By Dawn Wolfe
ANN ARBOR – She doesn’t yet have a driver’s license, but Janet Stockton already has international connections in her new role as a board member of COLAGE – Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere. The San-Francisco based organization, which according to Stockton has about 50 chapters, also has a Canadian chapter.
According to the group’s website, “COLAGE is the only national and international organization in the world specifically supporting young people with gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender parents.” The organization sponsors a Family Week every year in Michigan as well as a national Family Week in Provincetown, Rhode Island, offers an online Pen Pal service and has collaborated with PFLAG and the Family Pride Coalition to create and offer an online Family Lobby Day Action Kit.
“I’ve been really blessed with the fact that I live in such an open-minded town as Ann Arbor, but I’m really interested in trying to get other kids who have LGBT parents to know that they’re not alone, so I’m really into … outreach,” said Stockton of her decision to serve as a COLAGE board member.
The new board member, who is on the fundraising committee, is bringing her knowledge of the local music scene to bear on her fundraising efforts. Saying that COLAGE is planning a series of fundraising parties to celebrate its 15th anniversary, Stockton explained that she hopes to put together a concert of local ska music bands, many of whose members she knows, to both raise funds and build awareness for COLAGE. She also hopes the concert will revitalize the local COLAGE chapter, which Stockton said “is really inactive” currently.
Asked about her favorite part of working with the COLAGE board, Stockton replied, “It’s fun coming [up with] new ideas and … brainstorming.”
Her new position on the COLAGE Board is not Stockton’s first experience with community involvement. Last year Stockton took part in lobbying in Lansing against the bill which eventually became Proposal 2 with her biological mother, Patricia Gordon.
In addition, “I’ve always been one to go to a protest, as long as it’s for a liberal cause,” Stockton, who also occasionally volunteers at her father’s church, said.
Stockton has lived with her biological mother and her mother’s partner, Peg Gordon, for ten years.
“I’m very proud of the fact that I have lesbian moms,” she said. Again stressing her good fortune to live in a progressive city, Stockton said that she hasn’t had many problems with peers discriminating against her due to her family situation. A recent argument with a boy she knows about the passage of Prop. 2 “[was] probably the only time I’ve had a big problem with it,” Stockton said.
Asked to give advice to other children of LGBT parents, Stockton spoke passionately.
“I can understand how some kids in their towns wouldn’t feel accepted if they did come out about it,” Stockton said, “but it’s a way better feeling if you do come out about your parents, and you’re very open about it, because if you’re comfortable with it then it tends to make the other people around you comfortable with it. And so it’s not as big a problem … it just seems normal. Also just be proud of the fact that you’re different because difference is what makes this country great.”
Stockton was no less straightforward when asked what she would say to the children of straight parents to help them understand her family.
“My dad remarried, and so I’ve had both straight parents and lesbian parents. I would say to them that it’s basically the same family structure,” she said. “There’s different roles that each parent plays, it’s just that they happen to be the same gender instead of opposite genders. There’s really no difference except for the fact that you get to go to Pride week and stuff like that. Straight people don’t have … ‘straight pride.'”
By Dawn Wolfe