I grew up with two moms. The first time I realized that my family was different was in the fourth grade. I wasn’t popular, but not because of my family circumstances: I was a shy, introverted kid with only a few friends, none of whom had ever inquired about my family. Then, one day, my best friend asked, “So, if your parents are lesbians, you’re a lesbian as well, right?” I didn’t even know how to respond, so I just laughed and said, “Not as far as I know.”
Ever since I was six years old, I have had two amazing, strong, smart women who care about me, helping me to become who I am now: an amazing, strong, smart, and open-minded young woman who is willing to fight against prejudices and stupid questions. More than ten years after this incident, I am still thinking about how parents do their jobs — whether they talk with their children about different types of people, living situations, romantic relationships and love, and teach their children to be open-minded and understanding.
Of course, this wasn’t the only time something like this happened to me. When I was in the eighth grade, an obviously self-confident girl in my class said to my then-bestie: “Well, we can only hope that one day Anna is not going to try to hit on one of us!”
That was fun. (Actually, it wasn’t.) I acted like I didn’t care, but it bothered me that I felt the need to defend both my parents and myself. I’ve never questioned the fact that I have two moms — why should I? They were (and still are) my parents, just like all the other parents you’ve known or know in your life: funny, annoying, and the older you get, the more you can appreciate all they’ve done for you.
The only difference between my having gay parents and the other kids having heterosexual parents is that I started to think about my sexual identity more than others might. I’ve always fallen for guys, but sometimes I meet women who are amazing and make me feel awkward and uncomfortable (in a good way) because I really want to kiss them, too. Occasionally, I think about my gender, and don’t know how to define myself. Sometimes I dress like a girly girl, all flowers and kittens, and sometimes I love to wear my best friend’s jeans and a large shirt with sneakers and feel completely gender-neutral.
My parents did not make me heterosexual or bisexual. They did not make me question my sexuality, and they never told me that I live in a special family where gender roles needed to be defined or redefined. People wonder about the gendered breakdown in my family dynamic. Who is responsible for cooking dinner, and who fixes the broken appliances? My answer: It’s whoever is better at cooking or fixing things.
My brother is in the first grade now, and recently, one of his schoolmates asked one of my moms where his father was. She responded, simply, that he is not here. It wasn’t the first time she or my other mom has been asked about a male figure in my brother’s life. Why is this still so important to people? And why is it so difficult to tell your child that his friend has two moms or dads?
My family did not make me question myself. That was you, the girl in the fourth and eighth grade, and your parents, who were not able to have a short talk about different families and identities with their children. You, who writes articles, asking if two women really can replace a father figure, or vice-versa. And you, the society that is still discussing the influence of homosexual couples on their future children. This is the influence: they create smart, fair-minded people who want to change society for the better, who want to overcome stereotypes and create a safe environment for everyone.
Anna Thöne is a 22-year-old student of library science, living her life to the fullest (i.e., binge-watching New Girl in bed and eating anything cake-like) with her adorable patchwork family in a German city. She doesn’t get the idea of Twitter and Tumblr or why dancing in overcrowded clubs really is a thing.