The death of acclaimed dancer and lgbtiq+ activist Kirvan Fortuin by the hands of a 14-year-old, during pride month, threw me for a loop. And when allegations of homophobia came out as a motive to murder I struggled with the notion. Surely a 14-year-old couldn’t harbor do much hate, could they? It got me thinking about homosexuality and homophobia and whether or not we should be addressing it with our kids.
I’ve mentioned how I chat about social issues like homophobia with my son. But after the death of Kirvan Fortuin (a death that is still under investigation) I wanted to be very careful of straightsplaining the situation. So I called in a couple who are lgbtq+ activists in their own right, the award winning bloggers behind two dads and a kid.
I figured they could give more insight into how, why and when to speak about homophobia with our kids.
So today Emanuel and Darren share a candid look into how they talk to their son about him having two daddies. I have highlighted some points that would work well for Cis gendered couples.
Way before our son was finally placed with us and our family was formed,
my husband, Darren, and I had decided that we would always do our best to be as honest as possible with our child. We had heard so many stories of hurt when information is withheld, that the last thing we want is to add to those statistics. Do not get us wrong, we are also very aware
that it is not always possible to share the truth in too much detail.
So, we have chosen to always listen first to what is being asked and
then respond age appropriately but truthfully.
Our household, one that is made up of two dads, was bound to raise
questions from our son’s classmates at some point. As always, it happens sooner rather than later, however, not always for malicious reasons. Almost always from a point of innocent ignorance. It is always
“_What do you mean you have two dads?_” or “_You can’t have two
dads, where’s your mother?_”.
We also found that by enquiring from the school whether they were LGBT+
Family friendly, helped us a lot. It meant that we would know if we had
the schools support should any parent issues arise once we became part
of the school and more importantly that our son’s teacher would be
able to educate the classroom should there be questions about our family
setup. The reality is that the questions from our son will never stop.
Although he understands he has two dads while most at his school only
have one, I do not believe that he has totally grasped the concept of
what homosexuality is. We are quite fine with this, as we do not believe
that he is yet at the age that requires him to grasp it either.
It is more of a society issue and not for a child of his age. For now, all he
needs to know is that his family setup is different yet very similar to
his classmates in that he has a mother that loved him enough to want a
better future than she could provide at the time.
So even before he started playschool, when he was old enough to start
going to the playground with our helper, we discussed the fact that he
has two dads and how his mother had asked us to look after him. This was
enough for a while but as he grows older, the questions he asks require
more specific responses, which prompts us to always listen to what it is that he is really asking.
It is important to remember that although society refers to families
like ours as LGBT+ families, in most cases it is only the parents that
are part of the LGBT+ community and it does not necessarily mean that a
child being raised by two men or women will one day be gay, but if he
does, so what? We will address his sexuality with him at that point if
it requires us to intervene for whatever reason.
We believe that it is important that our son realizes that as a society,
not everyone is the same. Just like he has two dads whilst others have
one, we are also different in the way we look, and that is ok. We
encourage him to understand and accept individual people for who they
are without feeling the need to put them into a box to relate to them.
If you want to be friends with someone, be friends with that person for the reason you were drawn to them in the first place. There may come a time when your paths will separate, and we share examples of individuals that he was friends with in Playschool, in Grade R or Grade 1 who are now no longer part of his life today, but his life continues, it did not
stop. You make new friends. Who knows one day your paths with these
other friends from Playschool etc. may cross again?
For now, he understands that not everyone likes everyone else. Each
person has their reasons for not liking a certain person or a group of
people. Their reason may not always be right, but it is their choice. It
is not up to him. Not too long from now I am very sure there will be
more questions as he meets new people who have a different set of
As parents I hope that Darren and I continue to empower our son to deal with these questions or that he continues to feel comfortable enough to raise them with us. The older he gets we will have a better understanding of the subject of homosexuality and how it
impacts his life and as his parents we will address it with honesty when
the more difficult questions and their answers come up for him to process.
— For more info and awesome resources check out Two dads and a kid