Children of Homosexual Parents Report Childhood Difficulties

Summary: Referenced as both supporting and weakening the case for parenting by homosexuals, 57 life-story narratives of children with homosexual parents published by Rafkin in 1990 and Saffron in 1996 were subjected to content analysis. Children mentioned one or more problems/concerns in 48 (92%) of 52 families. Of the 213 scored problems, 201 (94%) were attributed to the homosexual parent(s). Older daughters in at least 8 (27%) of 30 families and older sons in at least 2 (20%) of 10 families described themselves as homosexual or bisexual. These findings are inconsistent with propositions that children of homosexuals do not differ appreciably from those who live with married parents or that children of homosexuals are not more apt to engage in homosexuality.

Keywords: Homosexual parents, children, content analysis

Correspondence to Paul Cameron, Family Research Institute, Inc., POB 62640, Colorado Springs, CO, 303 681-3113.

Children Of Homosexual Parents Report Childhood Difficulties


The following excerpts are from Rafkin, L. (1990) Different mothers: sons and daughters of lesbians talk about their lives. San Francisco: Cleis Press and Saffron, L. (1996) What about the children? Sons and daughters of lesbian and gay parents talk about their lives. London: Cassel. The ellipses are unconventionally employed – they just indicate that material irrelevant to scoring has been skipped.


1) Girl (7) California: “live with my mother now, but other times I’ve lived with lots of women…. my grandma and grandpa are kind of mad that my mom is not with a man and that everybody else is married…. They feel that women should be with men. So do most of my aunts and uncles. They don’t tell me this stuff, but grownups keep quiet about things like that…. It seems like everyone who has a dad also has a brother or a sister. It seems like lesbian mothers usually have one kid…. I don’t tell other kids about my mom. At school it kind of bothers me because when we play or tell stories, there’s always a mom and a dad…. What really bothers me is when my friends come over and them they get into [asking me] if I know my dad. So I tell them no, not really…. I ask my mom about my dad but… you see, I wonder about him. I don’t know where he is. I don’t think my mom knows either. It’s just hard to know that other kids have dads. Everybody else has a dad. My mom has had a couple of relationships with other women, but I didn’t realize it at the time. I just thought that we were sleeping over at their house, or they were sleeping over… When I grow up I want to live with someone; I don’t know if I want to get married and I don’t know if I want to have kids.” (pp. 19-22) Fa, Em, Sc, D, I

2) Boy (16) Chicago, heterosexual: “When I was two and a half years old, my mother started seeing her first woman lover…. Her lover came to live with us and stayed until I was ten. She had a son seven years older than I,… during this part of my childhood it didn’t seem that different to me to have a lesbian mom…. When my mother and her lover split up, things got a bit messy. Before they split up they were having fights, and about this time my father came back from overseas. My mother had a nervous breakdown, and my father wasn’t very good with children, so I got carted off to my aunt’s house to live…. My mother recently split up with her second girlfriend…. I don’t talk to anyone at school about my mom…. There is some cover-up that kids of lesbians have to do, because otherwise you are accused of being gay yourself. If I came out and said my mother was gay, I’d be treated like an alien…. [mom’s] parents especially really got upset when she came out…. I use to go to the lesbian coffeehouse. I used to hang out there and meet my mom’s friends, but now I’m too old and I can’t go there any more. I think boys can’t go there after they are about eleven or twelve. This makes me feel restricted, but I understand why they want lesbian-only space away from men. But at the same time I felt sad about it, and I think the women I knew there felt sad that I’m now too old to go there. I respect their rules and decisions, but I didn’t like being excluded. But the rule against boys was made in 1974 – the year I was born – and it doesn’t seem like they’re going to change it just for me.” (pp. 23-26) Sc, D, I, Dis

3) Woman (21) Indiana, heterosexual: At age 17 her mother told her she was lesbian. “It felt like all of us were getting divorced, the separation and loss would hurt all of us…. The reason I had been ‘neglected’ was because she hadn’t known who she was… now, two years after my parents split up, I am starting to feel the pain of that loss. When I recently came home from college, I missed not having one bed, one closet, or one house to settle into. I have to split up my vacations between the two houses, which doesn’t make for very relaxing vacations.” (pp. 27- 31) Em

4) Girl (10) San Francisco: lives “with my two moms… D… lives upstairs with her girlfriend. L lives downstairs and she works at a downtown job. I live both upstairs and downstairs. I didn’t know my dad until … last year…. he lives with his lover Tim nearby…. Before I was born, L and D lived together, but after they broke up they decided they both needed their own space. I think they broke up before D was pregnant. D has a girlfriend now, and L said she might want to have a girlfriend soon… I have a sister who lives in New York. L had her a long time ago and she gave her up for adoption…. When I was young, D used to go to demonstrations, and she used to sing these songs about lesbian and gay people. I went with her to demonstrations, and I guess I figured things out because of those songs. I sang the songs, too…. When I get older I might feel more comfortable telling people. Right now I don’t really know what would make things easier… When I grow up I want to be a writer…. Like I might take my turtle – his name is Speedy Gonzales – and say that he has Playboy magazines under his shell and write a story about that…. I like my life. The only thing I would change about my life is my neighborhood, because there’s a lot of drugs around.” (pp. 32-36) Hy, Fa, Sc, I, Pr

5) Girl (10) Kansas City: “One day when I was about six, I woke up in the middle of the night from a bad dream, and I looked in the bedroom and saw R and my mom sleeping together. The next day I was trying to hint at things because I knew something was up. So I asked them if they wore underwear to bed. They couldn’t understand why I asked that. They said, ‘why do you want to know?’ They never told me either. They wouldn’t say anything about it…. I was sort of scared. It felt funny. I didn’t know if it was OK or not. And I didn’t feel comfortable talking with them about it. I just found out they are gay, officially, two years ago…. I never talk to my sister about it, because we don’t feel comfortable talking about…. I consider this a really big secret. I don’t feel like anyone is trustworthy. I don’t think that if my best friend knew, she would ever come over to spend the night…. I remember my dad hurting my mom. They were fighting, and he was strangling her against the wall. I was saying, ‘Let her go!’… my dad hates gays. He also hates R living with us…. I wonder what will happen when I have boyfriends who find out about my mom. I wonder if they will still like me. And if I want to get married and the guy found out, would he still marry me? I guess if they can’t take me how I am, they can’t have me.” (pp. 37-40) Hy, D, Em, Sc, HtV

5) Girl (13) sister to girl above: “I never talk to anyone about it…. I don’t tell anyone. If somebody found out, and they were really good friends, they probably wouldn’t tell. If they did tell people and kids at school found out, I think I’d be a social reject…. [My dad] is trying to make us think being gay is bad and turn us against our mother. But it’s not working. I think he’s immature. If he can’t accept that other people are different from him, then he is really stupid. I’m thirteen and I can accept it – and I could accept it when I was six.” (pp. 41-43) Sc, HtA

