This originally appeared on Guys With Kids. Republished here with permission.
People who are gay are also human. Most reading that sentence would think, “well, duh.” Unfortunately, there are those among us who would disagree. They just can’t believe that many of the most fundamental needs of a human being can reside in the same body as same-sex attraction. This column addresses one of those fundamental urges: the need to have children.
There have been accusations that gay parents only have kids so they can appear “normal,” or to indoctrinate them into the mythical Gay Agenda. Others have charged that these parents view their children as “fashion accessories” or “status symbols.” Gay parents having children has been called a “social experiment.”
The thought that these parents and prospective parents might actually have an inner drive that lead them to have kids, just like billions of other humans, is not even considered. After all, whether one believes in God or nature it’s obvious that only one man and one woman can create a child, so it would seem that to want a child is directly connected to one’s ability to procreate and only with someone via old-fashioned intercourse. And since physical attraction is often involved in old-fashioned copulation, then of course only heterosexuals really want to have kids because those doing the copulating have to be attracted to each other in order to have the children they really want but only because they are attracted to someone of the opposite sex which means gay people don’t really want kids (that sentence didn’t make any sense right? Well don’t blame me; I’m not the one who came up with this twisted logic).
Time and time again history has blown apart the assumption that sexual attraction, the ability to procreate, and the emotional relationship between a man and a woman are inextricably linked. Let’s break it down:
If a loving relationship between a man and a woman is required to conceive and raise a child, then no child would ever be conceived as the result of one night stands, let alone rape. And yet, children are born under those circumstances far too frequently. And there are far too many dysfunctional families out there to disprove that one man/one woman is always the ideal. So love between two straight people and the ability to procreate and then rear children are clearly not symbiotic traits.
And what of the countless biological parents who lack the desire or the ability to care for their offspring? Meanwhile, there are millions of others who are willing to adopt the children of others, and love and care for them even though—gasp!—they aren’t biologically connected. But wait, wanting to have children is biologically connected to the ability to procreate isn’t it? That’s why gay people don’t REALLY want kids for the right reasons, so some claim. Then what’s wrong with all these heterosexual people who can’t have children biologically yet feel the drive to adopt and raise the abandoned children of other heterosexuals? They must want fashion accessories or to feel normal, I guess. Or more likely, the desire to raise children just isn’t linked to the ability to actually create them.
If being physically attracted to someone of the opposite sex equates to the desire to raise children, then everyone would want every sexual encounter to result in a child and then to raise those kids as a couple. Yet most sexual interaction is recreational with the participants intentionally taking steps to avoid pregnancy, even when in a committed relationship. And many sex acts certainly couldn’t result in a pregnancy. So if a person is not physically able to procreate no matter how many heterosexual sexual encounters they have, then it would seem they should also lack the desire to have children (at least according to the logic put forth by the anti-gay crowd). Considering the countless straight men and women who are heartbroken from learning that they are unable to have children biologically, we know that the parental urge has nothing to do with fertility.
A) The ability to procreate doesn’t mean someone actually wants children, or even has the ability to be a good parent.
B) The desire to parent is present in individuals who can’t procreate through natural means. So sex drive, sexual attraction, and sexual orientation are all wholly separate from the parental urge.
C) The need for loving and committed companionship exists separate from the ability to procreate, and is certainly far removed from the desire to have children. The many opposite-sex couples we know who have chosen to remain child-free is proof of that. So the sex of the person someone loves—or the lack of a significant other entirely—means zilch when it comes to the desire and ability to raise children.
Now, if all of this is taken for granted among heterosexual relationships and their individual needs and desires, then why is it so difficult to grasp the reality that, even though gay couples might not be able to reproduce within their own physical relationships, it does not mean they don’t have the drive to want children? Considering the often Herculean efforts required for gay couples and individuals to have children, whether biologically or through adoption, it’s absurd to think kids are viewed as nothing but status symbols or some accessory to appear “normal” in the eyes of straight-America.
And while it’s true that two men together and two women together can’t conceive, it doesn’t mean gay people lack the actual ability to procreate. I will hold my own family up as an example of how being gay is no impediment to conceiving children. Our two daughters are mine biologically along with one of their mothers, and they were conceived at home without either medical intervention or the need for the “old-fashioned” method. Yes, the turkey baster method really does work, thank you very much.
There’s the stale and moldy claim that if gay people were put on an island they’d die off because they can’t have kids. With hundreds of thousands of children actually conceived by a gay mom, a gay dad or both, there is certainly no danger of the human race dying off if all heterosexuals suddenly disappeared. What would happen instead is there would be a more responsible approach to procreation overall, since “oops” babies would be few and far between (not that it would be impossible; never can tell what enough booze can do to some individuals).
Meanwhile, ability to conceive children aside, gay people are having children using methods no different than those used by millions of heterosexuals, such as adoption, surrogacy, and sperm donors. And whether gay or straight, these adopting parents are raising and loving their children no matter how they came into each other’s lives.
So really, what’s the difference between what drives straight people and gay people to want to have kids? What is so “socially experimental” about our families? If not for the artificial controversy created by uptight anti-gay forces, and the unnecessary burdens they heap upon us, what’s the difference between our families and those of heterosexuals?
Nothing. Nothing at all.
PS: However, for as long as our antagonists insist upon creating drama where there doesn’t need to be any, then in many ways our families actually are different since we need to cope with ridiculous external pressures that few heterosexual families ever have to deal with. I mean really, I’ve just written over 1,200 words defending the very existence of my family and the humanity of individuals like myself. How many straight dads have to waste their time on such nonsense?
Bill Delaney co-parents two daughters with his husband and their daughters’ two mothers. He and his fellow co-parents, aka “The Parental Entourage,” live in San Francisco.
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