A Child's Experience

My name is Dawn Stefanowicz. I grew up in a homosexual household during the 60's and 70's in Toronto. As a child I was exposed to the GLBT subcultures and explicit sexual practices that are a part of these.

My father, when a child, was sexually and physically abused by older males. Due to this, he lived with depression, control issues, anger outbursts, suicidal tendencies, and sexual compulsions. He tried to fulfill his legitimate needs for his father's affirmation, affection and attention with transient and promiscuous relationships. Consequently he and his partners were exposed to various contagious STD's as they traveled across North America.

From a young age, I was exposed to explicit sexual speech, self-indulgent lifestyles, varied GLBT subcultures and gay vacation spots. Sex looked gratuitous to me as a child. I witnessed all-inclusive manifestations of sexuality including bathhouse sex, cross-dressing, sodomy, pornography, gay nudity, lesbianism, bisexuality, minor recruitment, voyeurism and exhibitionism. Sado-masochism was alluded to and aspects demonstrated. Alcohol and drugs were often contributing factors to lower inhibitions in my father's relationships.

I was at high risk of exposure to contagious STD's due to sexual molestation, my father's high-risk sexual behaviours, and multiple partners. Even when my father was in what looked like monogamous relationships, he continued cruising for anonymous sex.

The many personal, professional and social experiences with my father did not teach me respect for morality, authority, marriage, and paternal love. I felt fearfully silenced as I was not allowed to talk about my dad, his male housemates, his lifestyle and encounters within the subcultures without being browbeaten and threatened by my father. While I lived at home, I had to live by his rules. Yes, I loved my dad. However, I felt abandoned and neglected as my needs were not met since my father would often leave suddenly to be with his partners for days. His partners were not really interested in me. I was outraged at the incidences of same-sex domestic abuse, sexual advances toward minors, and loss of sexual partners as if people were only commodities. I sought comfort looking for my father's love from boyfriends starting at 12 years old.

My father prized unisex dressing, gender-neutral aspects and a famous cross-dressing icon when I was eight years old. I did not see the value of the biological complementing differences of male and female or think about marriage. I made vows to never have children since I had not grown up in a safe, sacrificial, child-centered home environment. Due to my life experience, I ask, "Can children really perform their best academically, financially, psychologically, socially and behaviorally in experimental situations?" I can tell you that I suffered long term in this situation and this has been professionally documented.

Two decades of direct exposure to these stressful experiences produced insecurity, depression, suicidal thoughts, dread, anxiousness, low self-esteem, sleeplessness and sexuality confusion in me. My conscience and innocence were seriously damaged. I witnessed that every other member in my family suffered severely as well.

It took me until I was into my 20's and 30's, after making major life choices, to begin to realize how being raised in this environment affected me. My healing encompassed facing reality, accepting long-term consequences, and offering forgiveness. Can you imagine being forced to tolerate unstable relationships and diverse sexual practices from a young age and how this affected my development? My gender identity, psychological well-being, and peer relationships were all affected. Unfortunately, it was not until my father, his sexual partners and my mother had died, was I free to speak publicly about my experiences.

I came to deeply care for, love and compassionately understand my dad. Sadly, my father died of AIDS in 1991. Before he died, He shared his life regrets with me. My father's (ex)partners, whom I also had deep caring feelings for and associated with, also had drastically shortened lives due to suicide, contracting HIV or AIDS.

I am writing a book called Out From Under: Getting Clear of the Wreckage of a Sexually Disordered Home on my experience.

My biggest concern is the welfare of children in same-sex marriages. I have considered some of the potential physical and psychological health risks for children raised in this situation.

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.[i], [ii], [iii], [iv], [v], [vi], [vii], [viii], [ix], [x], [xi] Children do best with both a mother and a father in a lifelong marriage bond. [xii], [xiii] Children need responsible monogamous parents who have no extramarital sexual partners. Parental promiscuity, abuse and divorce are not good for children. Children need consistent appropriate boundaries and secure expressions of emotional intimacy that are not sexualized in the home and community.

What is the most suitable environment for children to be born or adopted into? [xiv]

I believe same-sex marriage will dispose of unique values esteemed within marriage that have been recognized throughout history. Marriage needs to remain a societal foundation that constitutes, represents, and defends the inherently procreative relationship between the husband and the wife for the welfare of their biological children. [xv]

My concern is that any person, couple or group who practice any form of sexual behaviour will be able to obtain children through previous heterosexual relationships, new reproductive technologies, and adoption due to the undefined term ‘sexual orientation’.

Are the government and judicial systems playing games with children? In my opinion, children's human rights have become secondary, ignored and denied.

Ultimately, children will be the real victims and losers in same-sex relationships and marriages. What price are we willing to pay for sexual freedom, tolerance and diversity? Is that price children's lives? [xvi]

This article is adapted from the published article, Same-Sex Marriage: Have the Best Interests of Children Been Considered?, Dawn C. Stefanowicz , April 9, 2005.

For more information see www.dawnstefanowicz.com


[i] Jakii Edwards, Like Mother, Like Daughter? The effects of growing up in a homosexual home, (Vienna, VA: Xulon Press, 2001). Also, see testimonial "Just Like My Mother?", Exodus International, North America.

[ii] Suzanne Cook, My Parent is Gay, (Seattle, WA: Exodus International-North America, 2000). Also, see testimonial "Looking For My Father's Love," Exodus International, North America.

[iii] Nathan Bell, A Son's Journey, 1997, Distributed by Love In Action.

[iv] Mitchell, The Tragedy of "Gay" Parenting, Stephen Bennett Ministries.

[v] Paul Cameron and Kirk Cameron, "Children Of Homosexual Parents Report Childhood Difficulties," Psychological Reports 2002, 90, 71-82.

[vi] Timothy J. Dailey, Ph. D., "Comparing the Lifestyles of Homosexual Couples to Married Couples," Family Research Council, April 17, 2004.

[vii] Timothy Dailey, Ph. D., "Homosexual Parenting: Placing Children at Risk," Family Research Council, Issue No.: 238.

[viii] Standards 4 Life: Homosexuality, Homosexual Adoption. Good for Children's Health?, Christian Medical & Dental Associations.

[ix] Homosexuality and Hope, Statement of the Catholic Medical Association.

[x] Dale O'Leary, Is This Diversity, Or Tragedy: Children as Victims of their Parents' Choices, NARTH.

[xi] 'Gay marriage' and homosexuality some medical comments, LifeSite, by authors of this report: John Shea,MD, FRCP (C), Radiologist; John K. Wilson MD, FRCP (C), Cardiologist; Paul Ranalli MD, FRCP (C), Neurologist; Christina Paulaitis MD, CCFP, Family Physician; Luigi Castagna MD, FRCP (C), Paediatric Neurologist; Hans-Christian Raabe MD, MRCP MRCGP Internist; W. André Lafrance MD, FRCP (C), Dermatologist.

[xii] S. Sarantakos, Children in three contexts: family, education and social development, Children Australia, 21, (1996), 23-31

[xiii] Children Need Both A Mother And A Father, NARTH.

[xiv] Sidelining Stability and Security The case against abandoning the current grounds for adoption, The Christian Institute June 2002.

[xv] Daniel Cere & Douglas Farrow, eds., Divorcing Marriage, (Montreal & Kingston, Ontario: Published for the Institute for the Study of Marriage, Law and Culture by McGill-Queen's University Press, 2004), p.78.

[xvi] Susan Brinkmann, Homosexuality: The Untold Story: Gay Marriage: Who's Minding the Children?, Part 5 of 6, The Catholic Standard and Times Newspaper for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.