6) Woman (23) California, heterosexual: parents divorced when “I was three, so I’ve always known my mother as a lesbian…. I always knew what a lesbian was, and I always knew I had a choice as to what I would be…. My mom has always been in the public eye. She’s a political activist… one of the founding members of Ms magazine with Gloria Steinem…. I am doing some recovery work and I go to anonymous meetings and I’m not really anonymous. I don’t feel comfortable in meetings where everyone knows my mother. Being known in that way is difficult…. When I was eight, my best friend was a girl called M. We did everything together: played on the soccer team, the bowling team, stayed overnight at each other’s houses nearly every night – everything. One night my mom had a party, and M’s mother suddenly stormed in and tore M out of the house and told M that she couldn’t be friends with me…. My mother suspects that M’s mother saw two women kissing on the porch…. once in junior high school my mother ask me to be on television with her, about something to do with gay rights, and I said no. They ended up showing a photo of me anyway. A girl from school, a real bully, saw the program and stood on the front steps of the school and started screaming that my mother was a faggot…. I felt really uncomfortable for about a month. I just hated everyone hassling me. Generally, lesbians with kids hang with other lesbians with kids…. There are a few times when my mother and I lived alone with each other. She always lived with her lovers, or we had housemates…. when the lover relationship was over, these lovers would leave, saying they wanted to continue a relationship with me. But they never did. When the relationship was over, their relationships with me were also pretty much over. My defense against this was that I never became attached to these women… I put up an emotional wall whenever my mom would say, ‘this is it; this is the relationship that’s going to last forever.’ But I’d predict that it would end in such and such amount of time. I had slim expectations of her being in a wonderfully long, monogamous relationship. Women were always in and out of our lives. I couldn’t let myself feel anything about these women.” Had two boyfriends, “Part of the reason I waited so long to get involved with boys is that my grandmother was always pushing me into it.” My grandmother “definitely doesn’t want me to be like [my mother]…. I don’t want to have kids.” (pp. 44-49) Em, Sc, T, I, HtE, doesn’t want children

7) Boy (12) Oakland: “About a year ago one of my mothers moved out of the house we were all living in… my brother and I go back and forth between the two houses…. Now one of my moms is seeing someone else whom I like very much. In fact, my other mother likes this woman too. In one house we live with our co-parent, another mother and her seven-year-old boy, and a gay male roommate… usually I’m not around a lot of men. I’m mostly around women… my little brother, who is half black, asked [the gay roommate] to be his father…. when school started is when I really understood things. At preschool there had been both kids with straight parents and lesbians parents. And at that time all my friends had lesbian parents…. At my old school when I’d get sick, the nurse would say ‘Who’s this other person on your emergency card?’ I never answered, and I hoped she’d stop asking…. [He explains to the school chums that] one was my aunt. … But it’s hard sometimes. I don’t know what the kids would do if they knew…. When I was younger, I went to women’s festivals with my mother. There’s this kind of famous picture of me and my biological mom. She’s on stage with long hair and her breasts are hanging out and she’s got me in her arms. I always try to hide that picture,… It’s kind of embarrassing. My mother was one of the first lesbians to choose to have a child… I might have been two years old when I first asked, ‘Where’s my daddy’. She probably said, ‘you don’t have a daddy, you have a donor’…. Right now I don’t have any reason to find out who my donor was. He could be a real asshole.” (pp. 50-53) Hy, Em, D, F, I

8) Woman (25) Massachusetts, homosexual experience: “The year following my parents’ separation was a full one for my mother. I remember her going through periods of depression, when she wouldn’t leave her bed for days…. during this time my mother came out as a lesbian…. she and my mother were lovers for nine years…. I was having trouble spending the weekdays with lesbians, who discussed the evils of the patriarchy and the value of women-only space, and then spending an orthodox Shabbos with the other side of my family… I would cry upon leaving my mother’s and I felt awkward in my father’s community. [Mom lost a custody battle, but] When the verdict was announced, my mother and I tried to run out of the courthouse, but everyone chased us and a huge fistfight ensued. Police officers, lawyers, and lesbians were all yelling and punching each other in the lobby…. [The daughter ran away] with help from friends, who risked being charged with kidnapping…. We went all the way to the state Supreme Court and set a children’s rights precedent. Previous to my case, only rights of parents were protected…. As time went on, my mother and L were more and more separatist… when I started fourth grade in our local public school, they notified the principal and the teachers that they were lesbians. Subsequently, I was placed in classes much below my level. I was in a reading group with kids who were struggling to read ‘fire hydrant,’ and then going home to read Rubyfruit Jungle, the lesbian primer novel… by junior high things were very bad at home… I was discouraged from having male friends, and any female friends were to be made aware that I lived in a lesbian household before I could have them over…. I experienced separatism as a constant level of anger and negativity…. men were called mutants, straight women were considered disowned sisters who wasted woman-energy on men, and other lesbians were sometimes accused of being government spies sent to infiltrate and undermine the community. Anyone who was not like us was evil… [at age 14] I moved out and went to live in a lesbian boarding house…. I also learned to fear the world’s judgment, to see relationships as temporary, to be distrustful, and to withhold communication as a means of self- protection and punishment…. I see evidence of how emotionally detached I’ve become.… L and my mother… explained their parenting style by saying that the patriarchy was pushing me hard in one direction, and they wanted to counteract that pressure by pushing just as hard in the other. I’m lucky I didn’t get squashed. I… was left with no appealing role models. I haven’t known who or what to strive to become…. When I have kids, I hope to do some things differently than she did…” (pp. 54-63). Hy, Em, D, Sc, I, E, C, Dis, wants children

9) Girl (15) Florida: “I have a problem… my mom’s gay… this thing with my mom is a big deal for me…. most of the time it’s really great. It’s only when my mom embarrasses me or when … the people at school – give me a hard time…. Sometimes I feel like my mom really looks different, like she doesn’t look like other moms to me. It’s the way she dresses. I feel like lesbianism just reeks off her… at school, people make jokes about dykes and fags… then there are the hard times, like when my mom had a lover move in with us, one that I did not like. They’re not together anymore,… she was really out, she had lesbian bumper stickers all over her car, and she looked like a dyke: I couldn’t stand it when she would try to hug my mom in front of my friends!… Once I told my mom that she’d have to choose between me and her lover… She said she wished I wouldn’t make her do that. I couldn’t believe that she didn’t just say, ‘oh, of course, I’d choose you.’ Now it was one thing for her lover to move in with us, but it was another for her to go on the Oprah Winfrey show and come out to the whole world without telling me first. That’s how all my friends found out about her and my mom…. it got all over school. That must have been one of the worst experiences of my life. People teased me and stuck mean notes in my locker…. my dad… really hates my mom…. my dad’s wife said that one reason they didn’t want me to come back early was because they thought that if I was with my mom full time I would grow up ‘to be like her.’… They said their family was a ‘real family.’” (pp. 64-68) Em, D, Sc, T, I, HtA

10) Boy (10): at 9 “I really flipped out. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to like her and live with her as a regular mom like before…. four different girlfriends and I got to know them all. It was difficult to know the first three…. her last girl friend has stayed with her a long time… I’ve never talked to my dad about any of this… My dad doesn’t know that my mom is a lesbian. I think if kids at school found out about my mom, they would tease me…. I went to the gay and lesbian parade. I saw men in women’s costumes and women in men’s costumes. It was weird. This made me confused…. It wasn’t fun for me to find out my mom was a lesbian.” (pp. 69-71) Hy, Em, Sc, I

