Do Lesbians and Gays Make Better Parents?
Originally published 5-5-09
Something I hear a lot about gay and lesbians parents is, “You know they love their kids, because they really wanted them.” True enough, there are no “accidents” when it comes to babies among same-sex couples. So does that make us good parents?
Of course, many gays and lesbians have children from previous heterosexual relationships, and some of those children were not planned, but for most of us, it is a conscious choice to bring children into our lives. At gatherings of Westside Families Like Us or Popluck, there are always conversations about the different ways families are created.
Adoption agencies, surrogacy, sperm banks, fertility treatments – they are all part of the gay parent vernacular. Unfortunately, there is money to be made from many of these options, and where there is money, motivations and intentions go awry.
The first time a gay man told me that having a baby was a status symbol, I didn’t comprehend it. Then he explained that, like a Rolex, it is an outward sign that you have arrived when you are pushing a baby carriage. When surrogacy or adoption can cost upward of $100,000, and IVF runs about $15,000 a pop, then only the rich can afford a baby.
Of course there’s the option of using a turkey baster and sperm from a friend, but please folks, don’t try this at home. Too many of these home-made families end up torn apart by bitter custody battles when these friendly arrangements go wrong, and the only winners are the lawyers.
The sad fact is that to safeguard yourself and your family, the first step to conceiving a baby is to see a good attorney. Again, for this you need lots of money.
Then of course there is getting the kid in the right pre-school so that you can get in the right grade school, and so on. Not to mention the cute outfits and lavish birthday parties.
Sick as it sounds, for some gays and lesbians, having a baby is all about keeping up with the Heteros, and having the latest accessory to show off at West Hollywood park. Gay-bies are the new black. The in thing. As gay gossip girl J.D. Salvadore blogged, “In the old days, we used to pass around a joint. These days, it’s a baby.”
This concept of designer babies was driven home recently when I was waiting at the valet after a dinner gala for a gay parents. My partner and I overheard a gaggle of gay men talking about what could have been their new BMWs.
“Did you get a girl or boy?” asked one.
“I got a boy. Due in March.”
“I got a girl, due February. Want to trade?”
“Well we could, but mine will be darker,” said the first man, an African American.
I thought I had been transported from the Roosevelt Hotel parking lot to “Gattaca.”
But having babies for the wrong reasons isn’t a phenomenon just in the gay community, as plenty of straight folks have babies for show. Think of all those poor rich kids raised by nannies and then sent off to private schools, who exist just so their high-powered high-profile parents have photos to put on the mantle.
So when I hear that children are better off because they were dearly wanted, I know that is not necessarily true, though I know most of us have our heart in the right place when it comes to our kids.
All that said, I do indeed think most gays and lesbians make great parents. But it is not because it takes more effort and costs more money for us to have children than straight people.
I believe we make great parents because we came out. The phrase doesn’t just mean we told others about our sexual orientation. It means we accepted ourselves, made a choice to be honest, and we braved the judgment of society — and in some cases our own family and friends, to be true to ourselves. It made us stronger and surer of ourselves.
These are the traits we pass on to our children. We are raising a generation of enlightened and conscious kids. They are shaping our future world. They won’t care if Heather has two mommies or if daddy has a roommate, or if a child is a boy or a girl, white or brown, or straight or gay.
We can only hope that we follow in their footsteps.