Sunday, January 13, 2013

Global Francophone Rally/Letter from a Lesbian's Son

This video was thrown together quickly, so I imagine more images are coming soon:



French-speakers on all continents gathered outside embassies and consulates to show solidarity with the estimated 800,000 French citizens who stormed Paris to block the passage of same-sex adoption and demand a referendum on gay marriage.

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Also, below is an unsigned letter from a bilingual (French/English) correspondent who was raised by a lesbian couple and feels liberated by the exposé in the Figaro to speak out now.


Dear President Obama and President Hollande,

Antiwar activists say sometimes, “not in my name.” It means, “don’t send soldiers to fight overseas and then say you’re doing it for me as an American or because I am a French citizen.” Whether it is Iraq or Mali, the idea is that governments cannot deflect questions about the ethical impact of their decision to go to war, by claiming that someone else's needs demanded such a decision, especially if that "someone else" didn't ask for, and doesn't approve of, the war.

Today I say  “not in my name” on a different front. I am queer and do not deny my membership in the LGBT community. I was raised by a lesbian whom I loved, and her female partner, to whom I was actually closer for much of my childhood and adolescence than to my own mother. I loved them both tremendously.

But please, President Hollande of France and President Obama of the United States, do not promote adoption for same-sex couples in my name. Do not do it to say that you wish to make children of same-sex couples feel better. Do not do it because we need to be protected from homophobia directed at our parents. If you really care about us, you should promote policies that urge a child’s mother and father to stay together, even if one half of that marriage is gay.

If you really care about us, you will tell our parents to put us before their sexual crusades, their carnal pleasures, or their irritations with the opposite sex.

If you really care about us, you will tell the gay community to stop using us. You will protect us from their agendas, their three-ring circuses, and their propaganda, too often starring us.

Children of gay parents are survivors. In saying so, I praise these children but also warn those who want to idealize our lives. We can find happiness and be successful. There’s no way to generalize about all of us. My siblings and stepsiblings, who are more numerous than I’d care to admit, have a range of viewpoints. I don’t know what they think about gay parenting, because we don’t talk about it as an issue, ever. We survive by simply refusing to politicize our different experiences in the same turmoil-ridden household. Survival means smiling, bringing birthday presents to gatherings, and not watching the debates about gay rights in front of our children. Maybe such a situation illustrates more about this debate than anything the experts can provide.

I’ve known many children of gay parents. In my experience, children of gay parents don’t talk about their situation honestly with each other, or with children of heterosexual parents. Generally they don’t talk about their situation at all. They want to go to sports practice, math class, and their job at the supermarket or factory. They want to go to college, build families of their own, and move on. They don’t want to be living on a soundstage, in a fishbowl, or under a microscope. They aren’t grasshoppers to be dissected.

Usually the hiccups start not in childhood, but in one’s twenties, when things start to get shaky. It starts to become clear to the child of the gay parent that he or she lacks the connections and networking cache that children of traditional households can access. As the child becomes an adult and considers what it means to become a parent in turn, thoughts turn to one's own roots; one looks more critically at what happened in one's childhood, before one had the capacity to question the decisions of the gay couple that controlled one's safety and health. One begins to ask, "would I want to bring a child into the world and have them grow up as I did?" Sometimes the answer to that question becomes uncomfortable, and one's mind begins to change about the whole thing.

Inevitably the child starts noticing that the “role models” of the missing parent’s gender that were brought in for balance’s sake don’t really stick around the same way an actual father or mother would have. In fact, lots of people don’t stick around, including gays. There is always an air of transience about gay life, and our parents are lucky if they don’t breathe in that air, let alone breathe it onto their children. Too often, however, it happens.

Many do what I did in my mid-twenties: connect with the missing parent. Befriending my father – I can’t say we ever became like father and son – changed my life tremendously for the better. He came through for me and we made up for lost time; I felt I knew who I was after moving in with him in my early twenties. It precipitated, unfortunately, a distancing from my mother’s partner, with whom my relationship has been reduced to a Facebook message or yearly Christmas card, nothing more. These aren’t small upheavals, to be dismissed as only specific to my case or a regrettable blemish on an otherwise pristine photograph. These are traumatic things whether one is five or fifteen or fifty.