11) Girl (7) adopted Indian girl: “My family is L, my mother, and Z, my other mother… and A, who is L’s lover…. Sometimes all the moving gets confusing… I used to have two lesbian mothers, but now I only have one…. Because Z isn’t a lesbian anymore…. Z has a boyfriend now…. I say daddies are as dumb as bubble gum. I like L being with A because I get to snuggle with them in the nighttime…. I might get married. I might not like men. I might be a lesbian. I might like to be with both, I don’t really know yet. There are a lot of choices.” (pp. 72-74) T, I

11) Girl (7) adopted, sister of girl above: “When I was a little girl my two moms were lovers; then they broke up. Then L fell in love with someone else. Now L is lovers with A. Z is lovers with a man…. all my friends know I have two moms, but some of them think that one of them is my mom and one of them is my sister’s mom. But that’s not true. Both of them are my moms….. I don’t want to have a father…. When we were little we used to go back and forth and back and forth all the time, but now we stay at each house longer and it’s much better. It used to be exhausting….I don’t know if I want to be a lesbian.” (pp. 75-76) T, I

12) Girl (15), Michigan, heterosexual, with gay father and lesbian mother: parents were married and then got divorced. Mom “and C were together about four months… my mom dated for a long time. Then she started seeing N. She was with her for about three years… there was one woman that I was really close to, and when my mom broke up with her, it was really hard. That was when I decided not to get so close to mom and dad’s lovers…. it’s hard having two gay parents, because I can’t really talk to anybody about it…. Sometimes I think about being gay. At first, I thought my mom would love me more if I was gay…. I guess I’m straight right now. I don’t really know how old you have to be to know you’re gay. I guess it’s just when you know that’s what you are…. I would say I’m a feminist…. My mom is telling me about the political part of things…. I’m learning about women’s rights… I’ve gone to… the Gay Pride marches. Most of the adults I know are gay,…. I feel… probably more comfortable [with them] than if I was walking around with friends from school.” (pp. 77-82) Em, D, Sc, I, E

13) Boy (13) Oklahoma City, heterosexual: “there’s a rumor going around school that my mom’s a lesbian and that there are naked women hanging all around our house…. When people ask me about it, I say, ‘Hell, no! My mom’s not a lesbian! Shut your face!’… No one at school knows one hundred percent sure that my mom is gay and I haven’t told them…. but… I think people will suspect…. I figured it out [when] I was in kindergarten…. my mom explained to me what being a lesbian was and what a great responsibility it was for me to know that she was…. my mom has a lover now… we stay at her house on the weekends. They do a lot of hugging, touching and kissing…. I know a lot of gay people, some who are my mom’s friends…. [one of his friends said gay wasn’t good] he’s sure not [my friend] any more…. I am quite straight. I like girls very much.” (pp. 83-86) Hy, Sc

14) Woman (21) student from New York City, bisexual: When I was seven my “mother called me and T, my brother, into her bedroom. We saw A – the woman who had moved into our apartment two week before – lying next to mother in the queensize bed. Mother rolled onto her side and said “I want you to know that A and I are lesbians. That means that I’m married to A the way I used to be married to your father. But you can’t tell anyone about this…. all of mother’s friends, few of whom were heterosexual…. most lesbian couples we knew stayed together between three to five years. Mother could never stay tied down that long. She changed lovers every year to eighteen months. We moved a lot because mother always lived with her lovers…. Every year she apologized for being a lesbian, for making us keep her secret, and for changing lovers like shelf paper… my first year at boarding school – tenth grade – I developed a physical attraction for my roommate. I had just learned what it meant to be gay or lesbian – it took me that long to understand the sexual aspect…. I wrote in my journal about my attraction and my strong fear that I might be a lesbian just like mother…. my roommate read that entry of my journal to every girl in our hallway…. Nasty words were written on my walls. Obscene pictures were taped to my door…. I was ‘D the dyke’ and that was it…. Mother wasn’t the only one in the closet. I was in there with her…. This summer I realized that I am bisexual. I don’t know if living with my mother had influence on this or not. [her mother said] after observing me all those years, you’re following my example.” (pp. 86- 90) Hy, Em, Sc, T, I

15) Woman (approximately 21) Boston, heterosexual: “I must have been nine, my brother seven… The last time we talked about it, he told me that not many of his friends knew about mom… I remember the awkwardness in high school and wanting to believe that I was not different. Neither my brother nor I had many friends sleep over at our house during those high school years because it would mean explaining things… my brother [lives with] secrecy all the time…” (pp. 91-95) Em, D, Sc

16) Woman (18) student in New York: apparently totally accepting of her mother, her mother’s lover, and gay friends. (pp. 96-98)

17) Boy (10) Florida: “I have a lot of friends who are lesbian…. When I visit my dad he always says that it’s wrong for my mom to be a lesbian.… He says he hates C and that he doesn’t like my mother very much…. No one at school knows about my mom. I think my friends would feel pretty bad if they knew…. I went to the Southern Music festival with my mom… I see a lot of naked women there… at the festival I got my hair dyed… blue… now I have stripes.” (p. 99-101) Hy, Sc, HtA

18) Woman (19) student in Wisconsin, heterosexual: “My parents were liberal and I was raised to think of homosexuality as nothing more than another option. After dad died, when I was nine, I felt fine when she told me she was gay…. Growing up is hard enough thing to do, and I sometimes resented my mother for making it harder…. none of what I did mattered, because of what my mother ‘had become,’ boys thought my mother was reason enough not to date me. I would date a boy, and sooner or later I’d have to spring him with news of my family’s hidden – or sometimes not so hidden – secret…. my mother, my sisters and I attended these [lesbian/feminist] merrymakings before mom had her sexual metamorphosis…. I’d sometimes bring my best friend and we’d pretend to ‘be together’ to avoid being hit on.” (pp. 102-106) Em, Sc, E

19) Girl (6): “I feel different. I don’t tell most of my friends I have two mothers… I don’t tell other kids at school about my mothers…. when I was really little, I lived with my grandfather and grandmother because my mother was doing drugs. I got back with my mother when I was three. Then when I was four, my mother lived in this special house because she was getting off drugs…. [at five] we started to live together again…. I feel kind of good and kind of bad about not having a dad…. I know my real dad was always drunk. I had another dad for a while, and he hit me all the time…. [M moved in] M is going to have a baby next year…. I have thousands of friends who are lesbians. I mostly see them at AA meetings… D and D are these men who are giving us sperm. We’re putting it in a bag and using a little shooter thing…. Last year my teacher found out. She saw both of my moms at PTA night… I didn’t want her to know, because I wanted her to think of me the same as the other children.” (pp. 107-109) Hy, Em, D, F, Sc, HtV, I, C

