Summer 2013 Issue 2, May-July wearefamilymagazine.co.uk
£3.95 The UK’s first alternative families magazine
Summer Pride special Family events near you and UK-wide listings
Fostering in Our 50s Sporting heroes Top LGBT athletes through history
L Fest goes family-friendly
Stereotyping of young kids and the best neutral products
Family holidays The UK’s best venues
of Polarn O. Pyret clothes for babies and children
yle • Health • Recipes • Advice Planning Families • Parenting • News • Lifest
What are You laughing at? You might be missing the chance to reach millions of lgbt people and their families!
Government research shows that there are around 3.6 million lesbian and gay people in the UK. We Are Family magazine is the only UK publication aimed at every LGBT member of LGBT families: why would you advertise anywhere else? For full information on advertising in the pages of We Are Family magazine contact Niall firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0779 036 9121
magazine is available via subscription as well as being distributed to GP surgeries, health centres, LGBT book stores and other specialist outlets throughout the UK.
Issue 2: Summer Pride Special Editor/publisher Hannah Latham email@example.com Business advisor Darryl W. Bullock firstname.lastname@example.org Design Daniel Penfold email@example.com Sub-editor Beccy Golding Advertising sales Niall Milligan firstname.lastname@example.org Contributors Ruby Almeida, Emma Bagley, Darryl W. Bullock, Jessica Duncan, Mark Evans, Paul Lucas-Scott, Steph Mann, Niall Milligan, Charles Neal, Jess Rotas, Dru Marland, Julia Thackray, Erika Tranfield. Cover photo Tanya Hazell
Thanks to our model Martha Conchie. Photography Katrin Hochberg
For advertising enquiries please contact Niall Milligan email@example.com For editorial enquiries please contact Hannah Latham firstname.lastname@example.org For all other enquiries please contact Darryl Bullock email@example.com
Issue 2 has been an incredible undertaking what with my pregnancy, and then the birth coming right in the middle of production! However our second child arrived safely and now, as we go to press, we have a healthy, gorgeous six-week-old baby boy. My partner and I are overwhelmed but delighted, as is his older brother. We’re amazed that our two-and-a-half year old loves ‘his baby’ so much, despite having to make more room in an already busy family. Juggling two children under five is full on, but running a new business as well borders on insanity, as many have told me. However we’ve got through the first stage with lots of help and support. Thanks to my fantastic We Are Family magazine team and our friends and family.
In this, our summer issue, we celebrate Pride with an interesting potted history and a focus on events across the UK that have a family focus. We’ve also included comprehensive listings for the season. If you’re going to a Pride celebration this summer look out for the We Are Family magazine team; we’ll be out and about at various events meeting our readers. Come and say hello. Last year was seminal for LGBT sportsmen and women in the UK. In our sports feature (p50) we look at how far things have come for out gay sportspeople and how many great athletes we have in the UK and across the globe. It wouldn’t be summer without a decent holiday. In our Top UK Places to Stay feature (p22) we’ve found you some lovely LGBT-friendly venues, and familyfriendly ones to boot. Have you ever struggled to buy a new baby card that’s not blue-for-a-boy or pink-for-a-girl? We explore gender stereotyping of young children and offer some alternative products. Make sure you enter our competitions for a chance to win some great products from Polarn O. Pyret kids’ clothes and Slugs and Snails tights-for-boys in our News section (pages 8-11). If you’ve got young children and are about to go back to work you’ll find our guide to choosing a nursery or childcare provider invaluable. In our true-life stories we hear from a couple in their 50s who have fostered, and the other side of the parenting journey already told in Issue 1: dads Tim and Blaise tell their co-parenting story (p20). We also continue our Co-parenting How To with Part 2, looking at setting up contracts and seeking legal advice. Don’t miss our columns on parenting a trans child and becoming a grandfather. As usual there’s so much in this issue I can’t mention it all. Feedback from issue 1 continues to stream in and is incredibly positive. It’s clear you love We Are Family magazine! So go on, get reading and we’ll get working on Issue 3.
We Are Family Magazine Ltd. 159 Somerset Road Bristol BS4 2JA Tel: 07780 651075 Company no: 08174975
Hannah Latham, Editor wearefamilymagazine.co.uk wearefamilymagazine.co.uk
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Letters, news, reviews and events from around the UK. This issue includes your incredible feedback, some brilliant quotes from kids and the latest news on making same-sex marriage legal.
Cover story: L Fest for families
The UK’s only lesbian festival, introduces childcare facilities.
Planning your family This is our section that explores all the ways the LGBT community builds families.
Co-Parenting Part 2
In the second installent of our How To… we look at drawing up a co-parenting agreement and seeking legal advice.
Proud dads Tim and Blaise, who co-parented with Erin and Katie (our IVF couple from issue 1) tell their side.
Parenting Exploring our unique experiences and challenges as LGBT parents. This issue is our Summer Pride special. We also look at choosing childcare for your under fives, how pink-for-girls and blue-for-boys became such a stereotype, and your top holiday venues.
We’re all going on a summer holiday
As voted for by our readers, The UK’s best LGBT family-friendly holiday venues.
Rain or shine, we’ve got the kit to go with your summer holiday.
Cover story: Summer Pride Special
A look at the history behind the celebrations, family-focussed events around the country, and listings.
Stonewall tackles homophobia in schools.
Gender stereotyping of children
Emma Bagley discusses the history of pink-for-girls, blue-for-boys and her reactions to her two-year-old daughter’s obsession with all things girly and pink.
Little Mr and Little Ms Gender neutral children’s products.
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Summer 2013 Column: Our adoption story
Paul and Barrie take the first steps towards starting their family.
Fostering in your 50s
Iain and Andrew are in their 50s but that hasn’t stopped them fostering 10-year-old Stephen. They tell us all about it.
Choosing the right childcare
Whether it’s a nursery or a child-minder, we explore how to choose childcare for your under-five year old.
Delicious vegetarian recipes from award-winning chef Mark Evans, including puff pastry pizzas and elderflower syrup.
Faith in the LGBT community
We hear from Ruby Almeida who chairs Quest support group for lesbian and gay catholics.
Sport: What team do you bat for?
Coming out in sport: high profile LGBT athletes and we interview football player and director of the Football v Homophobia campaign Megan Worthing-Davies
Column: parenting a trans child
Part 1, Harriet Doyle is frustrated by her 10-year-old.
Interview: Matt Taylor-Roberts
Starting up an LGBT parenting support group.
LGBT Community Groups
Parenting groups across the UK and online.
The Consulting Room
Our experts offer advice on sperm donors and discuss how the law recognises parents.
Charles Neal goes through a rite of passage becoming a grandfather for the first time.
Unsung LGBT Heroes Susanna Bösche – the Danish author’s 80s book may have triggered Section 28 in the UK but it was meant to do the opposite.grandfather for the first time.
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t ters e L
We’re really pleased to get such positive responses to We Are Family magazine, so please keep them coming. We want to hear your views – both positive and negative – so we can continue providing a quality resource for alternative families across the UK. Hannah Latham Editor
Dear We Are Family Team, I’m just writing to say what a fantastic publication! We Are Family magazine is really bright and inviting and best of all it has superb editorial. Best regards,
Lucy, South West Dear Editor,
Hi there! I am totally in love with your wonderful, affirming magazine as a bi, poly, single parent! It very much makes me feel what I believe – that with love and support in a family of any shape, children do well. I wonder if you have any plans to include poly families in your magazine in due course? I actually bought the first magazine because my primary partner has now taken on (with great success but zero previous experience of children) a ‘ fatherly’ role for my daughter (or authority adult as we also refer to it) and we thought that the co-parenting articles might have some relevant bits in there for him. Best wishes,
Editor’s reply: Hi Charlotte, What a lovely letter. Alternative families is what We Are Family magazine is all about, so we’re happy to explore the poly family community. It’s now on my list for future editorial, so keep your eyes open!
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I was reading We Are Family magazine the other day and it passed the sideways glare test! The lady next to me in the coffee shop looked, looked again and to my confusion, looked away. I was amazed! No funny looks, no embarrassing adverts – I was just a woman reading some glossy magazine about kids and families. At last, a magazine that can compete with the glossies and actually be about something that is of relevance to me. Thank you!
Chloe, Wales Hello! My copy of We Are Family magazine arrived today. I’ve read it cover–to-cover already. Love it! I can’t wait until the release of the next edition. Superb content, well-written and VERY interesting. I have been searching for ages for a magazine just like yours! It literally ticks all the boxes – mixed gender, mixed content, educated, very informative and really varied. I’m sick to death of ‘sceney’ magazines – they’re full of stuff I’m not interested in. I appreciate tons of LGBTs are interested in the scene, but a huge proportion of us are not. I’m an eco-warrior, animal-loving, family-obsessed, pregnant, married (ok, civil-partnered, but pffft) lesbian professional... who’s had enough of nightclubs and bed-hopping. A nice cuppa, your wonderful magazine and maybe a choccy biscuit or two and I’m a happy girl. Xx
Bobbie Kelly, Scotland
Up Front Dear We Are Family, Here is some feedback I hope you will find useful. The magazine looks great! It will be a great success I think, and is overdue and just right for now. We need to avoid ever using the word ‘transgendered’ as it is regarded by that group as rather insulting: trans people have named themselves as trans or, just about, transgender, but the past tense sounds too much as if they’ve been altered. It is incredibly important that hitherto oppressed people define themselves and not get defined in pseudo-medical terms by others.
Kids say the funniest things… about our families Jake*: “Mummy, why is Aunty Kristy married to Uncle Dan?” Mummy: “Because they love each other.” Jake: “Oh. But it’s OK for Aunty Kristy to love a man, right? Because it doesn’t matter whether she loves a man or a woman, does it?” Nice to see heterosexuality is given equal treatment in our household too! From Jo and Jake, aged seven
Charles Editor’s reply: Thanks for this valuable feedback Charles. We absolutely don’t want to use terms that are oppressive and we’re still on a learning curve. Interestingly, we did a poll in the office on the term ‘the boys’ and many didn’t mind it. After discussion we decided that, as, in the article, it was a direct quote, meant in a warm, friendly context, we would leave it in. Different people feel differently about such terms depending on their background, history and generation. I think this is an interesting subject and there’s definitely a future article in it.
*Name has been changed
Sasha: “Where is Noah’s daddy?” Mummy: “Your cousin sees his Daddy Jerry, but he doesn’t live with him. You know Noah lives with his two mummies, right? Your aunties.”
Erin and Katie’s Journey - very interesting and look forward to more. I find gay men being called ‘the boys’ offensive as it has been used for so long to desexualise us and present us as less than other men. I really hope all this is useful to the team and taken in the supportive and encouraging, enthusiastic spirit in which it is offered.
Jake and his Mummy
Sasha: “Hey, that’s not fair. I want two mummies!” From Peggy and Sasha, aged five r cousin Sasha hugs he
Poppy: “When I’m four I’m going to marry Isla or Lula.” Oscar : “No you won’t because girls can’t marry girls.” Poppy: “That’s OK, I’ll get a civil partnership.” From Laura, Mark, Poppy, aged three, and Oscar, aged six
Poppy with her aunties at their civil partnership
Our 3-year-old boy started nursery in January. When a little boy at his nursery found out that he has two mummies, he said: “Mummy, why can’t I have two mummies? My daddy is rubbish!” We just had to laugh. From Gemma, Lynn and Matthew
Have you had a funny conversation with a child that you’d like to share with We Are Family magazine? We’d love to hear your quotes. Email yours, with a photo, to firstname.lastname@example.org
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Stop the witch-hunt Trans schoolteacher Lucy Meadows committed suicide in March after being mocked in the national press by columnist Richard Littlejohn. Lucy, who was raised male, underwent a transition to live as female in December 2012. Leading with the headline “He’s not only in the wrong body... he’s in the wrong job,” Littlejohn’s Daily Mail piece belittled Meadows, referring to her decision as her “personal problems” and repeating the outdated scare tactic that LGBT people are a threat to children.
his offending article was quickly deleted from the Mail’s website, on March 25 up to 300 members of the trans community and their supporters held a candlelit vigil outside the Daily Mail headquarters in memory of Lucy and calling for Littlejohn’s sacking. “Richard Littlejohn has a long history of using his perch at the Daily Mail to mock and harass others,” said Kaytee Riek, campaign manager for SumOfUs.org. “From laughing at cerebral palsy to snide insinuation that ethnic minorities got their jobs through discrimination, to incessant attacks on the LGBT community, Littlejohn has been a national disgrace. The Daily Mail may thrive on controversy to sell papers, but even it knows it went too far this time.
The article led to a witch-hunt, with newspapers offering to pay Lucy’s parents for a picture of her. She complained of having to leave home by the back door and arrive early at school to avoid “The Daily journalists. Mail needs to Lucy ensure that this contacted never happens the Press again – by not Complaints Kaytee Riek of sumofus.org only yanking Commission Littlejohn’s in January column to complain and apologising for the about the way she had been paper’s decision to run the treated by the media. hateful opinion piece, but also instituting an editorial Her death has lead to review policy that prevents thousands of people joining discriminatory writing from SumOfUs.org, a global ending up in its paper again.” consumer watchdog, in urging the Daily Mail to fire Littlejohn, sumofus.org issue a public apology and institute an editorial review policy to prevent incidents like this in the future. Although
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Whilst the UK takes steps towards equality in marriage rights for same-sex couples, in April Uruguay, New Zealand and France become the 12th, 13th and 14th countries to make equality part of their legislation. As We Are Family magazine went to press Brazil also legalised marriage for samesex couples. In New Zealand the announcement was greeted with cheers and a round of applause and proceedings were interrupted as the public gallery broke into song, singing the traditional Maori love song Pokarekare Ana. We in the UK remain a few steps behind. In January this year Rt Hon Maria Miller MP introduced the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill to UK Parliament. The bill set out the legislation to extend the legal form of marriage to include samesex couples. In February the Marriage Bill received its second reading in the House of Commons. The final vote in favour of equal marriage was 400 to 175 – a majority of 225. Once the bill has completed the final stages in the House of Commons it will precede to the House of Lords. Opponents of the bill are being encouraged to lobby MPs and peers, which means it is important that supporters do the same. Gay rights activist and coordinator of the Equal Love campaign, Peter Tatchell urges supporters of gay marriage to lobby the House of Lords, pointing out that the vote remains uncertain and not to assume victory. Should it go through the change in law will not be forced on religious organisations. They will be required to ‘opt in’ if they wish to promote equality and hold gay weddings. The bill specifies that the Church of England and Church in Wales would be banned in law from offering same-sex marriages. For some uplifting viewing see New Zealand pass the bill at: youtube.com/watch?v=q9pOJ8Bc_-g Also worth viewing is New Zealand’s MP Maurice Williamson’s response: youtube.com/watch?v=gl8oKO7BAuU.
A positive sermon An inclusive Christian group is calling for a debate over samesex relationships. It is widely assumed that evangelical Christians never have anything positive to say about same-sex relationships. However, thanks to comments from the group’s founder, this assumption can no longer be taken for granted.
ministry to illustrate how he has become increasingly aware of the suffering of homosexual people within the church and alludes to cases where long-term exposure to negative attitudes have impacted mental and physical health. He also stresses that he has arrived at this view not just through personal opinion and experience, but as part of his growing understanding of the Bible.
In a ground-breaking article in March’s Christianity Magazine, Baptist minister Rev. Steve Chalke – founder of Christian charity Oasis – called on the entire church to re-examine its attitude toward homosexual people, arguing that the Bible paints a far more inclusive picture than many acknowledge. An extended version of the article has also been published on the Oasis website as part of a new online resource centre designed to facilitate and encourage an open debate on these issues and offer support to people who are struggling.
“Rather than condemn and exclude, can we dare to create an environment for homosexual people where issues of self-esteem and wellbeing can be talked about; where the virtues of loyalty, respect, interdependence and faithfulness can be nurtured, and where exclusive and permanent same-sex relationships can be supported?” asks Rev. Steve Chalke.
In the article, ‘A Matter of Integrity’ Steve uses examples from his
Competition We Are Family magazine has five pairs of Slugs & Snails tights to give away!
Slugs & Snails was started by Kathleen Redmond after the birth of her son. Living in an old house atop a cold windy hill on the west coast of Ireland, keeping him warm was a priority: tights were the obvious solution, yet Kathleen couldn’t find any for little boys. So she designed her own: tights that were as playful, colourful and unique as he was, and that, unlike jeans and trousers, allowed him the freedom to bend and move. Slugs & Snails is the first company in the UK or Ireland to design and produce tights just for boys. (See page 37)
“Shouldn’t we take the same principle that we readily apply to the role of women, slavery, and numerous other issues, and apply it to our understanding of permanent, faithful, homosexual relationships? Wouldn’t it be inconsistent not to?”
