Page B0 · The Pioneer · January 23, 2010
The Inside Stuff
The Pioneer · January 23, 2010 · Page B0
This is a
Carol and Stephanie Chery-James met and fell in love in 2005. They were married in 2008. Like many other Canadian couples, they are expanding their family with a baby.
t the 519 Community Centre in Toronto there is a party. All sorts of families are attending to play games, sing, dance and eat together. Carol Chery-James works at the centre. She’s sitting at a table, cutting brightly coloured paper, surrounded by kids. Chery-James was due to give birth yesterday. Still, she is teaching children how to make crafts and cleaning after the lunchtime chaos in between chats with bright-eyed parents about their first babies. Chery-James and her spouse are moving into a newly purchased and renovated house. Chery-James helps out, cleaning and setting up the nursery. If you were to imagine Chery-James’ family, you may be surprised. The 38-year-old native of St. Lucia is married to someone of a different age, different skin colour, a different religion. But the same gender. She is 28-year-old Stephanie, a teacher from Victoria, BC. They share everything. Financial responsibility, decisions about their home, a family name. And now they also share parenthood. “There is no father,” Stephanie says. “I provided the sperm, I picked it out, I paid for it, I was there when it was administered.” Those who fought for gay rights in decades past wanted exactly what the Chery-Jameses have. But the fight isn’t over. In Canada and all over the world there are still men and women who cannot feel free to live normal lives with the person they love. In 43 countries around the world, including
Carol’s home country of St. Lucia, homosexual acts are still illegal. In the Americas, Canada is the only country to allow its homosexual citizens equal rights as heterosexual citizens in marriage and sex. Even in Toronto many people who don’t fall into the category of heterosexual are having difficulty living normal lives. Homeless shelters are constantly seeing youth who have been kicked out of their homes after coming out to their families. Police reports show that in 2008, 16 per cent of hate crimes reported were based on homophobia. Those crimes were also the most violent. It’s estimated that gay teens in North America commit suicide at a rate four times greater than heterosexual teens. “Some words that come to mind are grateful, proud, hopeful,” says Carol, “I feel blessed. We’ve worked very hard for everything we have, to maintain our relationship… what [Stephanie] and I have accomplished in our lives is a lot of hard work and commitment.” Stephanie doesn’t spend much time thinking about her sexual orientation. “We’ve always had good experiences – with the healthcare system, having this baby.” Carol explains, “I think people just see us as a couple.” Oliver Mandela Chery-James was born on Dec. 22nd, 2010. He’ll learn more than you or I will ever know. Story and photographs by Mihal Zada Gifts from friends and family members filled boxes and drawers
Making decisions about the house happen together.
After a complicated birth, a healthy, pink Oliver Mandela Chery-James was born at 2:45 am on Tuesday, December 22nd, 2010.