20) Man (27), heterosexual with homosexual experience: “Lesbians should not fill their children with their own fears and hatred. I say this after considering the causes of needless pain in my past, and my troubles understanding the present. I was eleven when my mother sat me down and told me she was a lesbian. It meant nothing to me… she kept her sex life out of the small one-bedroom apartment we lived in…. my stepfather… abused me sexually, physically, and emotionally… [then his mother kidnapped him] I suspect she knew her action was illegal… I was very troubled at that time; reclusive, quiet, withdrawn, unsocial… from about the time of the divorce on (I was seven or eight) I was the kid whom all other kids – including the kids who got picked on – picked on…. I met lesbian friends of my mother’s who also had kids…. I do recall our wishing our mothers were more attentive to us than to each other. We kids would get together and have sex, males or females in any combination – unbeknownst to our parents, but ironically I don’t think any of us really knew what our mothers’ lesbianism really meant…. in sixth grade I joined the Boy Scouts, and it was then that I started to be called a new word: faggot…. that one word was really harmful to my development… Since my parents had sex with the same sex (my mother with other women, my stepfather with me), I had not understood that homosexuality was wrong. Also, at the time I couldn’t figure out my own sexuality, because I was having sex with people of both sexes…. in the feminist lesbian movement in Washington, D.C…. I was being exposed to damaging experiences… I was twelve at the time – would be left with other lesbians who said horrible things to us. I distinctly remember a woman telling me, ‘you are a most despicable thing on earth because you are nothing but a future man’…. for me, this kind of hatred ruined my life. This hatred, of men by women, of women by myself, has existed in my life until recently…. Until I was sixteen or so, I was sexually abused by many straight men, ‘friends’ of my mothers’ whom I was occasionally left with…. today I don’t trust people. Period…. she was a lousy mother. Her friends thought so too. … I was into drugs by the age of fifteen…. Since I turned seventeen my relationships have all been heterosexual, except for a couple of one-night stands with men in the pre-AIDS era…. I don’t fight for any cause, because I know better than to be deceived by promoters of causes. I believe that people in causes are motivated by selfishness, not by principle…. my mother wasn’t there for me when I needed discipline or parental support. She was out with the girls instead of being at home when her child needed her…. A few female lovers have described me as emotionally withdrawn, difficult to talk with, at times not there, exclusive, shut in. I find relationships hard to believe in…. I don’t know what a normal relationship is supposed to be like…. I have a lot of experiences; I just don’t feel them very deeply. I have built such immense and thick walls around my spirit that nothing but the thinnest vein of emotion seeps through…. I have survived by staying in shallow water.” (pp. 110-116) Hy, Em, Sx, T, V, E, Dis, N, C

21) Woman (19), student, heterosexual: “my mother met her lover at college; I think my mother was her teacher. Five years later they got together, and they’ve been together now nine years. I have never gotten along with my mom’s lover…. she’s real stubborn and had a problem with drinking… when she’s drinking she doesn’t really have a middle ground; she is either angry or happy….. There was a time when I was angry at my mom because I thought her being gay wasn’t fair to me…. it looked to me like [mother would] do anything her lover said to do…. I haven’t told a lot of people about it [mother’s lesbianism]… sometimes I felt embarrassed about her… my grandmother… doesn’t like it, and she was worried about me living with lesbians.… My mother has also worried about my dad finding out about her being gay… [but] he never really wanted me, even before she was gay…. He has been married four times… I’m engaged to be married now, and my fiancee likes my mother and doesn’t mind her being gay… his family is in Germany. They don’t know anything about my family…. we’re planning a long engagement… My mother has many friends who are gay, many of whom are men” (117-121) Em, Sc, engaged to be married, substance abuse in home

22) Girl (6) San Francisco, result of artificial insemination: “I found out that my mom is a lesbian the first time I went to a gay and lesbian parade. I was about four…. I really want to know him [her father]… Sometimes they [kids] tease me about it because all of them have dads… They think that one of my mom’s is a fake mom…. I’m different than all the other kids in my class…. I’m the only kid in school with a lesbian mother… Sometimes I get called names like ‘No-Dadhead’ and that makes me feel bad…. [after a friend’s divorce, she told her] every day you wonder what’s going to happen. That’s how it was when my moms split up…. [she met her ‘donor father’ who is a gay writer] who lives on the east coast.” (pp. 122-127) Em, D, F, Sc, T, I

22) Girl (13) San Francisco: “I told people [at school] I didn’t have a dad, and they started laughing… none of those kids know about my mothers…. If it did get around, I think I would be treated differently because of my mom’s sexuality…. I don’t have many men in my life, so I’m not as comfortable around them as I would like to be… if kids found out… [they] wouldn’t want to come over to my house or maybe their parents wouldn’t let them come over. I think the older I get, the more pressure there is from other kids. When you are young, kids don’t really understand…. I wish sometimes that we had a dad that lived with us…. it’s really hard for kids of lesbians… I don’t know if I’m gay or straight, but I don’t feel pressure to be either way…. I’ve liked most of the women that my mom has been in relationships with…. right now I need more attention than she is giving me…. I spend one weekend a month with one woman, and another one I see two times a week. Sometimes I wish there was a second person in the house so when my mom goes out there would be someone else to watch me.” (pp. 122-127) Em, D, F, Sc, T, I

23) Girl (5), North Carolina: “I was four when my mommy met her, and they got married when I was five. I call her Aunt S… My own family I don’t like very much. I don’t like my Grandma, because she didn’t want my mom to marry Aunt S…. she wanted to shoot her. One time my grandmother went to this person who helps other people hurt people that they don’t like. She tried to put a spell on Aunt S… I don’t want to grow up gay, because it’s hard. There’s a lot of argues and stuff… I know a lot of people who have dads. My best friend has a dad… Sometimes when they [my mom and Aunt S] argue, it hurts my ears… some friends ask me questions about my moms, and I get embarrassed and scared to answer. And sometimes I’m mad that I don’t have brothers and sisters.” (pp. 128-130) Em, F, Sc, HtV

24) Boy (10) foster child in San Francisco: An attempt is being made by two lesbians to adopt him and his sister. “It took a while to find out about I and S…. when we started to spend the nights with them, we noticed that they stayed in the same room together… they are nicer to us than if we had a mom and a dad. We’re lucky. I think it’s funner to have two moms, and I think it’s fine for lesbians to adopt kids…. My real mom wants us to live here. And most of my friends know about us having two moms and it’s okay with them, too. If I ever have kids, I’d want to adopt them. I’d like to help other kids who don’t have families.” (pp. 131-132)

24) Girl (9) foster child in San Francisco: “we met L…. Two ladies are better than a mom and a dad…. You know when other kids say ‘Your Mama?’ It’s a bad thing to say. But when they say it to me I say, ‘Which one?’” (pp. 131-132)

25) Girl (13) Hawaii: “my mom and dad were never married…. I’ve been around gay people all my life. I like it when my mother has lovers, because she seems happier then… some kids at school have teased me about my mother being gay, and this makes me mad…. because of my mother’s work [edits a gay newsletter] we’ve received crank calls…. It’s scary, and for this reason I sometimes wish my mother was straight. And it’s difficult to bring people to the house. There’s stuff about lesbianism all over the house, lesbian books and things. I think this stuff would be a problem for my friends, so I don’t bring them home much. I don’t want to give them more opportunity to tease me. Right now my mother isn’t so open about it because I’ve asked her not to be.” (pp. 133- 134). Em, Sc, T, I, E

26) Woman (39) California, homosexual: “In my memories, I’m always looking for my mother and finding her with women doing things I don’t understand… Sometimes they blame me for opening a door that wasn’t even locked…. [at about the age of 10] I noticed a door that I hadn’t yet opened. Inside I saw a big bed. My mother sat up suddenly and stared at me. She was with B… and then B shouted, ‘you fucking sneaking brat’… my mother never said a word…. I came to hate N because of the way she and my mother fought every night. They screamed and bickered and whined and pouted over everything… N closed my mother’s hand in the car door… [mother told her recently that] she and N hadn’t made love in seven years…. I’m living a good life… I’ve been with my lover, Mary, since we met in college… my mother showed me that lesbianism is a possibility.” (pp. 135-141) Hy, Em, V, I