Rev. Steve Chalke
As well as being the senior minister at Oasis Church Waterloo, Steve founded Oasis, a charity committed to inclusion, communities and social transformation. Oasis runs 26 academies (a mixture of primary and secondary schools) across the country as well as various social provisions, employing some 3,500 staff and working with thousands more volunteers. “It is my duty to ensure that everyone – gay or straight – knows that I believe God is for them,” Steve comments. “If the church in this country wants to be at the forefront of delivering social provisions, we have a responsibility to ensure that everyone knows the services we provide are for them.” oasisuk.org
Adoption open evenings For your chance to win
one of five pairs, email editor@ wearefamilymagazine.co.uk with SLUGS COMP in the subject bar and answer this question: what is the name of the toadstool design tights produced by Slugs & Snails? You’ll find the answer at www.slugsandsnails.ie Answers by July 18, 2013
For anyone in the area interested in adopting, Merton Council is holding two LGBT adoption information meetings on 9th and 11th July 2013 at their offices in Morden, London. The current reforms of the adoption system mean that assessments are becoming faster and post adoption support is becoming more accessible and more flexible than ever before. So there is no better time to find out if adoption is right for you. Why wait any longer? We are keen to hear from you now. Full details of these informal events can be found on our website. Contact us: 020 8545 4688, email@example.com or www.merton.gov.uk/adoption
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The Imagine Festival Back in February 2013, hundreds of same-sex parented families got together for a free one-day event dedicated to them. The Rise of The Alternative Family, in association with Stonewall and Square Peg Media, was part of the Southbank Centre’s The Imagine Festival. The day was a great success with the telling of alternative fairy tales and theatrical workshops. Feedback from alternative families was that they wanted more events like it as they feel a bit invisible in the community. With 10,000 same-sex parented families in the UK that is set to change.
Quest Conference: 2
Polarn O. Pyret
This year Quest, the organisation for lesbian, gay and bisexual Catholics in the UK, will be celebrating 40 years of existence. Every year members from local Quest groups join together for a weekend of spiritual nourishment, social interaction, good food and the temporal pursuits of karaoke and disco-dancing. This year’s conference will be taking place at University of Chichester, West Sussex. Speakers will be reflecting on the theme of the desert and the journey to the promised land. Highlights include keynote speakers Sara Maitland, novelist, short story writer and feminist, and Daniel O’Leary, priest, author and teacher in the Diocese of Leeds. Other attractions will be a panel discussion on same-sex marriage, a gay chorus group, a gala dinner, raffle prizes, fine wine and lots of dancing queens. questgaycatholic.org.uk
Win a £100 spending spree with
From their humble beginnings in 1976, with little more than a striped jersey and a desire to make better clothes for babies and children, Polarn O. Pyret now have over 110 stores across Europe and make some of the best children’s clothes in the world. Made from natural fabrics with funky patterns they appeal to both boys and girls. Their baby clothes have extendable cuffs at the foot and the arm so they grow with your child. Polarn O. Pyret clothes are high quality and great value for money (See page 37). For your chance to win this great prize simply email firstname.lastname@example.org with POP COMP in the subject bar and your answer to the following question: what Swedish city did Polarn O. Pyret start in? (Answers by July 18 2013) You’ll find the answer at www.polarnopyret.co.uk
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6-28 July, Bishop Otter Campus, University of Chichester
Contact email@example.com if you wish to attend.
L Fest 19-22 July, Uttoxeter Race Course, Staffordshire
In the lead up to the summer festivities, L Fest director Cindy Edwards has been rewarded for her vision and hard work, picking up the Barclays Innovator of the Year Award at the G3 Readers’ Awards. L Fest began its life in 2011, born from Cindy Edwards’ wish for a place where gay and bisexual women – whether they are 16 or 106 – can come and enjoy a weekend with likeminded women in a safe space to celebrate lesbian culture. L Fest remains the only UK lesbian festival to date just proving why Cindy deserves the award for her hard work. With GoGo and LadyRock cancelling in 2012 because of financial constraints and now The McGall festival announcing they are not going ahead, the festival stands in alone inviting women to enjoy music, arts, workshops, camping and of course, women! This year L Fest will feature acts such as L Word BETTY, Rachael Sage and AMiTY, and will include a new L Fest Presents stage introducing the best in emerging talent. There will also be an arts line-up with authors and poets, an array of workshops, and cinema.
Organisers are delighted to announce that they are offering a full programme of children’s activities at L Fest. All activities will be planned and adapted to the ages of the children attending. They say: “Our aim is to work alongside the L Fest ethos and to give our younger guest as much to look forward to as the adults.” The children’s area will be inside the main pavilion building with options for groups of children to take part in organised outdoors activities. Free activities and facilities will take place over both festival days. There will be arts and crafts, a music area and outdoor play. The children’s provisions will run from 10am to 6pm. The festival also offers a childminding service (£20 per child, with a sibling rate of £5 for each additional child) between 8pm and 1am on Friday, Saturday and Sunday so children can be left whilst you enjoy the evening entertainment on offer at L Fest. Tickets for under 16s are free of charge with every adult ticket purchased – organisers note that registration of your children’s ticket when purchasing an adult ticket is essential. Tickets are on sale now for £99.
For more info visit: lfest.co.uk
In addition to all of the above, this year L Fest is set to go family-friendly. Over the last two years mums Teresa Millward and Helen Brearley have brought their children to L Fest. They have loved it but they felt they needed more for the children to do during the weekend as well as time off for themselves to enjoy some of the activities on offer as a couple. They suggested more options and improvements for the children’s provision and then swiftly jumped on board to get involved with the family zone.
The Second Footman by Jasper Barry Matador £9.99
Chained Melody by Debbie Martin Pen Press £10.99 When author Jasper Barry ran out of 19th century fiction to read, he decided to pen his own. Eight years later, his recently published book The Second Footman is the result.
This is the tale of 19-year-old Albert Fabien, also known as Max, the latest in a long line of footmen to cater to every whim of the Duchess de Claireville. Like his fellow footmen, Max is expected to serve both in and outside the bedchamber. Unlike his fellow footmen, Max wants much more from his life. He yearns for wealth and power. Well-read and dashing, with an air which sets him apart from the rest of the servants, Max knows he is irresistible to men and women. With these charms he has a plan to lift himself out of the class structure he hates. He uses a chance encounter with the closeted Marquis de Miremont to his own end. Barry goes to great lengths to detail the minutiae of late 19th century French society making The Second Footman a mustread for fans of historical erotica. Those new to the genre may find Max’s selfish cockiness and questionable morals hard to stomach. Many will instead identify with the Marquis de Miremont, who, while shy, is willing to stand up to Max. The Second Footman isn’t a book you’ll find easy to pick up and put down in short stints, making it better suited to a long night in a comfy chair with a bottle of wine than a quick five-minute coffee read while your three-year-old naps. For those who yearn for the fusion of 19th century fiction and gay erotica, The Second Footman is a solid 7/10. Reviewed by Harriet Doyle
This novel describes the changing relationship of two childhood friends, one alpha male who joins the army, the other transsexual. It took me ages to get stuck into this book: the first attempt had me throwing it aside after the first few pages, floundering in a sea of adjectives and muttering ‘Show! Don’t tell!’ It got better after I persevered; Martin describes well the loneliness, difficulties and dangers of the trans experience before the internet; and the switching of the narrative voice between the two characters avoids the awful solipsism of so many trans first person narratives; the slowly evolving self-knowledge of the trans woman, and the difficulty her friend has in coming to terms with her identity, are well dealt with. But the other characters are shallow and unsympathetic. And – am I out of step with the times? I do not want to read about other people having sex, literarily or otherwise! Just… no! (I flag this element of the book as either a warning or an enticement, depending on your tastes) And this book really should have been properly proofread and edited! It’s studded with eggcorns and grammatical misfortunes. [Since this review was written Chained Melody has been re-edited, reproofed and re-released. Ed.] Chained Melody is emphatically not the Great Trans Novel that we’ve been waiting for. But its ambitions earn it an honourable mention as a Bad Trans Novel. And, after all, who wants mediocre? Reviewed by Dru Marland
Up Section Front
GAYBY Pecadillo Pictures, £15.99, DVD Nominated for Best First Screenplay at the Independent Spirit Awards, Gayby, written, directed and starring Jonathan Lisecki, follows the trials and tribulations of real life friends Jenn (Jenn Harris) and Matt (Matthew Wilkas), as they navigate the awkward terrain of having a baby (or gayby – a child of gay parentage), whilst simultaneously getting their lives, loves, careers and interior design on track. Jenn and Matt are friends from college. Jenn is long-term single; Matt is gay and struggling to get over his recently ended long-term relationship. Now in their 30s, Jenn casually texts her best friend with the suggestion that they return to a college-day promise of having a child together. “I don’t trust fertility doctors,” Jenn proclaims, “I want to do it the old-fashioned way.” Matt, saying he’s a guy and therefore can do it with anyone, agrees. The journey from inception of the idea to conception isn’t as easy as they first thought. The film takes them from quickfire proposition of logistics, to the drawn out awkwardness of actually conceiving, which unfortunately for them does not happen straight away. Gayby invites audiences to join the couple for some truly bad sex scenes and other tests of their friendship. This is a warm-hearted comedy awash with one-liners: think a feature-length, independently made, not quite as slick Will and Grace grappling with the prospect of parenthood together. Gayby is a modern day alternative-family fairy-tale, crossing previously unscripted, bumpy and ambiguous ground as Jenn and Matt strive to reach their happily ever after.
OUTlaw by Drake Jensen Soaring Eagle Productions, £7.99 on iTunes OUTlaw is the second album proper (ignoring last year’s festive stop-gap Christmas At Home) from out country artist Drake Jensen. Featuring the hit single When It Hurts Like That, it follows the success of his first outing, On My Way To Finding You. Born in Cape Breton, Canada, Drake is a unique figure in the country music world: a warm, comforting voice for the LGBT community who touches listeners with his sincere emotions. Country music has always had a certain camp appeal, but Drake Jensen is bringing genuine LGBT fans back to the fold. Stand out songs include Be, Drake’s personal favourite and a follow-up (of sorts) to I Found Me from On My Way To Finding You, lead track When It Hurts Like That, a slice of radio-friendly, Garth Brooks-esque country; heartfelt ballad Leave The Healing To Me and the rocking Fast Enough For Me, a rollicking singalong which will win the big Canuck even more fans. As with his previous outings production values are top notch: Drake and his team have used their time in the studio well, and his voice has matured considerably since his debut. The 10 new songs on OUTlaw (the 11th track, Scars, was originally released as a digital single last year to raise funds for anti-bullying charity Bullying.org) showcase an artist whose musical muscle has grown massively. The fact that he’s co-penned many of the tracks on the album attests to his burgeoning confidence. Appearing at Pride events around the States this summer and autumn to promote OUTlaw, it won’t be long before his growing legion of fans will get to see him on this side of the Atlantic. Review by Darryl W. Bullock
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CRM London is one of London’s leading independent fertility and IVF clinics, with over 25 years’ experience in providing an exceptional level of treatment and care to their patients. For more than a decade CRM London has been helping to introduce new levels of compassionate care into the lives of gay and lesbian couples who want to start a family in the safest possible way. Patients appreciate the relaxed environment: many people feel like they are in a health spa.
We were made to feel at ease right from the initial consultation. The doctor was very clear, answered all of our questions and addressed all our concerns. The next step was meeting the nurses to arrange our treatment plan and discuss using donor sperm. They were great; always on hand to answer any of our questions and helped to coordinate a meeting with the lab staff to talk to us about the process of finding a sperm donor we were both happy with. We then planned the rest of our treatment with the doctor and nurses. This required a few visits to the clinic for some scans to make sure everything was progressing correctly and then once more for the insemination and fertilisation. The next thing we knew, two weeks later, I was pregnant! Before we started this journey it seemed like it was going to be confusing and daunting, however now we are at home together with our daughter we look back on what a wonderful experience it was and of course how lucky we now are!” Lucy*, London. *Names have been changed for privacy.
For further information and to find out treatment rates: CRM London 020 7616 6767 crmlondon.co.uk
CRM London has some of the highest pregnancy results in the UK, and offers an array of personalised treatments to single women and same sex couples that wish to become parents. “When my partner and I decided the time was right to start a family we started to look for a fertility clinic which was happy to treat a couple in a same-sex relationship and help us make our dream of a family come true. After some research we found the fertility clinic CRM London who openly offers treatment to same-sex couples. Initially we decided to visit the clinic for an open evening to find out what fertility treatment was all about and what it involved. As soon as we arrived at the clinic we knew this was the place for us, it was extremely relaxed and the doctors and nurses were exceptionally patient with us.
issue 2 Summer 2013
CRM Full pg advert r1.pdf
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www.ivfcliniclondon.com WAF2_book.indb 15
parenting o CSection How To...
Words: Hannah Latham Part 2: logistics, legalities and contracts So you and your partner have found someone you really like and you think they could help you build your family. Now what? It’s exciting to think you could create a big happy family together, however before you whip out the syringe and make a baby there is a lot to discuss. Co-parenting is a relationship you’ll have for life. It’s important to do the groundwork so you’ll start on the right footing, whether you’re old friends, vague acquaintances or have only just met. As we pointed out in Part 1 (We Are Family Issue 1), the big advantage of co-parenting with a friend is that you already have an established, trusting relationship. If you feel that your friendship has the right level of communication and balance then this is the most advatageous coparenting relationship to enter into. If you don’t know your potential co-parent(s) very well you need to build that trust from scratch which takes time. But it is time worth investing. There is an advantage to co-parenting with someone you don’t know well - you’re establishing your relationship based on parenting from the start. Old friendships can go through changes when the new dimension of parenting is added: usually for the better, but the transition can sometimes be difficult.
Logistics Firstly, how are you going to conceive the child - by home insemination or IVF at a clinic? If you are doing it yourselves the birth parents need to be screened for STIs first. If you’re going to a clinic, how long will you continue should you need fertility treatment, and how will you share the costs? Where will your baby live? Between co-parents on a 50/50 basis, or in one home and going to the other for some weekends? If you’re sharing parenting responsibilities equally how is this going to work when the child is a baby? How long will the mother breastfeed? Will she express milk so the other parent/s can have the child overnight? Or will you use formula? Maybe you’d all prefer the baby has breast milk for the first six months. There are potentially an awful lot of hopes and expectations that may not in reality be met. Breastfeeding may not work out. Your baby may be very sociable or he/she may be clingy and only bond with the mother. One co-parenting group we talked to found this and it was a very hard experience for the fathers. What about holidays? Or expectations from grandparents? Your expectations of how you are going to behave and what actually happens when you’re in the thick of it can be quite different. Discussion and establishing a common intention will help you all prepare. Parenting can bring out all kinds of disagreements between partners – imagine what it could potentially unearth with a friend, or someone you don’t know well?
Whatever your relationship there are pros and cons to take into consideration. Either way not rushing into things and discussing everything involved is essential.
issue 2 Summer 2013
“Difficulties can arise when in advance everyone agrees levels of involvement on a certain basis, but once the child arrives one of the parties wants more involvement than originally foreseen. Becoming a parent is life-changing.” If there are more then two of you that’s a lot of opinions and expectations to take into consideration so being as open and clear as you can is important. Karen, in Brighton, had two children with her partner Ellie* and a friend of Ellie’s from university, Dan*. “He really wanted to have kids but didn’t see himself doing that on his own. His role at the start was that he’d like to be known as Dad, see them frequently but on an irregular basis. When he did see them he would be as hands-on as he could be. He understood that while they were very little he wouldn’t have overnight stays without us there.” For these co-parents this arrangement has worked well and remains in place. Difficulties can arise when in advance everyone agrees levels of involvement on a certain basis, but once the child arrives one of the parties wants more involvement than originally foreseen. Becoming a parent is life-changing. Hopes and expectations need to be clearly fleshed out and all parties should go into it with a degree of flexibility, otherwise communication can break down, then things can get ugly: as we’re seeing with more and more alternative family cases disputed in the courts. Another Brighton couple, Jo and Sue, went through last minute changes to their arrangement with their co-parents who lived in London, despite them all having spent several years discussing and agreeing how they foresaw things working. Like Karen, Jo and Sue are the legal parents with the fathers involved informally. Work changes meant their co-parents were able to move to Brighton when their first son was born. “It freaked us out a bit and felt like a slight invasion of what we saw as being our space. When you have a new baby you really need time and space to get used to that; it’s an all consuming and overwhelming time. The fathers felt they would be able to pop in every day, which is more than we were comfortable with at that time.”
planning in the world can’t prepare you for how feelings and needs change when you become a parent. “I was exceptionally protective and found it really difficult to let go,” Jo continues. “But the dads are very easy to talk to and respected all of that. It worked out well in the end, with them coming over regularly with prior agreement. As the children got older, and as I became less like a lioness protecting her cubs, it became much easier.” The benefit was that the kids could spend a day a week with their dads and the whole group were able to get together as friends regularly much more easily. They spend time together most weekends now, holiday together every year, and the boys have sleepovers with their dads. “The kids have a lovely relationship with them both, and it has gone from strength to strength.” It’s important to understand your reasons for co-parenting – it should be because you want to create a family for your child. If you’re only doing it to make up missing biology then you should consider finding a donor or surrogate instead.
Legalities There are two important areas to discuss here: legal parenting and setting up a co-parenting agreement. It is imperative to seek legal advice as the laws around complex family units are complicated and are being challenged all the time.
