My Two Dads: Emma’s Story
Originally Published: June 14, 2012
Revised: July 30, 2015
Emma Backer-Verbits is an 18-year-old high school senior who lives in Massachusetts. She loves hanging out with friends, watching movies, reading books and traveling. Emma is proud of many things in her life, but one of the things that makes her proudest is her two loving dads.
Emma’s dads adopted her at birth and were able to celebrate their love by getting married in Massachusetts, the first state to legalize gay marriage. Emma spoke with Sex, Etc. about her family, which includes her two dads and sister.
…as I grew up, I found ways to tell people that the men who raised me are in love and I didn’t necessarily need a mother to take care of me.
Sex, Etc.: What was it like growing up with gay parents?
Emma: I never knew anything different than having two dads. My dads tried to associate with as many other same-sex couples with children as they could. They wanted to show me and my sister that we weren’t alone and our family was no different than anyone else’s—with the exception that my sister and I had two men for parents. We knew that our dads didn’t love us any less than other children’s parents loved them, so it was hard for me to accept the fact that not everyone could understand our home situation.
Sex, Etc.: How do people react when they hear that you have two dads?
Emma: I didn’t always know how to explain things, but as I grew up, I found ways to tell people that the men who raised me are in love and I didn’t necessarily need a mother to take care of me. If someone didn’t accept my family and love me for who I am as a person, then he or she simply could not be my friend.
Sex, Etc.: How do you tell people about your dads?
Emma: People normally laugh about how open I am about my family, as the words “I have gay dads” frequently jump from my lips within the first five minutes of meeting someone. I am proud to have gay fathers, so someone can either accept it or move on.
Sex, Etc.: What impact has having gay parents had on you?
Emma: It has helped me show the world that no matter what one’s sexual orientation, he or she can fall in love and successfully raise children. My dads raised me to overcome discrimination and know that the narrow-minded beliefs of others shouldn’t stop me from living my life to the fullest. It has always been important to me to advocate for others, and speaking out about LGBT rights has been a top priority of mine.
Sex, Etc.: Have you been affected by homophobia?
Emma: I remember coming home from school some days crying because of the narrow-minded comments kids would make. One time, I came home to find some gay slurs on Facebook, and when I spoke out against the person using the hurtful words, I was ganged up on. I tried to stay strong, but the conclusion I came to was that I can’t always change the opinions of others, no matter how hard I try. I also learned that it’s hard for others to understand the implication of slang terms when they don’t directly pertain to them.
Sex, Etc.: Have your parents talked to you about sexuality and things like dating, safer sex, etc.?
Emma: My dads have been active in encouraging safe sex practices and warning me and my sister about the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases or even unexpected pregnancy. I am fortunate to have this type of relationship with my parents. I think that, for kids who don’t feel comfortable talking to their parents about sex and sexuality, it is important that they find a responsible adult to talk to. Most of what I learned about sex and safe sex practices came from my youth group leaders, who provided a workshop to comfortably discuss issues involving sex. I am grateful to have many people I can go to if the need should arise.
Emma is one of many fortunate teens with loving and supportive parents—only hers happen to be two men. Her responses reminded me that love is love, no matter what.
If you’re a teen with LGBT parents, check out these resources: COLAGE.org and Rainbowriot.org.
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