Sunday, September 05, 2010

How I got here from there

It's feast or famine around here, I'm afraid.

When I was a young adult, I mixed with the wrong sort of people. People who told me that it was wrong to be gay, that it wasn't what God wanted, and that something had gone wrong in the world for there to be people who were attracted to those of the same gender.

I hope I'm accurately reporting my feelings at the time in saying I never quite bought it. I am pretty sure I only realised I knew gay people when I got to university, but generally thought it was "okay" so long as the "rules" were being followed. There's a certain school of thought that if you think everyone should be celibate outside marriage, this applies to those who cannot get married (to someone of the opposite sex) too - like some who choose or are called to be celibate as a vocation.

I now realise that this was a lot to do with sour grapes. I wasn't in a relationship for many many years (and the ones I had didn't get very far off the ground), but didn't feel "called" to celibacy, so I didn't see why other people shouldn't also be celibate unwillingly. Now I am with Mr. Spouse and if someone turned round and told us we couldn't be together legally - well frankly, sod off. Sod right off.

And we are one of those unnatural couples who cannot reproduce, but long to be parents. So when a furore broke over some Catholic adoption agencies closing down rather than allowing gay couples to sign up, I was pleased that at the time we were considering adopting through the one such agency that encouraged gay couples to apply (our social worker says she is not sure they were really that open, but their literature seems fairly balanced).

But these are relatively "advanced" rights. If you are unfortunate enough to live in a repressive society, yes, it's horrible that it is like that, but you do learn to tread carefully. If you want to educate your daughter, or not wear Islamic dress, or publish anti-Government articles, in some countries you also have to proceed carefully, enlist overseas help, and not make a song and dance about it. So, having lived in a country where it is not legal to be gay, but I have not heard of any prosecutions, and knew friends who had underground boyfriends (if, er, you know what I mean), I assumed it was a case of softly, softly, changee laws.

But it is not just an issue of whether you can kiss your boyfriend in a bar, marry him, or adopt children. It's an issue of people's lives. This documentary has filming in two of the places I've worked in recently, and is really scary. It's the kind of situation where you feel like you need to do something, or hit someone. Preferably someone pretending to be a Christian.

So, by coincidence, we had the chance to hear a talk on the issue at Greenbelt. We only went for the day, which is an odd way to do a festival, and it meant we didn't get into any music, but it's more of a talk and arts festival anyway. And getting the last train back to London - was how I ended up talking to Peter Tatchell on a station at about 10pm last Saturday. Despite appearances in the media, he is very temperate and softly spoken. A real eye-opener.


Bernardeena said...

I've been thinking about gay adoption a couple of times recently and how it relates to my faith and my personal views.

If I'm honest a small part of me would still have an issue, but then a large part of me sees the bigger picture, and also the individual personal pictures too. It may be a bit hypocritical possibly, but if something happened to me and I had no friends or family I'd probably want my sons to go to a married christian family, but then if my friend who is gay and his husband wanted to adopt I would support them every step of the way and I would be happy for them to bring up my sons.

I think at the end of the day there are a lot of children desperately in need of loving families, whether single, in a couple, straight or gay, what these children really need is someone who will love and care for them.

As for the catholic agencies though I do think it is a shame they have been put in this position. They shouldn't have to go against their personal belief when the previous system of just refering couples to an agency who would help them probably worked fine. Maybe that isn't thought of as right, but now a lot of agencies who have done a lot of good with a lot of the hardest to place children will shut down so they don't have to compromise their beliefs, and I think that is sad.

DrSpouse said...

I think one of the problems was they weren't referring people on, or there weren't other agencies that could work with couples in some areas. But calling an agency and being told "sorry, no, you can't adopt" when the truth is "you can't adopt with US" is not an experience confined to gay couples.