Dear Andrea Leadsom,
I’m still angry.
Just like the contagion you compared me and my family to, your rancid words are still flowing through my veins. I would have written to you sooner, but the rage that spilled from my heart stopped the words from flowing. It burned like lava. Besides, someone else wrote it better.
To this day I still don’t know whether you understand the scale in which your words have hurt me and my community. An apology and retraction would go a long way right now, although I feel that the damage has already been done.
We know you’re not exactly an ally to minority groups, you have never voted on equal gay rights , you have never voted on allowing the marriage between same-sex couples, and you almost always voted against laws to promote equality and human rights (9 votes against and 3 absences!) – you must be so proud of your voting record – but how can you say that my son isn’t worthy of validation amongst his peers.
How do you sleep at night?
Let me tell you a bit about my family.
Primarily, my three-going-on-four year old son.
Your voting record may not like this, but we are legally recognised as a family. I converted my early 2000 civil partnership and married my wife in 2015 – it was one of the happiest days of my life – and later on my son was born and I was legally allowed to put my wife’s name on his birth certificate alongside mine. I was so proud. For the first time I actually felt equal.
At his ripe old age, our son knows that the majority of families are made up of one-mum-one-dad. This is down to a number of reasons. His peers, his books, and his television. See, you’re probably all to happy to know that the media isn’t *that* inclusive to families like us. That’s not to say they’re not welcoming, it’s just not common to see two mums on the screen. Sure, we might get featured as part of an LGBT History Month or Pride “special” – which is a huge step forward – but that’s as far as our representation goes.
At the moment though, he couldn’t care less. All he cares about is when his next snack is coming. He knows he has two mummies and that’s all that matters. It matters not that his buddy at nursery has a mummy and daddy instead. This is probably the same view that most children hold at his age because children aren’t born ignorant and hateful. They’re taught it. They’re taught it from people like you, and from people currently stood outside a primary school in Birmingham protesting about lessons that teach equality; including but not exclusive to LGBTQ families.
A school that could have easily been the one my son is going to in September.
Did I tell you he’s starting school in September? Embarking on one of the most life-changing experiences he’ll ever have. You never forget your school days. How were they for you? For me they were somewhat hellish. Growing up with two mums in a school where the term “gay” was used as an insult was fun (!) but this was because the children saying these words weren’t educated when it came to diversity. They were still taught that parents had one-mum-one-dad or maybe one mum and one dad at weekends, but never two mums or two dads! That was unheard of and alien.
But the thing is, it wasn’t. I lived in Brighton for pity’s sake. We definitely existed. We were just too afraid to show our faces most of the time because others, in turn, were afraid of us but reacted with hatred instead of curiosity. School was not a safe place for me and I hated it most of the time. Is this something you want for our future generations? For our children not to feel safe in schools – especially if they identify as LGBTQ?
Because let me tell you, children are born Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, and Queer whether you like it or not.
Ms. Leadsom, your toxic views are damaging to our community and you need to educate yourself. Words like yours incite hate; just look at what’s happening in America and New Zealand. It’s now very well known that The President of the United States was a key influence for a terrorist. Section 28 was abolished in 2003 in England, and I’ll be damned if I’m letting something similar return in it’s place, but this is what your words can do, Ms. Leadsom. They can instil fear.
Referring to us being similar to a cancer or a contagion that someone is exposed to does just this. It scares people. Scares people into thinking they need to eradicate us. But we are nothing to be afraid of. We are your doctors, your librarians, your athletes, your police officers, your teachers, your cleaners, your pub landlords, your ticket inspectors, your fellow colleagues in Parliament. We are here, we contribute to society, and we are not going away.
Whether you like it or not we are a family and we are doing a good job at raising our son. We are not damaging are children, the hateful comments outside Parkfield School, however, are. We deserve to be treated as equals.
When we became parents we made a promise to our son. A promise that we would keep him safe, and within our little Brighton bubble, our son has been protected – happily unaware of what hatred is out there. But today you burst that bubble and you need to fix it before it’s too late. Your words today did more than just instil fear in the ignorant, they made me fearful of what the future now looks like for our son. I am scared that he will lose his innocence because another has had theirs taken away through hatred. I am scared that he will be isolated, because others want him to be. I am scared he will be made to feel ashamed and that he is damaged by having two mums.
Our son is absolutely beautiful. He doesn’t see people the way you clearly do. He see’s them as swimming instructors, babychino makers, nursery practitioners, bus drivers, Police officers. Their identity or ethnic background is irrelevant to him. He doesn’t think less of anyone, even though people think less of his family. He just see’s them as humans, even though people can’t see that of us.
You could learn a lot from my three-going-on-four year old, Ms. Leadsom.