Have you ever had a gay teacher?
"I think it would be strange if my father had a girlfriend"
Five young people between 14 and 21, from Berlin and Düsseldorf, from Marburg, the Westerwald and Schwäbisch Gmünd. They do not know each other, meet for the first time on this day. We want to talk to them about what they have in common: about their families. They all grew up differently than children from traditional families: their parents are lesbian, gay or transgender (to put it simply: they have changed gender). Mia, Nell, Felix, Malte and Lisa grew up in so-called rainbow families.
SZ-Magazin: When did you realize that something is different in your families than in others?
Nell: In primary school. When my mother did not come to the Christmas bazaar with my father, but with her friend. Then the question was asked: Who is that? So I explained: My parents are a lesbian and a gay couple, four people who have two children together - my sister Mia and me.
Felix: I was already in school when my mother started a relationship with a woman after breaking up with my father. Your friend moved in with us soon, they got married later, they were one of the first lesbians to do this in Germany. I also liked to tell all of this at school, when you are seven you don't think about it. I told my swimming instructor that my mother slept naked in bed with a woman.
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How did the teacher react?
Felix: Well! Today she is my mothers best friend. It turned out that she is a lesbian too.
How did other children react at school?
Mia: Children take it all in a totally normal way. If so, it was always the parents who had a problem with it. There was a girl that I wasn't allowed to meet again because of that. The mother came from Eastern Europe and Nell and I did not get along well. Painted: I've heard stupid sayings from time to time because I'm the son of two women. But at school you listen to all sorts of things, whether you have two mothers or a strange hairstyle.
Lisa, with you everything is different again: your mother has had a sex reassignment surgery, she is your father today. How do people react when you tell this?
Lisa: There are two groups in my circle of friends, one I know from dancing, they laugh a lot and are nice. And then there are those who come from a different quarter who keep saying "crazy, dude" and so on. They make weird sayings about my father. But I find it much worse that I take over their language from time to time. Because I hear them every day!
Nell: Sometimes I find it sad that we have to explain ourselves all the time. That's what makes our families special.
How do you explain to others the difference between your family and theirs?
Lisa: For example, I always tell a boy to imagine that he would become a woman overnight - and then to wish nothing more than his boyish body back. This is how my father felt before his operation. A lot of people get that.
How did you feel when your mom told you she wanted to be a man?
Lisa: That was completely weird, I thought that everything would be completely different now. But because I knew that my mother, my father, no longer felt comfortable in his body, I said: Of course, do it. Little by little I noticed that his smile was getting stronger again. Lukas was really happy, and that made me happy too.
You say Luke to your father. What do you others call your parents?
Painted: I mostly say mommy or mother. If you talk to someone else, however, you can quickly get confused because I call both of them mothers. But it would be stupid to say "my birth mother" and "my non-biological mother". I don't have a father, I was conceived by an anonymous sperm donor.
Felix: One of my mothers is called Sabine and the other is Anne. As children we made cream out of it. We still often shout that today, and that means both of them.
Painted: The pitch is also important: when I call "Mama" into the house, they know who is meant, depending on how I emphasize it. When I need a permit or want to go away with friends, I just shout "Mamaaa ...". The right one is already listening - and I know who I can get through with faster.
Felix: My problem is that most of the time when I talk about my parents I forget that they are two mothers. I say "parents". It gets chaotic when the question of professions comes up. I say my mother is a gynecologist and my mother is a midwife. And all like this: huh?
When you talk about your families, you are mostly asked: How did you come into the world?
Mia: Many of us here want to know where the genes come from. My birth mother and my birth father were a couple before she became a lesbian and he became gay. Seven years after their separation, they decided to have children together. They met for my conception, Nell was later inseminated with
conceived by our father as a sperm donor.
How do you react to stupid sayings?
Mia: That depends on whether I can actually make a difference with an answer. With some people, I think to myself, it doesn't make any sense to him anyway ...
Painted: If someone came to me with a stupid saying, I would probably be the last person to open my mouth because three of my friends have already said the same thing.
Mia: It is the same with us. All of our friends think our gay dads are cool. Nobody would get away with a saying.
Felix: Actually, I always really enjoy going on confrontation. If I notice that some people might have a problem - then I say all the more: I have two mothers. And wait eagerly for the reaction.
In your families, roles are being reinvented. Who will take care of the food? Who cares about making the money? Is something like that negotiated?
Mia: Everything totally flexible. Everyone goes to work, everyone cooks.
Felix: I often hear the question: who takes the male part, who takes the female part? I honestly don't understand the question. I find them relatively pointless.
Mia: These old models are becoming increasingly rare. I don't think I know of any family in which the mother is a housewife.
