Friday, January 11, 2013

Le Figaro runs confessional of man raised by lesbians, who opposes gay marriage now

This piece ran also in France's Christian magazine, Chretiente. It is based on an article that came out in Le Figaro the day before and made huge waves in France. This was, I believe, the first high-profile child of a same-sex couple to come out against gay marraige. I feel a natural kinship to this individual, since it mirrors so much of my own story in "Growing up with two moms."

"I was raised by two women." At 66 years old, Jean-Dominique Bunel, opposed to the bill opening adoption to homosexual couples, decides to break his silence in order to say how his life was thrown into turmoil by having had two moms.

Do not look for scandal. You won't find any. The man is posed, ensconced in a life extremely ripe, without excessive resentment but noticeably bothered. The life of this bachelor of 66 years has "given him" much, spending the most illustrious of his time in the service of humanitarian causes in war-torn countries. Such as in Bosnia, where he spent four years, 1992-1996.

He served in Iraq, where he coordinated all the Charity aides and from which he had to be rescued in 2004, after the abduction of members of his group. He went as well to Burundi and Rwanda, where he lived through a very tough experience.

He tells of his memories in a book published by L'Harmattan in 2010, Notebook of wars and a humanitarian.

This doctor of law -- specialist of humanitarian law and genocides -- is not therefore one to jump on bandwagons, even if this believer has a sensitive heart hidden beneath a shell of the fighter, expert in urgent missions.

The piece in Figaro
Very sensitive, he is, because his heart is wounded at its core by a personal drama of which he has never spoken. Yet the government's bill to allow gays to adopt children has, suddenly, outraged him.

It is an outrage that's intimate and muffled. How can he utter in effect the suffering he experienced, by having been raised by two women, his mother and her lover, without failing in the love which he feels for the two people to whom he owes a great deal and who are today deceased?

How dare he speak, without being shameless, that the child did not understand this relation between women and which was only clarified later, at the price of an internal breakdown?

Moreover, of this pain, he speaks awkwardly. He cannot do it. We feel it. The pain springs forward through a long silence that follows an indiscreet question and which remains without an answer.

The pain colors with emotion a face already wizened. He will write it, maybe, one day. It is only a short while ago that he decided to write this, anyway. The memoirs will not be about war anymore, but about shattered dreams.

In this slow routine of the day, timidly, it begins with a simple confidential pitch to Figaro, no whiff of homophobia about.

"I never suffered from homosexuality," he makes clear. "On the contrary, looking back, my family was very tolerant for their time."

It was the time just after the war. The short marriage of his parents is rocked by a strong bond that unites his mother to one of her friends.

His father leaves home. The two lovers live together and raise three children.

"It is not therefore the taboo against homosexuality that made me suffer, but rather, gay parenting. Homosexuals should naturally be embraced with brotherhood. They enrich humanity and if it is necessary, of course, one ought to show them the same rights as heteros, as much as possible, but this equality cannot be applied rashly to the 'right to a child' which exists nowhere and can be drawn from no text at all."

So there you have it: The issue was gay parenting. How did he suffer?

"I suffered from the indifference of adults to the intimate sufferings of children, starting with mine. In a world where their rights are each day rolled back, in truth, it is always the rights of adults that hold sway. I also suffered from the lack of a father, a daily presence, a character and a properly masculine example, some counterweight to the relationship of my mother to her lover. I was aware of it at a very early age. I lived that absence of a father, experienced it, as an amputation."

"What I offer you is a testimonial. It is not equal in value to a poll."

When one objects to him that many children live in such a state because of divorce, he rebuts:  "Divorce does not deprive a child necessarily of its parents, who normally are given shared or alternate guardianship of the child. Especially, divorce does not replace the father with a second woman, exacerbating even more the affective imbalance, both emotional and structural, for the child. All psychiatrists ought to recognize that the latter does not depend on a woman the way it depends upon a man, and that the ideal for the child is that the two accompany each other in an equal, complementary way.

And to make things clear: "While I was a child and a teenager, I had absolutely no notion of all that and I naturally adored the two women who raised me alone and with courage. But I did not pose questions about the nature of their relationship,which I therefore did not figure out. My father, who had abandoned my mother when I was three, precisely due to the relation she was engaged in, was never around, notably when I needed him. Also I turned as much as possible to the men of my surroundings, who begged for an oversized and sometimes unhealthy place in my life."

One will not know of this prior to feeling the consequences for his life as a man. That transom is still impossible to cross. "All my life as an adult was thrust out of whack by this experience," he blurts. But he stops himself there. "It is too intimate a matter." Pushed, he concedes, "I offer you a testimony. It's not the same in value as a poll. Other children, placed in the same conditions, have certainly grown up and reacted differently. But to the best of my knowledge, no serious study has been carried out in due diligence about this topic, within scientifically irrefutable conditions and bearing upon a large sample size. I doubt that many children of gay couples will open themselves up easily and honestly to journalists on this very delicate matter. It's traumatizing to speak of suffering that one would rather silence."

So today the words fail us. The cry is all that remains: "As soon as I learned that the government was going to officialize marriage between two people of the same sex, I was thrown into disarray. Not so much by marriage itself, which is in my mind more a sacrament than a civil union, but by the fact that we would be opening, necessarily, this code to adoption, institutionalizing a situation that had scarred me considerably. In that there is an injustice that I can in no way allow."

He adds in legal tones: "I oppose this bill because in the name of a fight against inequalities and discrimination, we would refuse a child one of its most sacred rights, upon which a universal, millenia-old tradition rests, that of being raised by a father and a mother. You see, two rights collide: the right to a child for gays, and the right of a child to a mother and father. The international convention on the rights of the child stipulates in effect that "the highest interest of the child should be a primary consideration" (article 3, section 1). Here this 'higher interest' leaves no doubt." But it is the wounded man who concludes: "If two women who raised me had been married prior to the adoption of such a bill, I would have jumped into the fray and would have brought a complaint before the French state and before the European Court of the rights of man, for the violation of my right to a mom and a dad." Le Figaro (10/01/13)