My mom is gay. But it took me a long time to say those words out loud.
She came out more than twenty years ago when I was in high school. My parents soon separated and, eventually, she married her longtime partner in one of Massachusetts’s first legal unions. It was a raw and difficult time. I hardly spoke to her for a year while I studied abroad. It felt like a fact that needed to be hidden, especially from my prep school classmates. The topic was taboo even within our otherwise tight-knit family. My younger siblings were dealing with the same emotions, but meaningful conversation seemed beyond our reach.
Seven years ago, at the age of twenty-nine, I began a project, with the intent to meet, photograph, and interview people with a similar story. Despite living in numerous cities around the world, I had never encountered anyone else raised by a gay parent.
My sister directed me to COLAGE, an organization that supports people with LGBTQ parents. I met Danielle Silber, who has six parents and who had become an organizer for the group. She invited me to her East Village apartment where her living room floor was filled with young people each telling their own family’s “coming out” story. Since that night, I’ve documented the stories of nearly one hundred children and I’ve met many more. Each portrait and interview has become, in an unexpected way, my own therapy session.
Some aspect of each story resonated with my experience and peeled away at my own sense of solitude. We — the children of LGBTQ parents — are not hypotheticals. Our stories need to be told. While my experience was difficult, that won’t be the case for the next generation. This inequality will fade into the history books and my future children will wonder what all the fuss was about.