By an Adopt4Life youth
For a great part of my childhood and developmental years, I had been raised by a loving and committed gay couple. During this period of my life I had gained valuable first hand experience surrounding gender-based and sexual diversity. While in constant motion from foster home to foster home, I had become ever confused and guarded, carrying a deep need to hold onto loyalty for my biological parents. Nonetheless, in this time I had come to know the powerful feeling of love a part from blood for the first time. The couple had raised my siblings and I as their own and though they had their own faults and issues (like many do, including myself), I am and will always be grateful to have been their child.
It comes as no surprise to anyone that being a teenager is tough. Growing and learning about yourself and experiencing all the ‘firsts’ is tough. However developing as a youth in care in auxiliary with puberty is a whole other kind of tough. Through my journey as a child and youth in care, I have come across a multitude of fellow youth who were struggling to find themselves and still are. In constant questioning of personal identity, gender, sexuality, morals, beliefs and sometimes our overall existence, there is much to decode on the path to independence and self-sufficiency. It is among such moments where it is the most crucial for guidance and open-minded support from the adults in our lives; when things get rocky we all need some stability.
Though it was as I had described it, with love and acceptance, my childhood had also been accompanied with great amounts of stigma, embarrassment and fear. It saddens me to admit that I had felt embarrassed and scared to bring friends over after school, I always wanted to go to everyone elses' house and experience their ‘normal’ families. I was often in fear of peers finding out who I was being raised by, those who were not my biological family. I was afraid of the judgement and discrimination, not ready for the brutality which often accompanies this kind of territory. Eventually word had gotten out and bits of gossip had arisen. For me however, they were my parents and my family, not just a couple of gay people. These were the people who had given me some sort of stability at the time; they were just people. As I had gotten older and entered high school, I had slowly begun to shed away my fears, taking to various forms of art to depict the struggles which were troubling me, I joined choirs, poetry clubs, gay-straight alliances and social justice and equality efforts.
Fast forward to today, I have just completed my first year of university and entered independence, and though there is greater awareness in addition to laws surrounding LGBTQ marriage and acceptance, I continue to witness the essentiality of further representation for those of the LGBTQ community and their families in order to abrogate discrimination and misconceptions. It is 2017 and there should be no more stigma or fear of what is beyond your control, including who you choose to love or make family.