Openly gay actor Rupert Everett has proved that he is disturbingly ignorant when it comes to same-sex parenting, saying he cannot think of “anything worse” than being the child of two gay men.
“I can’t think of anything worse than being brought up by two gay dads. Some people might not agree with that. Fine! That’s just my opinion.
“I’m not speaking on behalf of the gay community. In fact, I don’t feel like I’m part of any ‘community’. The only community I belong to is humanity and we’ve got too many children on the planet, so it’s good not to have more.”
In 2009, Everett, blaming his lack of acting work on coming out at a relatively early point in his career, advised young actors to stay in the closet, drawing criticism from LGBT rights groups who pointed out that down that path lay only the self-perpetuating cycle of closeted silence that has for years plagued young LGBT actors.
That Everett says now that he is not speaking on behalf of the gay community is marked, and that he has not understood the damage his ill-informed opinion could do is, though not out of character, more than unfortunate.
Studies have shown that there is little to no difference in the well-being of children raised by same-sex parents; several studies have confirmed there is no detrimental effect in being raised by same-sex parents, and a handful of studies have even shown there may be a slight benefit in having lesbian parents — though this isn’t due to the parents’ gender but the manner in which they tend to parent.
Despite this, religious conservative groups and individuals have continually maintained the heterosexuals parents are not only better, but that heterosexual (married) couples are the only ones who can raise a healthy child. It is little surprise, then, that religious conservative news sites have seized on Everett’s words and attempted to spin them as proof that there are some gay people who support the so-called “traditional” view.
The opinion goes along with the traditional view that children need both a mother and father figure in order to achieve a happier and healthier life.
“Children want a mother and a father,” Andrea Lafferty, President of the Traditional Values Coalition, told The Christian Post in an interview earlier this year. “Gender makes a very big difference.”
“Two men might each be a good father, but neither can be a mom,” the National Organization for Marriage, an organization in support of traditional marriage, said in a statement on its website. “The ideal for children is the love of their own mom and dad. No same-sex couple can provide that.”
Everett has, with his latest statements, risked greatly harming a group of people to which he is often ascribed, even if he does not think of himself as part of the gay community. When Everett, even indirectly, feeds into such unsupported notions about gay parents, he creates ammunition for anti-gay forces. And the effect is not limited to Everett’s English base. Indeed, his statements have made headlines in America and as far away as New Zealand, one under the title “Children Need a Mother and a Father.”
In the interest of freedom of speech, it would be unjust to deny Everett the right to voice his opinions. He can say what he would like just as we are free to criticize with impunity.
Yet, given that Everett refuses the label “gay,” he should at least make sure he has an informed insight on gay parenting. And, if he really is concerned with humanity, he might consider thinking about the impact of his words before he exercises his right to aggressive ignorance, both on the community at large and the children of gay parents who might hear and then feel further stigmatized.