The majority of LGBTQIA individuals are raised by straight parents. So why then, when it comes to me, do people assume that I’m gay because my dads are?
I’m Chelsea, the unequivocally straight daughter of two gay men, both of whom I am biologically related to. It’s unbelievable the number of times people have either asked whether I am gay because my parents are or just flat out assumed that I am. Assumptions are always problematic, but I always brushed those comments off, because I don’t care what anyone else thinks my sexuality is. It’s wonderful to be gay—I’m just not. But now more than ever, misconceptions like these are coming from a place of judgment, not a place of confusion. As bills like the “Dont Say Gay” bill continue to pop up throughout the country, I’ve realized that it’s time to share parts of my story I haven’t explored before.
Growing up with two gay dads was many things. It was magical because my parents encouraged me to fully be exactly who I am every day. It was exciting because I loved having such a unique family. It was eye-opening because I grew up with a different view of the world. It was empowering because I was used to being “two doors down from normal” and never felt the need to fit in. But it didn’t make me gay.
I didn’t even know what the word gay meant until I was seven. I was on a family vacation at the beach when I started playing with another little girl. After I mentioned that I have two dads, she screamed in my face, “YOUR DAD IS GAY!” It was the first time I heard the word, and it was expressed with such a negative tone that I tried to argue with her and tell her that she was wrong. Before then, “gay” wasn’t a word that I needed to describe my parents. To me, they were just my dad and my daddy. I didn’t need a label or a box to put them in, but society did and that’s okay. And let me be clear—just because I didn’t know what the word meant doesn’t mean that gay is a bad word. Gay is a beautiful word that describes so many people I love. It’s derived from a word meaning joyful, which also describes so many of those I adore.
I’ve known since I was a little girl that I was attracted to the opposite sex. Being straight was an innate part of who I was, just like being gay was for my dads. It never changed how my parents loved me.
As people continue to push for legislation that devalues and limits the lives and stories of members of the LGBTQIA community, it’s even more important to take action and commit to expressing who we are and show our support for the community, whether or not we understand. Understanding the experiences of others is not a prerequisite for love—but openness is.
Had I grown up in an environment where I felt ashamed instead of proud of my family, my life would be vastly different. I wouldn’t have started advocating on behalf of my family at such a young age. I would feel the need to make myself smaller. I would have felt that in being my authentic self I was doing something shameful.
And that doesn’t even begin to cover how legislation like this will affect young members LGBTQIA community. Learning about different sexual orientations and gender identities at a young age only leads to us being more open-minded and to loving more, and why on earth would we want less love in our world?
Engaging with and learning about different kinds of families and love and attraction doesn’t make you gay or bi or trans or gender nonconforming. You are gay or bi or trans or gender nonconforming because that is a part of who you are. It’s a part of you at your very core, just like me liking boys is a part of who I am at my core. There’s nothing I can do, nor would I want to do, to change it. Growing up with an understanding of all of these different formulations of love and gender, however, did allow me to be more accepting and loving of all people even if we didn’t share the same experiences, even if I didn’t understand them or understand why. Having two gay dads made me open-minded, kind, loving of all people, and excited to learn about people different from me, but it certainly didn’t make me gay.