Note from Rob Watson at evoL= : This is a guest blog by Wendy Lynn and her son Stephan. They are heroes of mine. We all are fighting a battle for equality, family and true American values. I have the comfort of fighting from a blue state, and from a county in which 99% (that is an actual figure, not hyperbole) voted for Marriage Equality. Wendy and Stephan are not from such a place and instead are the faces of “a gay family” to many who do not wish gay families to exist at all. Here is their story….
”My mom is gay, so what! What makes me, as a senior in high school, any different than you? We both have a family. Mine just happens to consist of a gay mom and her partner. ” says Stephan.
Let’s back up a moment here…Allow me to paint a picture of our reality for you. Too often, we hear/read stories of teens with gay parents, living in the big city. What about small-town Kansas? Red-state Kansas. The bible belt and sadly, the ‘home’ of Westboro Baptist Church. You know, our ”friends” that blame hurricanes on gays, picket Military funerals and spread hate. Ya, them. Small-town Kansas, geographically, the heart of America.
This is our life. I’m Wendylynn, and my son is 18 year old Stephan. Our small town is less than 2,000 in population. We have zero fastfood and not a single traffic light. Our post office is open part time. The grocery store closes early on Sunday evenings. The bank is only open til 3pm. That’s small-town.
Everyone knows everyone, or so they claim.
My partner and I are the only openly gay couple here. She grew up here, she is a manager at a local business. Loved and adored by many, and loathed by many more. We represent the ”gays” by elders, life-long residents. We own our home, pay our taxes, bills, have raised two sons (the older now residing elsewhere and being successful) etc. But we’re gay.
Stephan is a popular young man, excels in school, is in the process of enlisting to the U.S. Army after graduation, plays sports etc. All-around good kid. He is handsome, charming, smart, intelligent, witty-and the son of the only gay family in town. He’s talked about, a lot. For no fault of his own. Other parents, upon meeting him, think he’s great! Until he’s asked who his parents are. He’s judged because of my partner and myself. He handles it well, usually. Other times he’s angry. Rightfully so.
When you look at my son, and think ”omg, I don’t want my kid hanging out with stephan because his parents are gay!” You are short-changing yourself and your kid. Stephan stands up for kids. He’s active in ”teens for tolerance” and is very much against any form of bullying. He confronts issues with words, not actions. He does not care about one’s sex and orientation, he cares about victims of bullying, teens contemplating violence and suicide. He has taken clothing/shoes he’s outgrown and given them to less fortunate. He plays basketball with kids that have no friends. He was raised with tolerance. Does he have a temper? Of course he does! What teen doesn’t?
We’re really no different than other families. We talk about politics, religion, school days, classes, girls, safe-sex, his dreams of becoming a sniper and bullying. I founded a website for Equality and to fight bullying, he is also an admin of this website. By his choice. He stands for Equality, yet is straight as can be. He has dreams of both the Military/College and one day having a family of his own. When you ask him his thoughts about gay marriage, this is what he says: ”I’m straight, and while I do not personally understand being gay, it’s not my place to judge who you love. It doesn’t matter, as long as you’re being true to you and being a good person. My mom is gay, why should she be prevented from loving someone to the full extent of the law than anyone else?”
Over the past 5 years of living in this town, I’ve been shunned for cheering Stephan on while he played high school football, stared at during his forensics tournaments, judged because I’m the gay mom. I spent some time helping the cheerleaders with car washes- endured snickers from parents….”she’s a lesbian and working with the girls” mentality. Really folks?! Lesbian does NOT equate to pedophilia.
But…. this town has changed. Stephan is now widely accepted by many, as am I. We now have names, identities. We are very rarely the ”gay family”, we’re people now. Our point? If small-town, bible-belt Kansas can evolve to look beyond the ‘gay’ and accept us, as people, individuals, a family- can’t you? We believe you can. We have faith. Stop judging. Stop inflicting your beliefs on others. If small-town Kansas can evolve, so can America.
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