Growing up with a gay parent didn't make me feel different from anyone else 3 years ago

Growing up with a gay parent didn't make me feel different from anyone else

This month Ireland will be celebrating Pride with parades and events up and down the country.

For me, it's a particularly special time of year. I love bringing my children out to see the parade. Last year, I remember looking at my son jump up and down with his rainbow flag and all I could think was 'When I was your age it was still illegal to be gay in Ireland'.

Born in the 1980s, I was born into a very different Ireland than my children. Luckily, they get to experience an Ireland where people like their grandmother finally have the same rights as everybody else.

Tight security will be in place for Dublin Pride

Growing up, I didn't feel any different because my mother was gay. My parents had me when they were teenagers and broke up soon afterwards. Ever since then, my mother has only had girlfriends and as a small kid, I didn't notice that there was anything different about this.

I think kids are more willing to understand things than adults. I recently had a discussion with my son about a friend who is trans. My son readily accepted that even though our friend is physically male, he feels more like a woman and he has since referred to them by their preferred pronouns ever since.

It's the same with how he views his grandmother. He views her relationship with her girlfriend the same way he views his other grandmother's relationship with her husband.

When it comes to children, family is family, love is love.

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The recent marriage referendum was a difficult time for me. While it felt like it was going to pass from very early on in the campaign, listening to people talk about why they intended to vote no wasn't easy. The hardest was when the issue of adoption was brought into it.

I heard one person say that gay couples shouldn't be allowed to adopt because the child will be bullied in school for having same-sex parents.

Let me tell you, I got made fun of in school for being a bookworm and having frizzy hair but I was never made fun of because of my family.

I grew up in inner-city Dublin during some of the worst years of the heroin epidemic and I saw many of the children around me lose their parents to drugs. Many were being raised by their grandparents or older siblings. These children never made fun of my home life because they knew better than anyone that any parental love and affection, no matter who it came from, was better than no affection.

I'm glad that gay couples can readily adopt and don't see why a child should go without a home and a family just because, someday, down the line, a kid in school might bring it up.

I think a lot of why I was always so accepting of my unique family was because everyone else in my family was too.

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My grandmother was the kind of granny that would bless you with holy water before you left the house and spent an hour saying her prayers every night, but she never let her religious beliefs get in the way of her family.

When my cousin's boyfriend said that his parents wanted nothing to do with him after they found out he was gay, my grandmother was horrified.

She absolutely adored him, probably even more than the rest of us, and she just couldn't understand why his parents would push him away.

They became very close anytime she needed a lift anywhere he was the first to offer to bring her where she needed to go.

When she passed away five years ago he was one of the pallbearers, in his own words 'One last lift Mrs.Carton'.

Myself and my nan were attached at the hip when she was alive and because of this when I was getting married my cousin's boyfriend asked if he could drive me to the church the morning of my wedding as a favour to her.

I think it's a great testament to the understanding and caring person she was that all these years later her love is still being felt and shared amongst us all.

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When I say that I have a gay parent, people tend to think I grew up in a very alternative environment.

Nope.

I went to the local Catholic school like everyone else, went to Mosney like everyone else and watched Glenroe on a Sunday night like everyone else.

To be honest, any perks like being brought to concerts like Groove Armada when I was 13 came more from the fact that my parents were young and still big concert goers themselves more than anything else.

In fact, I had a much stricter upbringing than a lot of the other teens I was around, going out late at the weekends was a big no-no and I was laughed at when the subject of going out for Junior Cert Results Night came up. Not a chance.

The only real difference was that I didn't question same-sex relationships, I just took it to be part of the norm.

To summarise, I'm the child of a gay parent and I'm in my late 20s, married with two kids and saving for a mortgage. Just like many others my age.