By Dani Langevin – April 2013
Why do some people “fear” having a gay child? Most don’t really think they will. Most people assume that their children will be heterosexual, but when the topic is breached, I’ve heard many parents confess that they would be very uncomfortable or unhappy if they had a gay child. Some even go so far as to say they couldn’t or wouldn’t be able to deal with it. Those who are against gay marriage or gay parents say that it is an unhealthy environment for children to be raised in and every child deserves to have a mother and a father. Well, I was raised by a traditional heterosexual couple and I’m gay. Why is that?
Both of my parents were Roman Catholic. My mother was an only child of an insurance salesman and a Lawrence mill worker. They sent her away to a Catholic boarding school so that her religion and peers would surround her. My father was the youngest of three children. His sister died of scarlet fever when she was three. I don’t know what my paternal grandfather did for work. I never knew he existed until I found out that he had died. He had been an alcoholic and my grandmother, a hairdresser, divorced him in the 1930’s at a time when divorce was as bad as being gay. My father and his brother were promptly sent to a Christian orphanage so that my grandmother could establish her life and business. They spent several years there being physically and emotionally abused by Catholic nuns. My parents met when my father was fourteen and my mother was fifteen. Dad went home that day and told his mother that he had met the girl he was going to marry. Theirs was a classic love story.
My father was in pre-med at Merrimack College when he quit his junior year and enlisted. Upon his return from Korea, he attended Tufts and became a dentist with a successful family practice. At a time when only two percent of women attended college, my mother graduated from Emmanuel College in Boston with a teaching degree and eventually added a degree in social work.
Because they had been raised in cold, loveless, religious institutions, they made it a goal to fill the home they built with love and respect, providing deep seeded traditional family values based on their Christian beliefs. I was born the youngest of their five children. We had dinner every night, as a family, without fail. We went to Sunday mass every week. We all got baptized, attended CCD, received our first communion, were confirmed and married in a church by a man of the cloth. We were raised on the word of God.
From 1969 to 1977 we’d vacation in Biddeford Pool, Maine. Often times we’d be accompanied by my Uncle’s family, a neighborhood family or several friends of any one of us kids. One summer we had almost twenty people in that cottage on the beach. My parents took in people who were down in their luck, having trouble at home or passing through town and needed a hot meal. More than once we’d come home and find that my mother had picked up some wayfarer wanderers and were feeding them. She did this because that’s what Jesus would do. On many occasions, we had some one living under our roof that was not family, but needed help in some way.
We were lucky enough to have a pool. By the time my brothers and sister were married and having children of their own, almost every weekend we’d all find ourselves sitting on the deck by the pool with food and drinks flowing as easy as the conversation and laughter, while my nieces and nephews splashed away. Winter weekends would find us around the television watching football and eating nachos or sitting around the fire just catching up.
Throughout my childhood and young adult life until both of my parents were taken by colon cancer, every member of our family from the oldest, down to the youngest knew that they were loved and accepted. I knew explicitly this to be true when I came out of the closet at twenty-nine and I received nothing less than love, support and affirmation from my devotedly Catholic parents.
I was taught when you do something you do it well, the measure of a person is not the size of their wallet, but through their deeds. I was told to accept when I was wrong and apologize, always say please and thank you and treat everyone regardless of race, religion, financial standing or sexual orientation with patience, respect and, when possible, love. My parents made it clear that God loves all people and the underlying theme of every one of Jesus’ messages was love one another as God loves us and it is ONLY God that has the right to judge.
My parents loved each other and our family with such fierce devotion that it spilled over into every aspect of our lives. Our home was stable, safe and secure. Our family’s strong foundation was bricked with the mortar of a deep Christian faith. At the time of my mother’s death my parents had been together for almost forty years teaching us that true love lasts.
My parent’s stable marriage, loving, Christian, honest, and hard working home produced a gay child. In fact every one of my gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered friends grew up in a Christian household – EVERY one of them. I can only deduce that Christian homes produce gay children.