How is it with you, Lisa? What role does your father play for you?
Lisa: He takes on both roles. He was my mother, he's my father now, so he's kind of both. When my friends tell me that they cuddle up with mom on the couch - I'll do it all with him. My stepmother stays out of it completely.
Have you all been in contact with other children from rainbow families?
Mia: Funnily enough, never. But recently I got together with my current boyfriend. And at some point it turned out that his mom is also a lesbian. And the mother of his sister's boyfriend too!
Felix: This is my first meeting with other Rainbow Children.
Painted: I've met many rainbow families. For us, that came mainly from the subject of insemination. Because it was totally new 20 years ago. That is why my parents co-founded »Ilse«. This is an initiative of lesbian and gay parents that supports rainbow families who want to have children. I know a lot of children with the same story.
Malte, you are one of the first children in Germany to be conceived through insemination. Have you ever had the desire to get to know your birth father?
Painted: I am often asked that. But I have to say, no, it can totally backfire. Then you sit in front of you and think, oh, but I don't want to share my genes with him! It would probably be best if I could look at the man through a window or on television for half an hour. Just so that I would know what he looks like, how he looks. Not more.
You didn't have the opportunity.
Painted: No, my mothers wanted an anonymous sperm donor. Now and then, when my non-biological mother forbids me to do something, I also allude to our non-relatives. Then I say: my mom would allow me to do that! Or I say to my younger brother, who was born by my non-genetic mother: Your mom is in a weird mood today!
Has one of you ever seriously slipped something like this?
Mia: When I was little, I once said to Susanne, my non-genetic mother: You are not my mom, you have nothing to say to me. To her: Then I don't have to make your school sandwiches for you now either.
Did you ever use your parents' homosexuality as a reproach during puberty?
Mia: Not then. Today I accuse my father of becoming more and more stuffy with age. And when he and his friend fool around like that, I sometimes imitate them.
Nell: Sometimes we annoyed our mothers: You are just full like men!
Malte, Felix, did you ever miss your father?
Painted: Never me It may well be that at certain points in life you are looking for a male role model without knowing it. As you develop and get older, there are some things you may not want to ask your mother about. But the rest of the family took over something like that, my uncle, for example.
Lisa, do you discuss typical girls' topics with your father, i.e. everything that most people would rather discuss with their mother?
Lisa: Already a lot, yes. Often with his sister too. But I could discuss everything with my father, I wouldn't be embarrassed.
How was it with the rest of you during puberty?
Felix: I could talk about anything to my mothers. Clarification was not a problem with a gynecologist and a midwife, of course.
One study found that parents from rainbow families are very attentive to their children
WHAT IS A RAINBOW FAMILY?
This is the term used to describe families in which at least one parent is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Stricter definitions speak of a rainbow family only if both parents are homosexual. The word has been used in Duden since 2009. There are currently more than 2000 minors living in Germany as children of registered civil partnerships. ADOPTION AND PARTNERSHIP
Homosexual couples have been allowed to marry in Germany since 2001 (official term: partnering up). Adopting the partner's biological child has been allowed since 2004. However, adopting the adopted child of a partner is prohibited. There are indications that the Federal Constitutional Court will interpret this regulation more generously in 2013.
If you see really classic conventional families - is there something you would like to have too?
Felix: I imagine their lives to be boring. Sure, it depends on the people, you can also have two mothers who are super boring. But I think it's an advantage that there is an additional level with us: My family is funny - and the whole rainbow family thing, all the openness, is on top of that.
Lisa: Other families live according to rules and always have the same daily routine. This is boring. My father Lukas sometimes goes out with colleagues. He also gets along with my friends and talks to them. From my point of view, he is the only father who has contact with other children. Other parents are just real parents. Parents-parents. For me, Lukas is more of a friend-parent.
One study found that parents from rainbow families are very caring for their children because many of them are intended children.
Painted: I believe immediately! If, like my mothers, you live in a homosexual relationship, you have spent a long time grappling with your identity. This way of thinking brings a completely different kind of openness to the family. Many of my friends have tensions in their families that only arise because not all of them talk openly with one another. This is not the case in the rainbow families I know.
Mia, Nell, is it similar with you, with two mothers on one side and two fathers on the other?
Mia: Yes, because our parents had to agree to get us. And we always felt that.
Lisa: I would be interested in doing a family swap. Sometimes I would like to know what it is like when everything is completely normal. I probably couldn't do it anymore.
Felix: But a lot of things are very bourgeois here too. My mothers got married, then our stepmother adopted my sister and me. You were one of the first couples to be married, and we were the first children to be adopted into such a family. My father had to agree, but we just said he no longer had to pay child support and that was immediately clear. Now I have my stepmother's name. My birth mother also took my stepmother's name.
