For lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning folks with LGBT Q parents
What is this Second Generation thing anyway?
Second Generation is a term that we use to describe queer, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, gay, and questioning children who also have gay parents. Second Genners come from a diverse range of family make-ups, gender identities, and cultures. Some of us came out after our parents were out to us and some of us came out before. We all have different experiences.
How did Second Generation start?
As long as there have been children with gay parents, there have been Second Genners (in fact, legend has it, that there are 3rd, 4th, and 5th?Genners running around also.)
In 1992 Dan Cherubin, a gay man with a lesbian mom, started the first official organization for Second Generation COLAGErs called ?Second Generation.? In 1998, Dan was featured in a New York Times article on Second Generation children. Shortly after that COLAGE and Second Generation partnered up. COLAGE featured articles by Dan Cherubin and Second Gen COLAGEr Kate Ranson-Walsh in?Just For Us, the COLAGE publication. This program is no longer an active part of COLAGE but as long as there are 2nd?Gen-ners, there will be space at COLAGE for their identities to be explored and cherished.
Did having gay parents make you gay?
The growing body of research on children with LGBTQ parents shows that kids with gay parents are no more likely to be gay than kids with straight parents. In other words, while the causes of sexual orientation are still up for debate, having a gay parent does not make you gay.
Our #1 favorite response to this question is, ?Why does it matter?? or ?So what if they did??
Did you make your parents gay?
We would like to think so?..
Some of us actually come out before our parents do. Sometimes that might influence their decision to come out. But the research shows that parents? sexual orientation does not determine their children?s sexual orientation, and we think its probably true the other way around too.
Was coming out easier for you because you had gay parents?
Often youth raised in LGBTQ families express that they feel the experience has allowed them to have a more open mind, be more respectful of all differences, and to be aware of the fluidity of sexuality and gender. In this way, many COLAGErs find that realizing that they were gay was easier because of their parents.
Once the subject turns to coming out, again?we all have different family experiences.
Some of us have struggled with our parents. Many gay parents are scared or saddened when their kids come out because they don?t want them to face homophobia or violence as a queer person. Some parents feel guilty, thinking that their own sexuality has affected ours. But, for some of us, having gay parents made it easier for us to come out. We knew that they would be supportive and loving and understand our struggle. Many of us have a lot of support from our parents.
Coming out to our LGBTQ parents also varies greatly for each of our experiences. Some find it difficult- they worry that by coming out to their parents they will be letting them down. Others are excited to come out.
Generational differences between young and old LGBTQ communities also affect our experiences. Differences around language (eg words such as queer), approaches to gender, political differences, and more are often a factor in the different gay identities that we as the ?children? and that of our parents might embrace.
Another challenging situation that some Second Gen COLAGErs face occurs when they are the kid of both a gay parent and a straight parent. Coming out as LGBTQ can be difficult if they fear that their straight parent will see this as a way they are ?siding with? the gay parent.
?Oh, you must have had it so easy then, as a gay kid.”
Much of what makes being an LGBTQ person difficult is the rampant homophobia in our society. Having a gay family unfortunately does not counter the challenges due to homophobia that we face as LGBT people.
Again our experiences vary.
I?m a gay parent who has a Second Gen child. WHAT DO I DO?!?!?
Ah.? Easy Steps to Being a Super Gay Parent of a Gay Child:
- Research books, articles, and websites by and for LGBTQ youth.?This will help you understand some of the issues that queer young people are talking about today, and will allow you to be a resource for your own child. We recommend the following websites:
- Be real about your own feelings with your child.?If you are feeling angry, sad, guilty, scared it?s important to talk about why you feel that way and to hear your child?s response. Get yourself some support?you can support your child more if you feel supported yourself. We recommend checking out PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), The Family Pride Coalition, or your local LGBTQ parents group. For more resources for gay parents visit the ?Parents? section of the COLAGE website: https://www.colage.org/parents/index.html
- Ending homophobia starts at home.
- There is no one way to be gay.?Often kids feel pressure from their parents after coming out to be a certain kind of gay person. Your gay identity and that of your child may vary on identity politics, gender issues, political topics, and more. Recognize that both of you have your own, real, and valid way of being and expressing your LGBTQ identity.