Legal parents If, for example, you are a lesbian couple entering into a co-parenting arrangement with a gay couple, you need to decide who will be the legal parents. Do all four of you want equal rights or are the birth-parents taking the lead, and therefore the legal responsibility? You may all be happy with this now but what if a couple splits up, or a co-parenting relationship breaks down? The parent/s without legal rights may find themselves excluded with no way to fight it. Or what if one or both legal parents die? Extended family members could claim rights to bring up the child. “A child can only have two legal parents,” says Marisa Allman, solicitor and co-author of 4
Luckily the four of them had strong communication already. Sue had been friends with the dads for years, and they had spent a long time in discussion. However it goes to show that all the
issue 2 Summer 2013
How to… 4 Children and Same Sex Families: A Legal Handbook (Family Law, 2012), “but there is no limit on the number of people who can share parental responsibility. It’s not only parents that can have parental responsibility. If a parent is in a marriage/civil partnership then their spouse/partner can have step-parental responsibility. If they are not, then the other mechanism is a shared residence order. The same applies to any co-parenting arrangement with more then two people involved.” For Karen, for example, the birth-parents are on their respective child’s birth certificate and they gave the third parent in each case parental responsibility. So Dan and Ellie are on their son’s, and Karen and Dan are on their daughter’s birth certificates.
Contracts Putting things down in writing is really useful during the discussion process and can give you clarity later down the line, but it’s important to be aware that this is not a legal document. “Essentially a co-parenting agreement is no more than a statement of intent,” says Marisa. Although they may not be legally binding, the agreement would be taken into consideration in a court should you end up in a dispute later. There are also other benefits to the process of drawing one up. “It provides a clear record of what has been agreed for all concerned, people usually stick to something which they have agreed to because they feel they own the process, reaching agreement requires communication about essential issues and it sets the tone for co-operative parenting,” Marisa continues. That’s not to say you can’t achieve any of that without a co-parenting agreement, but it can make things clearer.
Marisa also points out, “(in a dispute…) the [potential] alternative is likely to be court proceedings which are stressful, expensive and involve a third-party making decisions for you that you have little or no control over.” You may be able to get a generic co-parenting agreement through your own parenting networks or by asking on online forums. Or you can get one drawn up by a specialist solicitor. You might feel that this is a waste of money since it’s not a legally binding document, but Marisa points out the merits of going to a professional: “A lawyer will make sure that all parties have considered all the potential issues which might crop up, can help to make sure that the agreement is capable of implementation and actually achieves what the parties want. Also if people change their minds later it is much more difficult for them to say they didn’t understand the effect of the agreement if they had legal advice.” She estimates that it would cost between £200-£500, which could be money well spent if it prevents litigation later. Exploring all of these areas will help you recognise and iron out any differences, building a strong relationship and foundation for your parenting journey. In How To… Co-parenting Part 3 we’ll look at conception and pregnancy. If you missed How To… Co-parenting Part 1, in issue 1, about finding your co-parents, you can order back copies from wearefamilymagazine.co.uk * Some names have been changed.
For further information Books Children and Same Sex Families, A Legal Handbook, by Anthony Hayden QC, Marisa Allman, Sarah Greenan, Elina Nhinda-Latvio, Her Honour Judge Jai Penna, Jordan Publishing, £55 Covering the legal perspectives of same-sex parenting, including gender recognition, parental responsibility and personal protection. Although this is written for legal professionals and covers all areas of same-sex parenting, it is accessible to the layman and laid out in such a way that you can dip in and out of it. It also refers to some really interesting case studies.
Website resources You can also find helpful resources on samesex families and co-parenting on the following websites: stonewall.co.uk prideangel.com co-parentmatch.com nataliegambleassociates.co.uk
Putting it on paper Once you start drawing up a co-parenting agreement it’s amazing how detailed it becomes. You can cover everything from conception, fertility treatment to pregnancy, the first five years, then school. Remember that your co-parenting agreement is a statement of intent only and it’s very likely things will not go exactly to plan. You could plan to review it after a year or two once you’ve settled into things. It’s impossible to cover every possible scenario but here are the important things to include: n Legal parentage: who will go on the birth certificate and who will apply for step-parental responsibility? n Financial responsibilities: how are these split? n Living arrangements: where will your child live and for how much time. n Parenting time split: who looks after the child and when? n Decision making and communication processes. n Schooling: deciding how your child will be educated. n Involvement of relatives.
u o y d l u o C ? d l i h c a t adop Adoption is a way of providing a new family for children who cannot be brought up by their own parents
ves r e s e D hild Every C a mily F r e v e r a Fo ed cially ne We espe in areas g n i v i l s . adopter Swindon g n i r e d r bo
We need adopters from all ethnic backgrounds to meet the needs of the children. Adopters can be single, married or in a partnership. 01793 465700 firstname.lastname@example.org adoptionswindon.org.uk
n Next of kin should one or all of you pass away. If you decide to draw up an agreement without a solicitor involved make sure it clearly states who it is between and make copies for each parent. Everyone needs to sign and date each copy along with a witness’s signature.
True Life Stories
True Life Story
Tim & Blaise
Words: Hannah Latham
Tim, 43, is Dutch and runs a personal dog service (grooming, walking, training and sitting), and Blaise, 46, is American and an international auditor. They live in Chiswick, London and are co-parents of baby Maisie. In issue 1 we heard Erin and Katie’s side to their gripping journey through discussions, IVF and two miscarriages to having Maisie, who just turned one. So how was it all for Pappa (Tim) and Daddy (Blaise)? Tim and Blaise had been together for five years before the subject of having children came up. Tim had been asked to be a donor before by good friends, so had already thought about it. “I never really believed in raising a child with two men and cutting out the mother,” he says. “For me personally that would not be an option. I have difficulty understanding why gay parents make the choice for their children to eliminate their biological roots. I think everyone has the right to know.” For Blaise parenthood hadn’t seemed an option. “I ruled it out because I’m a gay man. I felt I couldn’t commit seven days a week to it. If it was ever going to be an option it would have to be with the right partner. Tim has so many connections with kids through friends and family”. Tim already knew Erin through their membership of a group for LGBT bi-national couples who cannot be together in their own countries because of a lack of gay rights. Erin broached the idea of parenting and the two couples started getting to know each other and discussing it. “I knew it was right with Erin and Katie from the beginning,” says Blaise, “They have the same family and life values as us.” “We loved the idea of having an extended family and talked about that being the icing on the cake for our relationship,” says Tim. “Erin and Katie wanted to be the primary caregivers which fitted well.”
Photos (above, from left to right): Blaise and Tim with Maisie; at the hospital, Tim’s parents meet Maisie
With such a clear-cut idea of what they wanted, the discussion process was easy from Blaise and Tim’s point of view. They considered drawing up a formal agreement but decided against it. “You couldn’t put any of this on paper,” says Blaise. “Because we knew it was all going to go out the window.” For those who didn’t read Erin and Katie’s story, things did not go to plan. Erin wanted to have a child biologically but her egg reserves were critically low. Katie donated her eggs to Erin so she could still carry the child, but that didn’t work out
True Life Stories whereas he took to feeding her the bottle and burping her very naturally,” says Blaise. Blaise and Tim now take it in turns to travel down to Erin and Katie’s house in Portslade (near Brighton) one day a week and look after Maisie. They also spend weekends and holidays all together. “It’s important that we spend time together as a family,” says Blaise, “not just for Maisie but for all of us. The mummies get to talk through the sleepless nights and we get to experience her waking because she needs a cuddle. It’s good for us to experience that.”
either – two attempts at IVF failed and another took but ended in a miscarriage. Katie then decided to have IVF, despite not previously being interested in being pregnant. She conceived twins straight away, but then lost one early in the pregnancy. “You have a concept, a game plan,” says Tim, “and then you have to deal with disappointments, miscarriages. It becomes a journey for the four of you. It was not going to happen with Erin, which was really sad and we all felt her pain. However disappointing it was, it almost felt like we needed to go through this experience, this loss in order to grow closer.” It was always agreed that Tim would be the biological father.
The whole family recently all went on holiday to New York. “We felt this was a real turning point,” says Tim. “Trust needs to be developed,” Blaise continues. Maisie has her first overnight stay in London without her mummies in a few weeks. “I’ve learned you cannot force it,” Tim says, “Communication is key but also difficult as we are not in a ‘traditional’ relationship. It’s a strange feeling at times. We’re dealing with all different dynamics; friendships, relationships, primary care-givers, extended-family, and we are still getting to know each other. There is no manual and it remains a learning curve. To me being able to communicate feelings is the art of life. Maisie has brought us all together. Putting all of our needs second for her to blossom is golden. Erin and Katie are excited she’s spending the night with us.”
“I knew it was right with Erin and Katie from the beginning,” says Blaise, “They have the same family and life values as us.”
“It was about bringing a healthy child into the world,” Blaise explains. “I don’t need to feel a biological connection.” Tim and Blaise offered as much support to Erin and Katie as they could. “We were there when they wanted us. We went to the clinic, picked them up when they asked. Equally we were always happy to take a back seat.”
Despite being very much involved, Tim and Blaise have no legal rights as far as Maisie is concerned. Going through a fertility clinic meant that Tim is seen as a donor and Erin and Katie are on the birth certificate as legal parents. Everyone was happy with this setup. “Of course if anything happened to Erin and Katie, we’d have Maisie in a heartbeat,” Tim says.
Tim and Blaise both agree that co-parenting for the four of them has and continues to be a great success and for them as a couple it’s been the most incredible life-changing, emotional and beautiful experience.
Eventually the joyful day came and Maisie arrived. The journey had already brought the two couples closer as a family. “We were holding her within an hour of her being born, which was amazing,” says Blaise. “Erin and Katie were constantly asking us to visit. We hadn’t expected that. I was overwhelmed with joy that we were part of that right from the beginning.” The foursome spent regular time together, getting to know Maisie and feeling their way around parenting for the first few months; getting through the trials of having a newborn. Blaise fell into it instantly, taking to nappy changing straightaway. Tim found this difficult at times, “It took a while for that to not feel too intimate. I guess it was a biological thing,” he says. Katie had difficulties with breastfeeding. They explored many possible solutions including getting a breastfeeding expert in. In the end they decided to take the pressure off, and switched to formula. “Tim had issues with the nappies,
issue 2 Summer 2013
Out in the Open campsite Lower Dacum Farm, Porkellis, Helston, Cornwall
When Dee and Cath set up an LGBT family campsite for the solar eclipse in 1999 it was meant as a one-off. But Out in the Open has been going strong ever since as the only LGBT family campsite in the UK. Campers come from all over the UK and Europe to soak up the community atmosphere and moorland views. Pitches are small-scale and
Glamping it up
Stock Gaylard Estate Yurt Holidays Sturminster Newton, Dorset.
with Style The Garden Studio Lyme Regis, Dorset.
If you have been used to stylish holidays as a gay singleton or couple then why change the habits of a lifetime with the arrival of junior? Futher Afield offer a collection of gay owned and gay friendly places to stay, with ‘gay family friendly’ venues ranging from villas in Greece to pubs in the Lake District. One of their most popular places with gay and lesbian
spacious and it’s friendly, safe, quiet and secluded, with clean facilities, a cosy barn, communal BBQs and a dog exercise field with agility equipment. Only 15 minutes walk from Porkellis village there’s easy access to a choice of two coastlines and attractions, such as The Eden Project. Facilities included: hot showers, indoor washing up, freezing freezer packs, bike storage, use of electric sockets, sports equipment and games.
£11-13 per person per night, minimum booking two nights, children under three free. 01326 340627, outintheopen.co.uk
These beautiful yurts are on a huge estate, comprising 1,800 acres of farmland, oak woodland and deer park. It’s a great spot for wildlife lovers, with foxes, roe deer, barn and tawny owls and butterflies and birds in abundance. The yurts are arranged in two groups of three with two separate bedrooms and a communal kitchen/lounge area and are kitted out with solar-powered lighting, bed linen, duvets, pillows, rugs and kitchen equipment. Sleeping eight to 10 they’re perfect for the kids and co-parents or for two families who want to holiday together. You can have an organic food box delivered, take lessons
couples with their first baby is the Garden Studio in Lyme Regis, a small but perfectly formed throwback to the 50s and 60s. Clever interior design has transformed this single storey, one room, open plan, ultra stylish self-catering studio which is easily and quickly configured for day or night time use, ideal for couples with a baby or small child looking for a design classic in a scenic setting. The owners have travelled with small children and have thought of everything to make
WAF verdict: Great for gay-friendly family camping.
in yurt building and enjoy moonlit BBQs cooking venison from the estate’s herd of deer. Choose the east-facing yurt to catch the sunrise or west-facing for long, lazy dinners watching the sunset. Open April to September, prices start from £460 for a week. 01963 23511, stockgaylard.com
WAF verdict: Great for camping in comfort amongst the birds and the bees.
your stay as easy as possible, including a special blackout tent for the large cot so you can still enjoy the evening while the little one sleeps undisturbed. How thoughtful is that? From £195 for two nights. furtherafield.com WAF verdict: Classic and comfy in a picture-postcard setting.
Something for everyone Brighton
capital. The City of Brighton and Hove is a magnet for LGBT people, attracted to its bohemian atmosphere and thriving, diverse scene. Voted one of the top 10 city beach break destinations in the world, Brighton and its pebble beach are legendary and, with the famous pier, great shopping, daytime café culture and night-time funky beachside clubs it’s an absolute must visit any time of year.
Legends Hotel and Bar, overlooking the pier, is a large, friendly gay hotel with reasonably-priced accommodation and a busy events schedule. visitbrighton.com
Since mass tourism began in the middle of the 19th Century, Brighton has been known as London-by-the-Sea; for many years it’s also been Britain’s unofficial gay
For the active family Old Maid’s Cottage Lee, North Devon
The luxuriously renovated Old Maid’s Cottage, which dates from 1765, offers heaps of history together with a modern, airy atmosphere. It is perfect for either couples or families (it can accommodate up to six people sharing and there’s no extra charge for cots or high chairs), the self-catering cottage is just a stroll away from the heart of the charming seaside village of Lee and within easy access of the beautiful north Devon coast.
WAF verdict: Brilliant shopping, super cafés and the kids will love the pier!
Nearby Woolacombe and Ifracombe have lots of shops and bars if costal walks, cycle tracks and horse riding are not your thing. Exmoor National Park is just a short drive away. Mini breaks from £484.25. oldmaidscottage.co.uk
WAF verdict: The perfect base for activity holidays.
Get your boots dirty
yourself in front of! Accommodation ranges from basic to luxury: bring your own tent or rent one of their tipis or yurts depending on your needs and your budget (but always, always book in advance!)
Wowo Campsite, Uckfield, East Sussex.
Recommended to us by We Are Family magazine readers, the family and dog-friendly Wowo campsite is just 30 minutes from both Gatwick and Brighton. Very much geared towards active kids, with mud slides, rope swings and lots of different areas to enjoy within the five
Basic camping from £10 per night (Kids over four £5, under three free) wowo.co.uk
large fields. There are plenty of trees to climb, moats and a stream to explore plus campfires to warm yourself around or dry
WAF verdict: Perfect for kids, but probably not the ideal holiday destination for a romantic weekend!
issue 2 Summer 2013
Girls allowed Walking Women (countrywide)
Home from home
Sykes Cottages (countrywide) Holiday cottage specialists Sykes Cottages insist that all the properties they offer (and there are more than four thousand to choose from around the UK) are LGBT friendly: many of them are dog and family-friendly too. All Sykes Cottages are personally inspected, and 25 years of experience means you can choose with confidence. I’ve personally booked half a dozen holidays with them over the years, and my husband, our dog and I have never once been disappointed:
Leave the kids at home Alva House Edinburgh, Scotland
issue 2 Summer 2013
Based in York, Walking Women organise walking tours and holidays around the UK and further afield, ranging from easy access tours for women looking for a gentle break to high level walks exploring some of the UK’s mightiest peaks. Whether you prefer gentle walks or adventure, creature comforts or economy, most tastes and levels of fitness are catered for. Walking Women make wonderful walks more accessible, with unpressured walking in beautiful scenery, or challenge and adventure if you prefer, with attractive and affordable places to stay to suit a range of tastes. And most of all, it’s about the fun and stimulation
of walking with a group of other women! walkingwomen.com
WAF verdict: Everything from sedate strolling to rock climbing.
quality cottages in great locations and all furnished to a high standard. With everything from beachside holiday homes to classic country cottages, they should be your first choice for a successful cottage holiday. sykescottages.co.uk/ gay-friendly-cottages. html
WAF verdict: With so much to choose from you’re bound to find the perfect holiday home.
Alva House is Edinburgh’s only guesthouse run exclusively by and for gay men – and just the place for a short city break in Scotland’s capital if you’ve been lucky enough to find someone to look after the kids! With a range of rooms to suit all budgets, owner Martin has gone for an eclectic mix of the old and the new, with stripped wooden floors and sleek modern furniture along with traditional features including original cast iron fireplaces. Clean, friendly and affordable, rates include a continental breakfast buffet (available until midday; handy if you’ve overdone things the night before), and the Alva is within walking distance of many of Edinburgh’s major attractions, as well as the city’s bars (including my personal favourite, the Regent) and nightlife.
From £49 per night for two people. alvahouse.com
WAF verdict: Great for romantic couples on a budget.
3 # e u s s I in p U Coming “Our journey to fatherhood… Exclusive to
We had to tie the knot in two countries to have our son.”
Yotam Ottolenghi Successful chef, restauranteur, TV personality and author and his civil partner Karl tell their story: through co-parenting to IVF to finally finding success using a surrogate in the USA.