27) Girl (9): “My biological mother is S and my other mother is L. We’ve lived together for a year. Before that L lived across the street… My mom met L…, L had just broken up with someone. So they started going out. Then they started seeing each other more often. We moved in together because it got complicated going back and forth every night. All of a sudden I felt like I was a different person because my mom was a lesbian. Before that I didn’t really know any lesbians. So it was amazing that my mother was a lesbian…. Once in a while I wish my dad was in my life, because I never knew him as my father…. Sometimes I get angry because I can’t tell anybody about my mom. The kids at school would laugh…. they say awful things about lesbians… then they make fun of me.… having lesbian mothers is nothing to laugh about. Those kids should think about putting themselves in my shoes… I have told my [mother] that she has made my life difficult.” (pp. 142-144). Em, D, F, Sc, T, I

28) Man (19) San Francisco, heterosexual: “When I was about seven, my mother told me that this woman, D, was going to stay with us for a while – and she never left!… I didn’t think anything much about it until I was about ten…. it just became obvious because she and my mother were sleeping together…. If anyone asked, I said that D was a close friend from London… I felt a bit odd, but I got the idea that this was how things were… D moved to London… It was all very painful…. It had been nine years… over half my life, and it was hard not to see D every day…. A few months after D left, my mother started to see another woman, but that didn’t last… then she got involved with a different woman… she’d be violent toward my mother… my mom went back to University and she started to get political. Then my mom was dismissed from her job because she was a lesbian, and after that she started to go on marches and to women’s groups… there were some women in these groups who objected to men altogether, and I couldn’t cope with that. There was one woman who was working on my mom’s case, and she went at me one time because I was a male – and I was only twelve or thirteen then…. I don’t really talk about my mother to anybody. But once I told a close school friend that my mom was a lesbian… This boy got mad and started shooting his mouth off about my mom… [mom] said she was going to get married to a gay man so that she could live with her American lover… I really didn’t know any gay men until I came here,… and I find the idea of two men touching each other a little hard to take. Whenever I meet them, they usually try to figure out if I’m gay…. I’m not,… I don’t think having a lesbian mother has really affected me, except that I think she talked to me more than most parents… I wish I’d had somebody to talk to about this when I was young, someone who wouldn’t tell anybody. Instead I kept quiet. To this day my brother doesn’t tell anybody about my mother. I don’t even think he has even told his wife. But it’s a lot easier to talk about all this here in America. Homosexuality is just not as accepted in Britain.” (pp. 145-148) Sc, V, I, Dis

29) Woman (approximately 20), student in Washington state, possibly homosexual: “My mother is a lesbian. It took me until my senior year of high school to be able to say those words without remorse… The biggest hardship was T’s [my mother’s] separatism. This lasted throughout most of my younger years. T was very serious about this issue,… I just remember thinking that all lesbians felt the way my mother felt about everything. If that were true then all lesbians would talk about men as crude, destructive, dishonest, sleazy creatures that were really not supposed to exist. They were a mistake. Yet while she told me these things… I chose not to believe her… I already thought lesbianism meant treating men as inferior. From there I decided that lesbians were a bunch of hypocritical women. Just a bunch of women who preach freedom and individuality, yet their values and beliefs were basically homogeneous…. lesbianism looked like a bleak future to me. T called my sister and me ‘baby dykes,’ making us wear those small hand-crafted lesbian signs she had made for us by a local lesbian jeweler. Both my sister, M, and I have always been extremely resentful of that… I felt I was cheated out a normal childhood… at age nine I earnestly asked my mom for my own checking account and a small apartment, sincerely believing I could handle it…. I want a life partner, yet I don’t know if there is any such thing. I am not sure if I can trust anyone enough to let them be my lifelong friend, much less my lifelong lover. Many women have passed through my life. Some I saw as mentors and friends, while others were just my mother’s lovers…. Sometimes I would open up and hope that one of these women would be there forever, but it never happened.… It wasn’t until more recently that T and I developed our own relationship, separate from and less affected by our lovers.” (pp. 149-152) Em, I, E, Dis, wants children and a “life partner”

30) Girl (13) adopted, from Puerto Rico, heterosexual: “Each of my mothers already had a girl when they got together, and now they have one together, too. So now that makes four of us. [She was adopted when she was 3] I consider both M and J my mothers. When I was little I never noticed anything different about us; I never felt it was different having two moms. But in the last three years I’ve started to feel the difference…. I always told people that M was my mother’s best friend,… but I’ve never told anyone the real story. I don’t think I’ll ever tell it. I think if anyone found out about my mother being a lesbian, they would think us kids were strange because we have these strange mothers…. I’ve gone to the gay march for the last few years. It’s kind of strange, because all during the parade I was worried that my friends might see me…. I think being gay is kind of strange. Sometimes when my mother and M are hugging, my brother and I say ‘Ugh!’ and go to our rooms. We don’t like to see it. If it was my decision I wouldn’t be gay…. My aunt is a lesbian, too, and she adopted my brother. So my brother J lives with her.” (pp. 153-155) Hy, Em, D, Sc, E

31) Woman (21) student from San Francisco, homosexual: “I was adopted at the age of three by my aunt, who is a lesbian…. I refer to my aunt as my mother and think of her as such. None of my biological mother’s first four children grew up with her, and we all went our separate ways…. My mother, brother, and I moved around a great deal… later moved to a woman’s co-operative in Texas. Many of the kids I knew had gay moms, .and everything seemed natural to me… I naively accepted her as she was… when I started school… things began to shift…. I began to have a different view of my mother and myself… about nine or ten, I began to hear words such as ‘fag,’ ‘dyke,’ and ‘queers’…. We moved out of the women’s co- op, and I remember vividly knowing things were different in the bigger world…. because of this, I began to lie and hide. I also learned to keep quiet…. Friends would come to my house, and I would run ahead to check if my mother was home or if she was with her lover. All I could imagine was my friends coming home with me to find my mother kissing another woman in our living room…. I built up a great deal of fear and frustration. I was angry that I want not part of a ‘normal’ family and could not live a ‘normal’ life with a ‘normal’ mother. I wondered what I did to deserve this. Why did my biological mother let a lesbian adopt me? How could she think that this life was better than what she could have given me?… my brother felt a lack of identification with men. He also felt some rejection due to his gender by some ‘radical’ lesbians. It felt to me like my brother was taken away from me because my mother was gay…. I now had to take responsibility for who my mother was. I had to learn to protect her, and myself, from the harsh reality of society’s prejudice… As a child I was always involved with her community, and with other lesbians. I went to concerts, marches, and to many other events. Now I rejected it all. In response, my mother became upset and, sometimes, started to exert her parental authority…. there was a concert… featuring Holly Near, Cris Williamson, and Meg Christian. I refused to go, and my mother forced me to attend. I was not only angry that I had to go to something so lesbian-oriented… but [also]… that she made me go anyway…. I talked with my sister… we swore we would never be gay…. [but one night] my sister confessed to me that she was dating a woman…. Then when I was sixteen, I met and fell in love with a woman. I was really shocked. I didn’t understand how this could happen. Up to that point I had dated men – one relationship lasted a year and a half, and several others spanned months at a time…. What I began to understand about being gay was that it was a feeling, rather than a choice I was making…. I am involved with the Lesbian/Bisexual Alliance.” (pp. 156-161) Hy, Em, D, Sc, I, E, Dis