Was it strange for you to suddenly be called differently?
Felix: It was cool. It's nice to be a family all of a sudden, also in terms of name.
How was that with you, Malte?
Painted: Quite similar. But before my mothers got married, one of them was practically a partner who was socially capable of saying something to us - but not legally. That's why my non-biological mother also became my godmother: because it used to make things a little easier socially. It officially established a form of closeness.
So as a positive sign?
Painted: More! There are also situations in which it is legally important that both can decide. For medical issues, for an operation. If my biological mother had died in an accident, my other mother would not necessarily have had the children as a partner. Maybe even more like an uncle. This is why stepchild adoption is so important.
Nell: When we were younger, my mother wrote a letter: If something happened, we should come to Susanne, her partner at the time. Not to our father.
Mia: We both always wanted a double wedding: that our mothers and fathers would get married at the same time. But everyone has said that if there are no tax benefits, like in normal marriage, they don't want it.
Your father is your birth father. Mia was conceived the classic way, Nell by insemination. Does that matter to you?
Nell: I didn't know that myself for a long time! That came out during a conversation with a reporter: He asked whether we came into being naturally. Then it was said: Yes, Mia, not Nell, it was created through insemination. And I like: What? How? Ah okay.
Mia: But that was no longer an issue immediately.
Nell: Sure, so I knew: I am the total dream child. From today's perspective, it was funny that there was so much going on in the delivery room when I was born: everyone was there ... Full house!
It is noteworthy that you, Mia, were conceived by sexual intercourse - by a lesbian woman and a gay man.
Mia: I asked my parents about it once and they said, oh, we used to be a couple and found each other attractive, that's okay. They split up at the time, my mother became a lesbian, my father became gay, but my father said: If you ever want children, get in touch. Something like that.
What kind of family constellations did you play in kindergarten?
Nell: Well, I always do the classic father-mother-child.
Mia: Me too.
Lisa: Me too.
Did you fight a lot with your parents during puberty? Was that different from your friends?
Painted: I think we were more relaxed. There were also differences of opinion, but they were more like discussions.
Nell: With us it was like all other families. There was just as much stress: maybe because we were four women. Papa lives in Berlin.
Lisa: I'm 14, I'm experiencing the arguments right now. For me it's always weird when I'm with my birth father. We can't go on together for two weeks. When we sit on top of each other, during the holidays, three weeks - we argue about it!
Would you say that your parents allow you more than others allow their children?
Felix: No, my mothers are pretty strict. I was only allowed to watch TV for one hour a day. I hated her for that. But in retrospect, I think that's good.
Painted: With us it was full confidence education. You let me decide a lot for myself.
Mia: We also trusted a lot. I was allowed to go partying early. And stay away for a long time. But I shouldn't take the subway home, instead I should always take a taxi. And because I was so trusted, I always followed these rules
Lisa: Trust is good.My dad lets me sip a tiny bit of alcohol sometimes. When things are banned, everything just becomes more interesting.
Felix: I think our parents are more concerned. When the hurdle to having children is higher, one thinks more about bringing up them than when the children came into being almost accidentally.
What is it like when you start to be interested in boys or girls yourself - do you think about your own sexual preferences especially if you come from a rainbow family?
Mia: So I was wondering that very much. When it came to my future, I always saw a house, me and a wife and a dog. But that went away when I fell in love with boys, not with girls.
Painted: I think I would have trouble seeing myself as gay. Not because I think it's bad, but it would be a kind of victory for my parents that I don't want to grant them. Ha, ha, no, I can't say that ... Maybe because I don't just want to imitate something.
Lisa: I would like to live in a yellow house later, a husband, a daughter, a son, a cat and a beautiful garden. A really typical family. It's always been my dream.
Mia: I want a kitschy white wedding, with a house and a dog, and an adopted child who is supposed to be four - so that they can get out of the stressful baby age.
The swear word "gay"
Do your parents mainly have gay or lesbian groups of friends?
Mia: This is no longer the case today. My dad has a lot of gay friends, but not all of them.
Felix: It's not the case with us either.
Painted: I think a lot of people want just the opposite. They already had such a stress with the outing, now they don't want to do the big search for friends as well. It's not like meeting like-minded people in the supermarket.
Nell: Not a single one of my mother's friends is gay or lesbian.
How about if one parent suddenly decided to have a straight relationship after all?
Mia: I think it would be very strange if my father had a girlfriend. I'd be kind of ... jealous. And I feel the same way with our mother.
Nell: If my mom came up with a guy, the idea would be really disgusting!
