Op-ed: Differences Don't Make Families Inferior

By Zach Wahls

Originally published on Advocate.com December 12 2013 6:00 AM ET

I guess assimilation has some negative connotation, but in the end, love is all the same. The Macklemore song, "Same Love," is a great example of that message. I personally agree that love is the same, but even if love between two people of the same gender was different than people of opposite genders, that would be OK, too. Just because there's a difference doesn't make it inferior.

If assimilation is what you want, that's fine. My family is very "normal," or "mainstream" in a lot of ways. I was a Boy Scout. We went to church every week — maybe not a mainstream church. It was a Unitarian Universalist Church, so a little different, but a lot of these staples associated with more traditional, maybe even conservative, households were a part of my life growing up.

On the other hand, if you've got a totally radical family, who lives a so-called "alternative life," that's totally fine, too.

I remember, around winter 2011, after this whole media storm and advocacy thing got going for me, I was meeting a friend of mine, who is also from Iowa, and also has two moms. I remember sitting in this park in Greenwich Village, N.Y., with my friend, and seeing four or five same-sex couples with their kids, holding hands. My first thought was a little bit of anger. Why didn't we grow up here? What were my parents thinking?! But then I thought, that's amazing. I'm so glad to see that places like this exist in America.

When I wrote My Two Moms, about my experience growing up, there were three key messages I was trying to put out into the world, and they're all still relevant. The first one was simply, "You are not alone." Even in the age of the Internet, when we have access to people, I think there's still this tendency to think that everyone's connected, and no one is alone. But it's not true at all. I grew up in rural Wisconsin and then college-town Iowa. I've got friends across the midwest. I've got a friend who was raised going to a Catholic school in rural Indiana, and he's got two dads. There, it's still easy to feel alone — even in the age of the Internet.

The second thing I would say is, "You are OK." I remember in 2004, watching the Republican National Convention for school, and I remember seeing Rick Santorum talk about how dangerous families like mine are. That was really scary. The laws we're hearing now about Russia's government revoking child custody from LGBT parents — I thought that was going to happen to me and my family in 2004. 

As told to Michelle Garcia

 

ZACH WAHLS is an activist, author, and speaker. ZachWahls.com