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issue 2 Summer 2013
We’re all going on a
Summer Holiday Whether you’re heading abroad or staying in the UK, we’ve got your family’s beach kit covered
This bold REGINA STRIPE PLAYSUIT 6 from Week-end à la Mer has a bow detail on the shoulders and coral, guava and white horizontal stripes for a fresh, fun look. Perfect for holidays or just playing in the garden, the breathable, soft cotton fabric will keep little ones cool in the heat! £20, miloetmimi.com
Your kids need to be equipped for the vagaries of British weather. These wonderful raincoats from The Nautical Company are fully-lined with a striped jersey cotton, just like you see them in Brittany. Beautifully made, suitable for boys and girls from age 3 to 8 years and available in pink, baby blue and dark navy blue. 6 £39, thenauticalcompany.com
6The HAPPY NAPPY is the most essential item in your baby’s swim kit: as most swimming pools and lesson providers in the UK insist that part of your baby’s swimwear is skin-tight to contain potential leaks. Made of 1mm supple, stretchy neoprene and finished with super-soft, snug-fitting, deep bands of fabric with a high rubber content, the Happy Nappy has no ties, Velcro or elastic but it works! Can be worn with or without a conventional swim nappy (a liner is advised for ease of cleaning). £12.99, maison-bebe.com
issue 2 Summer 2013
6These versatile PANAMA OLIVE STRIPED SHORTS from Oobi Baby & Kids can easily be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. The pale olive stripe ensures the shorts are easily co-ordinated and the soft linen-look fabric is very comfortable. Perfect for day-to-day wear or for smarter occasions. £32, miloetmimi.com
Holidays Summer’s here! What better way to celebrate than to enjoy a picnic with the family? Home and garden retailer Wilkinsons has a great value range of stylish picnicware, ideal for alfresco dining. Our favourite, the Wilde range, comes in bold black, white and teal shades and starts at just £1.50 a piece. HAMPER, £25 wilko.com 6
Perfect for Britain’s changeable climate, outdoor clothing specialists Regatta have a range of ponchos, such as this SKYLIGHT PONCHO,4 made from waterproof Hydrafort polyester printed fabric which packs away into its own front pocket and converts into a bag with a hanger loop. Versatile and comfortable to wear and ideal to take anywhere. From £25, regatta.com
New from Trunki, PADDLEPAKS are a range of water-resistant backpacks specially designed for little explorers. They will prevent damp swimming gear making everything soggy after trips to the pool or beach, and will keep contents inside dry on rainy day trips! The perfect partner for days out, school and trips to the beach or pool. £19.99, trunki.com
These versatile and fun pale blue and pink check JOKER BERMUDA SHORTS, from Week-end à la Mer, come with an elasticated waistband and popper fastening. Made from 100% cotton, the shorts are comfy and easy to crawl or toddle in, and will easily mix and match with t-shirts and tops in your little one’s wardrobe. Perfect for summer days and especially for fun times on the beach. £32, miloetmimi.com
Onya produce a range of innovative, practical solutions to reduce the social and environmental impacts of our throwaway culture. We love the clever Onya Lunch: perfect for picnics, there’s no need to cover food in disposable clingfilm to keep it fresh and delicious, simply wrap it with your reusable super-strong ONYA LUNCH. Ideal for re-wrapping that half-eaten sandwich for later. £6.50, onyabags.co.uk
issue 2 Summer 2013
Photo: Tanya Hazell
Words: Darryl W Bullock
It’s 41 years since the UK’s first official Gay Pride Rally took place in London on July 1, 1972. The event marked the third anniversary of the Stonewall Riots – the series of demonstrations by members of New York’s gay community against a police raid that took place at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, sparking the launch of the worldwide gay liberation movement. That first rally followed small-scale marches which had taken place in the capital in 1970 and 1971. Although it was only attended by around 2,000 people, it set in motion a movement which would eventually see dozens of Pride festivals taking place around the world every summer: this year alone there are more than 50 events planned to take place in the UK!
Those early events were primarily about fighting for our civil rights, establishing an international gay movement and demanding our voice be heard in the world. However, today Pride is more party than politics, celebrating the hard-fought rights we have earned and marking how far the acceptance of LGBT people has come. It’s also a chance for us to stand as a community with LGBT people around the world, especially those living in countries where the struggle for gay rights is far from over. More and more events are latching on to how important it is to be both inclusive and family-friendly. Says Kath Smith, chair of this year’s Blackpool Pride: “Blackpool Pride Festival will promote inclusion, equality and diversity. Pride events primarily target an LGBT audience but we also want to engage with their families and people of all ages.” Kath is not alone in her desire to promote the pride message to families and friends. Tony Skeate, chair of Essex Pride, tells We Are Family magazine: “Essex Pride is about inspiring our community to embrace equality and, with the support of many local organisations and businesses, to show that we can join together with thousands of friends to celebrate diversity.” Identical twins Mat and Jon Price, already nominated for a Prince’s Trust award and a National Diversity award, are organising the first Totnes Pride, to be held this
issue 2 Summer 2013
September in the Devon town. “As gay children growing up in a small rural village we both know how isolating it can feel to be LGBT identified and have little access to those of the same community,” the twins tell us. “We felt it was time to bring Pride into rural areas where LGBT people are at most risk of feeling isolated and invisible.” Many Pride festivals struggle for funding, and are put together by a dedicated team of volunteers for love, not money, as Daryn Carter of Bristol Pride explains: “Bristol Pride has been growing year on year and brings thousands of people to the city, boosting the local economy. But most people don’t realise that, unlike some festivals and events in the city, we are not funded by anyone. We work hard as unpaid volunteers to put Pride on and to keep Pride a free event for all to attend and enjoy. “Family attendance at Pride is so important and it’s something we are keen to keep growing. Last year we introduced a dedicated family area and we are continuing that this year with a range of activities at the festival. We see a lot of LGBT parents bringing their children to Pride and we want all families to know that they are welcome. It’s a great family day out but, more importantly, there is the opportunity to educate all ages to help overcome prejudice and, in particular for young people, to install an understanding of equality and acceptance of diversity that they will carry with them through life.” Here’s our guide to this year’s Pride events, along with a selection of some of the most family-friendly ones taking place. The We Are Family team will be out and about over the summer, possibly at a Pride event near you! Why not come and say hello?
Blackpool Pride Festival, 8-9 June at the iconic Winter Gardens in the centre of Blackpool. Free entry and there’s a variety of fantastic entertainment, information services and an LGBT market place, restaurants and cafes. blackpoolpridefest.com Essex Pride, 22-23 June, in Central Park, Chelmsford. Essex Pride is a free annual celebration of LGBT life in Essex and inspires the community to embrace equality. essexpride.org
sex couples with children. Kids danced around the main stage, played on the bouncy castles, inflatable slide and in the activity area. blog.prideinplymouth.org.uk North Wales Pride, 26-27 July at Hendre Hall, Bangor. Camping will be available along with various information stalls and top act entertainment. Families are welcome, with lots of children’s activities. northwalespride.com
Bristol Pride Festival, 6-13 July: an exciting week of comedy, dance, theatre, film and more across Bristol. Pride week culminates in the free Pride Day Festival on Saturday 13 July in Castle Park. pridebristol.co.uk Sparkle in the Park, 13 July in Sackville Gardens in Manchester’s Gay Village. The National Transgender Celebration includes live music, refreshments, stalls and an exclusive family/young people’s area. sparkle.org.uk Bourne Free, 12-14 July. Now in it’s ninth year, Bournemouth’s annual event includes a themed carnival parade, loads of entertainment – including Rylan Clarke of X Factor and Big Brother fame, and a massive street party for families. bournefree.co.uk Still in its youth, Gay Family Pride, 1921 July at the Barnswood Scout Camp near Leek in Staffordshire. This small, intimate camping weekend is ideal for LGBT families with kids who enjoy bouncy castles, outdoor activities and arts and crafts. gayfamilypride.co.uk
Pride in Plymouth 20 July. Following the success of last year’s first proper outdoor celebration. 2012 attracted over 1,500 people, and many same-
Norwich Pride, 27 July. The 5th Norwich Pride will be the happiest birthday party the city has ever seen. There will be lots of familyfriendly activities – stories, crafts, bubbles, picnic, music, dressing up, face-painting as well as a parade. Everybody welcome. norwichpride.org.uk
Manchester Pride, have always held an LGBT Family Fun-day in Sackville Gardens, in the city’s Gay Village, in the run up to the Big Weekend (August 2326). Keep an eye on their website for further details. manchesterpride.com Reading Pride, 31 August, is a celebration of integration and diversity throughout the Thames Valley. The parade starts at 11.30am, and the festival fun from noon at King’s Meadow Park, Napier Road. More info at readingpride.co.uk Proud2Be Project launches Totnes Pride, 14 September, aimed at all local LGBT people and their friends, families and supporters. This new annual event will feature live music, food and drinks, workshops and stalls for local community organisations as well as a dedicated children’s and young people’s area, put together with help from Rainbow Families South West. proud2beproject.org
Birmingham Pride, 25-26 May. Includes a star studded main stage, cabaret marquee, dance arena, community village green, funfair and market. For the latest information join their Facebook and Twitter pages. birminghampride.com
Wolverhampton and Black Country Pride, 28 July. A fun day out aimed at the whole family with various stalls, celebrities and music. For more information visit wbcpride.co.uk
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a Sum mer (and Autumn)
May 2, As One In the Park (London): facebook.com/AsOneInThePark
bournefree.co.uk July 13, Bristol Pride: pridebristol.co.uk July 13, Sparkle in the Park, sparkle.org.uk July 19-21, Family Pride Festival (Leek, Staffs): gayfamilypride.co.uk July 19-22, L Fest Womenâ€™s Festival (Uttoxeter Race Course, Staffs): lfest.co.uk
May 25-26, Birmingham Pride: birminghampride.com
July 20, Northern Pride (Newcastle): northern-pride. com
June 1, Bradford Pride: facebook.com/pridebradford
July 20, Pride in Plymouth: blog.prideinplymouth.org.uk
June 1, York Pride: yorkpride.org.uk
July 20-21, Hull Pride: pridehull.co.uk
June 8-9, Blackpool Pride: blackpoolpridefest.co.uk June 8, Oxford Pride: oxford-pride.org.uk June 15, Pride Scotia (Edinburgh): pride-scotia.org June 16, Calderdale Pride (Halifax): calderdalepride.org.uk June 22-23, Essex Pride (Chelmsford): essexpride.org
August 24, Cornwall Pride (Truro): cornwallpride.com August 24, Walsall Pride: walsallpride.org August 24-26, Manchester Pride: manchesterpride. com August 31, Cardiff Mardi Gras: cardiffmardigras. co.uk
July 22, Huddersfield Pink Picnic: huddersfieldpinkpicnic.com
August 31, Grimsby Pride: grimsbypride.co.uk
July 26-27, North Wales Pride (Hendre Hall, Bangor): northwalespride.com
August 31, Leicester Pride: leicesterpride.com
July 27, Norwich Pride: norwichpride.org.uk July 27, Nottinghamshire Pride (Nottingham): nottinghamshirepride.co.uk
August 31, Milton Keynes Pride: mkpride.org.uk August 31, Reading Pride: readingpride.co.uk August 31, Herts Pride (Watford): facebook.com/HertsPRIDE
August 3, Brighton and Hove Pride: brighton-pride.org
September 1, Sunderland Pride: sunderlandpride.co.uk
August 3, Liverpool Pride: liverpoolpride.co.uk
September 1, Barnsley Pride: wearebarnsley.com
June 29, Doncaster Pride: doncasterpride.co.uk.
August 4, Swindon and Wiltshire Pride: swindonpride.org.uk
September 14, Derbyshire Pride: derbyshirepride.org.uk
June 29, Swansea Pride: facebook.com/SwanseaPride
August 3, Herefordshire Pride (Hereford): herefordshirepride.co.uk
September 14, Totnes Pride: gaycornwall.com
June 29, London LGBT & Community Pride: pridelondon2013.com
August 4, Leeds Pride: leedspride.com
September 28, Preston Pride: prestonpride.com
July 6, Belfast Pride: belfastpride.com
August 11, Wakefield Pride: facebook.com/wakefieldpride
July 6, Sheffield Pride: sheffieldpride.co.uk
August 17, Tonbridge Pride: facebook.com/tonbridge.pride
June 22, Gloucestershire Pride (Gloucester): glospride.org.uk
Here are comprehensive listings of Pride events across the UK for the 2013 season. All details correct as of May 2013. Several events, including Glasgow and Lincoln were still to confirm details as we went to press. Please check to confirm an event is still going ahead before you decide to go!
September 29, Warrington Pride: facebook.com/WarringtonPride October 5, Cumbria Pride: cumbriapride.org
July 12-14, Bourne Free (Bournmouth):
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CAN YOU CARE FOR A CHILD?
Middlesbrough Fostering & Adoption Services Need You Interested?
Contact Middlesbrough Family Placement Team
01642 201962 firstname.lastname@example.org Log on to: www.middlesbrough.gov.uk/fostering www.middlesbrough.gov.uk/adoption
Tackling homophobia in schools Stonewall improves mental health of LGB youth across the UK Words: Jess Duncan, Education Assistant, Stonewall
How many times have you heard the word “gay” used as an insult? Back in 2007 Stonewall found 98 per cent of gay young people heard the phrases “that’s so gay” or “you’re so gay” in school. Ninety seven per cent of pupils hear other insulting homophobic remarks, such as “poof”, “dyke”, “rug-muncher”, “queer” and “bender”. In response, and with the vital support of Stonewall supporters and charitable trusts, Stonewall produced a DVD for secondary schools in 2010. FIT – a feature film started life as a highly successful play for schools. FIT tells the individual stories of six young people who think that all they have in common is dancing. The story follows them as they battle through a minefield of exploding hormones, awakening feelings and homophobia as they attempt to fit in, stand out, discover their own identities and accept each other. Sent to all 4,500 secondary schools across Britain in 2010 it is now a staple of Stonewall’s educational materials for secondary schools. Rikki Beadle-Blair wrote, co-produced and directed the film. “I decided to do FIT because of how important it could be and the potential value of it. I didn’t realise how well it would go – the response was overwhelming and it was just the most absorbing experience. Stonewall are such an inspiring group to work with,” says Beadle-Blair. The School Report 2012, a survey of more than 1,600 gay young people, demonstrates the encouraging results of this work. Levels of homophobic bullying have fallen by 10 per cent since 2007 and the number of schools saying that homophobic bullying is wrong has more than doubled, to 50 per cent. The main aim of FIT was to tackle homophobic bullying, but its success was down to appealing to a wide audience. Beadle-Blair explains the film’s ethos: “FIT is pro-people. Even for people who have issues with diversity, I wanted to respect that and show how complex human responses can be. I wanted the most homophobic person or the most nervous teacher to watch the film and to see some good in it.”
FIT was so successful that since its premier at the Curzon Theatre in London in 2010, it has since been screened at the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival and at over 60 film festivals across the globe. Stonewall’s next film project is for primary schools this time. FREE, will also be directed by Rikki Beadle-Blair. “FIT was a phenomenal success and raises important themes around respect and celebrating difference without feeling like a preachy educational resource. We get lots of emails from young people who want to buy the film because of its entertainment value. While we still have some way to go to eliminate homophobic bullying in schools, engaging and interactive teaching resources like this really help,” says Stonewall’s Head of Education, Wes Streeting. Visit www.stonewall.org.uk/education for more information on Stonewall’s work and how you can get involved.