32) Man (23) from New York, heterosexual: “My parents were divorced when I was eight… I do recall us spending a lot more time with a friend of my mother’s and her three kids, all of whom had been friends of ours for years…. in the six years of living in Queens, I was exposed to and learned a lot about people: gay people, straight people… I certainly didn’t tell just anyone about my mom, as most people would not understand due to their lack of exposure…. I have always had an accelerated knowledge of sexual education due to the nature of my mother’s and her first lover’s occupations. They were both physical and sex education teachers [in NYC]…. When my mom broke the big rule – the one that says only men and women get married – I began to question other rules which had designs on my life. Her breaking out of traditional heterosexuality really put a kink… into my way of thinking…. I… will always be heterosexual. I’m confident that my [two] sisters, too will remain heterosexual. None of us seem to have the urgency toward marriage. This has freed us up a little so that we can live our lives and concentrate on ourselves….” (pp. 162-165) Hy, Sc

33) Woman (26) San Francisco, homosexual: “My mother found a new, very close friend right before I left for college…. We came out to each other at the same time…. my mom was almost forty and still living with my father, although they had different bedrooms… The woman she was seeing was about to go through a divorce. Both of them were married and had families… her lover was worried about her kids.” (pp. 166-170) wants children if she can find right “co-parent”

34) Woman (18) student in San Jose, heterosexual: “My mom met her lover, L, fourteen years ago…. After the divorce, L moved with us… I saw them kiss – they didn’t sneak off or anything… I always told my friends soon after I met them, and few of them have had problems with it. I also tell my boyfriends about it…. it seems relationships don’t last. Lesbian relationships are hard… my grandmother has never accepted L… My dad… doesn’t know about my mother and L… It doesn’t matter what kids have – fathers, mothers, or both – they just need love and support. It doesn’t matter if you are raised by a pack of dogs, just as long as they love you! It’s about time lesbians and gays can have children. It’s everybody’s right as a human being.” (pp. 171-174) Hy


35) Girl (15) London, bisexual: “My biological mother, S, got pregnant by accident… she realized that she didn’t want to be heterosexual any more. She lived in a communal household… and all the women there agreed to help… over the years the number of women in the household dwindled away… I ended up living with J, who is S’s sister, and J’s girlfriend R and F… S stayed in Bristol… one day when I was four, S came and took me away… ‘you’re coming to live with me… and you’re not going to see J, F, and R again’…. Three weeks later [she was kidnapped by J and R, who eventually got legal custody]. “I’ve been trying… to fit in [with other kids]. But I’m just fed up with all of them. They can go their way, I’m very happy now being me. Now I say, ‘This is me and if you don’t like it, well that’s tough…. I always go to Gay Pride every year with my parents…. I’m interested in boys or girls, depending on my current mood…. I see myself as different, and it’s kind of because my mothers are lesbian.” She considers her parents to be J, F, and R, who live in two different houses, although she now also sees her biological mother S (pp.15-23). D, T, I, E, C, Dis

36) Boy (14) London, heterosexual: “Mum…used [a man as a donor].” Lived with mum in a communal household and H. “Mum recently split up with H…. I missed having a relationship with a man when I was growing up…. then I do wish I had my Dad around more…. I feel different. I don’t trust anybody unless I know them…. I’m quite closed to everybody, I don’t tell anyone much… one kid started teasing me about my mother. I beat him up…. I can’t be that open about my family to people I don’t know. I didn’t feel bad about it initially, because I didn’t notice it. I think from about the ages of ten to twelve, I began to realize that I was odd because of having a lesbian mother… But I’m different because I want to be different. I don’t want to be like other people” (pp.15-23). D, F, Sc, T, I

37) Boy (12), Brighton, England: Mother was artificially inseminated by a gay man. “Mum… has had several girlfriends in my lifetime…. I don’t go around saying that I’ve got two mums…. The kids at school were asking me whether I’d got a dad. I wanted S to come… so that they could see that I did…. [Mum’s sister is also a lesbian.]… If we are sitting in a restaurant eating, she’ll say, ‘I want you to know about all these sex things.’ And she’ll go on about everything, just shouting it out…. sometimes when mum embarrasses me, I think, ‘Oh god I wish I had a dad.’… Been to every Gay Pride march. Last year, while attending “we went up to a field to play football, when two men came up to us. One of them started touching me. We just ran. I didn’t want to go this year because of that” (pp. 24-30). Hy, F, Sc, Sx, I, E

38) Girl (11) Leicester, England: “I say that A’s [her mother’s lover] living with us, just sharing a house with us…. Most of the kids are the sort of people who make jokes about all of this…. Sometimes I’m scared that my friend C might actually say something to one of them about my family… at school, I have another best friend, but she doesn’t know about this either.” (pp. 31-39). Sc, probably wants to have children someday

39) Girl (17) London, possibly bisexual: “My Mum took me to a lot of women’s functions and it was never hidden from me…. [First C was her mother’s partner.] I was eleven when they split up, and that was a shock… [the next lover] T was scary. They had a big fight in the kitchen… I’d never seen such damage and I didn’t like it at all… Then my Mum met R, whom I now hate with a passion…. If I did see her on a dark night, I probably wouldn’t hesitate to beat her up…. I miss the idea of a father. I worry when I haven’t seen him for ages… I may have wished for a father-figure in my life, but that was a dream really. I never had one…. I do like it when some male gets all protective over me…. I never had it from my Dad…. As I was growing up, I would hotly deny it if my Mum was accused of being a lesbian…. Mum was aware that I didn’t want everyone to know… house used to be plastered with lesbian and feminist posters…. [At age 15, one boy] was a malicious, conniving little git… He knew about Mum and he told everybody…. they started making jokes against lesbians… C’s [Mum’s first lover] daughter is the same age as me, and Mum told me that she’s a lesbian now. She used to be boy-crazy. We were both tomboys, but I went all girlie at some point. Hearing about C’s daughter made me question my own sexuality… I think perhaps I might be a lesbian. I’ve pushed myself to be heterosexual because I know my Mum wants me to be a lesbian. I’d like to have a lesbian experience, because otherwise how will I know what I want?” (pp. 40-48) Em, F, Sc, T, V, I, E

40) Boy (15) London, disabled, possibly asexual: Mother and C lived together for 4 years, split up. Now he lives in both households, going back and forth. “this woman helper… knew my mother was a lesbian. She made fun of me… I’ve been bullied in school.” Arrested for blocking traffic in a demonstration for “disability rights.” (pp. 49-53). T, I

