How and Why I Am Outspoken

Ella RobinsonI have had a very public and unusual opportunity to speak up in support of my gay Dads: we all went on the Today show together. It was after Dad was elected the 9th Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire and I accompanied him, and his then partner (now husband) Mark to chat with Matt Lauer. I was there to dispel the misconceptions that he “abandoned his wife and kids to shack up with a gay lover” as certain newspaper headlines had proclaimed throughout his Bishop Election process. Truth was, my sister and I couldn’t have gotten rid of him if we tried! He has been such a devoted and committed father to us from the day we were born, through the divorce, childhood into adolescents and now as adults. By becoming the first openly gay Bishop, our little family was thrown into the spotlight in a major way, and I couldn’t have been more proud. 

That is the ‘Bishop’ side of the story though. I like sharing the Dad side – the side of the story that focuses on the overwhelming love I felt growing up with Dad and Mark, way before any Bishop talk occurred. Their relationship, which started when I was 7 years old, was such an important example of what a loving, committed relationship should look like that I never thought to question it. I never knew to be embarrassed if someone looked at our family differently, or to worry if my friend coming to my Dad’s with me for the weekend would be uncomfortable. I just knew we’d have fun, watch The Golden Girls and play some board games (competitively). I credit Dad and Mark for giving me the tools to know how to talk about having gay parents when I was out in the world, and doing their part to make it easier for me whenever they could. I look back now in awe that at a very young age, I had such confidence in the love and strength of my family to not let anyone tell me differently.

Which leads me to a favorite story of my Dad’s. I was in fifth grade and fortunate enough to be in a very supportive and progressive middle school. We had a guest teacher one day who within the context of his lesson used the word “faggot”.  I didn’t say anything immediately, but the word didn’t sit well with me, and something deep down inside knew that it was not okay that he had said it. So my little 11 year old self marched up to this grown man after class and told him that I didn’t appreciate him using that word. That I in fact had two Dads who I loved very much, there isn’t anything wrong with being gay and he should please not use that word in front of me again. I remember him being very surprised at first that I had called him to the mat for it, then he felt terrible and respected the fact that I had. He ended up calling the whole class back into session to apologize to me and my fifth grade classmates. I doubt he has used the word since.

It is because I so deeply believe in my family, and families like ours, that I’ve never been afraid to tell people about us. I think we have an obligation to tell these stories of love and support and show that the kids really are alright. So I am outspoken for the children of LGBT parents who shouldn’t have to feel pressures from society about their Moms or Dads. I am outspoken for my gay and lesbian friends who I know will make incredible parents and deserve the right (and rights) to raise a family as straight couples do. And I am outspoken for the parents out there, including my own Dads, who should  be parents. I mean…who doesn’t love The Golden Girls?