And the next project is…
Any parent that’s had their child come home from school in tears knows that the school playground can be a tough place to spend your formative years. Stonewall’s School Report 2012, found that the rate of homophobic bullying of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people has decreased to 55 per cent, down 10 per cent from 65 per cent. But for the two in five gay young people who have attempted or thought about taking their own life directly because of bullying, this is not an issue we can afford to be complacent about. FREE is a ground-breaking new project from Stonewall for pupils aged 7 to 11 in primary schools across Britain. This work will build on the success of FIT, Stonewall’s widely celebrated feature film for secondary schools that was praised by The Times as “a kind of gritty take on shiny E4 drama Glee.” Stonewall has developed considerable expertise in primary education. Specialists have engaged over 10,000 primary schools with the charity’s ‘Different Families’ materials. Stonewall’s education team also work closely with primary school leaders and teaching staff to produce age-appropriate, relevant and interactive materials that work in the classroom. Stonewall reports that primary school teachers they work with have lamented the absence of a similar product for primary schools. FREE is an effort to plug that gap. As adults, we can digest and respond to research and reasoning. But how do we go about talking to children about accepting difference and celebrating diversity without boring or patronising them? Talking to primary school kids with sensitivity required a different tack. Mark, 8, knows a thing or two about dealing with difference in the playground: “Sometimes they say ‘everybody’s got a dad, he must be dead’ or something. I say no, ‘he’s not dead, I’ve got a donor dad.’ Sometimes I get teased by them calling my dad a donut dad. They say ‘I know what gay means, it’s two naked men dancing around on a boat.’.” Rikki Beadle-Blair directed Stonewall’s first educational DVD for secondary schools back in 2010, and he’s working on the charity’s new project for primary schools. The film will focus on four different characters and examine themes like friendship, difference, being yourself, anti-bullying and, of course, different families, including same sex parents. Rikki said: “The main
message is that everyone belongs in this world and in the school system. The message of this film isn’t about sexuality, it’s about freedom and promoting the fact that children can be what they want to within the structure of morality and kindness. The film focuses on celebrating diversity – it’s exciting and inspiring.” But how do we know that primary school children have any interest in talking about equality? Rikki spoke to a wide range of children in focus groups. He said: “Speaking to 8 and 9 year olds, they wanted to be spokespeople for equality. They loved that idea and they wanted me to make a film about them being themselves. Every classroom I visited, class after class, again and again, they wanted me to make a film about being yourself.” Research conducted for Stonewall in 2009 and 2010 by YouGov and the University of Cambridge found that homophobic bullying is one of the most common forms of bullying in primary schools. Worryingly, while nine in ten primary school teachers believe that schools have a duty to tackle homophobic bullying, the same proportion stated that they had not received training to do so. Stonewall’s Head of Education, Wes Streeting, said: “We want to distribute the film to every primary school in Britain – over 20,000 schools in England, Wales and Scotland. There are over 2.5 million children aged 7 to 11 who could potentially benefit, not to mention the millions more than will follow them thanks to the longevity provided by a DVD.” To get the cameras rolling and the DVDs printed and distributed, Stonewall needs to raise £250k. The charity will be relying on donations to make this project possible. If you would like to donate and watch clips of FREE visit: stonewall.org.uk/free or phone 0207 593 1856
Girls will be girls Words: Emma Bagley
Sophie* is playing in the living room with her dolly. She moves her from the beloved pink buggy to the powder-pink play tent. At two years of age Sophie’s favourite clothes are her tights and dresses. Her favourite colour is unashamedly pink. Is this a Barbie commercial from the 1980s? No, it’s my front room in 2013. As a mum who has witnessed improved equality rights over the last 30 years it’s all inherently confusing. The best part of the 1970s saw the second wave of feminist protest and the advent of gender equalities. Pay laws and equality in the workplace gave women a voice that would be harnessed in wider dayto-day living. Yet if we look at where we are today, how much has gender stereotyping moved on? I invite you to look in any catalogue or TV advert. You’ll no doubt stumble upon some degree of gender stereotyping. Girls in pink dresses and boys in blue shorts. Girls doing faux household tasks and boys running around with guns and cars. These gender stereotypes didn’t always exist. According to historian Jo Paoletti, who wrote Pink and Blue: Telling the Girls From the Boys in America (Indiana University Press, 2012) for centuries children were dressed in white for practicality – they could just bleach all their clothes together to get them clean again. So practicality came before what we would today perceive as fashion choices. Imagine the joy of being able to wash kids clothes all on the same cycle? The worry of colours bleeding from dark to light wouldn’t register. Moving on in time we see some interesting developments. Around the time of World War One parents adopted the convention of dressing boys in pink and girls in blue: pink was a diluted form of red – a strong, masculine colour. Parents followed very different conventions to those we use today, but history has a funny habit of repeating itself. Will we come full circle and demand boys wear pink again soon?
Should I worry that her self-image will be impacted by allowing her to wear too many pastel shades, frilly dresses and dainty shoes? The reality is that she is drawn to, and loves wearing, pink dresses. Modern society seems to be stuck in a schism of moral-colour-panic. As a mum I worry that allowing my daughter to wear pink will somehow imprint stereotypes or behaviours. Should I worry
Parenting that her self-image will be impacted by allowing her to wear too many pastel shades, frilly dresses and dainty shoes? The reality is that she is drawn to, and loves wearing, pink dresses. When she wakes up in the morning she helps make decisions about what she wears. As a child she is comfortable in what she is wearing. After all, when her two mums love wearing tracksuit bottoms, jeans and trainers (and very little pink), is this such a bad thing? At least she is exploring what she likes rather than us forcing our tomboy culture onto her. There are studies on gender stereotyping in pre-school age children. Prof Diane Ruble of New York University coined the term PFD (Pink Frilly Dresses) phenomenon, describing how pre-school girls go through phases of gender association that impact on what they want to wear. Girls construct and form their own views of what their gender should look like and take social cues to help them. This can start before the age of two, with an increased interest in pink, for example, and continue as they get older and are able to vocalise their preferences. Between the ages of three and four, girls start to show how they have mastered their gender by being “girly”. This is said to subside by around six years old with more flexibility in behaviour, and most children believe both boys and girls can do most activities. Whilst there is research on gender stereotyping and children’s clothes, there is little about the impact on a child being in a same-sex parented family. As people we are affected by the world around us. Our personal lives can be impacted by big issues such as gender and race; big things that we have no say over when we are born. We are also effected by, amongst other things, social policies and social norms. So whatever world we are born
into affects us. Wider society helps construct who we are. Yet for LGBT families we have a brave new world. There are fewer conventions or norms. Society doesn’t quite yet know how to handle us. There aren’t enough studies to show how our children are being impacted by gender stereotyping within our families.
Pink Stinks aims to make positive changes in how products are marketed to, and represent, girls. How are people responding to gender stereotyping in the meantime? The organisation Pink Stinks works to prevent the more extreme gender stereotyping that can occur on the high street. They want inclusivity for girls and boys. Founded by sisters Abi and Emma Moore in 2008, Pink Stinks aims to make positive changes in how products are marketed to, and represent, girls. Their current campaign Slap! looks at make-up marketed as suitable for children as young as two or three. Pink Stinks wants companies who sell make-up to take more corporate responsibility over what they sell. In the shopping world there are retailers who are making conscious decisions to offer consumers a less gender stereotypical shopping experience. Web-based Neutral Baby sells clothes for infants. Irish web retailer Slugs and Snails sells tights for boys (see pages 9 and 36 for more information and to win one of five pairs). Polkadotpatch is a US supplier of gender-neutral clothes. I’ve talked about toys, clothes and make-up. Is there anything else more radical, that as parents we could be interested in knowing about? Listen to what the Swedish school Egalia is doing. This groundbreaking state funded pre-school gives children the opportunity to explore their environment and use toys without gendered expectations and uses gender-neutral speech, so when referring to people, they don’t use him or her, but a neutral word instead. As we can see, gender identity and stereotyping is still the hot potato it was several decades ago. As parents we clearly have choices over how we nurture and guide our children. Academics have looked at how pre-schoolers are pre-disposed toward specific colours. Pink Stinks and some retailers are leading the way in positively challenging the norm and offering parents another option where they want it. Whether we end up going the Swedish way and following Egalia – only time will tell.
For further information
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Little Mr and Little Ms
Gender neutral clothes and kit that’ll suit boys and girls alike THE GRUFFALO 5 Based on the popular children’s book character, the Gruffalo® range is perfect for little ones looking to get involved in the garden, and was an instant hit when it launched last year. Colourful, comfortable and manufactured from quality materials, the Gruffalo® range puts the emphasis on letting children have fun outdoors, whatever the weather. From £3.99, briersltd.co.uk
Designed for urban living, 5 BOYS&GIRLS 4 is a bright, brilliant combination of stylish, practical and affordable kids clothes made from fairly-traded and organic cotton, and designed with play in mind. Catering for kids from 1 to 10 years, the collection includes refreshingly easy styles for boys and girls with an emphasis on great unisex pieces that are perfect for all types of play. From £11, boysandgirlsshop.com
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6 HAPPY HOPPERZ There’s great excitement at the Happy Hopperz HQ, with the launch of their white bull and the return of their super cute panda: these new additions are guaranteed to add a lot of bouncy fun indoors and out this summer. One thing’s for certain, the white bull and panda prove there are no grey areas when it comes to fun! £21.99, happyhopperz.co.uk
Parenting 3POCO NIDO 4 Sheffield-based Poco Nido make these wonderful lo-rise toddler wellies with colours and patterns designed specifically for either sex. Being lo-rise makes them easy to get on and off and offers better manoeuvrability: packaged in a reusable cotton bag, the fun cat or owl designs run from infant 4 to infant 10. £20, poconido.com
TIGHTS FOR BOYS 4 Slugs & Snails produce quirky designs in bold colours that will make your little one stand out from the crowd. Their tights also offer quality and comfort, made from a secret special combed cotton which is flexible and soft and using yarns and manufacturing processes which are free of any harmful substances or chemicals. Ivor Spider and Hampton designs, €12.99 per pair, slugsandsnails.ie
Win a pair of Slugs & Snails tights! See page 9 3THE
DIDICAR WALK ‘N’ RIDE This ingenious baby-walker is like no other: it encourages independence at an early age, giving children the chance to wander freely with the reliability of a strong, stable structure to support them. What’s even better is when they have mastered the art of walking, the Walk ‘n’ Ride turns into an incredibly addictive ride-on. £34.95, kindtoys.co.uk
Polarn O. Pyret clothing 4 is known across the world for being both durable and non gender-specific so parents get value for money as clothes are handed down from brother to sister and vice versa. Branching out from their iconic stripes but still making an impact with simple patterns this season with Animal Antics Bodysuit, £14.50. and Sweet Treats T-Shirt from £12.50, polarnopyret.co.uk.
For your chance to win £100 worth of Polarn O. Pyret clothes see the competition on page 10.
This LONDON UNDERGROUND TUBE TENT, 6 officially licensed from Transport for London, pops up in seconds and will provide endless fun for kids aged three and above. The tube tent features its own ticket office, tunnel and play area. It is also waterproof, fire retardant and has UV protected fabric, meaning kids and their friends can play and sleep in their own underground station for as long as they want. £59.99, themonsterfactory.com
issue 2 Summer 2013
Paul and Barrie:
Our Adoption Journey
When we told our families and friends that we are trying to adopt they were not surprised. You see, when Barrie and I met online in 2001, I was 38 and already in a long-term relationship. He was a 19-yearold college student who hadn’t come out to his family yet. So this was just another bombshell.
It started when Barrie told his family he’s gay, he’d met me, I was twice his age, and that he wanted to live with me. They found it very difficult to come to terms with his sudden revelations and communication with them broke down. At the same time, I walked out of my previous, quite destructive, relationship. My ex told all our friends that I had been cheating on him for years (a few knew the boot was firmly placed on the other foot!). For about a year most friends kept their distance. My family were convinced that leaving a long-term relationship to live with a teenager meant that I was having a massive mid-life crisis and that I was only one small step away from having a ponytail, a medallion and an open-top sports car.
In 2003 we had a commitment ceremony and it was then that Barrie first brought up the idea of adoption and becoming a family. I was a little worried that a guy who was barely 21 was having thoughts of settling down, but also flattered and amazed that he had enough confidence in the strength of our relationship to share his desire. He had no interest in the gay pub/club scene, preferring instead to stay home and study to become a teacher: his dream job. I respected that and made no secret of the fact that I too had been yearning for a family. We decided that, when we were ready, we would give it a try. In 2008 we had a civil partnership ceremony. Then Barrie qualified as a teacher in 2010. I found a great job, working mainly from home, as the administrator for a holiday company (with great perks!), and now we live in a town house in a quaint town in the South East. Over the years we have talked many times of adopting, but it was only recently that we found ourselves in the emotional and financial position to go ahead with our dream. So in May we called our local adoption services and attended a very informative prospective adopters meeting. We came away with our minds set. We thought briefly about other options but knew adoption was the right route for us and so booked onto the four day preparation course, which we hope will give us a really good insight into the highs and lows of being adoptive parents.
One good thing was that Barrie and I had loads of time to devote to each other. We discussed our pasts, our hopes and dreams for the future and, as a result, created a strong foundation on which to build our life together.
True Section Life Stories
in your 50s
Interview: Darryl W Bullock
We Are Family readers Andrew and Iain are a couple in their 50s living in a small, rural community in Wiltshire. They foster Steven*, 10, whose disruptive behaviour led to problems at home and school. This is Steven’s first time in care and he is the couple's first long-term placement. We talked to Andrew and Iain about their experiences as foster carers.
Iain: It always interested me. I knew I could never have children but felt that I had a lot to offer in terms of support and understanding. I had been going through the process as a single man, but then Andrew and I met up again (they had known each other previously). Andrew: I wanted kids too, and had been quite involved with my nieces and nephews. When Iain and I got together we were told that we would have to wait two years to make sure our relationship was stable before we could apply as a couple. There were never any issues about us being older (Andrew was 50 when they started the process and Iain was 48). I: Some of the parents who’s children were to be fostered might have had an issue with us being a same-sex couple. Strangely enough Steven was given to us because we're a same-sex couple: the understanding I could be was that two men were dealing with Steven and better suited to deal with this particular child. Andrew walks in and wants We’ve had that before: to pipe in; it’s good to have a people have said it's a positive as some kids saying like ‘have you checked can manipulate male and on the chickens?’ which actually female couples against each other. Sometimes means ‘shut the f*** up’! they don’t have respect Always show a united front, for women because of the environment they’ve been even if you want to kill brought up in. With Steven it each other. doesn’t even come into his head that we’re a same-sex couple. A: Often when you go to an agency as opposed to a council you get kids with more challenging behaviour, or older ones - the kids that the council can’t place... I: We knew that, but didn’t really appreciate what the difference was. We decided to use an agency and were quite open to what age child we would be offered, but because I’m a smoker we couldn’t have any under-fives. We don’t smoke in the house, but that’s the rule. Boy or girl, we weren’t bothered. A: We did respite fostering initially so we’d had some experience with kids of different ages. It's like a holiday for those kids: they can be on their best behaviour. We were warned that one kid was very difficult, and were told to fasten the bookcases to the wall, remove ornaments, but he was fine. He was hyper: he didn’t sleep. Respite fostering gave us a bit of an idea about what we would be dealing with. What it didn’t prepare us for was the day-to-day; if you’ve got a kid for a week or two there’s an end in sight but it’s different when you have one long-term.
issue Spring 2 Summer 20132013
True Life Stories I: When you take on a kid you don’t think about the little things. You can’t stop for a coffee when you’re out and about; kids don’t want to do that. You spend a lot of time in soft-play centres! A: The rewards come from small things: with Steven the look on his face when you tuck him in at night, or his wanting to sit next to you on the sofa. Seeing him chat with people in the village and achieving little things he’d never done before, like sledging or talking to a horse.
I: The same with rules: in respite fostering you can tell them that you’ve been told that they have to have their bath at a certain time, to go to bed at a certain time, but when you’ve got a child with you longer term it’s your own rules. If you don’t get it right at the beginning it’s hard to implement rules later. A: Kids are very good at remembering. ‘Oh, you let me do that last time...’ I: You have to be consistent. It's good to have a key word or sentence that you can use between you. I could be dealing with Steven and Andrew walks in and wants to pipe in; it’s good to have a saying like ‘have you checked on the chickens?’ which actually means ‘shut the f*** up’! Always show a united front, even if you want to kill each other. In front of the kid you have to go along with each other. They pick up on a lot.
I: Steven’s doing great at school now. It’s early days, but he’s showing great potential – considering how much school he’s missed. He’s a bright kid, he just needs reassurance and clear boundaries. We got him into swimming: he hated it at first because he had major body issues, but now he loves it. Every Saturday morning he comes out of the pool beaming! This is not the same boy that a report was written about a year ago. A: Everybody in the community has been really supportive. We only moved here a month before we got Steven. Everybody likes him. We had another child with us for respite fostering recently and Steven was brilliant: he took on the big brother role. It was great for both of them.
*Names have been changed to protect identities.
A: Initially one kid didn’t want to go out at all, he didn’t want to go to school, all he wanted to do was play computer games and not communicate with us or his social worker. I: He wouldn’t shower, he wouldn’t walk the dogs; he wouldn’t put his shoes on to go out... he was in his own world. Even if you sat with him he wouldn’t communicate. A: He hadn’t been in care before and didn’t want to be here. He was going to a safe place: if I don’t engage with the outside world then it’s not happening. I: He was withdrawn at home before, and he’d been verbally and physically aggressive. His family couldn’t cope. At school he would act out big time: if he didn’t want to do something then he wasn’t going to do it. But he’s not like that now. He’d never been taught the importance of doing his school work, but he’s got so much potential. He could do it, but he was scared of failure so he’d give up. There was no routine, no structure at home, and getting that structure, that nurturing is what they need. But he’ll never blame his family: he feels guilty that he’s having a better life... it’s all ‘I hate you, I want to go home’. They’re not fighting against you, they’re fighting against the world.
issue 2 Summer 2013
It’s not all
Childcare for under 5s: finding what works for you
Words: Steph Mann Photos: Katrin Hochberg therealyouphotography.co.uk Finding the right childcare setup is not always straightforward. It’s difficult handing our child over to anyone, whether for an hour or for a day, so finding a childcare provider that shares similar values, morals and ethics is of high concern to many parents. There are several things to consider, including state or private, funding, when and how to apply, opening hours, teaching styles and meals. And as LGBT parents we may have added anxieties around how our families will be represented in the day-to-day care of our children. Some questions to ask include: 1) Are you all-inclusive? Are you sure your policies don’t discriminate against LGBT parents? 2) Do you have educational materials accessible to the staff and children that represent my family? For example books or puzzles showing same-sex parents? 3) Do your staff undergo diversity training? If not, why not?
issue 2 Summer 2013
4) Do you answer questions if children ask about someone having two mummies/daddies? If so, what do you say, and if not, why not? How do you make this age appropriate? 5) Do you encourage role-play in all forms regardless of gender; for example not assuming mummy stays at home whilst daddy works? 6) Do you have any policies in place to address homophobia should it arise? If so what are they? If not why not? There are many kinds of childcare available, from full or part-time places in council-run or private nurseries, to crèches, playgroups and child-minders. There are a wide range of opening times, charges and different approaches to the way your child spends their time and is supported to develop. Council-run nurseries in England work to the Early Years Foundation Stage (like the National Curriculum for under 5s), emphasising healthy communication and language development, and physical, personal, social and emotional development. In Scotland, the Early Years Curriculum for Excellence develops skills through active, experiential learning with play. 4
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Some funded nurseries may be open outside of term-time and let you spread your funded place throughout the year at less hours per week. “I prefer owner-run nurseries, says Clare, from Edinburgh, who has Ruby, 2 and Ellie, 7. “It’s a business – they care about the children and staff.” Deciding to put your child into nursery can be difficult, especially if it’s a forced decision due to returning to work (the case for many of us). Some worry that children under two don’t get enough individual attention and may be less socialised. Some studies confirm this whilst others prove the opposite. It comes down to you as a parent. Look at facilities, ask lots of questions, and ultimately if your child settles in well and comes home happy, chances are they are thriving.
