Hear Me Out: Don't Push Kids on Me
|by Mubarak Dahir|
|I don't want kids. I never have wanted to raise children, and I don't think I ever will have the urge to be a father.
Today, that makes me a freak and a social outcast more than being gay does.
It used to be that most gay men and lesbians didn't much contemplate the notion of parenthood. Sure, there have always been gay men and lesbians who parented children from their heterosexual relationships. But for the vast majority of us, the legal and social obstacles to having kids were so prohibitive, many of us never gave it serious thought.
The notion of Heather having two mommies or daddy and his roommate raising a son is a relatively recent advent in the gay and lesbian community.
Don't get me wrongI am perfectly supportive of gay and lesbian couples rearing children. If two men or two women want to raise kids, of course they should be allowed to do so. There's absolutely no scientific evidence that would suggest children raised by two gay or two lesbian parents turn out any less well-adjusted and happy than kids raised by heterosexual parents.
Indeed, many child psychologists and child development specialists suggest that children who have two lesbian parents may well have advantages in learning and social development over children raised in heterosexual couples. Though there is yet little scientific evidence to support this hunch, it comes from volumes of research on how women and men typically interact with the children they raise.
And there is plenty of research that proves having a gay or lesbian parent doesn't make a child any more or less likely to grow up to be gay or lesbian.
So if gay men and lesbians want to have or adopt kids, more power to them. Let them knock themselves out.
I just don't want any myself.
Not that I haven't given it earnest consideration. I have, and for a long list of personal reasons, I keep coming back to the same conclusion: I'm convinced having children isn't what I want.
Indeed, I used to think that one of the advantages to being an out gay man was the relative lack of social expectation that I should somehow bear children. But that was before the "gayby boom," as the recent increase in gay and lesbian parenthood has been dubbed.
Today, in fact, it often feels as if the tables have turned. If you are a gay man or lesbian in a steady relationship and are creeping into middle ageas I amyou are asked with increasing frequency why you don't have kids. Or, more annoying, when you are going to "start a family."
When did my lover and I become "less" of a family just because we don't have kids? And when did we as gay and lesbian people start validating our relationships, our bonds to one another as family, solely by copying the heterosexual model of the way things ought to be?
Again, I want to emphasize how important I believe it is that gay and lesbian people should be allowed to have, raise, adopt and rear children in a loving home. As a movement, we must continue to offer gay and lesbian parents the full support, both social and political, they deserve when it comes to the myriad of issues they face in trying to raise kids. Those battles between our community and much of the heterosexual community continue to include the right to adopt, the right of lesbians to artificial insemination, discrimination faced at school by kids of gay and lesbian parents, social ostracism of gay and lesbian parents, and more.
But while we fight with the straight world for the rights of gay and lesbian parents and their children, we must be careful not to codify in our own community a subtle but tangible split among ourselves. That split, that faint but detectable attitude that is developing is this: Gays and lesbians with children have "real" families. The rest of us do not.
When I've expressed in group settings composed entirely of gays and lesbians that I have no wish for children, I've often been called selfish, or lazy, or immature. Others are insistent that I simply don't know what I'm missing, and that I'll regret my decision later.
Perhaps, but it is still a personal decision each of us needs to be allowed to make based on our individual circumstances and goals. There should be no "right" or "wrong" answer to the decision that a gay or lesbian person makes with respect to his or her desire to have kids.
Most heterosexuals don't have that luxury. Most are raised with, and simply accept, the traditional notion that as they move on in life, they will get married and have kids. One great things about being gay and lesbian is that we have the opportunity to break old molds, to chart new paths. Those should be journeys we want to take in life, rather than ones predetermined for us, like whether or not we want to have kids.
I'm not arguing that gay men and lesbians shouldn't have children. If that's what they want, of course that should.
What I'm arguing is that when it comes to having kids, as gay men and lesbians, we should hold onto our choices and be allowed to make them without being branded somehow second class in our own community.
As a community that has long struggled to be allowed to make and define our own families, and as a group of people who have been creative, as well as politically savvy, in devising new definitions of family, we ought not to now accept any singular definition of family as better than any other.
Mubarak Dahir receives email at MubarakDah@aol.com.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 11, No. 3, Apr. 6, 2001