Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Parenting and a GLBT Perspective

This is a guest post from Sparky, of Spark in Darkness.  Many of you are  familiar with him from Livejournal, as well as from his insightful and often hilarious commentary here. Each Tuesday, Womanist Musings will be featuring a post from Sparky.  

Parenting is very much in the news over hear at the moment, what with Kate’s pregnancy becoming an all-consuming obsession of truly epic proportions. And I have a lot of feelings around this.

Firstly, I’m not exactly jumping for joy for the same reason that I wasn’t jumping for joy about their wedding. I don’t wish either of them ill, but nor am I going to join in something that is so utterly and completely dependent on them being straight – because we know if it were 2 princesses or 2 princes up there announcing their upcoming baby, there wouldn’t be this fawning adoration, no way.

But this leads to my general thoughts about parenting and the hugely thorny issue it is with me and GBLT people in general.

Not least of which is my still trying to unlearn enough bullshit to consider myself as a parent. This is one of the problems of growing up in a homophobic society, you learn all kinds of negative lies about yourself that then need to be brought down. In my head I can’t consider parenting as more than an abstract because I have always always always been told that it was an utter impossibility to me.

It shouldn’t be a surprise, the powers that be continue that meme. How many times during the battles for marriage equality have the bigots used children as a red herring? How marriage is for the raising of children and how could we forget that? Because we never ever have kids, right? Or Tory MP David Davies (who takes a prize for the worst gay friend excuse with “I’m not homophobic, I once punched a gay man”) who thinks most parents don’t want gay children because, among other reasons, they want grandchildren. Because I could never produce grandchildren for my parents.

I’m bitter about that. I’m bitter that the message has been so pounded into me that I may never dig it out. I’m bitter that, because of homophobia and homophobia caused mental illness, many doors to parenthood are going to be blocked for me anyway.

I’m angry that we still have bigot after bigot calling us bad parents, despite study after study showing clearly that we’re as good or better than straight parents. I’m furious that these studies were even started, furious that the question was even in doubt and not dismissed out of hand as the ridiculous bigotry it is. I’m beyond frustrated that, despite all this, it’s STILL considered “conventional wisdom” that 2 opposite sex parents are the utter ideal for a child and any other family is harmful and abusive at worst or “less ideal” at best.

And I’m really really sick about straight opinions on our families, that our families are considered controversial. I’m beyond pissed that the BBC decided to interview a Hate Group leader about Elton John and David Furnish’s child for “balance.” Or Oprah deciding it’s appropriate to ask Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka which father is more “maternal” and talk about the “weirdly scientific way they were born”.

In fact, it’s probably a good thing I’m not a father yet, because just the briefest glance on straight commentary on our parenthood already makes me rage. Straight curiosity and specialness demands that they ask questions that are none of their damn business, demand answers they have no right to and offer judgement they’re in no position to make.

I am tired of straight people demanding to know “how” our children are born, whether they’re adopted or surrogates or sperm donations. I am tired of them asking after the “real” parents or asking which parent is the “biological parent”. Like any of that is even remotely their business. These are questions they wouldn’t dream of asking straight parents –  straight parents are parents, the details and legitimacy of that parenthood are rarely questioned.

I am tired of straight people presuming to judge the parenting of GBLT people. What kind of arrogant, privileged fool do you have to be to decide you get to have an opinion on which member of a lesbian couple is the one to become pregnant? Who the hell are you to decide whose sperm they should use? Who asked you your opinion on what route a gay male couple took to have kids? How is this remotely your business? In the name of all that is even remotely decent, who do you think you are to decide you know their family well enough to judge how and why they have kids?

If you did this to a straight couple they’d slap you upside the head and most people would be more than willing to hold their coats while they did.

It’s the height of privileged arrogance.  When GBLT people have kids, you know what you say? You say “congratulations!” Or you mock them for the sleep deprivation and wall to wall mess they have to clean up – just like you would straight people. If you have anything else to say – zip it. It’s not your family, not your business and you’re talking shit about someone’s bloody kids for crying out loud – that’s a step beyond trash talking someone’s parents! Were you born with no manners at all – or do you just think GBLT people aren’t due common courtesy?