Each family is non-traditional in its own way

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 Adult children from same-sex families remember their moms and dads.

Can children in same-sex families be happy? How are they perceived by those who surround them? Can a same-sex family bring up a sterling, fully fledged child? Does the sexual orientation of parents influence the tastes of their children? ‘The Paper’ [newspaper’s name] asked children who grew up in non-traditional families – those with two mothers, two fathers and a ‘Swedish family’ – those questions.

 ‘I was told: I don’t have a single dad, but you have two! Overall, I was lucky’.

– What is your sexual orientation?

– It is traditional. I am tolerant to sexual minorities but I don’t consider any but hetero options for me.

– Please, tell more about your parents.

– They met accidentally. They have been together for almost 20 years.

– So, you are a child from a previous relationship?

– Yes. I do not keep in touch with that parent. Not my kind of person, not an adequate person.

– Have you ever felt that you lack a mother?

– Do you miss a person who lives in two quarters of you, genetically, or somebody whom you’ve never met? I don’t. It is a stranger: and I don’t know anything about her.

– What do you call your second dad?

– I call him dad. Dad and dad. It was amusing when I was a kid, I told everyone: I have two dads. I had a lot of acquaintances who lived in post-divorce families with just one mum and they used to say: alas, I don’t have a single dad but you have two! Overall, I was lucky. Really, it’s so cool: I can fit in with the guys’ company so well, maybe even better than into a group of other girls. I don’t feel any discomfort in communications with people of the opposite gender.

– Have you often encountered a negative attitude to your family?

– People do not always understand what the situation is. I normally say: ‘dad and stepfather’, that satisfies everyone. I wouldn’t say people have a negative attitude to same-sex families: they are just so unfamiliar with the concept, so far away from it all that often it is difficult to explain. But it is possible to explain. Then people do understand, if they are reasonable. I am trying not to communicate with the unreasonable ones.

– Have you ever had a moment during your childhood when you realised that your family is somehow different from others?

– I always accepted it as a fact. Of course I must have thought that something was different at some point…But everyone lives in such different families: someone lives with just the mom, somebody with just a dad, others God knows how. I don’t think you can surprise anyone with anything anymore. What does surprise me, though, is when in traditional families they put some forms of ultimatums or conditions upon each other. When people treat each other not as relatives and family, but as consumers who only take things from each other and don’t give anything in return. We don’t have that in or family.

– How do you assess your childhood?

– I think it was really cool. Very rich in memories – all sorts of trips, campaigns with a big company. My dads always sewed me fancy dresses, in school and kindergarten…Once I danced as a snowflake. My parents are very creative people, so I have been singing and playing the violin since my childhood.

 – Do you think that a non-traditional family can bring up a fully fledged child?

– I think that not all people can bring up a normal person. And I don’t think it is a topic to discuss at all, otherwise one can forbid ordinary people from having kids – what if they cannot bring it up properly? Madness. Of course homosexuals can bring up a child, if they are adequate people. I think that first of all a child needs a family. When my dads brought me to school they put two dads into the line ‘parents’ in the documents. They were told that the main thing is that there are two parents and that in itself is cool and great.

‘Sometimes, they joke about my boyfriend, asking something along the lines of ‘isn’t he afraid of having two mothers-in-law?’

 – What is your orientation?

– I am bisexual but I am currently in a heterosexual relationship.

– Please, tell us more about your parents.

– To be fair, I don’t remember how long they’ve been together for, but it’s been quite a while. I am a child from my mother’s previous relationship. I knew my dad quite well but he hasn’t been in much contact with us lately.

– Have you ever had a feeling that you lack a father?

– I didn’t feel like I lack a father. I felt that I am missing a close person, a close relative, because, unlike my younger sister, I remember him not from the rare phone calls and meetings, but as a loving dad.

– Do you remember when you realised that your family is somehow different?

– I didn’t have a single moment like that. Maybe the reason for that is that I have always seen that my family is different from others. When I was little I saw a bearded terrifying biker – my dad, my mother, who never was behind him in the specifics of her appearance and the old wenches near our block of flats who always looked disapprovingly at our family. Then I got a second mum. And somehow it just happened that I wasn’t surprised and absolutely nobody from our social circle told me that it was wrong. If they did I wouldn’t have believed them anyway.

– Have you ever encountered awkward situations in connection with your family?

