Dawn Stefanowicz grew up in a home where the sexual desires of adults were put ahead of her needs and well-being. Today she fights for traditional marriage and a child’s right to a mother and father.Jim Graves, Catholic World Report, June 27, 2012
Same-sex marriage is the cause célèbreof many politicians and celebrities, and is extensively covered in the news. As debates rage, one central issue is often overlooked, believes Canadian author and speaker Dawn Stefanowicz: how does being reared in a same-sex household affect children?
Many states already allow same-sex couples to adopt children, a practice that will be further cemented in law as more states issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples. Additionally, some homosexuals have children of their own from previous opposite-sex relationships. Dawn brings a rare voice to the public discussion; her father was actively involved in the gay lifestyle, and she describes herself as “raised under the GLBT [gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender] umbrella.”
Dawn was born in Toronto. Her father became an active homosexual at an early age. He was a successful businessman. Desiring children, he married, and the relationship produced Dawn and two brothers, one her twin. After Dawn and her brother were conceived, their father ended sexual relations with his wife, and pursued homosexual relationships at well-known gay meeting places in Canada and the United States. Dawn was often brought along to many of these locations, even as a child. Her father had numerous gay lovers, and brought them into the home. At age 51, in 1991, he died of AIDS.
Today, Dawn lives in Ontario, Canada. She is a licensed accountant, a Christian, a public advocate of children being reared in homes with opposite-sex, married couples, and a vocal defender of traditional marriage. She has been married to a man for 28 years, and has two teenaged children. In 2007, she published Out From Under: The Impact of Homosexual Parenting, a book about her experiences growing up in the GLBT world. On the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the release of her book, she spoke with Catholic World Report.
Why did you decide to share your story of being “raised under the GLBT umbrella” in your book and your speaking engagements?
Dawn Stefanowicz: I felt compelled. I made a public appearance before Canada’s Senate of Legal and Constitutional Affairs committee in Ottawa in 2004, asking that they not add “sexual orientation” to the existing hate-crime legislation due to restrictions on freedom of speech and religion. Later that month, I shared my testimony before a school board. Almost immediately, gay activists who had been bussed in—and I should say I dislike using the term “gay,” but it’s commonly used today, so I will—began shouting at me as I testified so that you couldn’t even hear what I was saying. A half dozen times I was interrupted. I was concerned for my safety, so I asked a security guard for an escort to my car. I went home and began writing my book. I wanted to share my experiences growing up in a same-sex household.
One thing you stress is that you didn’t observe a monogamous relationship in your home when growing up.
Stefanowicz: Yes. For children such as myself, just because our parents are “partnered,” doesn’t mean they are monogamous. Monogamy in the gay community means “serial monogamy,” you have a single partner for several months and then move on, or you’re in a relationship but have multiple partners on the side. Research shows that most male homosexual relationships become open within the first year. A recent New York Times article confirmed this—50 percent of same-sex male “marriages” become open to other sexual partners within the first year. My father could be in a “committed,” long-term relationship, but there was an agreement with his partner that there would be sexual relationships with others.
When I was growing up, I wasn’t surrounded by average heterosexual couples. In my home there would be my father’s partners and male friends, and they would often take me along to meeting places in the GLBT community. I was just a child, but I was exposed to overt sexual activity. When I was about nine, for example, my father took me to a downtown sex shop. He said he wanted to expose me to sexuality so that I wouldn’t be prudish. There was no sense of privacy around sexuality. Sex was very public; that was part of the gay culture.
He’d take me to see the work of gay artists, whose paintings and sculptures seemed to have phallic symbols worked into their art. He’d take me to nude beaches where gay men met one another. He wanted me to take my clothes off too, but I wouldn’t. It was at such places that men were involved in “cruising,” propositioning one another for sex. There were areas nearby you would go to for sex. There was a network; if the police were coming, they’d tip one another off and they’d stop their sexual activity.
This was before the Internet age, but there was still an incredible network that the gay community used to inform one another about their meeting places where they could go for a “quickie.” They could be public beaches, gyms, or even parks where children were playing nearby. My father would go cruising at locations all over Canada. He also loved coming to the States; his favorite cities included San Francisco, Miami, and Ft. Lauderdale. You could cruise, find someone in a few minutes, and go someplace to have sex.
My father also kept an apartment near his downtown office where he could meet someone for quick sex.
Once, when I was in the 10th grade, I was excited because my father came to school to watch me perform in the band. He never did before. I saw his eyes bug out when he saw all the teenage boys performing on the stage with me. Then I realized that he was not there for me, but to pick up young men.
As you got older, your father used you as “bait” to attract men he was interested in having sex with, too.
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