Gay Families Raising Kids in Southeast Michigan
Same-sex marriage – and parenting – can be a controversial civil rights topic. But what's the experience really like, in reality? Here, local families share how it's gotten better – and worse.
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Overall, the more relaxed and comfortable a couple is with their family situation, the more other people will be accepting, it seems. "The problem comes when people aren't comfortable – they're quiet or they're closeted – it makes them seem kind of suspect. But we're very comfortable with it and we expect other people to be comfortable with it," LaTosch says.
"We have found that when you just live your life and let others be a part of it, most treat you well," Dan adds.
Seeing joy amidst the challenges
Despite the many legal hurdles they face, LGBT families find the same kind of joy and fulfillment in parenting that opposite-sex families do. LaTosch says that as a lesbian household, they have a very equitable distribution of chores and responsibilities, which is a great message to pass on to their sons.
Also, despite being in Ferndale for 17 years, LaTosch says having children and being involved at school opened up a whole new aspect of the community to them. "The community opens up even wider, and that's a really joyful thing," she says. "It's really cemented and strengthened our neighborhood relationships as well."
It also provides a way to build bridges with other parents who might feel uncomfortable around her and her partner in a different context, she says. "There is a lot of separation between gays and straights, a sense of not a lot in common," she says. The universal joys and challenges of parenthood create common ground with other parents.
"We have more in common with straight people with kids – our life is really about the kids, and we have more in common with parents than with other gay people who aren't parents."
Dan Jacey says that having a family is a fulfillment of a dream he's had since he was a child, one he thought he might never get to see come true.
"I knew I was gay when I was 7. As I matured and came to terms with my sexuality, I thought … 'But I will never have children.' The point is, I've always known I wanted to have children.
"Sydney and Timmy are typical siblings, and I adore watching them love, laugh, fight and cry together," he says. "We love our children and we work very hard to make sure they grow up healthy, happy and respectful of others.
"I can't imagine my life any other way. We are a family and we will always have each other."