4 Some private nurseries will loosely follow these approaches, while others have a different focus. Steiner (or Waldorf) nurseries emphasise free play in natural environments, and Montessori nurseries focus on independence, freedom within limits and respect for natural psychological development. If you work and pay for childcare you may be entitled to tax credits to help with costs. If you are employed you can apply for Childcare Vouchers: you pay for childcare out of your pre-tax and NI income. Benefits can actually be pretty good. Some council nurseries offer funded places, but they will likely be for short hours during term-time so may not cover all your childcare needs. Some funded nurseries may be open outside of term-time and let you spread your funded place throughout the year at less hours per week. In England government-funded Sure Start Centres are free and open to all children between 1-5. Families need to consider which type of provision is right for them. If a nursery doesn’t provide day-long care a child-minder (they’re Ofsted registered) can drop off and collect your child from nursery if you work. They will also be there if your child falls ill at nursery and you can’t leave work. A child-minder is also a full-time option. You pay them direct but you can get childcare vouchers to help with the cost. If you want your child to go to a certain school, see if it has a nursery attached as this may help.
issue 2 Summer 2013
So how do you find a good nursery or childcare place? Word of mouth is very helpful. Ask friends – they may have recommendations. Search online. Many nurseries have websites including their Ofsted reports. Check your local council website: they often have contact details, so you can phone and book an appointment. Once you have found two or three you like, visit them. “Look beyond the toys and walls: they may be a little aged, but if the children are laughing and the staff involved, this is much more important,” said Lynn, from Glasgow, mum to Jacob, 4.
Children aged 3-4 get 15 hours free “early education”. From September 2013 the government in England plans to extend this to some of the least advantaged 2 year olds (20%, rising to 40% by 2014). Some nurseries don’t accept children under 3, others take them from infancy. However, having a child in a nursery already doesn’t mean they will get a funded place when they turn 3, so check first. If you’re working, single or a student you may be entitled to extra financial assistance. Employers may offer childcare vouchers.
When to apply…
This varies. Some facilities have such long waiting lists you may need to register your bump! Look at what’s available locally. If a place is good demand will be high, and you will need to get on the list ASAP. You can normally register before your child’s third birthday. Get in early and know the admission criteria. Applications will vary. If it is a local authority nursery attached to a school you can apply directly to the school. Other nurseries take applications online, in person and on paper. Have all your child’s information ready, such as allergies and dietary needs. The application process can take some time, and varies.
10 questions to ask before enrolling at a nursery 1. Ratios: What are they and will they be changed with the regulations in September? 2. Prices: What are they for each age group and how often are they reviewed? Do they accept vouchers? 3. Staff: How experienced/qualified are they? Do they change often? 4. Food: Is it provided, what is provided, when and where from? What are the drinks? How is eating encouraged? Do you have a set policy on food? 5. Education: What is taught and how? How does this differ for each age group?
Settling in So you’ve found a place you like… Now what? Are they allowed to take toys they’re attached to if they get upset? How will staff settle them/deal with separation anxiety? This is all worth knowing – there is nothing worse than leaving an upset child. But if you know how they’ll calm your child, it will be easier all round. You can explain what’ll happen, helping the transition. Other issues worth considering are whether they charge if you are late picking up or dropping off. Some nurseries are flexible, others are not. Also what food do they offer, and what about allergies? Ask about first aid training (most staff will be trained). If your child has a particular condition staff need to know. You may need a doctor’s prescription for medication. The best way to find a good childcare facility for your under 5 is to see what you can afford, look at different ones, talk to friends and ask questions. Remember criteria may be different in England, Scotland and Wales.
Steph Mann is a journalist passionate about LGBT equality and rights. She lives in Scotland with her civil partner, Claire, with their two children, Ethan, 6, and Phoebe, 3. Follow her on twitter @stephother
6. Routine: What is a normal day? How much free play versus planned activities do they have? Do they go on trips outside of the setting?
For further information
7. Behaviour: How is this monitored? Do they have a positive behaviour policy?
To apply by postcode: local.direct.gov.uk/ LDGRedirect/index.jsp?LGSL=12&LGIL=0
8. Information and feedback: What is supplied and how often? For example daily sheets/online/parents evenings?
Student childcare grants: gov.uk/childcare-grant/ overview
9. Medication: Will they administer Calpol/antibiotics if required? 10. Supplies: Are nappies/wipes provided?
See if you qualify for extra childcare costs: hmrc.gov.uk/taxcredits/start/who-qualifies/ children/childcare-costs.htm Sure Start Centres: gov.uk/find-sure-startchildrens-centre Charity supporting nurseries to be positive places for children of same-sex parents: www.outforourchildren.org.uk Association for child-minders in England and Wales: www.pacey.org.uk Child-minders in Scotland: www.childminding.org Childcare vouchers: childcarevouchers.co.uk Nurseries/Ofsted reports: www.findmyschool. co.uk UK Government nursery curriculum: gov.uk/early-years-foundation-stage Scottish curriculum for Excellence: www. educationscotland.gov.uk/thecurriculum/ whatiscurriculumforexcellence/index.asp
45 issue 2 Summer 2013 45 issue 2 Summer 2013
veggie Summer Feast Food
We’ve created a full summer menu for you that’s also vegetarian, nutritious and something the kids can get involved with. Pizza is always a winner and this one is a little more sophisticated than most. We’ve paired it with a healthy salad. To accompany we have a summer punch which is delicious as it is or fab with a little gin or rum for the adults. It also goes down a storm as a sweet sauce on ice cream. Enjoy! Mark Evans is a chef best known for putting Bristol’s vegetarian Café Maitreya on the culinary map. Twice named ‘Restaurant of the Year’ by the National Vegetarian Society and winner of the Observer food monthly award for Best Vegetarian Restaurant in 2007, Café Maitreya was part of a renaissance in vegetarian cuisine. Mark has recently moved on from Café Maitreya and opened café/restaurant Tierra Kitchen in the heart of popular Dorset seaside town Lyme Regis, serving exciting vegetarian dishes such as avocado, carrot and pistachio sandwiches with cranberry relish, seven vegetable Catalan stew with smoky paprika, orange and red-wine and Dorset Red cheese, pistachio and parsley croquettas with tomato and chilli relish. Using the best local, seasonal and organic produce to create flavour-packed dishes with a European twist and offering great coffee, juices and homemade cakes
and pastries. If you’re in the area why not pop in for lunch or dinner? There’s a weekly-changing menu of original dishes and twists on classics with Spanish, French and North African influences. You can also enjoy sampling a range of tapas-style or smaller dishes, complemented by a carefully chosen wine list. Find out more at tierrakitchen.co.uk
Buttery cheese and tomato mini-pizzas Flaky pastry is a great way to create a jazzy pizza which doesn’t need any more than some nice cheese and fresh tomato. These simple to make mini-pizzas are adored by children, who can get involved in rolling out the pastry and adding the toppings. Makes 6 mini-pizzas. Preparation time: 20 minutes. Cooking time: 12 minutes
Equipment Rolling pin, flat baking tray lined with baking parchment.
Ingredients 500g ready-made all-butter puff pastry 100g Cheddar cheese, grated 120g cherry tomatoes, cut in half, or 3 small to medium tomatoes, sliced Flour for rolling out the pastry.
Method n Pre-heat oven to 180ºc (350ºf), gas mark 4. n Roll out the pastry to 2-3mm thick. n Using a 12cm diameter round cutter, or a similar size bowl, cut out 6 pizzas and place on your lined baking tray. Tip: Use the offcuts by carefully layering them together to keep ‘the fold’ of the pastry: this ensures the layers of butter and pastry bake evenly and upwards. n Make circular indentations with your index finger 1cm in from the edge of the pastry all the way round. This creates an inside area to place the topping and ensures the outer edge puffs up. n Arrange the chopped tomatoes in the inside area of the pizzas, then sprinkle with cheese. n Allow the pizzas to rest for ten minutes before baking (or refrigerate and bake later). n Bake for 10-12 minutes until the outer edge is puffed, crisp and golden.
Spinach, strawberry and feta salad with honey and cracked pepper dressing The combination of super-fresh crisp spinach, sharp juicy strawberries and salty full-flavoured feta is a marriage made in heaven! The honey and cracked pepper is a nice sweet dressing which brings out the best of all the flavours. If your kids aren’t keen on spinach try substituting it with sweet varieties of lettuce. Serves 4. Preparation time: 15 minutes. Equipment Hand blender (optional)
For the dressing (serves 6 generously) 1 tbsp grain mustard 1 tbsp honey Juice of ½ a lemon ½ tsp cracked/fresh-milled pepper Pinch sea salt 1 tbsp water 100ml rapeseed oil For the salad 200g loose leaf spinach, washed and dried
250g fresh strawberries, washed stalked and cut into halves
150g feta cheese, cut into 3cm thick strips
Prepare the dressing n Whisk together (or whizz with the hand blender) the honey, mustard and lemon juice until smooth. n Slowly add the rapeseed oil a little at a time (like a mayonnaise) so the dressing becomes smooth, glossy and stays together. n Finally add the water (to loosen the dressing a little which improves the texture) and the cracked pepper and sea salt. Prepare the salad n Simply toss all the ingredients together and serve as soon as possible, with the dressing.
Strawberry, elderflower and lemongrass punch This simple fresh punch has all the floral sweet flavours of early summer and is a real hit with adults and children alike. It also offers the perfect opportunity for a family adventure to source your ingredients. You’ll find elderflower trees growing wild in graveyards, parks and the local countryside: all you need are scissors and a bucket for collecting. To gather fresh strawberries look for local pick-your-own farms at: pickyourownfarms.org.uk You can add a little rum or gin to make a more adult summer punch. Best made 4-5 hrs before serving.
Serves 4-6. Preparation time: 1 hr. Chilling time: 3-4 hrs.
An attractive bowl for serving.
Ingredients 500ml water
75g caster sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
500g strawberries, washed, stalked and halved
2 blades lemongrass, cut in half lengthways and then into 2cm strips 6 elderflower heads, washed, with trimmed stalks and leaves
Bring water and sugar to the boil.
Stir until the sugar has dissolved then allow to cool until warm but not cold (approx 45mins). Add the lemon juice and lemongrass.
Transfer to the serving bowl, add the strawberries and elderflower heads. Cover and place in fridge to marinate for 3-4 hrs.
Serve as a drink, dilute with fizzy water, or this thick sweet punch also makes a nice sauce on ice cream.
issue 2 Summer 2013
Faith and Sexuality From what we hear in the press the Catholic Church does not have a positive relationship with the LGBT community. We hear from Ruby Almeida, who chairs Quest, supporting lesbian, gay and bisexual Catholics.
f you have a faith and know your sexuality, irrespective of what it is, there is a need to know that both are mutually supportive of each other. Great news if you are heterosexual, though somewhat a challenge if you see yourself as defined under the umbrella grouping of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ ). Certainly Quest has been a significant presence amongst the LGBT community of Catholics. What the Church has not felt able to do openly and unquestioningly, Quest has done quietly, consistently and unquestioningly. For 40 years we have offered pastoral support through prayer groups, spiritual retreats, social events, friendship, and via Linkline our free telephone helpline.
Having cordial though discrete links with many priests, Bishops and, dare I say it, Archbishops, Quest is able to go about doing the work for which the LGBT community thirsts and hungers. But, why bother fighting what many say is a thankless task? Why not walk away to another more welcoming church or faith group? Well, it is like being a member of a dysfunctional family. It is your family no matter what. Biology dictates that, to disown of it is to disown oneself. So, the discussions, debates, arguments continue with the hierarchy for it to recognise, acknowledge and understand the needs of its family members. And in the process we continue to grow and flourish in faith and in our sexual being. How times have changed. Today, it is so much easier, but by no means perfect, to be able to lead a fulfilled life as a member of the LGBT community. Laws are enshrined, and the provision of goods and services make it difficult to discriminate against LGBTQs. By the same token, in the not so distant past if you said you had
a faith that you practiced, no one blinked an eye. Not so any more. God forbid if you said you had a practising faith and were also gay! You might as well be a two-headed monster. Gay Catholic seems to be a bit of a tautology for so many people. And yet that is exactly what we are, gay and Catholic. The Church as an institution has much that it needs to answer for. But there are so very many individuals within it, good people both male and female, who support and recognise the needs of its LGBTQ community. It is this knowledge, knowing that the goodness and love of Christ is manifested in our religious, which keeps us firm in our belief that we are all God’s children. So, we as Catholic LGBTQs all need to be witnesses to God’s love. And if that means that by doing this we are a thorn in the side of the hierarchy then so be it. It is just a shame that man continually disposes what God proposes. To
paraphrase two great orators of our time ‘the dream continues in which we can’ all be equal not just in the eyes of God, but also the law and in the eyes of the hierarchy of the Church.” Quest supports lesbian, gay and bisexual Catholics across the UK. questgaycatholic.org.uk
Do you want to start your family? Interested in adopting or fostering?
Are you an adoption or fostering agency Issue 1 of looking for We Are Family potential magazine was an LGBT parents? adoption and
Inspiring true-life stories from LGBT adopters, a historical look at how much easier it is for LGBT people to apply, step-by-step guides to the application process, attachment disorder explained, recommended reading, hints and tips and extensive listings of agencies across the UK. Essential reading for anyone in the LGBT community looking into adoption or fostering. A useful resource for agency waiting rooms and open days.
There’s never been a better time to think of parenting. Recent changes have made it easier for lesbian, gay and bisexual people to become parents. Stonewall’s plain English guides for men and women are invaluable if you don’t know where to start. Join us now and help us continue this vital work. Become a Friend of Stonewall at www.stonewall.org.uk/donate or visit www.stonewall.org.uk/parenting to find out more about our family work.
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What team do you bat for? Words: Darryl W Bullock From the Olympics to football to tennis: charting the history and successes of LGBT sportsmen and women
Photo: Chris Brown
Photo: UK Home Office
Photos: below (clockwise from right) Gareth Thomas with David Cameron, Nicola Adams, Lee Pearson
here’s no denying that 2012 was a fantastic year for UK sports fans, with the massive success of the London Olympics and Paralympics, Bradley Wiggins’ phenomenal cycling triumph in the Tour de France (where he became the first Brit ever to win the coveted yellow jersey), and show-stopping tennis performances from Andy Murray (the first British man to win a Grand Slam in 76 years) and golfer Rory McIlroy. And that’s only scratching the surface. In 2012 British sportsmen and women showed the rest of the world that they were a force to be reckoned with. It was also the year that LGBT sports people finally came into their own. Former Welsh International Gareth Thomas became gay rugby’s poster boy, a national celebrity thanks to appearances on Celebrity Big Brother and Dancing on Ice, and a beacon of hope for young gay men because of his work with LGB charity Stonewall. The London Olympics saw success for boxer Nicola Adams, who became the first woman and first openly LGBT person to win an Olympic gold medal in boxing and who later topped the list of The Independent’s most influential LGBT people in Britain. Out gay dressage champion Carl Hester won gold for Team GB, as did paralympian Lee Pearson, a 10-times paralympic games gold medallist who has won six worldchampionships, three European titles, and is the most decorated out gay sportsperson in the world. Claire Harvey, openly gay, was team captain for Team GB’s women’s sitting volleyball team at the 2012 Paralympics. LGBT people have always had a place in sport, but until relatively recently they’ve been forced to keep their sexuality secret – certainly during
issue 2 Spring Summer 20132013
Otto Peltzer, a German track hero of the 1920s, held the national record in eight different events, was world-record holder for three middle distances, and captained his country’s Olympic team in 1928 and 1932, yet he was vilified and jailed by the Nazi regime because of his sexuality. Against the odds, Peltzer survived the Mauthausen concentration camp and would eventually move to India, coaching in the National Athletics Stadium in New Delhi and founding the Olympic Youth Delhi Club, renamed the Otto Peltzer Memorial Athletic Club in his honour. Justin Fashanu, Britain’s first £1million black footballer, became the first professional football player to come out in 1990. Fashanu suffered years of abuse from fans as well as from colleagues and was publicly disowned by his brother John. In 1998, after an incident in which he was accused of sexual assault (the case never went to court), Justin committed suicide. The Justin Campaign was established a decade after his death to fight homophobia in football.
player without any major problems.” But it is just possible that this hero may have finally emerged: in 2011 Swedish league player Anton Hysen, son of former Liverpool player Glenn Hysen, revealed in an interview that he was gay and in February Robbie Rogers, the US football player who until then had been playing for Leeds United and who had won 18 caps for his country, told the world that he was stepping away from the game Caster Semenya runs a victory lap. after announcing that he Until French international was gay. In a statement footballer Olivier Rouyer he issued on his website, came out in 2008 (after his Robbie wrote: “For the “Homosexuality in football is a retirement from the sport), 25 year I have been Fashanu had been the only taboo subject. Any discrimination past afraid, afraid to show professional footballer in the whom I really was because world to disclose that he was is totally unacceptable but a gay of fear. Secrets can gay: despite efforts to tackle player would fear the reception cause so much internal homophobia within the damage. People love to sport (and its supporters) he gets from fans. My general preach about honesty, how he is still the only British impression is that other players honesty is so plain and professional footballer Try explaining to to have come out. Late would accept a gay player without simple. your loved ones after 25 last year the Manchester any major problems.” years you are gay. I always United goalkeeper Anders thought I could hide this Lindegaard, writing for a secret. Football was my Danish betting website, escape, my purpose, my identity.” said: “Gay people need a hero. They need someone who dares to step forward and stand for their sexuality. Homosexuality in football is a taboo subject. Any Tennis has many high-profile LGBT personalities: discrimination is totally unacceptable but a gay player international superstars Billie Jean King and Martina would fear the reception he gets from fans. My general Navratilova both came out in 1981, for example, but impression is that other players would accept a gay four years before their headline-grabbing confessions
issue 2 Summer 2013
their professional careers. In 1976, after being outed by a German newspaper and confirming his sexuality at a press conference during the Innsbruck Winter Olympics, ice-skater John Curry became the first out LGBT sports person to compete at the Olympics. He went on to win gold, to be awarded an OBE and to win the title of BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Sadly John died at the very young age of 44 from an AIDS-related heart attack.
