By: Emily Conley
“It’s so complicated, it’s so messy,” Dawn Stefanowicz says of her story. It’s a difficult one to hear, as it is difficult for her to tell. It wasn’t until she was in her late 20s and early 30s that she began to unpack the effects of growing up in a household that included her father’s same-sex partners. At one point, both of her parents were involved in same-sex relationships.
“We saw a lot. We heard a lot…There was no help for us as children growing up in this,” Dawn said. “How do you talk about it, when people around you have no clue, and they think you’re a pervert if you start talking about all these things you know as a little child that you shouldn’t have any knowledge of?”
Along with same-sex marriage becoming legalized in Canada, Dawn faced the new challenge of hate-crime legislation that removed free speech rights for anyone to say anything that might be perceived as criticizing same-sex relationships or same-sex marriage. Dawn no longer had the freedom to speak or write about her experiences growing up in her own country.
Living in the United States now, after watching the erosion of free speech, conscience rights, and freedom of religion in Canada, Dawn says, “I wish people would wake up and say, ‘You know what, I don’t care whether you’re a Republican, a Democrat, an Independent, or something else, freedom of speech is primary.’ Freedom of speech is what’s at stake.”
Dawn is one of a small group of adults who grew up with LGBT parents, most of whom were involved in same-sex relationships, that are now speaking up for marriage. They all have one thing in common—as children they craved the love and presence of their missing mother or father. These courageous men and women have decided to take a stand so that future generations of children, all of whom deserve both their mom and dad, will know that they were worth speaking up for.