Untraditional families

This has caused a lot of controversy recently because of the remarks by two gay fashion designers saying they are not personally in favor of gay adoption, but also making offensive remarks about IVF.

My own view, to clarify it, is that all families which for any reason do not include a parent of both genders would benefit if the children had regular access to a role model of the gender which was missing from their parenting. I know my childhood would have greatly benefitted in having a good role model of a father figure.

My father was absent, for the first 6 years because he was gambling, drinking and womanizing (not a good role model!), then because, not surprisingly, my parents separated and were later divorced. This meant I had little contact with adult men and was scared of them, so much so I cried all night when I had to go into a male teacher’s class for the first time at the age of 8. I didn’t know what a urinal was and so kept trying to go into the girls’ toilets at primary school, thinking the boys were urinating against the wall.

More seriously I underwent two very traumatic operations to bring on puberty when I was 13, and I wonder if these would have been necessary if I’d had a father figure to talk to. These operations were planned in secret as if something shameful, and the first one sprung on me the night before. As a result I had a reaction similar to any other sexual assault. I became gay immediately after these operations, despite having heterosexual fantasies beforehand.

The trouble was I couldn’t discuss these or the fact that I got stimulated with my mother or grandmother, and when my brother first experienced arousal I denied it had ever happened to me. This led to these operations being forced on me. I still do not know to this day how puberty in males is supposed to happen. Nobody has ever discussed it with me, and I’m 70 this week. Do the testes descend shortly after birth or between the ages of say 11 and 15? If the latter, the operations were probably unnecessary since they were planned when I was only 12!

These operations, and the way they were planned in secret, not only led me to subconsciously reject all heterosexual inclinations which was not a bad thing in itself as I much later found a wonderful same-sex life-partner. But they absolutely ruined my teenage years. I retreated into a shell and made no friends my own age. It was so bad other boys at my college sarcastically nicknamed me me ‘Sociable’.

I needed a father figure to discuss the feelings encountered during puberty and how it develops. If the operations were indeed necessary he could have explained it to me, instead of it being some nasty secret women didn’t wish to discuss.

So I feel all one-parent families (due to break-up of partnerships or bereavement of one parent) should be offered the option of a suitable role model of the missing gender in the parentage, and the same for same-sex couples with children.

As to IVF, this is a valuable medical/scientific development for those who for any reason cannot have children in the usual way. I guess this includes both gay and straight couples. Where, however, do you draw the line? Singles are barred from this treatment I understand, and presumably from adoption?

The world suffers from over-population. If couples, gay or straight, genuinely want children then adoption is perhaps a way which would not increase this over-population. This is not satisfactory for many who want their own children but are unable to have them without IVF. Just so long as people realize children are not a fashion accessory – if that is what they want maybe a pet would be better, but they too need to be in loving homes.

There also, obviously, has to be a limit on how many children one couple can have by this method. At the same time couples having children by the usual method should, in my view, be penalized financially if they have more than two. China has been much criticized for the ‘one-child’ policy, but what is the alternative? Children dying of malnutrition because there are too many to be fed properly?

As for me personally, like the gay fashion designers, I would never have even considered adopting children, nor would any of the gay couples I know or knew in the past. Obviously times are changing, but children were never part of the gay lifestyle I knew. When we visited my partner’s sisters with their large families, or they visited us, it seemed like heterosexual hell to us! But that is just a personal view. We have no right to deny adoption or IVF for other couples, though I would suggest the points above in this blog be considered seriously.