Rebecca: A support system in gay community

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There were only a few times growing up when Rebecca Meiksin was confronted by someone who didn't think gay people should be parents.

Annie O'Neill, Post-GazetteRebecca Meiksin's mother is a lesbian. She is heterosexual.

But one day, when a classmate at Allderdice High School casually suggested just that, she could not keep silent.

"I turned to him and said, 'Why not? My mom is gay, and I turned out OK' and he just stared at me, like, 'No, wait, really?' He was so embarrassed. He didn't know he was being offensive, he just didn't know what he was talking about."

Other than those few encounters, Ms. Meiksin, a 22-year-old graduate of Oberlin College, is comfortable about her life as the daughter of a lesbian mother. She herself turned out to be straight -- "I did not grow up hating men," she laughs. As a toddler, she played with other children of gay and lesbian parents and her mother took her to gay pride events.

"I had a very strong support system in the Pittsburgh gay community. A lot of my mom's friends are gay, and especially because she wasn't partnered until I was 12, I was around her friends a lot, I was around the gay community a lot, and so I knew a lot of normal, fun, functioning people who are gay, so it's not like I ever internalized any of that, like 'This is bad,' or 'My mom is the only person like this.' It was normal to me."

In school, her friends were from all different backgrounds. An excellent student, she has always loved working with children, as a baby-sitter and in camps and after-school programs.

She's intensely interested in politics and health care issues. While at Oberlin she spent January 2004 in South Africa with the World Library Partnership helping high school students in a rural area with literacy projects, starting a debate team and a "community mapping project" to locate medical and employment resources.

Even today, "I'm very close with my mother," she said. "Until I was 12 it was just her and me, and I got tons of attention."

When her mother's partner moved in with them, "we had the same conflicts that any step-family would have during my teenage years but I always felt supported by my mother and developed that relationship with [her partner] also."

Occasionally she speculates about her biological father -- an anonymous sperm donor. "I do wonder about that, like any child without a father or a mother probably would," she says. But, growing up, her grandparents and her uncle served as role models, and "my mom made a deliberate effort to have men around me."

"When I was maybe 5 or 6, I decided I wanted a father figure, I wanted to celebrate father's day with, and she told me, 'Well, why don't you pick someone?'

"And I said, OK, and I picked her friend Richard. So I asked him, 'Will you be my father,' and he said, 'Well, what do I have to do?' and I said, 'Love me,' and he said, 'I already do that.' "

-- Mackenzie Carpenter


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