Παρασκευή, 4 Απριλίου 2014

MY FAMILY, MY STORY





Family Equality Council's Outspoken Generation program strives to empower those with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) parents to speak out about our community’s families. Every day these young advocates are sharing their stories and advocating for family equality on the local, state, and national levels.
For over 30 years many of us have been raising our children to tell the truth, love their country, and be good neighbors. Today, our children are telling their own truths, helping to dispel hateful myths and misinformation about our families, and truly changing the national dialogue about real family values.
The Outspoken Generation program is co-chaired by Ella Robinson, daughter of the first openly-gay bishop, Gene Robinson, and internationally-recognized LGBTQ family activist, Zach Wahls.

Aliyah Shain and her mothers.Being raised by two lesbian women isn't typically the norm for children growing up in the United States. However, for me, this has been my blessing. As a child, my parents were very transparent about the ways in which our family was different from others, and they warned me of the possible negative encounters I might endure because of this difference. It is not the gender of my parents that makes me feel unique, however. It is the experiences I’ve lived through the process of fighting to secure equal rights for my family that have greatly influenced my world-view. 
When I was six years old one of my moms, Mary Jo, legally adopted me. I was confused at the time because I felt that she was already just as much my “real mother” as my birth mother Jo-Ann.  This confusion soon abated as we made a celebration out of the ordeal and my mind began to ponder what it meant to “create” a family – both legally and physically. While my family physically looked different from some of my friend’s families, the difference did not impact my sense of family or self. In addition to the adoption, I encountered various scenarios as a small child that made me question why my family had to take more precautions than others. Something as simple as boarding a plane to go on vacation turned into an ordeal of paperwork and confusion, as Mary Jo had to legally prove to be my mother while taking me across state-lines. These situations, while confusing for a small child, ultimately helped me to understand that my family was being treated differently in the legal sphere even though I felt that my family was almost identical to my friends’ families in substance. My parents provided me with the unconditional love and support necessary to flourish as an adult. They also instilled within me the courage to stand up for my beliefs, the commitment to help those less fortunate than I, and they have provided a community of tight-knit friends, whom I consider to be part of my family. These are the morals I believe encompass the definition of family – and my family has been denied rights while still upholding these morals.
 It is the unequal treatment of my family that led me to take action against intolerance for my family and others like it. I decided to become actively involved in speaking out for the rights of my parents (and my family as a whole) when I was sixteen and my parents were approached by a law firm to be plaintiffs in a lawsuit fighting for marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples in New York. I have decided to play an active and vocal role in the marriage debate because I believe the love and devotion that my parents have always shown each other, and me, are the basic tenets that marriage and family should be based upon. To watch my family be treated unequally under the law has proven unacceptable to my notions of equality. I want to battle notions that being raised by gay or lesbian parents, or a single mother or father, or by foster parents, have detrimental effects on children. It has been my experience that it is how one is raised that effects that child rather than who raises that child.
Recently, I got to witness and attend my mothers’ legal marriage. I cannot adequately express what that day meant to me. After having seen my parents take extra precautions to legally protect our family when I was a child, witnessing my mothers legally wed was truly beautiful. It legitimized my family and it legitimized equality. I believe the children of gay and lesbian couples can play a crucial role in showing that their families deserve equal protection. The gender of my parents has in no way harmed me; in fact, it has helped me to become more tolerant of differences and I am grateful for it.
Aliya Shain

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