A Gay Dad Responds to Rupert Everett

This morning, via Joe.My.God., I had the misfortune of reading an interview with Rupert Everett in the Telegraph. You may or may not want to read the whole thing, but the money quote is short and sweet:

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.


Where to begin?

I can think of a few things that are worse than being brought up by two gay dads, Rupert. Would you like some examples? Shall we talk about about how my children came to be in foster care?

My sons lived in a home where they played in animal waste. Their mom tried to take care of animals and children, but didn’t know how to take care of either. So the animals and children didn’t have enough food. I’m pretty sure there was at least one dead animal present one of the times my sons were removed from their home.

Is that worse than being raised by two gay dads?

When my older son was four, a foster parent brought him to the dentist for the first time. His teeth were literally rotting out of his head from neglect. He had to get six crowns, in addition to a whole bunch of fillings. I know how unpleasant getting a crown was at the age of thirty. I can’t imagine what it might have been like at the age of four.

Is that worse than being raised by two gay dads?

Once, my older son arrived at daycare and told his teachers that “Daddy hits Mommy.” Another time, neighbors called the police when they heard a dispute. The police found my sons’ parents assaulting each other on the bed next to my younger son. He was not yet one week old.

Is that worse than being raised by two gay dads?

My younger son once arrived at daycare with burns on his hands. His parents had been using the oven to heat their apartment, and my son tried to climb in.

Is that worse than being raised by two gay dads?

How about the foster parents that called the social workers and said they couldn’t handle my younger son anymore? He couldn’t see food without screaming, probably because he had so often been hungry. He was two and still couldn’t speak, so his only means of communication were screaming and crying.

Is that worse than being raised by two gay dads?

What about the next foster home, where my younger son was assaulted? He had bruises all over his face, even behind his ears, and the doctors couldn’t identify what item had been pressed into his face so hard that they could still see the pattern when he was finally brought to the emergency room. Maybe the sole of a shoe, or a tennis racket. Something with a pattern like that.

How about that, Rupert? Is that worse than being raised by two gay dads?

Listen, I understand that you were a trailblazer. You came out when I was in high school. And it mattered. It made a difference. It was meaningful to me.

And I also understand that you paid a heavy price for coming out. Your career has not recovered. Though I have to be honest — sometimes I wonder if part of the reason your career hasn’t gone where you hoped is that you seem unable to give an interview without saying something hateful and embarrassing. If I were producing a film, I expect I would want that film to be the story, and not the internalized homophobia of its stars on display. You might want to give that some thought.

But I would ask you to think back twenty years, Rupert. When you decided to come out, what motivated you? Did you hope you could make a difference? Well, you did make a difference. At least one kid — me — saw you, and knew that things would get better.

You’re making a difference again, Rupert, when you give interviews like the one you gave to the Telegraph. But it’s the wrong kind of difference.

UPDATE 9/17/2012: I wrote a brief followup to respond to a couple of reactions to this post.

About Mark

I'm a stay-at-home dad with a husband and two young sons. When I'm not driving the kids to school or camp or swimming lessons or cleaning up bathroom accidents, I try to remember to update my blog.

Posted on September 16, 2012, in Parenting and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

  1. I totally agree. That someone would think that children in bad situations are in some way better off than they would be with two dads is terrible.

    And on the subject of Mr. Everett… Yes, his career suffered, but the same kind of thing happened to Ellen, and she fought back to become the most popular daytime talk show host in America. Neil Patrick Harris and Jim Parsons came out and are stars of their respective sitcoms on CBS. And Zachary Quinto is still playing the role of Spock in the rebooted Star Trek. Times have changed and this spiteful man just can’t keep up.

    • Well, Ellen paid a pretty high price, too. Did you see that article celebrating ten years of her talk show? Actors from her coming out episode couldn’t get work again, even Laura Linney. Oprah says that appearing on the episode generated the most racist hate mail she ever received. And the Herculean effort it took to get Ellen’s talk show off the ground was clearly part of that price.

      Yes, it would be less of an issue if he came out today (NPH, Parsons, Quinto) but that doesn’t change the real hit he took twenty years ago.

      Mostly, it just made me sad. His coming out helped me, and now he’s trashing the family that exists, in some small way, because of the trail he blazed.

      • I meant to use Ellen as an example of how it doesn’t have to go the way Rupert’s career did. Ellen suffered, but has found her way through.

  2. Wow. Your response is wonderful. And it is so right on point.

    Keep up the great work, Dad! Your sons are lucky to have you and your husband!

  3. I suspect, based on the last sentence (“…good not to have more…”), that Rupert may not have meant to attack gay parenting, in general, but that he was once again on a rant about gay men using surrogacy. He has a history of publicly criticizing gay men who opt for surrogacy.

  4. Go, Mark! Thank you for kindly introducing reality as a response to Everett’s wild generalizations. I don’t particularly understand Everett’s outlook on the world. His career tanked because of his coming out… so he blames gay people? No one likes that 50-something year old self-loathing gay man, and that’s precisely what he seems to be. I bet Bret Easton Ellis and he could get along swimmingly.

  5. Well put. Loving and nurturing parenting in a well structured environment is hands down more important than gender or sexual preference of the parents (which IMHO doesn’t matter at all). I have 4 children from foster care (all siblings) and it is amazing the difference that a good home makes. The last thing we need to do is turn any qualified person away from parenting – for shame, Rupert Everett.
    (BTW: I’m a friend of Danny’s, who turned me on to your blog)

  6. When I received my masters in social work decades ago (well after my work to become a monk in three non-denominational orders and a shaman in four traditions), I remembered the day after graduation, a powerful meditation. The gist of the meditation? One person can (and does) change the world.

    Your post amplifies the reality that now FOUR people are changing this world in ways we all benefit. You, your partner and your kids. Your post will invite countless changes as well.

    As an out, gay monk, social worker and shaman, in gratitude I bow to you for being the change our world is starving for!

  7. You are not alone Mark. Here is my blog on the same subject, with a very similar set of circumstances. I think there are many of us gay dad who took a gut punch by Mr. Everett..not just because of his thoughtless words, but also due to who he was to us. http://evolequals.com/2012/09/18/a-gay-dad-sounds-off-on-rupert-everett/

  8. Rob! Outstanding once again!!!

  9. I am so, so happy that your sons have you for a dad now.

    Screw Rupert Everett.

  10. Touché!!! You are 100% right. Thank you for providing a wonderful loving home to those children. People need to realize what a family is truly about and you said it in your response.

  11. Thank you for sharing your story. I am so sorry for the horrific traumas your children had to go through prior to being rescued by you and your partner. Thank you for providing them with a loving home and a chance at a normal life. Gender means nothing when raising children, love does.

  12. Thank you Mark for having the words and the grace to do what so many of us thought and weren’t able to express. Unfortunately there are probably many out there that feel the same way Rupert feels. However, know that there are even more that want to thank you and appreciate everything that you do on a daily basis.

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