KarMel Scholarship 2008


Honorable Mention:

Best Family of Gay Person

“My Family”

By Amy Rogers - NY



Desciption of Submission: “A reflective essay on growing up with lesbian parents.  Problems I faced in school with family and how it affected the person I have became.” - Amy


Why Karen and Melody Liked It:  We loved how her story told of her family's struggle to hide her Mom's sexuality in an attempt to fit in and how lonely it can be for a child trying to cope with such grown-up issues.





                        Traditionally speaking, my family is the opposite. Sure you wouldn’t know it when you walk into my home, but it’s the truth. We may have a small brick house with family pictures adorning the walls and a fluffy little dog that greets you when you walk in, but that doesn’t mean we’re normal. It doesn’t matter that there are five children that call this place home or that we eat dinner every night together. It doesn’t make a difference that there’s always a good meal on the table and that the bills are always on time. In the end all of this is insignificant because my mother is a lesbian… or at least that it the message I have been given my whole life.

            From before I could actually understand what the word “gay” really meant I have known it is something to hide. When my mother came out and got together with her partner, Anne, I was nine years old. She told me not to tell any of my friends. I remember the conversation vividly, “Don’t tell them until there old enough to think on their own,” she said. I listened and told all of my friends Anne was my Aunt until I was thirteen. By then I knew why it was something to hide. I heard gay jokes, I saw it being used to hurt people’s feelings, I saw people getting beat up because other children thought they were gay. The place I live is a traditional, conservative, republican neighborhood where almost everyone attends Church on Sundays. Being gay was contagious. Even my cousins weren’t allowed in a room alone with us any more. As far as I knew we were the only “gay” family anywhere nearby.

            In high school things changed slightly, I found a group, the gay jokes calmed down, I was rude back to my relatives and even my mother started to come out of the closet to more people. Most of my friends knew that Anne wasn’t really my Aunt and would crack harmless jokes like telling me they could tell I was raised by lesbians by my style. Who else would wear Doc Martens to a sweet sixteen? But there were still moments I would find myself hiding the truth out of fear. I once got into a huge argument with a friend who didn’t know my mother was gay. He was saying lesbians and gays shouldn’t be allowed to have children because they would be “abnormal.” At one point he actually compared them to criminals in their ability to raise “normal” children. I should have told him then, but I didn’t, I continued to hide it because I feared his reaction.

            What I’m actually afraid of I don’t know. Maybe the horror stories of people’s homes being vandalized or maybe just that I would become a social outcast. Whatever it is I know I’m not the only one. I know other “families like mine,” now. All of the children struggle with this unknown fear. For all of us it’s different. Some fear being bullied, others fear they’ll be thought to be gay too. Our parents fear we’ll be beaten up or will have to face the prejudices of the world before we are ready. They try to protect us differently. Some parents send their kids to gay friendly schools and live in gay friendly neighborhoods, others just make sure their kids know how to protect themselves; many live in the closet and try to appear as “normal” as possible to give their children time to prepare for the world. But they can’t protect us forever. We’re all bound to be picked on, insulted, abused, ostracized and analayised at some point. We’re children growing up in a society where our parents make headline news by marrying the person they love. We’re statistics in a violently growing debate that has the power to decide elections and change history. We are all at once damned and praised for our pride. Every step we take in public “out of the closet,” is watched with curiosity or disgust. There are many times that we feel like we are under constant surveillance, like we’re living under a microscope.

 Our parents will never be able to protect us from these things and most of us do not want them to. We are part of the next generation of activists and we step forward in complete understanding of what we face. We want to make a place where grandchildren of lesbians and gays are not looked at as we were when out in public with our parents. We want a place where we don’t have to fear if someone is going to attack our mothers or fathers because their holding hands in public or because they are buying furniture as a couple. And many of us are prepared to step up and be heard. And maybe by telling our stories we will be comforted ten or twenty years from now by seeing how things have changed. Maybe one day a nine year old girl with gay fathers will be able to stand in front of her class and show her family tree with a proud smile on her face and no fear in her eyes.