Saturday 24 February 2018

'We're really just a boring, regular family'

Medical student Clare O'Connell and sister Daire grew up with two mums, after their mother Gráinne came out 11 years ago.

And despite public fascination with their home life, the 19 year-old says they're just a "regular, boring family".

"People always ask me what it's like to have a gay parent and I'm always very stumped by that question," says Clare, who lives in Drumcondra, Dublin, with her sister, mum and partner Orla.

"My mam came out when I was eight and has been with Orla since I was 11, so to me it's completely normal. I don't really remember my mother sitting me down and telling me she was gay. It's just what I've always known.

"Orla and I have loads in common and get on great," she adds. "We do a lot of the typical mother-daughter stuff together, like cooking or watching TV in the evening. And if I'm introducing her to people, I'll introduce her as my mam.

"Apart from that, we're just a regular, boring family!"

While some teens are raised by a lone parent, Clare says she counts herself lucky to have a support network comprised of three -- two mums and a dad.

"I still have a fantastic relationship with my dad and go to his house every second weekend. A lot of my friends have grown up with two gay mothers and most would say they didn't miss out on having a father figure.

"When people say the gay community is undermining family values, they seem to forget that the one true family value is unconditional love -- something we all had growing up."

And what of such naysayers -- if cries of dissent from the Right are to be believed, bullies must be lining up to take shots at Clare over her two mams?

"I've never had a negative word said to me about it," insists Clare, whose clan took part in the We Are Family campaign to raise visibility of same-sex parents and their kids.

"If someone is going to bully you, they're going to do it if you have gay parents or not."

Pretty, passionate and smart, Clare is a case in point for the legal recognition of gay parents and their families -- something she and her peers who've founded a group called Believe in Equality are lobbying for.

"You get all these conservative groups out there saying: 'Think of the children'," she says. "But we are the children -- and nobody ever asked us what we think.

"We want to get the message out there that we're not completely messed up like everybody thinks we are.

"Our family isn't recognised by the State as an actual family, but we're just as much of a family as anyone else's and we deserve to be recognised as such. I'm proud to have two mums."

Irish Independent

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