It isn’t fatal to be the child of gay parents, but it’s not a convenient life, as evidenced by how hard it is to get children of gay parents to speak openly about what’s going on. By speaking openly, I don’t mean performing poetry at Gay Pride or going into court to testify in a gay marriage lawsuit. Those are performances. I did those too. They’re heartwarming in spite of, or perhaps because of, being also so heartbreaking.

Imagine you are me, or one of the others in such a situation. You love your parents and don’t want to disparage them. Nonetheless, at some point they placed you in a situation that they knew was going to be painful, about which you were going to have to be doggedly defensive if not secretive, because they cared about their own happiness more than they cared about yours. 

Something was more important – getting away from the opposite sex, moving in with someone they were in love with, proving a point, winning a battle, having it all, healing their scars. Those things were simply more important than you were. That hurts but there’s no point in pretending it isn’t true.

If you doubt your parents’ imprudence, you aren’t just being a typical rebellious adolescent. You are a homophobe and a bigot, simply for seeing your parents’ selfishness for what it was. Other children can run off and join the circus or declare themselves revolutionaries against their parent's bourgeois ideals; but you cannot engage in such natural stages of self-awakening, for your gay parent would forever brand you a victimizer, a fascist, a traitor to a cause you never asked to be part of. 

I am struck by how nakedly honest both sides of the debate express themselves in French. God has blessed me with a tongue that knows this language; it is a blessing that I am able to hear the pro-traditional-family side articulate their natural-law arguments for the inherent right of a child to a mother and father. I can understand my personal struggles in the language of human rights, and that’s beneficial.

It is also useful to watch the advocates for gay parenting resort to all their rhetorical tricks (in France as in the United States) when confronted with the basic self-interest and illogicality of their position. I hear, in debate after debate in France, the gay advocates saying that children are already growing up in gay homes and therefore it’s hurtful to such kids to question the wisdom of gay parenting.

Yet when the advocates for traditional family state that they must fight the gay lobby to stop the state from encouraging thousands more gay couples to place children in such unnecessarily stressful situations, the gay spokespeople interrupt, condescend, change the subject, divert to platitudes about love, and accuse their opponents of being blind religious adherents.

How can the advocates for gay parenting spew such bald contradictions, and in such hypocritical bad faith?

I have been in the position of having to smile and keep up appearances. That’s what you do when you have gay parents. Your family life will never be free of controversy--you pass before cathedrals and see the towering judgment of the world's religions hanging over your family, and you secretly hate the secular reformers for forcing you to be the one to demand the demise of such a long and ultimately inextinguishable tradition, even in places so supposedly progressive as France and the United States, where Christianity returns like a phoenix after each 1968. You secretly hate the gay movement for expecting Christians to forget their past, and expecting you to ignore the pain of your present and fight endlessly for an elusive untroubled future.

Often you and your siblings have vastly different reactions to a confusing arrangement, especially because there is always the excluded third party who is a biological parent but chased away by divorce or erased through feints such as surrogacy. It is a terrible thing to be the child of victims, to be drafted into political crusades by people who could have done as so many billions have had to do since Jacob and Leah's time -- simply staying in a heterosexual marriage less than perfect so that you could be raised by your father and mother like everyone else.

Children don’t randomly end up in gay homes. Their parents refuse to stay in heterosexual marriages for their kids’ sake. It is too much to ask of such parents to sacrifice something as important as their political identity and sexuality for something as meaningless as a child’s happiness. So instead, they expect their children to fight their battles for them, never failing in the performance of being okay and well-adjusted, happy to showcase the progress of sexual ideology like a Potemkin Village. The Americans have their Hollywood, the French their Louvre; in both countries, there is a stubborn refusal to shun beauty and ignore ugliness. Yet to signal approval of such selfish decisions by gays to force children into stress and self-doubt, would be to shun the internal beauty that would have been self-sacrifice on the part of those parents, and to ignore the ugliness within the character of someone who would turn an innocent child into a trophy, honi soit qui mal y pense.

Perhaps I am cruel, but I feel the indignation that pacifists felt when George W. Bush invaded Iraq in their name.

Presidents Hollande and Obama, do not send more children into the battlefield of gay politics in my name. No more.

Signed,

Citoyen X/Joe Public