There is no one definition of family. Daniel Student learned this as his reshaped after the death of his father.
Daniel credits his parents for who he is. He watched their family become a family as he grew up – he watched his stepmother become a parent, he and his brother were witnesses at their parents’ wedding, and felt protected from the ugliness that could have happened.
Oh, and his parents happen to be two moms.
In his words:
My name is Daniel Student, I’m originally from Baltimore, Maryland.
I was in school one day and I got pulled out of class and they didn’t tell me why. And I went out to the front of the school to the place where the cars pick us up, and it wasn’t actually my mother or my father waiting for me, but this woman Sharon who was actually my mother’s boss. Sharon was a close family friend. And we drove to an apartment complex where my father lived. Unfortunately my parents had separated 6 months previously. And I remember my mom walking up the steps with huge tears in her eyes. And when we saw my mother, we knew that my father had died.
And the reason I brought up that memory was because about 6 months after that, Sharon moved into our house. My mom and her basically broke that they had a relationship, and they sat down my brother and I and for the first time ever I got introduced to the word “lesbian” which was a word I didn’t know before.
So it was a gradual process. My parents really wanted my brother and I to understand what was going on. Obviously having a step parent at all move into your house is always scary. Little by little, Sharon who was this person who was already in our lives grew to be my parent. I got to watch her become a parent in front of my eyes. I went across my adolescent and teenage years in a very distinct situation. I did deal with a lot of issues on the playground, had a couple friends who I definitely feel like I lost in the meantime.
I had a situation with a friend across the street. We would play together a lot. And I lived in a sort of safe suburban neighborhood, everyone’s out on their bicycles. And so we were playing one day in his yard and I remember his father called us in and when you went into their house, this I definitely will never forget, you walk in and the kitchen is right in front of you, and you take a right and you go down a step and it just stays in my mind because his father was sitting right at the end of the table, sort of like if you can imagine film noir light on him, that was what was happening, you walk down a step to kind of come into his world. And he sat us down, both me and my friend, and I don’t remember much of what he said but I remember that the main crux of what he wanted to talk about was my parents. And he asked me if my parents were dykes.
I just remember not understanding what that meant, but I was getting a tone that was not friendly. And so I remember running across the street crying, I’m not sure if I ran across the street right after that was said or if it was a longer conversation, but I remember coming into the house and telling my mom what he had said. And my mom basically sat me down right at that moment to say, “Okay, this is what that word means and this is why he said that.”
I remember her being so, having that look of fire, that look of a protective mother who just can’t believe what just happened. And we stopped playing a lot after that and it wasn’t really this dramatic thing but I certainly remember I lost the desire to hang out with this young man, and he seemed to have lost the desire to hang out with me.
And I remember all these things of being picked on in the neighborhood and yet I don’t remember them outside the one I mentioned earlier ever really being that big of a deal. I remember my parents making it feel like “So what?” to me. Coming home and just talking about our days at the dining room table and just listening to me and believing in me and the person I was becoming. And I somehow managed to minimize the impact of what could be pretty major scars. I had a family that gave me experience that made it a better family, made it a better experience for me as a child, that gave me a chance to really sort out some stuff about myself that I don’t think a lot of people would. I got to really look at myself and say, “What kind of human am I? How am I going to relate to other people who might not fit into the boxes that we don’t fit into?”
One thing I really want to say on camera and I’m very excited to say is that my parents got married, last year. And my brother and I of course were the witnesses and we made it a little family event. And again, very much in the theme of our family, we went to the courthouse and went and got brunch afterwards. And it was about the four of us celebrating that moment, my parents said they don’t really need–they have very close friends–but they didn’t need it to be, it was about our family unit and what we had gone through not just about what they had gone through. And that’s really what makes them special, they always, they made it about us and about us working together as a group. We have systematically become a family that people don’t see as the guys with two moms. I’ve been asked how do I introduce my parents or what do I say and honestly I just say, “My two moms” and give the details of who they are beyond that, and people I think not only see us as just another family but see us as a family that has really learned how to share love with each other.
Originally published at ImFromDriftwood.com. I’m From Driftwood envisions a world where every lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer person feels understood and accepted, and every straight person is an ally.