As a gay person, I do not feel less of a parent

The author (left) and wife Rita Derricks

The author (left) and wife Rita Derricks

By Veana DC Pastor

“Love,” and here I quote Ann Landers, “is a friendship that has caught fire.”

On the day that the Supreme Court recognized same-sex marriage as a legal right nationwide, many of us in the LGBT community were rampant with joy.

I was at work when I heard the news from customers at our coffee chain. I couldn’t believe what I heard because for the most part, government and society have never fully aligned themselves with us. When I confirmed the news to be true, I found myself at a loss for words, but overflowing with joy. No longer will my friends and our community face adversity or intolerance for our right to love.

I am Filipino American raised in a very welcoming and open-minded household. My parents are both journalists and have strong opinions on many social and political issues. Whenever the LGBT issue came up over dinner, they expressed their opinions, generally favorable, and I mostly just kept quiet. I am not one to proclaim my views loudly.

While mom and dad are both liberal, it saddened them when I came out as a lesbian. Eventually, they came around and accepted who I chose to be. From my Catholic religion, I learned righteousness and how God has intended for me to live my truth.

In 2008, I met Rita online in an environment where we could truly express ourselves. We began a relationship where there are teenage children involved. I found myself stepping up as a role model and a loving parent. Being a stepparent to three children placed me in a situation where I felt loved. Don’t get me wrong: My parents love me and I never doubted that, but the love I feel for Rita and her family gives me a deep sense of purpose.

At 1 year old, the apple of her dad’s goofy eyes

At 1 year old, the apple of her dad’s goofy eyes

Our relationship has had its good and bad times, but we found strength in each other. Our children have given us so much to be hopeful in life. Imani is being home-schooled and learning so many skills, from computer graphics to haircutting. David is entering community college. We will continue to grieve the loss of our dear daughter, Leilani, who passed on too soon from a self-inflicted tragedy. It seems our family will never get over our loss.

No matter what obstacles we face, our family never gives up. Maybe because we belong to a community that has known prejudice for so long and yet has become stronger because of it. All society really needs to understand is that we desire freedom of choice when it comes to who we want to spend the rest of our lives with.

Social equality is what the LGBT community has strived for since the 1970s. They want to be treated equally before society and the law. Amidst the protests and rallies, our community never stopped fighting for what it truly believes in. We keep saying ‘Love is love.’ On June 26, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is now legal all across the country.

We still live in a world where intolerance and prejudice are sometimes waved at our noses. For example, some politicians and social conservatives are opposed to gay marriage thinking it is an unnatural behavior and threatens the widely-held concept of a traditional family.

As a gay person, I do not feel less of a parent. Instead, I feel as if I am constantly tested on how well I should provide for my family, because I am being judged on the basis of stereotypical father figure.

Love wins for now, but how strong will our country defend our community’s right to love as we choose?

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