Gay Parenting Talk with Counselor Phil

Sophia Bare, Reporter

Two weeks ago on Wednesday the 14th of November, Phil (head of the counselling department at St. Stephen’s) hosted a talk about being a gay parent. This talk was hosted with the joint efforts of the Embrace and Women’s club and took place in room 3-12. Around 30 people — including students, teachers and those from outside of school — were in attendance. The talk was largely casual — more akin to a panel discussion than a lecture — and asides from a few technical hiccups, went smoothly.

Phil started off the presentation with stories of realizing and coming to terms with his own sexuality as a gay man. He explained his upbringing and school, bringing light to the socioeconomic conditions around him that prevented him from understanding his own identity until he reached college. Wherein he found out — through intimately engaging with another man — his existence as a gay man. From then on, he came out to his parents who struggled to understand much less accept him, although eventually, they did so, and participated in gay spaces, seeking out others fundamentally like him.

Yet, even as Phil had quite happily come to terms with being a proud gay man, there was a part of him that desired the societally heteronormative idea of a family that he had grown up being taught. He wanted to be a parent. Fortunately for him, two friends of his — lesbian partners — desired the same thing. This is how his — and their — journey of parenthood began.

The rest of the talk was centred around his son, Luca — who lives with his two mothers in London — and navigating parenthood as a multi-parented gay family. The presentation slides he flipped through each showed pictures of Luca, his mothers, or of himself with Luca. Whenever he spoke of his son, it was clear the love and fondness he had for him — something which he touched upon when asked the question on how to deal with people who refused to believe that gay parents could provide enough support in a family. In response, he would answer that all a child needs from a parent is continued and unconditional love and support — that the gender of the parent did not factor into that equation.

A couple other questions were fielded by the audience like the subject of coming out to parents or finding gay spaces and support groups and navigating the world as a gay parent with the constant onslaught of heteronormative conditioning — and Phil was able to answer them while leaving enough space for the audience’s own thoughts. All in all, it was a success in terms of getting LGBT topics to a broader, mostly non-LGBT audience.

With that, I look forward to the next talk hosted by the Embrace and Women’s club on January 23rd, a skype call-in by the Dedra Percy Scherer, the mother of a trans-woman. If you have any questions you would like to ask Dedra, feel free to contact Ms. Battaglieri or fill out the anonymous survey which will be sent around.