Photo: Janus Bahs Jacquet
Trans player Renée Richards successfully sued the US Tennis Association for the right to play. Renée, who transitioned in 1975, previously played as Richard Raskind and had been a finalist in the 35-years-andover US Championship. Initially banned from playing as a woman after refusing to take a gender test, she played and lost the women’s doubles final to Navratilova and later coached Martina to two Wimbledon titles. More than three decades later gender testing would rear its controversial head again: who can forget the furore caused by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) decision to test South African runner Caster Semenya, accused of being a man after her gold-winning performance at the IAAF World Championships in 2009? After years of indifference things are starting to change, especially in football, where national and international groups are taking positive action to change the attitudes of people on the terraces and on the pitch. Football V Homophobia (FvH) is an international initiative opposing homophobia in football. Endorsed by the British Football Association (FA), the campaign aims to tackle prejudice against LGBT people and is
“After years of indifference things are starting to change, especially in football, where groups are taking positive action to change attitudes.”
Above: a synchronised swimmer concentrated on his moves. Below: the Bristol Bisons celebrate victory.
the UK’s largest campaign to tackle issues around homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in soccer. Yet on an international level homophobia is still an issue: LGBT pressure group All Out are currently lobbying FIFA, football’s international governing body, to act formally against Nigeria’s unofficial ban on lesbian players. The International Gay and Lesbian Football Association (IGLFA), founded in 1992, represents over 80 teams from more than 20 countries around the world, supporting local clubs and teams as well as heading the coordination of football at the Federation of Gay Games. In June this year the IGLFA Euro Cup will be hosted by the Dublin Devils and the Dublin Phoenix Tigers in Eire.
Sport Outside the professional sphere LGBT sport is big business. In almost every major city of the UK you will find gay football or rugby teams, LGBT tennis networks, walking, badminton and cycling groups, swimming teams and more. Although the macho world of professional football may like to deny the existence of LGBT players, there are dozens of amateur LGBT football teams, many play in the Gay Football Supporters Network’s (GFSN) National League, the world’s only 11-a-side national football league for LGBT-friendly teams: including the Belfast Warriors, the Brighton Bandits and the Bristol Panthers. There’s an annual International Gay and Lesbian Squash Tournament, organised by OutPlay Squash, London-based group. Glasgow boasts a gay wrestling club, the Alternative Wrestlers. Then there are groups such as Outdoor Lads, who organise events – including Rugby in action: a young Bison dodges the opposition hiking, camping, canoeing and skiing – for gay and bisexual men who love the great Cup that took place in 2005. The last Union Cup, in outdoors, and GLUG (the Gay and Lesbian Amsterdam, attracted over 380 rugby players from Underwater Group), a non-profit SCUBA diving club for around Europe and visitors from across the world. LGBT divers and friends. With over 100 members, the group organises dive trips in the UK and overseas each “This is a prestigious tournament, bringing together 20 year, holds socials and takes part in London Pride. gay rugby teams, and a big event not just for the Bisons but for Bristol and the greater region. We are also aware of the issue of homophobia and transphobia in sport “LGBT people have always had a that deters people from taking part in sports. Sport has place in sport, but until relatively a positive impact in body and mental well-being and we that the legacy of the union cup will be more LGBT recently they’ve been forced to keep hope people taking part in sport.”
their sexuality secret.”
The Gay Games is the world’s largest sporting event organized by and for LGBT athletes. In 2014 the Games will be held in Cleveland, Ohio - and there are plans to bring the games to London in 2018. With over 30 sports and cultural events, Gay Games Nine will welcome over 11,000 participants from more than 65 countries. Held in Manchester last year (and actively promoted by straight rugby star Ben Cohen), the Bingham Cup is gay rugby’s premier international tournament. The trophy is named after Mark Bingham, an out gay US rugby player who died in the September 11, 2001 attacks. Mark was one of a group of passengers who fought with the hijackers aboard United Airlines Flight 93, which led to the plane crashing into an empty field instead of Washington, DC. At the end of May the Bristol Bisons, the city’s gay and gay-friendly rugby team, will host the Union Cup, the biennial gay rugby union tournament, which will bring teams from all over Europe to the city. The Bisons, who are celebrating their eighth year as a team, won an impressive ten out of thirteen votes from the Union Cup committee to bring the tournament to Bristol. As the team’s chairman, Michalis Sanidas, tells us: “The tournament has grown considerably since the first Union
For further information allout.org bisonsrfc.co.uk footballvhomophobia.com gaygames.org gaysport.info gfsn.org.uk glug.co.uk thejustincampaign.com london2018.info unioncup.com
issue 2 Summer 2013
2012 was a big year for LGBT sports, not just in the UK but around the world, with several high-profile international sportsmen and women deciding that the time was right for them to come out In July South African archer and Olympian Karen Hultze told online sports magazine SB Nation: “I am an archer, middle-aged and a lesbian. I am also cranky before my first cup of coffee. None of these aspects define who I am; they are simply part of me.”
Photo: Sandra Luna
Australian football player Jason Ball told Melbourne newspaper The Age that he was “It’s gay and that, although it had never been always been a problem for him personally, he was launching a campaign calling on important for me to the Australian Football League to really express who I am do more to tackle homophobia and live a full life and not in the sport. Lori Lindsey, be afraid. I’ve always lived American woman’s soccer star and Olympic gold medal an open life and been very winner (left), confirmed that she proud of who I am. I want was a lesbian in an interview younger LGBTQ girls and with online feminist magazine, Autostraddle, saying: “It’s always boys to see that.” been important for me to really Lori Lindsey express who I am and live a full life and not be afraid... I’ve always lived an open life and been very proud of who I am. I definitely don’t want to lose that and I want younger LGBTQ girls and boys to see that.” In October Orlando Cruz, the Puerto Rican boxer who competed at the 2000 Olympics and is currently the fourth-ranked featherweight in the world, became the first openly gay professional boxer in the sport’s history. “I have always been and always will be a proud gay man,” he said in a statement he released through the Associated Press. “I want people to look at me for the human being that I am. I want people to continue to see me for my boxing skills, my character, my sportsmanship. But I also want kids who suffer from bullying to 4
issue 2 Summer 2013
“Anything is possible. Who you are or whom you love should not be an impediment to achieving anything in life.” Orlando Cruz
Sport 4 know that you can be whoever you want to be in life, including a professional boxer, that anything is possible and that who you are or whom you love should not be an impediment to achieving anything in life.” Just two weeks later women’s basketball star and Olympic gold medallist Seimone Augustus announced her engagement to girlfriend LaTaya Varner. The intensely private Augustus, who had been out to her family since her early teens, chose to speak out ahead of a vote which threatened to ban gay marriage in Minnesota, her adopted state. Pleasingly Minnesotans voted in favour of same-sex marriage last November: Seimone and LaTaya plan to marry this summer.
“I know that I, right now, am the happiest that I’ve ever been in my life... A huge weight has been lifted.” Jason Collins
Stop Press! Just as this issue of We Are Family magazine was going to press, the world learned that Jason Collins had become America’s first openly gay professional basketball player. Collins, whose announcement received overwhelming support from around the globe – including messages from our own Gareth Thomas and a personal phone call from President Barack Obama – revealed he was gay in an article in Sports Illustrated magazine, becoming the first male professional athlete in a major North American team sport to publicly come out. “I know that I, right now, am the happiest that I’ve ever been in my life,” he told Good Morning America on the day following the article’s publication. “A huge weight has been lifted.” His announcement led to speculation that other professional sportsmen and women would soon follow suit, however not everyone applauded his honesty: “I don’t think football is ready,” said Hines Ward, a former player in the National Football League (NFL) and now a sports commentator for NBC. Sportswriter Chris Broussard told ESPN that he believed Collins was “walking in open rebellion to God.” Former women’s number one tennis player Martina Navratilova, who came out as a lesbian in 1981, called Collins a “game-changer” for team sports. She told Matt Lauer, presenter of The Today Show: “He is really leading the way in being the first majorleague player to come out. Most of all, he is going to save lives, there is no doubt in my mind. There is some kid out there who is not going to commit suicide because Jason is out.” Several of Collins’ team mates took to Twitter to show their support, and Billie Jean King, the former tennis star who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work promoting gay rights, said she was “thrilled” that Jason had come out. Photo: Jen Bladen
issue 2 Summer 2013
LGBT Sport interview
Megan Worthing-Davies Director of the Football v Homophobia campaign, Megan Worthing-Davies has previously worked as Head of Citizenship at a school in north London and for Amnesty International. Early on in her own football career she made the papers as the first ever girl to play for her school team: she now plays for Camden Town and is a Level 1 football coach.
Football Association (FA) has played an important part in publicising the work that FvH is doing,” Megan explains. “In 2012 they published a document Opening Doors and Joining In which outlined their action plan for LGBT people in football. FvH was included in the document as the FA’s chosen campaign: that helped to formalise our involvement. Although I think that there’s more they could invest financially in the campaign, they’ve been very positive in their support. “This year we’ve had 30 of the 92 professional clubs in England get involved in the campaign. In 2010 we had six! So there’s been an increase in the levels of engagement with professional teams but 30 is still only a third of the professional clubs that exist in the English leagues.
“There wasn’t a specific, clear and highvisibility campaign against homophobia and transphobia in football until Football v Homophobia came along,” Megan tells We Are Family magazine. “The campaign came “I think it’s achieved a lot: it’s changed the nature of about in 2009, from a meeting between the key the debate around homophobia and transphobia in players around LGBT football, including the football in the UK. Last year we began running Justin Campaign, who took the initiative our training programme, doing educational and created the first ever Football v and training work with County Football “We wanted Homophobia Day. The idea was to Authorities around England. We’re now hold an international day to raise working with football fans too.” to make sure that awareness of the issues and it’s no one again ever has gone from strength-to-strength. to go through a similiar It originally ran on February 19th – Justin Fashanu’s birthday – and experience to Justin. We now we run it as a month-long, want football to welcome stand-alone campaign which LGBT people, create takes place alongside LGBT History opportunities within Month in February every year.”
The campaign’s goal, she explains, is simple: “We wanted to make sure that no one again ever has to go through a similar experience to Justin. We want football to welcome LGBT people, to create opportunities within the sport for them, and for LGBT people to get involved.
“I met some people from the campaign in 2010. I’d been working at Teach First (a charity that addresses educational disadvantage in England and Wales), working in challenging schools in London, but I wanted to take a break and also wanted to work in the field of LGBT rights. While working part-time at Amnesty International I found out about the Justin Campaign and that seemed perfect, so I joined and through that became director of FvH.”
You can sign up to the Fans v Homophobia network and join other football supporters in the campaign against homophobia and transphobia in football at footballvhomophobia. com
A campaign like this needs support, and FvH has some pretty big hitters. “It’s an international campaign, backed by Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE), which in turn is funded by UEFA (European football’s governing body). The
transgender child Part 1 Words: Harriet Doyle
Getting to know Squiggles “Mum!” Shouts my excitable 10-year-old, stampeding down the stairs of our tiny end-of-terrace house. He narrowly misses the dog and comes to a stop a few inches from my studio door.
At first we put Angelica’s destructive tendencies down to a lack of self-esteem and a traumatized early childhood. Soon, we realised that there was something else amiss.
Angelica was destroying every piece of femininity she could find, from her clothes to her toys.
His words are breathless, excited, slurred together. I smile to myself. “That’s nice, dear.” I chuckle. The excitement and challenges of starting a new school are a big deal for any child, and it’s moments like these which make the sleepless nights and tears at bedtime worthwhile. For my adopted son however, there’s an added level of complexity: he hasn’t always lived as a boy. He says one of his strongest first memories is of, at the age of five, trying to wee standing up in his foster carer’s home. But for us the first signs came when he joined our family as a scared and very angry seven-year-old girl. Angry, angry Angelica. Our social worker had warned us that Angelica and her sister were a handful. Aged six and seven when first placed with us, we had been told that it was a ‘last chance saloon’ for the pair. Years of neglect and self-hatred had made our Angelica angry and confrontational, while her younger sister hid behind a perfectly presented mask of total compliance and Disney-crafted fantasy.
issue 2 Summer 2013
Her foster carer hadn’t exactly been blind to the issue either. From the age of three – when Angelica went into foster care – she had been given free reign over what to wear and what toys to play with. As a consequence, Angelica had a wonderfully eclectic selection of dolls, cars, games and pretend sets. Being called a tomboy became a badge of honour, and within a few weeks of coming to live with us, Angelica had picked up a new nickname: Squiggles. We picked up where the foster carer left off, but noticed that Squiggles was avoiding wearing the few overtly girly outfits she had. And when it came to the end of the week, moaned about not having anything to wear. My wife and I investigated and found a pile of clothes stuffed at the bottom of the wardrobe. Under the bed lay what feminine toys she had. Crushed, broken, scribbled on. I’d had a busy week at work, and I wasn’t on top form. “Dammit Squiggles!” I remember ranting. “Why are you doing this? Don’t you like these? Do you feel like a boy or something?”
The last bit, added in despair, unlocked a door to my child’s soul. She furrowed her brow, hid her face and started to protest. Then I saw and heard something different. A change to her voice, almost relieved that I had finally figured it out. “Yes,” our son answered. n
Partners in Pride
“Did you know at high school you get a smart card like Mum has sometimes to get into work and you have to let yourself into school and you can put money on it for food in the morning and I’m going to have hot chocolate on cold days when it’s cold outside and I promise I won’t spend it all on sweets.”
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Proud 2 b Parents
Six years ago Matt Taylor-Roberts set up Proud 2 b Parents, a group for LGBT parents and their children in Manchester, offering activities, support and a sense of belonging. Here Matt tells Jess Rotas about the organisation, the people it helps and his plans for the future. What services/support does Proud 2 b Parents offer? LGBT parents are perceived within service delivery and society as either LGBT people or parents, but not both. Due to this ‘oversight’ LGBT parents’ needs are not being recognised and fully addressed. Therefore these parents and families can feel isolated and invisible within society.
Proud 2 b Parents meets once a month, but we do have various other activities throughout the year such as fun days, parties and events. The group tends to be based around an adult and toddler setting, though we do try and cater for older children with specific activities and sessions too. I am currently looking at developing the group into a service for LGBT parents-to-be, services for older children, and a centre for resources and training. I try to signpost families to relevant services to address any specific needs. I have good contacts with the Lesbian and Gay Foundation (a Manchester LGB charity) who have many services, such as counselling and legal advice.
“At first we had one mum… slowly, more parents have heard about the group and it has grown into a well respected service with around 100 families in contact with us”
How did Proud 2 b Parents come into being?
The group got started over six years ago now. When I first joined Sure Start (a government-funded organisation that supports families within targeted areas) I could see that there were no services aimed at LGBT parents. Being gay myself, and wanting children in the future, I thought it would be a good opportunity to set something up. I was able to do a community consultation to see if there was a need for the service. At first we had one mum who attended regularly. However, slowly, more parents have heard about the group and it has grown into what we have now – a well respected service with around 100 families in contact with us.
Is there much demand for such a service? photos: above Matt and Henry
opposite (top) Matt and Shaun at their civil partnership ceremony opposite (bottom) members of Proud 2 b Parents LGBT Parents Group in Manchester
The service is in great demand, however we don’t know how many LGBT families are out there as the information is not recorded by census or any other national body. Over the last two years there have been many more families getting in touch with Proud 2 b Parents, in particular LGBT parents from previous heterosexual relationships and those having children through surrogacy.
Community Tell us about the people/families who access Proud 2 b Parents We have many families attending the group, from regulars who have been coming from the beginning, to new families. The different events throughout the year draw in many more families and we often join up with others groups in the area.
