This year, I attended Pink Dot amidst a flurry of controversy from certain religious groups. Since I wrote two years ago about what it means to me as a Christian to attend Pink Dot, I won’t go over old territory again. But this year, I attended the event as a parent too, and that brings a whole new dimension to the conversation.
I’ll be blunt: even before Katy came along, I was already tired of religious people clutching their pearls about children being “exposed” to “alternative lifestyles”. To me, there is nothing wrong or obscene about two adults being in a loving relationship. And I’d be a rather poor parent if I didn’t raise my child to believe that all people are worthy of love and respect, especially the minorities and the marginalised.
There are people who like to throw out the question “what if your child turns out to be gay?” in much the same tone as “what if your child grows up to be an axe murderer?” To that, I want to say I really don’t care if my daughter grows up into a straight or gay adult, but on some level that’s not entirely true. As a straight Chinese woman living in Singapore today, I think I’ve had a fairly cushy existence living within the socially-accepted norm. My lesbian friends and acquaintances deal with issues I would hate to have to face; the impossibility of owning public housing in their own names until they turn 35, for instance. The way I see it, if Katy is straight, her life will likely be – for lack of a better word – easier. Which is exactly why it’s so important to me to stand up for equality.
If my baby girl is gay, I will love her no differently. I want her to come to me for comfort through her teenage heartbreaks regardless of whether a boy or a girl broke her heart. Whether she meets a man or a woman who will love and cherish her for life, I want her to have lifelong happiness. But I know I will be very sad if society is unfair or harsh to her, or if she ever feels the need to deny her sexuality and identity to avoid being judged unfairly.
Although she depends on us for everything she needs right now, Katy’s going to grow up into a person in her own right with feelings and thoughts that I won’t know about, much less have control over. As her parents, James and I have so little time to teach her what we believe are important in life: loving God, respecting her elders, standing up for what she believes in and who she loves, taking care of her body, being kind to the less fortunate, caring for animals… these are the values I want her to grow up with. Not the “values” propagated by the current horde of campaigning religious groups, which are hurtful to anyone who doesn’t fall within their range of accepted ‘normal’ behaviour. (Tangentially, I especially take issue with the stance that a family that lacks a male and a female parent is flawed and deficient; it utterly disrespects those who are single parents whether out of circumstance or choice. And it also supports the lie that women should stay in abusive marriages “for the sake of the children” – something I feel very strongly to be a terrible idea.)
As with my Pink Dot 2012 post, I don’t expect my point of view to be a popular one. I also don’t expect to convince others to agree with me. But to every parent who currently thinks that society’s gay people are somehow a threat to their children and families, I want to recommend this website, Just Because He Breathes. It’s written by a mother who prayed for her son to not be gay, only to lose him to drug addiction brought about by the self-loathing he experienced from attempting to deny his sexuality. I first came across it before I became a mother; it broke my heart and made damn sure I understood how important it is to love the child I have, not pray for him/her to be a different person.
And on that note, I think I’ll go lurk creepily by Katy’s crib and listen to her little snores…