I always wanted to have children and I think being gay and being able to have children is just the best of both worlds really. I am able to have a family, but I can still be who I am. Peter
Over the past twelve months I’ve spoken to nearly fifty people about their experience of being part of a rainbow family: two gay dads with three tiny babies living in a remote part of rural Victoria, a transgender family negotiating transition with a ten year old daughter, a primary schooler and his mums dealing with name-calling, some co-parents, a separated mother, a twelve year old boy (mine!) and more. Many of you may recall that a while back I ran a successful Pozible campaign with the Rainbow Families Council (RFC) to produce an on-line resource kit for rainbow families. That campaign was supported by 100+ fantastic people from the LGBTIQ and broader community and I am very happy to announce that the kit is complete.
OUTspoken Families will be launched at the annual RFC picnic
Sunday 22 February, 11.00-3.00pm
Yarraville Gardens, Hyde St. and Yarraville Rd.
I am really excited that Martin Foley MP, State Minister for Equality and long-time friend of our community, has agreed to launch the kit.
There’s been enormous joy about raising a family together; the huge support we’ve had has been one of the delights for us, sometimes from unexpected quarters. Julie
My original plan was to cover ten topics, but that went out of the window pretty quickly and I ended up with rather more than that so now the kit covers:
- Lesbian mums and known donors or dads*
- Telling the kids: What? When? How?*
- Talking about how your family was created*
- Non-biological parents*
- Pregnancy and ante-natal classes
- Birth, midwives and nurses
- Maternal and Child Health Nurses and new parents’ groups
- Starting kinder and day care
- Rainbow families and primary school
- Mother’s Day and Father’s Day
- Teasing, name calling and bullying
- Older kids and adolescents
- Rainbow families in rural and regional areas
- Educating the community
- Rainbow families: the challenges
- Rainbow families: the rewards
I also added some great case-studies and summaries of important recent research.
The best thing is the difference. I love diversity and I love that we can add a bit of diversity to the school community and expose other people to it and hopefully produce a better generation that is more open to other sorts of family structures. Patricia
Researching and writing the kit has been a remarkable journey for me. Everyone I interviewed shared their stories with the most incredible honesty and openness. More than one person told me it was the first time they had shared a particular experience. I’ve been enormously impressed by the thoughtful and creative ways parents negotiate their day to day challenges, and by how well our kids handle being in a family a little different from the norm. I think we’re doing a great job.
As parents of rainbow families we are deeply concerned about how the world treats our children and we spend a huge amount of time working out how we can best protect them from the worst of what’s out there. Most days are good for us; most days are as ordinary as any other family’s, but we are acutely aware of the particular challenges we face and I think we meet those challenges with good grace and quiet courage.
One of the best things is raising a resilient child early on because you are aware that they are going to have to cope with difference. I think our kids will be more resilient and I think some of the research shows that they are because we’ve put such effort into preparing for all of that and being involved and addressing issues. Mandy
I believe we are raising assured and resilient children who understand and respect diversity and difference. I believe we are surrounded by friends and family and neighbours and colleagues who support our families and who look out for our kids. I believe as parents we are generous with our time and patience and understanding and that we are quietly making the world a better place for everyone who is a little different.
I get to have a family and I gave up on that when I came out. So having a family, just being together, and living the dream I gave up because I thought I couldn’t; that’s the best thing. Ellysa
When I came up with the idea for this kit I imagined a room full of parents all sharing their ideas and experiences: a newly pregnant lesbian couple talking to a mum with a one year old baby; some gay guys who want to have kids hanging out with the gay dads and talking co-parenting and surrogacy; a family with kids starting high school sharing strategies for dealing with bullying or asking questions about sex-ed.
I wanted to capture all that knowledge, expertise and creativity and share it around. This kit is the result of that idea and it’s filled with insight, advice and reassurance. I want prospective parents to read it and embark on their journey with confidence. And I want current parents to give themselves a huge pat on the back.
We’ve had so much positive feedback about the kids, how well and how happy they are. They look healthy and they’re really happy kids. We don’t really know because we’ve never raised kids before, but that’s the feedback we get. Anthony
One thing I hadn’t anticipated when I started the kit is that it would be a fantastic resource for service providers working with rainbow families. I’m hoping it finds its way into community health centres, maternal and child health clinics, teachers’ and nurses’ staff rooms, resource centres and libraries.
What I love about OUTspoken Families is that it is a community project, funded through Pozible and founded on the experiences of dozens of rainbow families. The entire kit will be available from my website and the Rainbow Families Council website once we have launched. You’ll be able to down load any page easily and for free.
Can you help?
The Pozible funding did not cover the cost of producing printed copies, but I would like to have hard copies available at the launch so that everyone there on the day can take one home with them, and extras for their workplace or community organisation. I need your help with this. If you have access to a colour printer or colour photocopier and are able to print copies, could you please let me know. The document will be approximately 100 pages long and if you can bind it for me too that would be a bonus! Thanks.
I think there’s a huge pride in having such gorgeous kids and living and enjoying our life without any constraints. It’s a very different situation than a lot of people live with I think. It’s positive being a rainbow family anywhere and I can’t think of any negatives. Claire
Despite the on-going challenges we face and the few ignorant but loud voices that rail against us we have come a very long way. I believe rainbow families are journeying through the world with great dignity and integrity, and after listening to all these stories in recent months, I am even more proud to be a part of this community. Thank you.
The launch and picnic is a day for everyone. Please come, bring grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends, colleagues, school parents, neighbours and anyone else who has supported you and your family along the way. I’m really looking forward to seeing you there.
*These four topics were originally written for the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority (VARTA) and are reprinted in the kit with the Authority’s kind permission.