Greg Bourke & Michael De Leon on advocacy and raising teens in a multi-racial family for #LGBTQfamilies Day

On Monday, June 2, 2014, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer bloggers, their family members, and allies from across the U.S. and around the world will celebrate the ninth annual Blogging for LGBTQ Families Day. The event, developed and run by the award-winning LGBTQ-parenting site Mombian, and sponsored by Family Equality Council, aims to raise awareness of LGBTQ families, their diverse natures, and how current prejudices and laws have a negative impact on their lives and children.

By Greg Bourke & Michael De Leon, Bella (15) & Isaiah (16)

We have been together for 32 years and parents for over 15 years.  We are the parents of a 15 year old daughter and 16 year old son and live in Louisville, Kentucky.  Our children are in high school, both attending local Catholic schools.

Our family is not only diverse from the aspect of having two Dads but diversity amongst the four of us. Michael is Hispanic; Bella, African American; Isaiah, Bi-Racial; & Greg, Caucasian.  We and our friends don’t notice our differences as we are just the Bourke-De Leon family.  What is amusing is when we dine out our waiter/waitress often inquire as to how to split the check. The kids will remark, “OK, how hard is it to see that we’re a family?”

No one ever prepared us for the parenting of teenagers. We are lucky to have two such beautiful and smart teenagers. We have concluded that the things they do that might drive us crazy are our own fault. We have strived to raise independent thinkers, and with that comes spreading of wings, pushing limits, fun teenage/parent moments! A difficult decision is to relinquish control of everything they do. If it’s important enough, we’ll state our opinion and why. We are pleased that they consistently make the right choices. 

We were married in 2004 in Canada, at the time our children were just 5- and 6-years-old. It meant a lot to them and it was a joyous occasion. We never talked about our marriage not being recognized by our state or country. After DOMA was struck down in 2013 and our marriage was recognized by the federal government we filed a federal lawsuit in Kentucky, for Kentucky to recognize our marriage. The ruling was in our favor and is now in Circuit court under appeal. Of utmost importance is for us to be recognized as a married couple and listed as parents on our children’s birth certificates.

We are proud that we have exposed our children to advocacy and that they know it’s up to us as individuals to stand up to unfair treatment. Our family has been exposed to advocacy through Greg’s work with the Boy Scouts of America to allow LGBT scouts and leaders. Our fight for marriage equality in Kentucky is leaving a great impression on our children. We may be on the news or in the press but there is nothing like a teenage daughter to put things in perspective: “Well, it’s cool and all, but you haven’t really made it until you’ve been on the Ellen show!”

When we see our friends post pictures of their babies, toddlers, and young children on Facebook, we smile and remember our kids going through similar experiences and stages. We smile even bigger knowing what awaits them. But it’s all good, the natural order of things – they are parents providing unbelievable amounts of love, care and nurturing, just as we do.  A good parent is a good parent, a loving family a loving family, we’re blessed to be and have both!