– There was just one situation like that. When I was studying at designer courses there was a girl in our group who happened to make some rude and disapproving anti-LGBT comments. The situation became awkward for her very quickly, as we had been acquaintances then and I told her that she, in fact, had insulted me and my family.

– Did you have a happy childhood?

– My sister and I had a wonderful childhood. For example, everything was always decided calmly: our parents have never shouted at us or raised a hand to us. I have a lot of bright memories: how I was seated on a bike for the first time, how we went to other cities or to the beach with moms and just random walks.

– What is your parents’ attitude to your orientation and your relationships?

– It is wonderful. Of course, sometimes they make grave faces and say something along the lines of ‘isn’t he afraid of two mothers in law?’

– Are you satisfied with your personal life?

– Yes. I’ve been living with a young man for quite a while. We support each other and live as normal, healthy couples normally do.

– Do you think that a non-traditional family can bring up a sterling child?

– Yes. One shouldn’t think that if two women are having a family they are both vanilla-flavoured, infantile damsels. It’s not like that. Or, on the other hand, if it is about two men it is something similar. They are sterling couples with sterling relationships and worldviews. I do not see any hurdles here.

‘We don’t need any foolish weddings or other things that irritate the wider society, some form of civil partnerships would be enough.’

– Your orientation?

– Gay.

– Please, tell us more about your parents.

– My mum did skate racing, she was coached by the former champion of the USSR. Also mum was reading criminology in a university. She met my dad there. They had a small company – father and his friend – childhood friends, young lieutenants. So there was this awkward situation: they were so close, that the question was raised over whose girlfriend she should be. As I understand, there was some competition, but as a result they decided not to lose the friendship and asked mum which one she prefered. Her answer was that she couldn’t choose. Then one of them suggested – why couldn’t we just live as a friendly family? Everyone agreed. They met when they all were 22; I was born when they were 25. Documents, of course, were registered for my mum and only one of them, ‘dad’. Whose son am I? I don’t know exactly – they didn’t do a DNA test then and by now there is no point to it.

– Have your dads been in a homosexual relationship?

– Of course not. Or if so, I didn’t know about that. We had an open family, but not to that extent. Whatever is happening in their bedroom is none of my business.

– How did you call your parents? They were two dads, did you call them that?

– Yes, I called them ‘dad’ and ‘dad’, that’s it. There were no questions either in the kindergarten or in the school. I told everyone that I have two dads but, as per usual, nobody listens to a kid.

– Did you have a moment when you suddenly realised that your family is somehow different from others?

– No, it was the other way round. When my friends asked me if I have two dads I responded that I do and they all envied me. When I grew up slightly more, neighbours would gossip a bit.

– Were there any negative moments, connected with a lack of understanding from others?

– Once a classmate of mine said that my mum is a prostitute and I punched him in his snout. That’s it. Nothing special happened.

– Did you have a happy childhood? What are the brightest and happiest memories connected with your family?

– I had never had any problems before I started an independent life;for which, though, I was prepared by my parents. I had a bright and full life. Night tours, fishing trips, football, skiing in the winter – I had it all. My dads earned a lot and mother was on service in the soviet times. We had holidays together, even went abroad. I never had negative emotions. When I was feeling bad there was never a time when I couldn’t go and talk to one of my parents.

– Do you think your family has affected your orientation in any way?

– No, absolutely not. I realised that I am gay only by the age of about 17 or 18.

– Are you satisfied with your personal life?

– I don’t feel like I am 36, I feel 20 at most. I am happy. I have everything my heart desires. We’ve been together for 14 years. We don’t have any financial difficulties; we earn a decent amount and travel a lot. If it wasn’t for this idiotic situation in the country we would have hired a surrogate mother, we have the money for that. We know that our relationship will be destroyed only if the world itself is destroyed. We don’t have any doubts about our future, but it is not feasible to have a child in a same-sex couple in our country. Say, a brick falls on me tomorrow or I have a heart attack – legally my partner and I are nobodies to each other. We can’t even become official partners in this country. We don’t need any foolish weddings or anything like that if it irritates the wider society, but at least some form of civil partnership would help.

– Do you think that a non-traditional family can bring up a sterling child?

– Yes, absolutely. If my dreams of having a child ever come true – I think it will happen only when we immigrate – we will be able to give everything to our child: both good education and our love. Because I will bring up my child the way I was brought up by my parents – with openness, trust and love.

 Aleksandra Skochilenko

The original can be found here.

 

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