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And attitudes like Dawn's were the source of our childhood pain

by Jeremy Hooper

At last count, there have been approximately 17.2 gagillion books written in which adult authors look back on their heterosexual-headed households in a negative light.  Yet despite the commonality of memoirs detailing childhood trauma at the hands of straight authority figures, our far right opponents will blow up any case wherein a grown adult looks back on their homosexual-headed homes as being a less-than-stellar experience.  Cases like that of Dawn Stefanowicz.

Picture 5-114Stefanowicz is a Canadian writer who has made a name for herself as a speaker and author for doing one thing and one thing only: Selling out the gay man who raised her (even though he is no longer here to tell his side of the story), and then using his allegedly trauma-inducing parenting to resist rights for gays.  And she has put her recollections (and agenda) into a new memoir called Out from Under: The Impact of Homosexual Parenting.

So predictably, since the book is geared at making gays look unsavory and making their parental abilities look less than those of tigers who eat their young, our conservative opposition will try and use the book to further their own sociopolitical causes.  Which is exactly what Peter LaBarbera is doing in a new piece posted on his Americans For Truth site.  Here are some snippets:

Folks, this is a beautifully written book that testifies to the lunacy of encouraging homosexual parenting in public policy.
Stefanowicz said she was prompted to write the book in 2004 after testifying before a Canadian senate committee against hate crime legislation and expressing public opposition to the sexual diversity curricula used in her country’s schools.

The author and speaker said writing down her memories about being raised by a father who welcomed numerous male sex partners into the family’s home on a regular basis was a painful process. Stefanowicz said her father’s destructive homosexual behavior created confusion about sexuality in her own life. In the book she chronicles how, as a young girl, she often wished she were a boy.

“It’s a very difficult thing to describe,” she said. “You doubt your own sexuality because you’re looking at your parent’s example. And for me, when I looked at my father I did not feel affirmed as a young girl growing up, nor as a woman. My own femininity was denied in that kind of situation. Women were not valued.”

So again, what we have here is one woman who attributes her faith in Jesus Christ for leading her to her current place of understanding about gay people, using her own personal experiences to denigrate the concept of gay parenting.  And again, the man who she is painting in such a horrible light is not here to defend the charges.  In fact, she quite tellingly mentions on her website that "it was not until [her] father, his sexual partners and [her] mother had died, was [she] free to speak publicly about [her] experiences."  That comment alone should raise a red flag for anyone seeking objective truth from this book!

But even if every single one of Ms. Stefanowicz's accounts are 100% true, who is she to use her personal childhood experiences in this fashion?  She's describing a situation unique to herself, and then projecting that onto a community of millions.  And she's describing a childhood that took place in the 1960's and 70's, a world wherein gay parenting and gay life in general was undeniably a much different experience, and trying to use it to stem the growing tide of progress here in the 21st century.  In fact, one could even argue that if an inability to live a life in mainstream society did lead her father to engage in certain behaviors, then this book could more accurately provide a document of the effects mid-20th century persecution had on the queer psyche then it could testify to the wages of being raised by a gay!!

Look, our heart goes out to anyone who had an unhappy childhood.  Youth is sacred, and nobody deserves to be robbed of those memories.  However, what we have here is a woman who is make a VERY irresponsible intellectual leap, the likes of which seeks to deprive millions of potentially happy children a loving, stable homo-headed home.  A memoirist has a unique responsibility to tell their personal tale in a compelling and truthful fashion.  But that truth must also extend to the connections they make between their personal journey and that of society at large.  If you are fortunate enough to have some gay-headed families in your life, then you know unequivocally that Ms. Stefanowicz has crapped out on that last concept.

Author Dawn Stefanowicz Tells of Pain Caused by Homosexual Father [AFT]

**Read all about Dawn: Dawn Stefanowicz.com

**For the flip side of the kids o' gays story, check out Abigail Garner's fabulous book and website: Families Like Mine

**UPDATE, 11/27: Alvin McEwen has also take on this situation over at Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters. Check that out:

Dawn Stefanowicz again? [HB&HM]

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Your thoughts

Thank you for covering this story I have heard about her before on other Christian websites.

Aside from all the other points you made the other thing that I find truly annoying is the fact that even if her story is 100% true the book is set-up in way to make it seem as children can't suffer the same way she did in a hetero-headed home.

I have been fortunate enough to have a close gay friend who has two children with his best friend who happens to be a lesbian and her partner and I can tell you first hand that I have never seen two of the most happiest well adjusted children in my life.

Posted by: Alonzo | Feb 26, 2008 12:31:19 PM

I read "Dawn's Testimony" over at her website. Not only did she fail to logically connect her experience to other people, as you pointed out, but there is just something about the style and content that smacks of a big spin-job.

For example, she professes love for her dad in one sentence but then whips out some
AFA boilerplate lines like:

"Not only do children do best with both a mother and a father in a lifelong marriage bond....."

How does that connect?

IMHO I think she's whoring the whole story. But, then, as Dennis Miller would say, "I could be wrong."


Posted by: dave b | Feb 26, 2008 2:03:57 PM

This woman disgusts me, personally. How many heterosexual households mentally and emotionally hurt their children? How many heterosexual marriages fall apart, and how many children have to suffer because of this? And these substantial greater numbers, with potentially a higher ratio of harm... are where in this 'fair' comparison?

Posted by: Kira | Feb 26, 2008 3:07:53 PM

Are my childhood experiences unique? According to a growing number of personal testimonies, experts, and organizations, there is mounting evidence of strong commonalities to my personal experiences.

That says it all.

Because Dawn talks to the anti-gays and they all nod their heads then what she has to say just must be true, you know.

personal testimonies = ex-gays (before they become ex-ex-gays)

experts = Peter LaBarbera and Matt Barber

organizations = AFA, FotF, CWA, etc.

Posted by: Timothy | Feb 26, 2008 3:32:26 PM

Exactly, Timothy!

While choosing which part of the anti-gay industry is most annoying is like choosing your favorite kid, I'd have to say that their refusal to give credence to anyone outside of their insular community is among the most maddening.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Feb 26, 2008 3:39:45 PM

I feel for Dawn S. but check out her list of "resources" and it will give you some pause as to her credibility.

Posted by: a. mcewen | Feb 26, 2008 6:04:14 PM

What I find interesting is she blames the sexuality, rather than the bad behaviour. IF her father did expose her to his bad behaviour, shame on him, but it's no worse than when a single Mother exposes their child to man after man, or a single Father who has women after women coming in.

She said women had no value....so you have to sleep with a woman for them to have value?

From what I was able to read, her argument is really weak.....not to mention the "money begging" that is part of her website.

It's the usual, let me make money off of bashing Homo's.


I grew up in a straight Christian home, and I got abused and watched my Mom be abused....maybe I can blame Heterosexuality for that!

Posted by: Rob | Feb 26, 2008 10:28:32 PM

Exactly, Rob. I'm a gay woman & I grew up with an abusive father, who not only physically abused my mother, my brother & I, but verbally as well. Maybe I should blame his horrible "heterosexual" tendencies, right? I'll pen a "memoir" (if you want to call her bigoted dribble that) & go on a campaign against straight families. I mean...c'mon! Who is to say that if her father was heterosexual he wouldn't have woman after woman in his bed? Absolutely ridiculous.

Posted by: K | Feb 28, 2008 8:34:57 PM

My mother and I have not had the easiest of relationships--but I would hardly turn that into a diatribe against motherhood--I mean, come on--for this woman to take her childhood and then try to transfer it to everyone else is ridiculous.

Posted by: Jen G | Jun 22, 2009 7:55:45 AM

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