41) Woman (20) from London, sexual preference uncertain: “All my life I’ve lived in a communal household…. At the moment I live with my dad, T, L, and S.” Mother split up with dad when she was 2, and died when she was 5. “because my Dad’s gay, I’ve also had the added benefit of a positive experience of homosexuality…. I feel comfortable with gay men and can enjoy myself at Gay Pride…. His homosexuality influenced me to question my sexuality more than I might have done. Until recently, I would have said I was straight, but I’m not sure at the moment…. When I was twelve… I felt nervous about revealing my secret. I was worried that people would hold it against me…. [Dad has had a number of boyfriends but none have lived in the commune.] There were a number of other men messing him about, which upset me… In the last six months, tension has grown between me and my Dad…. I’m also angry at my Dad and confused about my feelings toward him…. I don’t want anything to do with men. I’ve been having a hard time with them…. my boyfriend was unfaithful to me… I felt insecure about my femininity. I started feeling that I was too masculine in my mannerisms, attitudes and dress. In my early teens, I was often mistaken for a boy.” Has been on TV supporting gay rights. (pp. 54-62) Hy, Em, Sc, I, E

42) Woman (19) from Scotland, heterosexual: Father was pastor, became gay when she was aged 11, divorced his wife. Respondent went to live with him at age 16. “It was a difficult time for me. I used to find myself crying, mostly because of the responsibility of knowing my Dad was gay… Not being able to talk to anyone about it was hard…. He was in a gay Christians’ group… That’s where he met A…. If I do fall in love with a woman, then I wouldn’t be particularly bothered about it. At the moment, I’m heterosexual…. A year ago, Dad and A split up. Dad’s with G now… I don’t think of my Mum as family, not now…. Being a father isn’t great for my Dad’s image…. When we go together to the supermarket and I call him Dad, he tries to shush me up… He’s serious when he says that… He thinks men won’t look at him if they know he’s got a daughter… [Her best friend’s] boyfriend jumped up and said, ‘God, your dad’s a fucking poof.’ I was shocked and went out of the room…. after that I didn’t want to be around him at all…. I don’t think there’s any point in getting married. I don’t really agree with marriage.” (pp.63-70). Em, T, I, anti-marriage

43) Woman (21) homosexual: Mother became a lesbian after marriage to dad. “when I was twelve… Mum said, ‘Do you know what a lesbian is?’… ‘Well, I’m a lesbian.’… When I was eleven, Mum finally left for good… six weeks later Dad had a nervous breakdown and disappeared for several weeks to a mental hospital… We were spread out round the country and it was very confusing… I naively told some staff at the school that Mum was a lesbian… turned into a major village scandal. I ended up leaving the school because of the homophobia that emerged… The court welfare officer wrote that I was idolizing my mother and that I was gay because Mum was… After hearing the welfare officer’s report, I started feeling that my sexuality was subversive, that I was different because of my sexuality…. My first affair was with a woman at Dad’s school…I was also extremely heterosexually promiscuous. That was the way I coped at the time… I was very lonely, made suicide attempts… I used to self-mutilate… I have an addictive personality… The reason I stopped cutting myself is that I woke up and realized it wasn’t helping me at all. My girlfriend at the time was incredibly unsympathetic… Whenever my friends, most of whom are dykes…. I’ve had a few problems getting Mum and her partner to recognize the commitment and seriousness of my relationship with J. I tell them, ‘Treat her as a daughter-in-law.’ They’re backing off, because every time they’ve got to know one of my girlfriends, six months later they’ve had to meet a new one. They find it hard to take me seriously… I’d like to have my own family…. the main problem is that I only want a girl. I don’t like myself for it, because I can’t justify it ethically…. I hate heterosexual sex” (pp. 71-79) Hy, Em, T, I, wants a girl child

44) Woman (33) heterosexual, single mother: Didn’t know her mother was lesbian when her parents divorce occurred at age 8. “It’s only when a friend confides in me something that’s relevant that I would share something about Mum back…. generally I don’t drop it into the conversation…. I wasn’t totally comfortable bringing friends home because of Mum’s lifestyle…. I hated being different from my friends. I don’t want my children to go through what I went through…. I always wished that I had a family with a mum and a dad together like the majority of my friends…. [Lost her virginity very soon after being informed about her mother’s lesbianism at age 16 because] knowing about her sexuality made me feel the need to find out about my own…. [Her dad] never allowed me to have friends, either girls or boys, in my bedroom. I had to entertain them in the living room with him sitting there behind the newspaper. He told me recently, ‘With a mother like yours, what did you expect?’ I was very upset by that…. I don’t have any faith in marriage guaranteeing relationships. (pp. 80-90) Em, D, F, Sc, anti-marriage

44) Woman (25) heterosexual, single mother, sister to woman above: “Before I was born, Mum fell in love with a woman friend who lived nearby…. [Later] Mum didn’t have permanent partners, just women who stayed a couple of nights a week and went out with her…. [When her mother revealed her lesbianism] I had a brief dramatic reaction and wrote an entry in my diary which read: ‘Oh God, what am I going to do? Why can’t this family be like everybody else? God help me.’… It’s not something that I would talk openly about with friends until they were close enough to be trusted… I’ve accepted that my Mum is lesbian, but it’s a slightly uncomfortable subject, if I’m honest…. I was aware of being different… I never had a loving relationship with Dad and grew up without a father’s love…. I would have liked the same type of love from a man that my Mum gave me…. after my Mum told me she was lesbian, I wondered if I was too. My mother’s brother is gay as well…. [Respondent was promiscuous perhaps because] I was also trying to prove to myself that I wasn’t a lesbian. My Mum was cool about my sexual experimenting” (pp. 80-90) Em, D, F, Sc, I

45) Woman (24) heterosexual: Both parents were homosexual. “our family life wasn’t great. There were a lot of arguments and we were always going to family counseling…. I wanted my father to be that perfect dad that all the other kids have. I didn’t want a dad who’s different, who’s gay and who sleeps with men…. On top of everything else that made me different, I suddenly had two gay parents. It was just about tolerable to have one gay parent, but not two. The whole thing embarrassed me. I felt angry with both of them… I wanted to punish and hurt her…. [Mom and her current partner J] talk to me about my life, ask me why I want to get married…. [Respondent moved out on her own when she was 16, butI had to live with my mother for a month, and that helped me learn an awful lot about the lesbian lifestyle. When I learned that both my parents were gay, what I needed to clarify was whether I am gay…. I think she’d be quite chuffed [i.e., pleased] if I turned around and said, ‘Mum I’ve met a woman.’… She always tries it on, ‘K, why don’t you try women?’… I think she’d be quite pleased if I did…. [Her mother’s] become an ardent feminist… She’s become anti-men…. I used to not say anything until I had to. I’ve found that it’s like a big secret that I’m keeping.” (pp. 91-98). Em, D, F, Sc, I, E, Dis, wants to get married

