An Invisible Minority:
Move Over Stonewall - There's a New Movement in Town, Led by Your Children
by Tessa Corcoran-Sayers
|A Mountain Meadow contingent marches in the Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender Pride Parade in 2005 with a banner reading 3 generations of LGBTQ families. Photo: Mountain Meadow Camp|
The scene always
starts out the same - Johnny or Lauren is sitting at the kitchen table, she's
nervous about her first soccer game, or he's nervous about his first day of
school. Their parents sit around them and try to comfort the worried child.
"It's ok, you will meet lots of new friends," or "You're such
a good player, I know that you will win." Maybe you can even smell the
chocolate chip cookies in the oven, or see the new puppy, Spot, sitting by the
fireplace. Then comes the punch line - Lauren isn't sitting at the table with
her mother and father, because Lauren has two daddies, and you never would have
The problem with this "typical" setting is that the Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender/Queer (LGBTQ) community often recreates it as well. No one wants to describe their family as anything less than perfect, especially when the rest of society is just waiting to see their flaws. Just like every other parent, LGBTQ parents want to see their family respected and treated fairly. When we express this by "over-Americanizing" our own families, we not only hurt ourselves, but our children as well. Nobody's children deserve to have their own community set expectations that are too high, or to make a mistake and have it attributed to their family make-up. This puts children in the position of defending their family, often reinforcing the self-inflicted stereotype of the perfect family. It makes it difficult for them to ever see their family for whatever it really is.
I am a child of two divorced lesbians. I was alternatively inseminated and have decided to write this article to address an issue that most LGBTQ people are hesitant to talk about, let alone the rest of the world. My family does not fit any picture that I have ever seen - we are not represented in books, or television, or newspapers or magazines. My family is unlike most other families. When families like mine are displayed, such as on a recent MTV documentary or on the cable program The L Word there are some serious misconceptions that need to be discussed. Not all of our families are perfect - we fight and have problems too.
Children of LGBTQ parents, like LGBTQ people themselves, come in all shapes, sizes, colors and classes. We are not all children of upper class white women, or adopted from other countries. Some of us have divorced parents, or single moms and dads. Some of us don't even live with our own parents. In my whole life (granted it's only been 16 years) I have only found one place where my family is the norm - Mountain Meadow. This is a summer camp that has changed my life. It has encouraged me to be courageous and know that I am not alone. It has inspired me to challenge my surroundings and be confident in who I am.
Mountain Meadow is an overnight summer camp outside of Philadelphia that lasts for two weeks. I found out about Mountain Meadow through a flyer that my mother picked up at family week in Province Town. It hung on our refrigerator for about two years before I decided to attend the camp. As it turns out, Mountain Meadow is much more than a two-week summer camp - it is a community of people that are dedicated to supporting families like mine, even if they don't fall into the stereotypical setting described above. Two years ago was my third year at Mountain Meadow. Up until that point I had never met another alternatively inseminated girl my age - in fact I had started to believe that I was the only one. Then, the second night into summer camp, I met Vivian. Vivian not only had two mommies, but also was alternatively inseminated and lived in NY. She slept in my tent circle, in my tent, and in the cot right next to mine. From that year on, Vivian and her family have been my family as well. We visit each other about four times a year in addition to seeing each other every year at camp. To me, she is the sister that I always wanted and the support that I always needed.
Recently, I applied to be a member of the Board of Directors of Mountain Meadow. Not only was I accepted, but I now co-chair the Long Term Planning Committee. As a non-profit, we are always looking for donations and volunteers, as well as campers! So, spread the word.