I remember the day I discovered my child was gay.
I suppose every parent of a gay child remembers that day. I hope they remember that day in the same way that I do. I hope they remember it as they remember their child’s first word, or first step, or any other magical milestone. We expect many of those milestones, but there are others that we don’t expect. None of us know what our children are going to take an interest in, or excel at. We don’t know who their friends will be or what they’ll like to eat, or their tastes in books or music as they grow up. There’s so much to look forward to when we have our children, but it all amounts to the same thing. We want to know who we made.
I discovered my daughter was gay in January 1994.
Some of you might be wondering whether that date can possibly be correct. Some of you know me, some of you have met me, and if you haven’t, then most of you at least have some idea who I am, and, therefore, how old I must be. You’re trying to work it out, aren’t you? You’re trying to work out how old I must have been when I had my child if I found out she was gay way back in January of 1994.
If you’re counting, that was nineteen years ago, and, I’ll tell you right now, I was thirty.
The next question, I suppose, is how old a child has to be to identify as gay. Honestly, I don’t know the answer to that. Recently, a lovely gay man of my acquaintance told me that he didn’t know he was gay until he was, essentially, an adult. Other gay people I have known claim that they always knew they were gay.
I don’t know when my daughter first identified as gay, but she came out to me when she was twelve or thirteen. I don’t remember exactly. When she came out to me, I was able to tell her that I already knew she was gay. I was able to tell her the story that I’m going to tell you.
So, I wasn’t a teenage mum. I didn’t have a daughter in her teens when I was thirty.
Until two decades ago, I don’t know whether I’d thought about the gay gene. It was being discussed among scientists and gay activists, but I’m not sure how much the rest of us were really taking an interest.
I never felt that homosexuality required justification. Some of us were gay, and that was fine by me. People are people, good, bad and indifferent, and being gay was never on my radar as a criterion for judging a person’s character, any more than being black or jewish or male was.
In 1994 I discovered the gay gene cuddled up with me in front of the tv.
In January 1994, my little family had recently been through a bit of a trauma and I was cutting the kids a bit of slack, so happened to be having a cuddle with my child, after her bedtime. Again, I don’t know why the tv happened to be tuned to a soap opera, because I’m not a fan, but it’s probably because I was concentrating more on spending time with my child than I was on what happened to be going on in the background.
Suddenly, out of the blue, my daughter sat bolt upright and became very interested in what was going on on-screen. I looked up to see a couple embracing.
“OH look, Mummy,” said my daughter, “they LOVE each other!”
“Yes, darling, they do.” I replied.
My daughter sat like that, eyes wide, until the end of the scene, and then she cuddled up to me again, and that was that. I put her to bed.
My tv was tuned to Channel 4, and the soap opera was Brookside. That night in 1994, the first pre-watershed lesbian kiss was shown on British television, between Anna Friel and Nicola Stephenson. It caused quite a furore across the nation.
It proved to me the existence of the gay gene. My daughter, who had responded so strongly to that kiss had never responded to any similar embraces between heterosexual couples, and, as far as I could tell, she didn’t afterwards, so this wasn’t a sudden realisation that grown-ups had intimate relationships. This wasn’t a general thing. This was quite specific, and quite natural.
In early January of 1994 when the lesbian kiss aired, and my daughter saw it, she was three years old. She had celebrated her third birthday at the end of the previous October.
What really matters to me is that my children love not who they love. As it happens my older daughter loves a very feminine woman, and my younger daughter loves an extremely masculine man.
I think I’m pretty intelligent and pretty creative, but I cannot comprehend nor imagine what a higher being might be like if it existed. I can’t even decide, once and for all, whether one does, in fact exist.
There are, however, those on the planet who not only believe they can imagine that higher being, they believe they understand it and its intentions and its teachings. They believe they are so clued up that they understand something as particular and specific as its political stance on gay marriage. I cannot believe they know those things, but I know that they believe they know those things, and I know they believe in the power they can wield in that knowledge, however bogus the rest of us believe it to be.
Rationality is pointless and powerless in the face of righteousness, however wrongheaded it might be. We cannot win. It saddens me to say it, and I will never give up my corner of the fight, but it remains true. All the time people believe the nonsense that is peddled in the name of God, there is no winning. I wonder if there is anything resembling winning. I wonder if winning is the point. I don’t want to ‘win’. There should be no need to win. It’s mindless. There is no competition.
I have two children. They were born into the same environment, raised in the same family with the same values, education, reasoning, love, strength, and whatever else matters to any of you. Believe in what you like. One of my daughters is gay and the other is straight and they are two different people, but they are of equal value in my heart.
All of this is born out of the campaign for equal marriage rights that is raging through the social networks right now, and out of a YouTube video that I saw the other day and want to share with you below.
Before I share the video, I’d like to say that my gay daughter entered into a civil partnership almost two years ago. I was opposed to it. I was opposed to it because I didn’t think that it was a good idea for two people so young to be marrying. I didn’t think that it was a good idea for a university student and a brand new graduate to be marrying. I didn’t think it was a good idea for her partner, whom I felt needed more maternal support to be relinquishing it, and I didn’t think that it was a good idea for our child to forego the financial support that we were giving her, which could not continue after her marriage. I wanted them to wait, and I still wish that they had chosen to wait. In all other respects our daughter has our full support. I hope that she will be able to be married, and I hope that her marriage will date from her civil partnership and that her partnership will not have to be dissolved in order that she be allowed to marry.
Here is Ash Beckham being SOO Gay! and SOO Brilliant! Thanks, Ash.