10 Things You Learn About Love From Having Same-Sex Parents, Because Tevin Johnson-Campion's Family Is The New Normal
As the country waits with bated breath to see which way the United States Supreme Court will vote in regards to marriage equality, we’re learning more and more about the plaintiffs in the case. One of those couples is Paul Campion and Randy Johnson. Not only are Paul and Randy hoping to see same-sex marriage become legally recognized for them, but for their four beautiful kids, too.
Living in Kentucky where same-sex marriage is riddled with discrimination laws, their four kids only have a legal relationship with one of their dads. Unlike straight couples who, when they adopt, immediately get equal parental rights, same-sex couples don’t get that right. Only one parent can be regarded as the legal parent so if, worst case scenario, the legal guardian were to die, the financial and legal protections allowed to straight couples would not exist for same-sex couples. It would be a legal mess and the future of their family would hang in the balance.
This became a real possibility for Paul and Randy’s family when Paul was diagnosed with prostate cancer. In addition to dealing with the emotional and mental toll that comes with someone you love having cancer, the family had the added stress of dealing with how medical providers would recognize Randy through the whole process. Without a legal marriage, laws can interfere with just how involved a partner can be in the process, and even visitation rights can come into play.
I was able to talk to Randy and Paul’s son Tevin Johnson-Campion who’s currently studying journalism at the University of Louisville. As the son of a same-sex couple, Tevin isn’t just proof that kids of same-sex couples turn out more than a-okay, but that they also grow up to be compassionate, tolerant, and open people who deserve to have a family unit that gets all the rights that any other family out there should.
So what did I talk to Tevin about? Love, of course, among other things. In his own words, here are the 10 things you learn about love and relationships when you have same-sex parents.
1. It's Important To Tell People That You Love Them
"I am more open to [love] because of [my parents], but like most people, you have to earn my respect before that love builds. However, I am very expressive to my friends. I am not afraid to hug any of my guy friends or fist bump any of my girl friends. I am just an expressive person. I even tell my friends that I love them because I believe it’s important for them to hear it."
2. Marriage Is Changing And Society Needs To Change With It
"[Marriage] used to be this sacred thing and divorcing was just unheard of. You would be shamed 60-70 years ago if you divorced your spouse. Now people get divorced every day and are even on their third and fourth marriage. My Dads have been together for about 24 years, which is longer than most couples nowadays. They deserve the right like any other couple to get married if they choose. They are more than qualified. The institution of marriage is changing and it’s about time we change with it. If two human beings want to get married, then they should be allowed that right, end of story. I don’t think that we should be rejecting people’s right to marry because other than religion there is no logical reason."
3. Ignore The Haters
"My parents have always told me to ignore the ignorance. Granted, this case has presented the haters on a larger scale, but I feel as if I can laugh it off. Those people literally have no idea what they are talking about and usually are just trying to form opinions based on what they think they know. I tell many people to spend time with my family for just a day and get to know us. People who do spend time with us normally change their opinions in the first hour, if not sooner. I am in a fraternity and many guys have been anti-gay, but just by knowing me and hearing about my family have changed their minds and opinions on what a same-sex couple is. My family is the new normal and people just need to get used to it."
4. There Is No One Kind Of Love
"My parents have taught me that love comes in all shapes, sizes, forms, and objects. Whether it’d be romantic or between friends, love can present itself all of the time. The important thing is that you let yourself be open to loving others and most importantly you let others love you. I feel like love is the most authentic thing you can give someone."
5. Your Parents Are Always There For You (Even If You Choose Other Options)
"[My parents] have told me in the past that if I ever need anything to always talk to them. Not gonna lie, I don’t think many teenagers go to their parents when they start dating; they turn to friends and colleagues, so that’s what I have done. But my parents let it be known that if I ever needed to talk about anything, they would be there."
6. Marriage Equality Means Relief For Same-Sex Parents And Their Families
"To [my parents], [having their marriage legally recognized] means relief. Relief that their kids can know they are happy. Relief that other couples can have their marriage recognized as well and even get married in states that currently ban same-sex marriage. Relief that they no longer have to worry about dying as 'partners' instead of 'husbands.'"
7. No Matter How SCOTUS Votes, It Will Not Invalidate Any Same-Sex Relationship Out There
"My parents have worked for the better part of their lives to have their marriage recognized. Although they got married in California in 2008, we have always believed that they were married long before then. Their relationship is valid in my eyes and in the eyes of others. If SCOTUS does not rule in their favor, it does not invalidate their relationship in any way. They have fought long and hard to get here and that’s what important."
8. Be Prepared That People Might Be Jerks, But Also Hope For The Best
"When I was younger and about to start preschool, my parents didn’t really sit us down, but kind of discussed our family being different. Tyler (my twin brother) and I were playing with our toys and I remember my parents saying something along the lines of 'your dad and I are gay and because we are different, some kids may pick on you. If anyone is ever mean to you and makes fun of you, please tell us.' As a kid, you don’t pay much mind to that because you don’t really understand the severity of it. Luckily, Tyler and I were very fortunate to have not been bullied about having gay parents in school."
9. People Should Judge You For Your Character And Nothing Else
"Having gay parents has never interfered with any relationships I have had. Usually, it is not the first thing I bring up when I am first talking to someone. I let people get to know me and then I bring it up later. At that point, it’s irrelevant and people can’t say anything based on my character because they have gotten to know me before they knew I had gay parents."
10. Tevin's Best Piece Of Love Advice?
"I have this quote that Britney Spears once said 'Go beyond reason to love, for it's the only safety there is.' Honestly, don’t close yourself off to it. Love all you can because it’s what going to get you through the tough times. Always be willing to listen to other people. Seek to understand, not to be understood. That is the key to having a good relationship with someone. Always understand that you may be the problem and it may not be the other person’s fault. Once you do that, life will be so much easier, I promise."