Child-free and Happy

From the Huffington Post:

Michelangelo Signorile

I do not want kids. I never wanted kids. Even as a kid.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m really happy for my gay and lesbian friends who’ve always wanted kids and who now have them. I like children; often find them fascinating, cute, and cuddly; and have nieces and nephews I adore. I just wouldn’t want to spend a lot of my time raising them, and though each of us could master things we might think we couldn’t, I don’t think I’m particularly well-suited to it. Why do something just because you might be able to do it?

There have always been blessings and curses to being queer in America. As far as I’m concerned, one of the blessings is that having kids is not only not expected but, for gay men especially, difficult to do. As a result, you can focus much of your life on work you love, and on other creative, intellectual, and political endeavors, and not get caught up in these “having it all” debates. When I first came to realize I was gay in my early teens, one of the things that went through my mind, amid the self-loathing and the fear, was, “Whew! I do not have to have kids.”

I know there are many straight people like me, and, sadly, a lot of them have kids anyway. They’re loath to admit that they didn’t want to have kids, except when you’re sitting around with them late at night, having a few drinks. Their kids don’t necessarily turn out bad; some turn out to be highly successful and productive people. But what of the parents and their lives? Even as they now love their children and speak of “rewarding” aspects, they really didn’t want to spend their lives raising children — they’ve told me so — but they did it just because they felt that they had to do it. It was what was expected.

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One Response to “Child-free and Happy”

  1. James Loewen Says:

    Excellent! Why would anyone wish to have children unless they are deeply committed to raising them? For me one of the great benefits of being gay is not having children. Like this author I made this a conscious decision from a young age. Even though I was consciously gay from a young age I knew about birth control and even considered a preventative vasectomy as a teenager just in case I slipped while experimenting with girls. Nothing could be furthest from my dreams than to reproduce with another person (and be forever linked with them.)

    I adore children, and take responsibility whenever I’m with children to share with them the best of what I know, encourage them to be free (and free of shame), believe in themselves and their abilities. However I have never wished to have children and at this age, almost 60 I’m very, very glad I listed to my own instincts and not the numerous people (and a couple of partners) who have remarked, “Oh you’re so great with kids, have you ever considered having children?”


    I have neighbours, a lovely and wonderful couple, a man and a woman who are consciously and conscientiously child free. They have two Siamese cats.

    I’ve been able to live my life in a fairly free manner, devoted to my passions, my art, my activism. I am child free and very happy about it. The persistent question to an a couple (or an individual), “When are you going to have kids” is perhaps heterosexist, not quite sure if that’s applicable but it reeks of a presumption that having children is a universal value.

    In this world where human life is rapidly reproducing and destroying our host (the planet Earth) the the conscious decision not to have children should be embraced, applauded and encouraged.

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