The Best Speech by Maya Bernstein (that makes me cry and smile at the same time)
I met Maya Bernstein, young girl, talented and open minded person. I met her at Bella Abzug Leadership Institute 2014 where we had a 12-days Leadership program. Because her speech was so powerful and emotionally strong, I decided to have her permission to post it online. After her life story, I changed my mind and views about some things in my own life. I strongly believe that you will like it as I like it (actually love it). Please enjoy, the speech of Maya Bernstein (original version):
Fact: I have two lesbian moms and two gay dads. A lot of people don’t believe that, understand that, or have the ability to fathom how that’s possible. Which I get, because even I’ve never met someone with the same family situation as me. Some common questions I get are:
- Are your original parents divorced?
- Do you all live in the same house?
- Are your parents friends?
Here’s how it all happened. My moms, Liz and Andrea, were together for eleven years before they had me. They met at a benefit for a women’s organization at Hunter College. My moms met my dads, Tom and George, at the Lambda Independent Democrats in Brooklyn. They talked to a number of potential fathers, seeking out a nice Jewish gay man with a reasonably sized nose, but decided they were most compatible with my dads, despite the fact that they are both Christians. It’s funny to me that they got to select a father for me based on sort of an interview process. Of course there were no applications or formal interviews, but they pretty much got to choose who my dad would be.
Anyway, this process of finding a father for me and getting impregnated and then having me took around two years. My dad donated sperm to my mom and that’s how I exist. I’m not going to detail that process but if you are interested, Google is a pretty cool thing that exists and I suggest you use it.
On February 27th, 1998, I was born. On that day, all four of my parents became parents, despite the impossible biological odds and tense political relationship between parenting and gay people. They all raised me, together. Liz is a lawyer. Andrea is a journalist. George is a bookkeeper for Tom’s graphic design company. Tom is also a professor. I have a little brother named Jonah who has the same parents as me. Yeah, that’s all six of us.
People love to talk about what it’s like to be a child of a gay parent. Some people believe that the evil disease of gay will rub off on me, or that I will lose my way in life due to the lack of a female figure and a male figure in my life. Some people think my lesbian mothers will abuse me. Some people think I am more likely to be bullied by my peers because I have gay parents. Some are worried about my mental health and susceptibility to mental breakdowns, and others worry that I will experience difficulty in developing “normal” social relationships, whatever normal is.
They tell me about it on TV. They tell me about it in newspapers. They tell me about it in scholarly journals and scientific research and religious sermons and in various forms of offensive, ignorant, political discourse.
Kids have asked me if my moms watch me while I get dressed. Adults have asked me who plays the mother and who plays the father since I live with my moms. Anonymous internet users have told me my lesbian family is going to hell.
Hearing these things makes me angry, because that’s not how it is. But I don’t want to tell you how it “is”, I won’t tell you how it is, because there is no “is”. I can’t tell you the story of being the child of gay parents. I can only tell you my story, and my story isn’t the story. I refuse to combat biased stereotypes with another stereotype that’s based only on my truth, because my truth cannot speak for the truths of others.
I have never met anyone with a family structure like mine. And that makes me feel better. There is no stereotype of us. We are not carbon copies. No families are. I bet everyone in this room’s mother is different. I bet your fathers are different. Maybe your grandma, sister, or cousin raised you. Maybe you’re adopted. I don’t know. But I bet they all have different stories to tell and truths to preach, I bet they come from different places and are taking varying paths to get to a different destination.
If you’re interested, I feel blessed because I have four wonderful parents that love me to bits and pieces. They love me when I’m angry, they love me when I’m sad, they love me when I eat all the hummus, they love me when I come home at 2am without my keys (but I could swear in the moment for that last one that they are not my biggest fans). They are a four-person dream team that backs me up in everything, with everything, so I can continue to be their everything. They also happen to be gay. That’s okay. ‘Cause my truth is that it really doesn’t change much at all.
*Picture (Bali Abzug Leadership Institute)