Dana Rudolph

Constance McMillen and Her Lesbian Mom

Filed By Dana Rudolph | March 25, 2010 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Constance McMillen, Mississippi, prom, queerspawn

By now, you would have to have been living on another planet not to know the story of Constance McMillen, whose Mississippi high school canceled its prom after she told officials she wanted to bring her girlfriend and wear a tux.

What most news channels have missed, however, is that Constance's mother is also a lesbian. Constance mentioned this in passing to Michaelangelo Signorile during an interview for his show on OutQ Sirius radio. (Thanks to the attentive women at Autostraddle for picking up on it.)

Does this matter?

I'd like to think that even if Constance's mom was straight, she would have been supportive of her daughter. Her dad is supportive, and he is not (to the best of my knowledge) gay. Still, this shows that LGBT parents are more than capable of raising strong children who are willing to stand up for their beliefs. I'd also guess that LGBT rights have a special prominence for Constance because they affect not only her, but also others who are close to her.

Abigail Garner's excellent book Families Like Mine includes a whole chapter showcasing the voices of second-gen LGBT people like Constance. It was shocking to me, the first time I read it, to hear how difficult it was for many LGBT parents to accept a child's coming out. There was sometimes the sense that they are "proving" the myth that LGBT people "make" their kids LGBT. That's utter nonsense, of course. No one "makes" their kids anything. (I have a hard enough time getting mine to make his bed.) Statistically, however, some LGBT people will have LGBT kids.

Perhaps Constance's story will be an inspiration not only to other teens, but also to the LGBT parents of LGBT children. They can support each other in the face of misperceptions, no matter what the mythmakers may say.

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I don't think we would have heard this story without Constance having a lesbian mom. Her dad's supportive, yes, but how much of that has to do with the fact that he has a lesbian ex-wife/girlfriend?

The fact is that Constance is amazing and she probably comes from a different background than most LGBT northeastern Mississippi teens (where the closest city is the one with AFA headquarters!). A lot of gay teens would have just accepted the school's decision, or at least not have the resourcefulness and strength to work on it with the ACLU. Heck, I didn't even think to bring a boy to prom when I was Constance's age - it didn't even dawn on me as a possibility. I'm guessing it would have been different if my dad were gay (or if I knew a single openly gay adult, for that matter).