Featured artist: Shannon Crees

Gay and lesbian families

Featured artist: Shannon Crees
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Gay and lesbian families

Simone Curry with the ‘Rainbow Babies’ playgroup she helps run in Marrickville

Simone Curry with the ‘Rainbow Babies’ playgroup she helps run in Marrickville

Many same-sex partners face a range of practical and legal complications in their efforts to have children. Perceptions of discrimination, a lack of community understanding and same-sex parents’ own self-doubt can make matters far more complex and potentially difficult than in heterosexual relationships.

Currently in Australia, marriage between same-sex partners is illegal. Amongst those interviewed, it was widely felt that this led to their relationships being seen as illegitimate, whether or not they wanted to marry. These experiences carried over into having children. Many same-sex parents felt discriminated against by the medical profession when accessing reproductive services, and legally proving that both partners are a child’s parents is often difficult.

The children of same-sex parents can be particularly vulnerable. For Simone Curry, her five-year-old son had to ‘come out’ about his parents every day. And, despite advances, his education still promoted the ideal of a heterosexual family. ‘Day two of his preschool,’ she says, ‘my son came home and said to me: “You know how mummy’s pregnant? Well, you have to be the dad. You have to have a mum and a dad.”’

There are many rewards though. Simone has helped establish a Marrickville chapter of Rainbow Babies, a gay and lesbian parents’ group, through which she and her son have gained an immense sense of support and validation. She also has a wide network of friends, and has been encouraged by the increasing number of same-sex parents enrolling children at her son’s primary school, where she intends to take up a position on the P&C to promote greater awareness of LGBTIQ families. Without traditional gender stereotypes to fall back on, same-sex families are also reported to be amongst the most egalitarian in Australia in the way that they divide parenting and household responsibilities.

 

Simone Curry: “They have to come out. They have to come out about their families every day of their school life to the teacher, the librarian, the bus driver. Every day they have to talk about us and it’s as scary, or not, or as supported, or as safe or dangerous, as it is to be gay, but they’re so much more easily hurt. Part of the internalised homophobia that I think a lot of parents feel is ‘What have we done to our kids?’”

Simone Curry: “My son, I took him to the Mardi Gras for the first time last year. He was four, and he made his own clothes, he had spangled rainbow colours, it was beautiful – he looked fabulous. When we got there he said ‘Why are we doing it?’ I said ‘Everybody that’s here is cheering because you’re special.’ That’s why it’s important for us to go.”

Simone Curry: “Having a peer group that’s got gay and lesbian families – that’s why I’m a part of Rainbow Babies. Because I don’t want to talk about that all the time – I just want to live my life and not worry about my sexuality on Monday morning.”