What sort of queries do you get? We get people contacting us for various reasons. Anything from attending the group with their children, support for children whose parents have just ‘come out’, to support for people wanting to adopt or find a sperm donor. I hope that with the developments I am planning I will be able to support families and parents-to-be even more.
by a non-traditional family, thus making them feel less different or out of line with what surrounds them. Parents have also said that the group has made them feel more confident about the adoption process; that any problems that arise are manageable.
Are similar groups available elsewhere in the country? There are many groups similar to Proud 2 b Parents across the country. I am happy to signpost people to services in their area. However I will say with some pride that Proud 2 b Parents is still the only inclusive LGBT parents group in the UK.
What feedback have you had from parents?
For further information...
The service has been built on a parent-led model and I try to meet the needs of the group as they arise. Parents have said things like: “It is a great opportunity to meet other LGBT parents, share experiences, learn ways of dealing with things and not feeling alone in our voyage.” For the children it is great to play with other children who are being raised
If anyone would like more information about Proud 2 b Parents, or similar groups Matt can be contacted by email: email@example.com
Parenting community groups Across the UK Bristol Once monthly group for LGBT families with children under 5. For more information contact Grainne: firstname.lastname@example.org Calder Valley Calder Valley Lesbian Parents Group. Social group for lesbian parents and their children, and lesbians hoping to become parents. www.lesbianparentsgroup. com, 07704 568237. Kent Thanet: LGBT families meet-up. For further information contact Vikki on: 07900 858 482
Leeds/York Lesbian and Gay Parents in Leeds and York is a welcoming group who share experiences, meet-up and laugh! Join! www.lesbiangayparents.ning.com
Online Lesbian Mums on Facebook Like Lesbian Mums on Facebook 2012 for friendship, laughter and support on all things associated with being a gay mum. Dadsquared Changing the world one family at a time. Join DADsquared, the gay dad community at www. dadsquaredblog.blogspot.com or like us on Facebook www.facebook.com/pages/ DADsquared/171102599661333
Calling all LGBT social groups… Do you organise an LGBT parenting or parents-to-be group? Would you like to get the word out about it? We are offering a free 20-word listing to LGBT social groups across the UK. To get yours published in the next issue email a 20-word description with contact details and Community Groups in the subject bar to: email@example.com
Subject to availability.
issue 2 Summer 2013
Whether it’s a legal issue, relationship or parenting problem, we answer your questions We’re a lesbian couple hoping to start a family through donor insemination. We’ve joined a couple of matching websites and been in contact with some donors who seem to take their role suitably seriously but we’re hesitant to take things further and meet them. Firstly we’re planning to do the insemination ourselves and are worried about the STI risk. What if these men are not genuine and are trying to pass on some nasty disease? We’re also worried about half-siblings as we’ve read about sperm donors having hundreds of kids. We don’t know anyone who has gone down this route but we know many do without problems. Jenny and Kath, Worcester
Erika Tranfield says: It’s great to hear you are considering starting a family. More and more people are finding known donors through matching websites. There are advantages: it allows you to understand more about his characteristics and why he donates. Also many lesbian couples want their child to have contact with the donor. At Pride Angel we recommend that you take time getting to know your donor, firstly by communicating through a safe internal messaging system, before meeting. Then always meet in a public place and never go alone. At this stage you would discuss his role and how you’re going to conceive. Many donors are willing to go for STI testing. If he donates to you through a clinic, there will be a limit to siblings as by law he cannot donate to more than 10 families. A donor who donates outside clinics does not have a limit, however prolific donors tend to be the minority. Some keep track of siblings so that you may have information about them. Often, known donors from matching websites have less donor-conceived children, because they have chosen to donate directly to one or two couples only. With website matching services it is worth registering with one whom acts responsibly and monitors profiles. We do not allow donors who donate to more than 10 families, request natural insemination or payment (except expenses) or donors who wish to remain anonymous. We also have a ‘report abuse’ system, allowing you to report any donor you think is not genuine or abiding by our ‘code of conduct’. If you’re planning home insemination, there are important legal and health aspects needing careful consideration. I always recommend getting legal advice from a fertility solicitor and speaking to your GP about STI and genetic health testing. Although it is always worth being cautious, many people find a genuine donor and go on to have the families of their dreams. Note from editor: Another way to ‘vet’ your potential donor is to ask if any mothers of his donor children would be willing to talk to you or have email contact. Planning home insemination with someone you don’t know is a health risk, just like having unprotected sex with a stranger. Clear STI tests are not guaranteed protection unless you use donor sperm through a clinic. Getting a reference in this way will help reassure you that his intentions are genuine.
issue 2 Summer 2013
We have two sons; Max, who was born in June 2008 and Jake, born in September 2010. When Max was born we couldn’t put Clare’s (the non-biological mum) name on the birth certificate as a legal parent so therefore went through the courts for her to gain parental responsibility. When Jake was born the law had changed and we are both named as legal parents on his birth certificate. They were both conceived using the same anonymous sperm donor. A short while ago we looked into Clare adopting Max as we understand that that is the only way she can be his full legal parent for life as parental responsibility expires when he is 18. We didn’t realise until we had a meeting with the social workers that, by adopting Max, he would have to surrender his birth certificate to be replaced by an adoption certificate and would therefore be classed as an adopted child. All we were hoping for was for our two sons to has the same experience when discussing their origins as they were both born into our family which just happens to be made up of two mummies, and they both have the same donor and birth mother. Do you know of any way around this or anything we can do to confront the issue? We are of the understanding that when the law changed to enable us to put Clare as a second parent on Jake’s birth certificate that this could not then be done retrospectively for Max. It seems unfair and we’re not really sure why. Thanks Heather and Clare Whiteside-Knott Julia Thackray says: The short answer to your question is that, yes, the situation is different for your two boys. The law changed significantly in the time between the two boys being born and the changes to the law were not retrospective; they only applied to children conceived after a specified date (6th April 2009). The new law (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act) meant that for the first time it was possible for two women to be the legal parents of a child. For these new rules to apply the couple need to go for treatment together to have a child and there are a number of requirements which must be met for it to fully apply. It sounds as if in your case you met those requirements and so are both named on the birth certificate as parents for Jake. However, as with many families you find yourselves in the situation of the legal position relating to your older child being different. The law will very rarely make retrospective changes and so with Max you have the choice of granting parental responsibility for Max to Clare or going through adoption. You are right that in this kind of case (as is the case also for those in a step-parent role to a child) an adoption may seem less attractive on closer examination than it first seems.
The process can be quite lengthy and the question you face of whether you want Max to be classed as an adopted child (when he clearly isn’t) arises. For practical purposes Clare has all the rights and responsibilities for Max via the grant of parental responsibility, but in these circumstances there is no way of her becoming a legal parent other than by adopting. If the issues of having different situations for the two boys are troubling, you may want to try to find some support from others in similar situations. There is the Donor Conception Network which produces books and resources to support families of all shapes and many other support groups. In reality many couples have families in which the children have a number of differences for whatever reason; one may have a known donor and the other an anonymous one, one child may have been born in a previous relationship and so have an active relationship with a father and a second child may have an anonymous donor or, like you, it may be that it is the legal status alone that is different, but the children’s experience of family is very much shared. I hope that this clarifies the legal position and that you find the best way forward for all of you. Good luck. Erika Tranfield Erika Tranfield is cofounder of fertility matchmaking website Pride Angel. She has personal experience of donor conception and raising children within a lesbian relationship. She is passionate about helping single, lesbian, gay and infertile couples become parents through donor conception and co-parenting. Pride Angel is dedicated to matching sperm donors, egg donors and co-parents worldwide. Julia Thackray Julia is a family mediator and trainer in family law. She spent 18 years as a solicitor in London dealing with the financial and childrenrelated consequences of divorce and separation. She specialised in children cases involving complex legal issues, including same-sex parenting and international financial and cross border children disputes. She sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Family Law and Practice and writes and lectures on family law issues.
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Rites Section of Passage
Grandparenting at a distance
Travelling the globe to meet his granddaughter for the first time, Charles Neal reflects on his life journey; from marriage and fatherhood in the 70s, to coming out, then co-parenting with his partner I am going to New Zealand with my life partner, Jeremy, to visit our son, his wife and, most importantly, our granddaughter Frida, for the first time. Born nine months ago, contact so far has been on Skype: an improvement on letters, but second rate to skin-to-skin, faceto-face connection. We couldn’t be more excited!
Jeremy and I fell in love 33 years ago when my sons Sam and Jago, from my recently-ended marriage, were just three and seven. Jeremy was 22 when we met: ten years my junior. Growing up queer in working-class London was difficult: I came from a violent, dysfunctional family. My siblings and I were placed in foster homes, children’s homes and boarding schools for our safety. My sexuality was one of many ways I felt different although it was never much of a surprise to anyone. I had no real relationship with my drunken dad, except fear, and no grandparents; all died before my birth. This adds poignancy and charge to travelling to meet Frida today. I’d had relationships with men and women before. I met my wife while I was with a male partner so there were no secrets. Coming out to my family was no big deal either, as I differed from them in most things. No one was surprised. When Jeremy and I met in 1980 it was difficult for gay men to be carers of young children: I was a primary school teacher and he a play leader so we had skills to help us fight mainly sexist, but sometimes homophobic, bigotry. Thatcher changed the scene for the worse, however, with Section 28, demonising ours as ‘pretend families’. We put enormous love and commitment into building and
keeping good relationships with our wider families, the boys’ mother and her family, and the diverse communities in which we all lived, worked and socialised. After a difficult couple of years Jeremy was integrated into our family’s lives. He was superb with children, of course. The boys were adored in two eventually stable homes and led the complex lives of London children. Jeremy became a donor father for good lesbian friends of ours ten years ago, so we’ve avoided an ‘empty nest’, our gorgeous third son, Emile, being part of our lives for nine years now. He increasingly spends time with us. Also my former wife and her husband adopted an Indian daughter, so our sons have a beautiful sister and a little brother. We all meet from time to time and have successfully integrated the family strands. Five years ago Jago and Cassie moved to live near Auckland, where her mother grew up. They’ve married, have interesting jobs and a good home, but such geographical distance raises painful stresses of separation for us all. So our rite of passage as we enter grandfatherhood is weighted with all kinds of emotions. Charles is a sexual diversities therapist and expert on We Are Family magazine’s Consulting Room page. Read the next instalment of his grandparenting journey in issue 3.
Contacts: Adoption and Fostering:
New Family Social, 0843 289 9457, newfamilysocial.co.uk UK-wide organisation for LGBT adopters and prospective adopters.
Advice: London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard, 0300 330 0630 (10am-11pm daily). Free and confidential support and information to LGBT communities throughout the UK.
Bisexual: Bisexual Helpline, 0845 450 1263 (Tues/Weds 7.30-9.30pm). National help and advice line for bisexual people.
Homophobia: EACH, Freephone helpline 0808 100 0143 (Mon-Fri , 10am5pm), eachaction.org.uk Charity providing support to individuals affected by homophobia and training to organisations committed to realising an equal and safe environment for all, regardless of sexuality, age, ethnicity or ability.
Legal Advice/Crime etc: Broken Rainbow, 0208 539 9507 (Mon-Fri 9am-1pm, 2-5pm). National helpline for LGBT victims of domestic violence. Equality and Human Rights Commission, 0845 604 6610, equalityhumanrights.com Stonewall, stonewall.org.uk National equality charity for lesbian, gay and bisexual people. Free info service line for advice on rights, local support groups/services and gay friendly solicitors: 08000 50 20 20 Survivors UK, 0845 122 1201 Open Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 7-10pm. Confidential telephone counselling for male survivors of childhood and adult sexual abuse and rape.
UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group, 020 7922 7811 (information) or 020 7654 0686 (claiming asylum), uklgig.org.uk Help for foreign LGBT nationals claiming asylum in the UK. Victim Support, 0845 3030 900, victimsupport.org.uk Practical and emotional support for victims of crime, including homophobic hate crime.
Muslim al-fatiha.org The UK branch of the international LGBT Muslim group Al-Fatiha. NAZ Project (London), 0208 741 1879, email@example.com naz.org.uk A LGB run organisation that offers HIV, AIDS and sexual health services for South Asian, Middle Eastern, Horn of Africa, Latin American and excluded communities.
Sikh, sarbat.net firstname.lastname@example.org Group for LGBT Sikhs.
Kenric BM Kenric, London WC1N 3XX. 01622 741213, kenric.org The UK’s longestestablished, national lesbian social networking organisation.
Somali, somaligaycommunity.org Support and information for gay Somalians.
Race and Religion: African/African-Carribean, bgmag.org.uk Black gay men’s advisory group. Catholic, 0808 808 0234, questgaycatholic.org.uk Quest – a group and helpline for LGBT Catholics. Christian, 020 7739 1249, lgcm.org.uk The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement. Hindu, galva108.org Website dedicated to the teachings of Lord Caitanya and the Vedic concept of a natural third gender. Imaan (Muslim LGBT support group, London), 07849 170793, imaan.org.uk Support and social group specifically aimed at LGBT Muslims, their family, friends and supporters – or any Muslim questioning his/her sexuality or gender identity. Jewish, 0750 492 4742, jglg.org.uk UK-based Jewish lesbian, gay and bisexual Group. Jewish L&G Helpline, 020 7706 3123 (Mon and Thurs eves only). National helpline for LGB members of the Jewish community.
Sexual Health: Sexwise, 0800 28 29 30. Confidential advice on sex, contraception and relationships for under 18s.
Support for Loved Ones: Families and friends of lesbians and gays, 0845 652 0311, fflag.org.uk National support group. Straight Partners Anonymous, straightpartnersanonymous.co.uk A support group for straight people whose partner is LGB. Based in Milton Keynes, their web site offers support throughout the UK.
Transexual/Transgender: Depend, depend.org.uk Free, confidential, non-judgemental advice, information and support to all family members, spouses, partners and friends of transsexual people in the UK. Transgender Network, Equality South West, East Reach House, East Reach, Taunton, Somerset. 01823 250833, equalitysouthwest.org.uk A support network which aims to raise awareness around transgender equality issues in the region.
issue issue 2 Summer Spring 2013 2013
Unsung LGBT heroes…
Susanne Bösche Words: Darryl W Bullock
In 1981 Danish author Susanne Bösche wrote a short book – Mette bor hos Morten og Erik – which would change peoples’ lives forever. Translated into English in 1983 (30 years ago this year) as Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin, Susanne’s book was not only the first English-language children’s book to discuss homosexuality, it also directly led to the establishment of Section 28. This was unfortunate to say the least, considering the writer’s intention was to represent and celebrate a minority, so we would like to acknowledge Susanne’s unsung hero status. Bösche, a married woman with a young daughter, started writing for children in 1977. The black-and-white picture book in question details several days in the life of five-year-old Jenny, Eric, her father, his live-in boyfriend Martin, and Jenny’s mother Karen, who lives near the trio and visits often. Covering ordinary experiences like going to the laundrette and organising a birthday party, the book showed what it was like to live in any family, with Jenny seeing Eric and Martin having a row for example, as well as the more negative experience as a child of gay parents: she encounters homophobia from a woman in the street. It wasn’t long before the British press caught the whiff of a scandal. Various newspapers reported their outrage that children were able to borrow a book such as Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin from a school library run by the Labourcontrolled Inner London Education Authority. In response to the media panic a resolution was passed at the Labour Party Annual Conference in 1985 calling for the end of all legal discrimination against homosexuals. It was soon reported that many Conservative MPs were becoming concerned that left-wing councils were indoctrinating young children with what they considered to be homosexual propaganda. In 1986 John Giffard, the Earl of Halsbury, tabled a Private Member’s Bill in the House of Lords entitled An Act to Refrain Local Authorities from Promoting Homosexuality: a major factor in the Conservative government passing the controversial Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988. Shortly afterwards a US book – Heather Has Two Mommies (by Lesléa Newman and Diana Souza) – became similarly politicised. In 2000, writing for the Guardian, Susanne said: “I wrote Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin because I became aware of the problems which some children face when meeting family groupings different from the ones they are familiar with. It’s not possible to go through life without meeting people living in different ways, and they shouldn’t come as a shock to anybody. “While researching for the book I became aware that there are a lot of children in Denmark living with a homosexual father or mother, and that there was a need for a book for these children to identify with. It was absolutely shocking to see the book vilified as homosexual propaganda in the British press. I feel angry that my intentions in writing this book – namely to give children a little more knowledge about the world – have been twisted by grown-up people who chose to use it as a weapon in a political battle.”
issue 2 Summer 2013
We’d like you to meet Jack and Cameron Jack and Cameron are brothers and best mates. Jack is six and Cameron is four. The boys are currently living with their foster carers and are doing well. Jack is a helpful little boy who enjoys cuddles. Cameron is cheeky but also enjoys his cuddles. Both boys love swimming, playing outside and playing with their toys and trucks. Jack even likes cooking with his foster mum. Jack and Cameron know that they can’t stay with their foster carers forever and that they will have to build a new life with a family who can care for them until they are grown up. Could you welcome these boys into your home? You’ll need to give them love and encouragement through life and all the hugs and cuddles they need. You’ll guide them and raise them in a loving family home. We’ll help you all the way, providing valuable support, advice and financial allowances are available if you need it. We welcome your experience of life. Whether you grew up with brothers or not, you’ll have so much to give to enhance their lives. It will change your life too, as well as being fun and rewarding; being an adoptive parent means you’ll make a real difference.
For more information about the boys, contact Michael on:
0800 073 3344, email us on email@example.com or text BROTHERS and your email address to 07786 202195.