What it's like to live in an alternative home

By Andrew Nosti

I define an alternative home as any family setting that is outside the typical American family of a husband, wife and their children. An alternative home in my case is having two lesbian mothers as my parents. To me, an alternative home can only seem odd from the outside by those who have not lived in one. It isn’t so different from any other household. My family is just like any family; we laugh and we bicker, we go on vacations and out to eat, we do all the same things other families may do. Even though my family shares qualities with “traditional” ones, there is one powerful difference – within the state where we live, we are not legally recognized as a family.

There are both positives and negatives to growing up in my family, although, I find the positives to far outweigh any of the negatives. The greatest positive impact it has made upon me is that it has exposed me to a unique community. This exposure has taught me that gay and lesbian people aren’t so different from anybody else. All homosexual people are diverse; they have individual morals and individual personalities, the same way heterosexual people do. They are simply people with a different sexual orientation, but normal people all the same.

Another major positive that I have gained by growing up in an alternative family is my interest in politics. This interest began when I was old enough to understand that gay and lesbian people in America do not have the same basic rights as other American citizens. This is a fact that troubles me to no end. I started strongly following politics when I learned of the attempt by President Bush to put anti-gay marriage laws into the Constitution. Ever since this tremendously immoral push for hate laws, I have been devotedly following politics, and now with the recent presidential campaign, even getting involved in it. Without growing up with lesbian parents, I doubt I would have developed such a powerful interest in political policies and most likely would not have become so passionate in the fight for equality. Due to my investment, this campaign season I have met a whole host of people, and attended a speech by President Obama. If I had grown up in the typical American family, I am uncertain that I would have developed the same goals and dreams.

While growing up with two mothers, I have had to look outside of my immediate family for men to emulate. I have had to create my own idea of what qualities are found in an ideal man. I have turned to respected politicians, loved historical figures and sometimes the “average” men in my everyday life to fulfill the absence of a father figure. Even though it has been harder to mold myself as a man, I do not believe it has had any major malign effect upon me as an individual. A man should be honorable, respectful and determined. I believe a man should be a gentleman. This is the type of man I have tried to become. The absence of a male has had an effect on me, but not necessarily a bad one. I focus more on brain than brawn; being an intellectual is more valuable than being a star athlete.

The one major difference that growing up in an alternative family has instilled in me is my view of the world. I have seen unfounded bias toward my family from others who do not know me or my parents personally. Seeing these prejudices has caused me to be unwilling to form any preconceived notions of others. I have learned people should not be judged by their race, religion, social class or sexual orientation but by the content of their character and the lives they lead. Evaluating a person on anything besides his/her personal beliefs and values is the greatest injustice any one person can make. I am personally disturbed by any form of bigotry, prejudice or hatred of others. These intolerances are the most appalling qualities of the human race.

Two things are unique to my family, besides just being alternative. The first is that I was conceived through artificial insemination. This was the only way my mother could have me at the time, because she could not adopt due to fact she is a lesbian. She chose to have the donor remain anonymous so that he could not try to fight for any parental rights. However, with the donor choice being anonymous, I will never be able to meet my father. My family is also unique because I have a non-biological mother. I went through a second parent adoption in order for her to legally become my parent. Since we live in the state of Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvania has so far not passed any legislation that legalizes gay marriage, she had no other way to be recognized as my legal guardian, even though she had been my parent in every way conceivable. Second parent adoption is when a second person legally becomes the parent of a child without having to marry the biological parent. Second-parent-adoption between two gay parents is so rare where I live that it had been the first case of its kind over which our judge had ever presided.

There is only one downside to my home life, and it is that I will never know my father. My father will always be a person I can merely imagine, an idea without a face. This is something I have learned to live with and accept. I embrace this and use it as another motivating force to push me toward my aspirations. One day, if I can reach my goals of public office, maybe I can find him somehow. But this regret is solely my own, for not all children in alternative homes are conceived in the manner I was.

Many anti-gay sentiments proliferate, but contrary to some people’s beliefs, the homosexual community causes no damage to any other faction of people. A favorite idea among the biased is that a child raised by a gay or lesbian couple would suffer due to his/her parents. I am a living, breathing inconsistency to this notion. I get good grades, play sports and have a large group of friends. I am also heterosexual, and, contrary to another anti-gay belief, my parents have never tried to change that in any way.

I have never hidden the fact that I have two gay mothers who have raised me. When I meet someone, I am quick to divulge who my parents are. I have parties, invite friends over and they both walk out to meet me on special sports occasions. I even wrote about my two mothers in my National Honor Society induction paper. I have never been ashamed of my family and will never in my life attempt to conceal it. I am proud of the life my parents lead. They are both honest and morally good people, and anyone who knows them will testify to this. I can only ask one thing of them, that they are proud of the person I have become. It is impossible for me to ever fully appreciate my parents for how they have raised me. Next time you see or hear of an alternative family, think of me and how I would never ask for a different one.|

Andrew Nosti, 17, is a junior at Palmerton Area High School in Pennsylvania. He is third in his class, a member of National Honor Society, runs track and field and participates in several school clubs, such as mock trial and environmental club. After high school he plans to attend college and major in government. His goal is to attend either Cornell University or Georgetown University. After acquiring a doctorate in political science, his dream is to enter the field of politics and reach the highest seat of public office he is able to obtain. If elected to public office, he aspires to positively affect as many lives as he is able and help cause at least a few progressive changes to society, primarily equality in gay marriage and even distribution of wealth in America.