Beliefnet
Growing up can be a difficult thing. While struggling with your ownidentity, you also must define yourself based on your family structure. RyRusso-Young of New York and Ryan Espece of Arkansas have used theexperiences of growing up with lesbian mothers to strengthen their familyties. CE: Tell us about your family. Ry Russo-Young, 18: I have two mothers. They're lesbians. And they've beentogether 21 years. I have a sister as well, who's a year-and-a-half olderthan me. Ryan Espece, 16: I have two mothers, and they've been together for almost 10years. And I have two older brothers, who are 25 and 24. CE: When did you find out that your parents were in a same-sex relationship?Ryan: I pretty much always knew, but it hit me when I was about9 or 10. And I really didn't know what to think of it, but it wasn'tshocking. Ry: I never "found out" that my parents were gay. It was never that kind ofthing. CE: Do you think that other kids are missing out by having two "normalparents"? Ryan: At times, I really wanted a regular normal family. And I knew that Iwasn't ever gonna get one. Now, I think, "Why did I want that?"CE: How do other kids react when they find out about your parents'sexuality? Ry: I grew up in the West Village. So, the school I went to was reallyliberal. I didn't face a lot of, should I say, discrimination. It was moreof the matter of explaining it to people. Ryan: I didn't have a hard timeuntil around fifth grade. I told my friends and they, you know, they werelike, "Eeew." They were disgusted by it. They told other people, and thatgot to the parents. It seemed like the parents were in a little clan saying, "Get away from her, she's a germ. We don't want her." And then in sixth grade, I switched schools and thought, "This will be a whole newbeginning for me." It wasn't. Someone from my old school was there, and shetold everyone. They really wanted to get me out of their school. Istarted losing concentration on the academics, and it just started goingdownhill. In junior high, it was really bad. And then my mom took meout. I think that was the best thing to do, but also I'velost a lot of social skills along with that. CE: When you hear homophobic comments, does it bother you or are you beyondthat? Ryan: It does bother me. Sometimes I'll hear things when I'm walking downthe street, "Oh look, there's those two lesbians, eeeww ewww." I want to go over thereand slap 'em silly because I get so mad. Then I think, wait a minute, Ido that myself but, you know, with different people, like I'll say,"God, look at that dress on her. She is so ugly." It's just criticism onboth parts. Ry: I always sort of feel like "Oh, God, here we go again." Aren't we passedthis by now? Aren't we beyond calling each other faggot? I don't have theenergy to get angry every time. It hurts too much. CE: What do you think about gay relationships not being recognized by thelaw? Ry: I think that gay marriage should be legal, of course. But I don't spendmy time fighting the legal system. It's not what I'm into. I don't live mylife according to my parents' influence. Their battle is not my battle. CE: How have your experiences with your parents affected your outlook on theworld in general? Ry: I'm very in touch with gay people. I was just talking to my mother lastnight actually about how I feel so gay-identified, and it's strange for mealmost to like boys and to be interested in boys but at the same time feellike a gay person. CE: Do you wish people would just stop asking about this? Do you wish itwasn't an issue? Ryan: No, I wish that everyone would ask, I really do. I wish that morepeople would ask. Ry: In some way I feel like, hey, you know, I'm the first generation of lesbian parents. In some way, it would be wrong to not have other peopleknow and not educate other people about it. And I think it's important to dothat. But at the same time I do feel like I'm just a human being. I wantto live my life; I want to make films; I don't want to spend my entire lifeexplaining to people something that they don't understand.
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