46) Woman (24) from London, heterosexual: When I was ten, [mother was to go on a TV program about homosexual parents], she asked me if I wanted to go on TV, and of course I did…. The TV program changed my life. Three days later, my father started a custody case to take me away from my Mum. He’d found out she was a lesbian by watching the programme…. My world went to pieces… I left school on Friday evening a secure and happy child. When I went back to school on the Monday, I’d lost all my friends, I was picked on… I became frightened of being rejected. I didn’t want to tell my friends…. We had a rule that my Mum and her lover didn’t hold hands or make any display of their relationship when we went out or were near my friends…. My Dad has always been the deepest, most painful issue for me…. When I was twelve, I went to my Mum and said that I’d like to see my Dad…. I cried when I had to leave him…. [Mother] was always open about her sexuality. I was involved in her political activities and went on marches and demonstrations…. [Mother had a number of lovers.] my world fell apart again when I was sixteen. Mum and S separated because S wanted to have another relationship… three weeks later, J separated from J. Suddenly I lost two major figures in my life. That was all very peculiar. One minute the relationships were fine and the next minute they were over. And they both went out of my life completely…. lost my virginity on my fifteenth birthday…. I doubt very much I’ll ever get married. Marriage represents absolute pain.” (pp. 99-107) Em, F, Sc, T, I, E, anti-marriage

47) Man (29) West Midlands, England, homosexual: Mother got pregnant by another man, married and then divorced his father when he was aged 6. Lived with his father for three years when his “father and stepmother both beat me with their hands and belts for minor indiscretions… I was becoming increasingly disturbed – I had nightmares, phobias, permanent bed-wetting, and nervous twitches and habits. [His mother remarried and re-divorced and became lesbian around the time he was aged 15.]… My mother was thirty three [but she was seeing a 23-yr old woman. Mother had a number of different live-in partners.]… from fifteen onwards I was around a lot of lesbians…. Some of the lesbian separatists found me difficult, because I was becoming a man. I really disliked those who saw me only as a man, not as a person…. I started cottaging [having sex with strangers in public toilets] when I was thirteen years old and was promiscuous for fifteen years…. [at age 15] I met a man in a toilet in Birmingham who was thirty. He was the first man I’d ever met and I fell head over heels in love with him… [Mother was not happy that his lover was aged 30]…. Compared to most of my friends, I had it lucky. They were getting beaten by their parents and at school. Some were in care. We were very angry and confused. We took our revenge whenever we could by being vile and loud and hateful. Coming out is one of the biggest things in your life. It’s the self-consciousness of walking down a street knowing that I had just sucked a man’s dick in a toilet, thinking that people know and despise me, that there must be something wrong with me. It’s a mixture of being proud to be gay at the same time as thinking I’m a disgusting pervert. I’d had fifteen years of indoctrination by straight society to overcome… having a lesbian mother helped me to come to terms with being gay very young and to be quite vocal about it…. I often feel oppressed and threatened by heterosexual society. It’s important for gays not to turn the other cheek but to educate people on their heterosexism, to challenge them in a direct and positive manner, to let people see that we are strong and powerful… From the ages of fourteen to twenty-two, I was out of control, depressed, attention-seeking and very unhappy. I made a couple of fake suicide attempts… the pattern of instability I’ve repeated all my life, moving from one relationship, job, school and house to another.” (pp. 108-116) Em, HtEm, HtV, I, Dis, wants to foster parent

48) Woman (19) Brighton, England, heterosexual, single mother: Mother became lesbian and divorced her father at age 3. Her stepmother “abused” her. “My sexuality isn’t influenced by my Mum’s at all. My Mum encouraged us to have relationships, but she didn’t mind whether it was with boys or girls…. My parents are liberals. They’ve been easy about me having sexual relationships with my boyfriends. As a result, here I am with a baby at the age of nineteen!… I wish that my parents had been stricter. I didn’t get any messages from them that what I was reading or hearing was wrong…. There have always been gay people in my life. My Mum used to bring me and my brother to gay events…. I went on a lot of demonstrations [with her]. (pp. 117-123) Hy, HtHy, HtV, HtI, E

49) Man (34) from London, homosexual: “My mother always had lots of women friends…. I could hear them making love when I got up early or woke at night…. My mother started to have long-term live-in relationships with women when I was in my early teens. I was quite grown up. I knew what lesbianism was and I knew that’s what she was. It wasn’t traumatic for me at all.… When I was seventeen, my mother started living with S, who was the same age as me…. Each successive long-term relationship was a good thing, and the one with S was fantastic…. Her being lesbian didn’t affect me, …[but] I did want a more conventional mother… My mother’s relationships used to be very volatile with lots of screaming and arguing…” He reports that his younger brother and sister are heterosexual. (pp. 124-132) Hy, I

50) Woman (20) bisexual: Mother married a man, he turned out to be gay. She married again, and the new man was gay – the father of the respondent. “When I was about ten, Daddy came to look after us in the flat which Mummy went away on a retreat. Daddy brought a beautiful young man with him who was about twenty. At the time, my Dad was forty. There were in bed together when I came in…. [Mother became a lesbian. One of her lovers] used to stay the night and I got annoyed with her prancing around in the morning without her clothes on. I didn’t actually want to see her body. It felt like she was taking liberties in my house…. [Another lover was a teacher for whom the respondent had a crush at age 14.] Once we saw the little Gay Pride badge she wore, we knew for sure, and my friends and I used to go and talk to her about our crushes on other girls. She became our dyke counsellor…. I became the school dyke… I wasn’t interested in boys at all. I kept trying to proselytize little girls, saying it’s all right to be gay. People got a bit annoyed with me over that… I’ve been going out with a boy… and I’ve slept with a couple of women since then. It’s good fun… That my parents were gay made it a lot easier for me to come out and to see that there could be a physical dimension to my friendships with girls…. I have experimented sexually, and my parents have created a supportive environment for that…. you could do what you want in my house. We were allowed to smoke pot in the house when no one else was…. I would like to have children… I don’t believe in marriage.” (pp. 124-140) Hy, I, E, C, anti-marriage, wants kids

51) Woman (24) student in Birmingham, England, bisexual: Lived in a commune with her mother since first year of life. Two of the other women were mother’s lovers. “My Mum wears a lesbian necklace and I remember saying to her, ‘You’ve got to hide your necklace when you come in to school.’… I was concerned that someone was going to see it… My Mum always respected the fact that I might not want my friends at school to know…. When I was a teenager, I would try to make sure that there weren’t any lesbian leaflets or books lying around when my friends came to visit…. Apart from those two, none of her other lovers lived in our house. I got on with most of Mum’s lovers…. Until recently I was in a relationship with a bloke… so I considered myself heterosexual. I just became involved with a woman called Sam…. I still maintain that my mother being a lesbian has not actively encouraged me to be a lesbian myself. It has simply meant that I feel comfortable being sexually involved with a woman.” (pp. 133-140) Sc, I

52) Man (66) heterosexual, married father of six: Mother divorced his father when he was aged 6 and “began having affairs with both men and women… started to prefer women. She developed a powerful relationship with a woman gynaecologist, who got cancer and died soon after…. [At his age 8 mother lived with N, an art teacher.] My mother died quite young, at the age of sixty… my mother’s father… was so disgusted by the fact that she’d joined the Communist Party… that he cut her out of his will…. When I was eight… sent to a boarding school so my mother could sort out her emotional life [he stayed there and then was sent to the U.S.; returned home at age 14. He was then sent to a boarding school until age 18. He only saw his mother and N at holidays.]… My mother was a manic depressive, and I think that’s one reason N went off and had an affair with another woman… they slept in the same bed, but there was never anything that would remotely suggest a sexual relationship… When my parents separated, my father had said he’d see a lot of us, and he did.” (pp. 157-163) Labour peer in House of Lords, highly supportive of lesbian and gay parenting as a legislator