Author’s note: In this article, “queer” is used as an umbrella term for people with a range of genders and sexual orientations who are not cisgender, or cis — a person whose gender identity corresponds with the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth — or straight. In this way, a word that historically was used against LGBTQ people has been reclaimed by us.
Instilling a sense of pride in our children is a responsibility many parents work to fulfill.
For our family, in which my wife and I both identify as queer, that includes our children being proud of their queer trans papa and queer cis mama. Together, we make a proud queer family.
During the month of June, recognized nationally as LGBTQ Pride Month, this means bringing out the box o’ bling so we can put on activist buttons and rainbow flags as we get ready to go to the Boston Pride Parade — a major holiday at our house.
This year it meant not just watching the Pride Parade, but marching in it with the Grand Marshal, whose contingent focused on the intersections of oppression and giving voice to many who were not present.
My children, ages 2.5 years old and 6 months old, are not going to remember marching at this year’s parade. They also have not yet had to answer any intrusive questions about our family and how they came to be born. They haven’t had to defend themselves against transphobia and homophobia regardless of how they end up identifying themselves. I know those days will come and my wife and I are working now to equip our children by raising them culturally queer and proud.
We believe it’s important they be part of a community in which they regularly interact with other children who share some of the joys and challenges of being raised in a queer family. These children, like mine, share the good fortune of being wanted so desperately that their parents were willing to go to great expense and effort to bring them into this world. This is why my wife and I feel so fortunate to have an extended queer family in Boston. These “aunties” have been in my life for over a decade and many of them are now raising children of their own.
Support resources for children of LGBTQ parents
Many LGBTQ people raised children before these more open days. Initially, many of these children were from previous heterosexual marriages, then same-sex adoption became more common. With the advent of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and other forms of artificial insemination, more and more babies are being born directly to LGBTQ parents. For more than a decade now, these children of queer parents have come to identify themselves as “queerspawn.” This unique identity has nothing to do with their own gender or sexuality. It’s an identity based on being raised within a queer culture — the rainbow and glitter-filled Pride days of joy along with the dark ones filled with probing questions and bullying from outsiders.
Our community now has queerspawn and a “second generation” (those children who also identify as queer based on their own sexuality) who are well into their 20s and 30s. Those early pioneers often had to fight for acceptance within the LGBTQ communities on college campuses and, despite generally more accepting attitudes across the nation, many children of queer parents still feel a bit like they live between two worlds.
They also feel forgotten. The LGBTQ community often speaks about and provides resources for the parents of queer children, but rarely does it acknowledge the children of queer parents. Fortunately, children of LGBTQ parents do have ways they can find each other and the unique support they need.
The nonprofit organization COLAGE, according to its website, “unites people with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer parents into a network of peers and supports them as they nurture and empower each other to be skilled, self-confident, and just leaders in our collective communities.”
Formed in 1990, “COLAGE grew out of a need for a kids-only space, separate from parent-run LGBTQ support groups,” wrote Elizabeth Collins, leader of the Los Angeles chapter, in a VICE article. “Because of the critical fight for gay rights in this country, many queerspawn have felt a burden to be ‘poster children;’ COLAGE provides a space where kids can discuss their families without judgment. It also gives them the opportunity to meet others in similarly unique family structures.”
One such opportunity is Family Week in Provincetown, Massachusetts. For more than 20 years, this week-long event COLAGE does in partnership with the Family Equality Council lets LGBTQ families connect, learn and support each other. With more than 50 events to choose from, there really is something for everyone including lots of programming for children of LGBTQ parents. This year’s event is July 28-August 4.
As an openly trans dad, I’m especially excited COLAGE has developed a Kids of Trans Resource Guide — “the first and only guide written by and for people who have trans parents” — and has a private Facebook group for people with trans parents.
Keshet is another national organization providing events for LGBTQ families. While their focus is LGBTQ Jewish families, their Parent & Family Connection chapters around the country welcome families of all faiths or even without a faith tradition. If there isn’t a group in your area, you’re encouraged to start your own and Keshet provide the resources and support to make that happen.
If you’re reading this and you’re thinking, “I’m not gay, but I think my child might be” then you should know about PFLAG. This national organization with more than 400 chapters around the country is committed to helping parents of LGBTQ youth become more supportive and accepting because this is critical to a child’s health and well-being.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about the organizations supporting children of LGBTQ parents. Together, we are raising strong and resilient children. That’s something every parent can take pride in.
All photos courtesy of Robbie Samuels.