Would any of the speakers care to turn the telescope around a bit and talk about where they think their parents, or their parents' generation, went wrong and how that may have affected the problems they have experienced?
Melanie: My family is very close knit. My father was from a broken home. He had a mother and three brothers and the mother took people off the streets into the house. He always had strangers in the house when he woke up. He's very strict with me having friends over late at night. My mom was from a strict family. She only had a mother, as well, and their family was so strict that when they were eating meals they put plates under their arms. And if they dropped one they would get smacked on the head. But, they are both very loving parents, everything is really good. Conflicts would only occur if my dad felt that I was hurting my mom, or not being honest. But they have both been very good to me.
Karen: My mom came from a two parent family and there was not any major conflicts or anything in her life, until she was married to my father. And that is basically what changed her and brought a lot of problems, it affected my sister more, because she can remember some of the situations with my father, where I can't. I wouldn't say that it was my parents' fault, the way I've been brought up. I have had a lot of support from my mother. I think she's a very strong person and that has a lot to do with the type of person I am today.
Aaron: My parents were divorced when I was two years old, I still have fine relationships with both of them. I spend one week here, one week there, wherever its convenient. I don't think it's hurt me any. I don't think you can generalize about that. Each individual case is different, people react differently to similar circumstances.
David: Even though I feel very strongly that the causes of homosexuality has nothing to do with parents, I think the reaction of parents to having a gay or lesbian child is a problem. I think a lot of that has to do with the invisibility, the not being aware and not being educated about what being gay or lesbian means. For fathers especially, the male socialization about their sons and what their sons are going to do and be in life. There is a lot of that wrapped up in it. I think it is changing gradually, but I still know of parents who would prefer their children to be criminals as opposed to gay. I have a number of friends who are both gay and have AIDS and their parents have more difficulty with the fact that their child is gay then that they have AIDS. So there is still a long way to go in terms of the reaction of parents having somebody in the family who is gay or lesbian.
How can we get better value for the money that we are spending on education?
Aaron: Alternative methods of education are definitely a way of the future. We have to realize that not everyone should be going to University, nor should we be encouraging everyone to go to University. It's not for everybody, nor is it designed to be. I think the privatization of some universities is definitely an option to be looked at.
David and Karen both spoke about the values in society that influence the structure of the family. You also spoke about the support systems, family, friends, guidance counsellors that helped you through various times in your lives. What role do you feel religion plays in society today, if any?
Karen: In my life religion hasn't played a big part. I remember when I was young, my mom would send me and my sister off to church, we had been to three or four different churches by this time. We would sit and listen to the minister, and neither of us really got anything out of it. We didn't really understand because we were only six years old. And my mother wasn't a churchgoer, or a very religious person, so it hasn't played a big part in my life at all.
David: I think the church and religion has been one of the worst, has one of the worst effects on the community that I have been talking about. The amount of guilt and shame and prejudice, systematic and the messages that are given around homosexuality has been horrendous, pretty well in most main stream churches. The has been some changing very slowly in some of the churches, but it has a long way to go. A lot of gays and lesbians either choose to not go to church at all because of the variance of what they were taught growing up and how they feel currently, or they choose to go to churches, like Metropolitan Community Church or the Unitarian Church. There's a few that are more gay and lesbian positive or they go to small groups. There is a gay Roman Catholic Group and a Gay Mormon Group and a Gay Anglican Group, where they can have both their spiritual and their life affirmed.