included.  I consider the friends and family of homosexuals to be included.  I would even include the members of the straight community who support gay rights.  So it seems natural that the children and grandchildren of homosexuals should be part of the gay community.  After all, we are the next generation of gay rights activists who are privy to the inside workings of the gay community and who will be carrying out our parents legacy and history.

Growing up within the gay community has given me a lot of insight in my life.  I have personally worked to educate people on gay rights and gay issues because I have the ability to share my life experience and in a few cases, change the way society sees the gay community.  I have spoken extensively about AIDS in hopes of removing the stigma the straight community has stuck to the gay community.  I had a coworker who thought all gay men had AIDS.  I spent two hours explaining to her that HIV/AIDS is not a gay disease, it is a bodily fluid disease that can be contracted just as easily by heterosexuals as by gay men.  I also clarified that no, not all gay men have HIV/AIDS.
A hot topic I vehemently fight against is the pedophilia accusations.  That is one of the things that angers me to my very soul.  I have been asked and several people have assumed that my father was a child molester because he is gay.  I have even been asked if my Dad molested me.  Usually my response includes a few curse words and a cheeky statement about me not being my Dad’s type but it still makes me furious.  The religious zealots are the usual suspects in the gay men are equal to pedophiles arguments and most of the time I realize that I am sparing with an unarmed opponent.  I also have come to the understanding that I am the poster child for gay families.

There aren’t a ton of people my age that were raised in gay families.  While there are adult children of gay parents, gay families didn’t become mainstream until fairly recently.  There are a lot of questions people have about the outcome for children that are raised by gay parents and within the gay community.  While I appreciate being able to speak and advocate for the gay community to society as a whole, my personal favorite part of being a KGP is being able to speak to other gay families and let them know that their kids are going to turn out great.  There seems to be an underlying fear of the outcome of gay parents raising kids, even within the gay community itself and I feel privileged to be able to represent the “final product” if you will of gay families.  

I recently read a study where they took a sample of adult children of gay families and reported their findings.  The KGP’s involved in this study seemed to portray being raised in a gay family as a negative thing.  Supposedly they had self-esteem issues, professional problems, and social problems.  The study claimed to represent the true cost of being raised in a gay family.  I was surprised by the study because I know a lot of KGP’s and I have yet to witness this type of outcome.  As an academic, my first thought was to see who created the study and how they ascertained their study samples.  The study was done by a Christian foundation and their subjects were pulled from mental health facilities!  They specifically studied people who reported having mental health problems that they blamed on their gay parents.  This “Christian” foundation intentionally skewed their results and knowingly published false information with the intent to mislead the public into believing that gay families were dangerous.  Of course what they didn’t report was all of us who have no mental health issues from our upbringing and have progressed through our lives on par with our straight raised contemporaries.  Had they used the methods taught in elementary statistics to gather their study subjects, what they would have found is that baring mental health issues, we all turn out okay.  

All of the KGP’s I know are happy, well-rounded, college educated people with their own families.  I can think of only one case in which the KGP had issues later in life and those weren’t because she was raised by gay parents, it was because she already had mental health issues when she was adopted.  If we aren’t considered part of the gay community, why is it that we represent some of the best the gay community has to offer?

As we become adults, KGP’s have a tendency to stay tied to the gay community.  Why?  Because we are no different than any other human being.  If you grow up in the Irish-American community, you tend to stay within that community.  If you were raised as a gypsy, you will remain a gypsy.  As humans, we are drawn to our people and our community represents our safe place.  The same concept applies to KGPs.  When we grow up, we have a tendency to remain close to the gay community and participate actively in the community.  

Over the years I have been involved in such things as gay pride parades, assisted some of the local HIV/AIDS charities, spoken to groups about issues that affect the gay community and specifically gay families, and been a vocal supporter of not just gay rights but human rights.  I know that not everyone agrees that KGP’s should be considered part of the gay community but as a community that is progressing by leaps and bounds daily, we represent a growing part of the gay community and ignoring our existence isn’t going to change that.

Dara Fisher. A 33 year old Mother of 3 amazing children with her Prince Charming Keith.  
They live right outside of Palm Springs, California. Dara has degrees in Anthropology, Liberal Arts, and Business Administration.  
She works full time in the Hospitality Industry and attends college classes in pursuit of her MBA when she's not busy being Super Mom.   
She spend her spare time crocheting, quilting, and making a mess with pretty much anything she can get my hands into.  She is a huge Doctor Whofan and  can't eat while watching The Walking Dead. 
Oh and she also happens to be the daughter of gay parents and the Mother of a child with Asbergers  Syndrome and ADHD

photo: The Washington Blade