What actually happened to the word "gay"? At first it was a swear word, then completely normal, now it's a swear word again in youth language. Why?
Mia: That's right, it really annoys me. When someone says this and that looks totally gay, I'm always on the verge of saying, but my father doesn't look like it.
Painted: I think the word has two meanings. Today it is used more for things, less often for people. So in the sense of "boring". That's why I don't have such a problem with it. I also use it myself sometimes.
Lisa: For me, that's what the "Krass, Alter" group always say. But recently I was at H & M, saw an ugly dress - and then I said that too! "Such a gay dress." And I thought: Hey, why am I saying that?
What do your parents say when you call something "gay"?
Felix: Well, I've already slipped it out, but not at home, because then the shreds would fly. My parents pay a lot of attention to language: They make sure that things are called female instead of male, the "teachers" and not the "teachers". I think the word "gay" is used a lot for feminine things: when someone looks feminine. Many still think that the man should be male. Well
Environment Minister Peter Altmaier lives alone - there has been speculation in many newspapers about whether the man is gay or not. What do you think of such discussions?
Painted: This is exactly what my parents always warn me about. That everyone is just looking for the deficits. That all questions are negative.
Lisa: For me these are questions about my biological father. Where is that and such. But I don't like that at all. Lukas is my father for me.
Painted: For me these are questions about insemination. Whether I was bred. Whether you fertilized 20,000 egg cells and took the one with the coolest genetic code. Very funny.
Are family constellations like yours on the school curriculum?
Nell: Not at all with me at school.
Painted: The subject doesn't belong in school either.
Mia: But! In some Berlin districts that wouldn't be bad. Sure, then you would treat it as something special. But some of them know absolutely nothing about alternative ways of life! What if they don't grow up like that and are only given one picture? Many still consider homosexuality to be a disease.
Felix: One of my school books was about taxes. One saw a picture of a traditional family and one of a woman alone with her child. There is now a new book that also shows same-sex families. I think that's good: when the topic is simply mentioned as a matter of course. There is no need to introduce an extra hour on homosexuality.
Painted: I doubt its usefulness. I see the task more in society than in school.
Mia: But that's where it starts!
Painted: Maybe, but I don't know if people think differently just because they discussed it at school. And how some bio teachers talk about homosexuality ... that makes things worse!
Felix: But where is the change supposed to come from?
Painted: It will be fine, wait a minute.
Mia: It gets difficult when I think of children from immigrant families. It's also logical: They live with their families, with their friends, where should change come from? It won't get to them at all, they don't read any articles about it. So all that remains is the school as a place with influence. The draft law on tax equality for homosexual couples is currently being discussed. Angela Merkel has said that she would like to receive “the tax privilege of marriage” because she believes “that it was done with good reason”.
Painted: Ha! My mom said right away: "If you talk to those from SZ-Magazin, you hit the table so that political pressure is exerted!" I am doing that.
Can you understand that there are conservative people who have something like fear of other forms of life?
Mia: Not at all.
Painted: From a purely statistical point of view, the vast majority of Germans no longer have any stress with gay marriages.
What do you think: what drives them?
Painted: Well, as a state you might save yourself money. If they all have to pay more taxes ... I can't see any other advantages.
Felix: Totally puzzling to me. At most, it can be about very old voters who do not want to offend them.
Funny that Merkel of all people is so cautious, isn't it? Although with the support of Family Minister Kristina Schröder there was also a group of CDU politicians for tax equality.
Painted: Above all, Ms. Merkel herself is not exactly a parade CDU politician!
Felix: But it must also serve your party.
Do you find it an advantage to have grown up in rainbow families? What could that be?
Painted: I have the impression that I have become a good listener.
Mia: Me too.
Felix: We are not afraid of emotions. We grew up in families where people had to worry about their feelings.
Lisa, you nodded straight away.
Lisa: Yes, I think I can listen very well.
Felix: It is hard to explain. You think more about attachments. One makes oneself more aware. For example, when I see relationships with other parents who are actually only together because of the children, completely loveless. That's one of the reasons why I think the traditional family image is completely wrong, the man is the strong one and works ... I don't want to live like that.
Painted: But sometimes that is interpreted as a weakness.
Felix: Sure, I am often referred to as gay. Maybe I seem more sensitive.
Mia: Hmm, I'm just wondering ... I also have the feeling with my current boyfriend that there is no problem that might not come up on the table. He's also very open. I don't know if it's because of his childhood, his mother - he's more empathetic than others.
Are you used to having to explain yourself all the time today?
Lisa: Well, there is so much to repeat ... When it makes people understand my father better, it's fun. But having to say again and again that everything is fine, everything is completely normal - that is a pain.
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