I just read a post on a blog called The Childless by Choice Project. I read "Childfree" articles from time to time as I myself do not want children of my own. The article is called "Is Coming Out as Childfree Like Coming Out as Gay?"
I was immediately infuriated by the title of the post. NO! Is my response to this query. I couldn't believe that anyone would compare the issue of being childfree to that of being gay.
The author of the blog post referred to an article on Grist.org which posed this question. Within the post are some collected quotes from individuals who have likened the experience of being childfree to the struggle of gay individuals.
"I felt like a gay person must feel, coming out of the closet and having these people validating me."
-- Jason Gill, quoted in a New York Times Magazine article on the childfree
Yes, I understand there is a stigma when it comes to childfree individuals like myself. When new friends or co-workers learn that I do not want children I am always met with, "really?" We live in a society where it is almost always assumed that women want children.
"My friends and I have occasionally likened coming out as childfree to coming out as a gay person 40 or 50 years ago. There's the same sense of shock -- perhaps that's too strong a word. But it's a lifestyle people don't expect and it may challenge their world view."
-- Rhona Sweeting, quoted in a BBC News article on the childfree
"I'm coming out of the closet. I'm sick of apologizing for my lifestyle which feels totally organic and right to me."
-- Jane, commenter on Childfree Life forum
In Lisa Hymes article article "Is Coming Out as Childfree Like Coming Out as Gay?" she says,
"While LGBT people face more vehement and vicious prejudice than the childfree, they can, if they choose, ultimately lead more conventional lives. Their families won't look like the Cleavers, but they can have what many people would at least recognize as a family, following the traditional parent-with-child pattern. We childfree people, in contrast, are messing with the notion of family in a way that's perhaps even more fundamental. Maybe that's why gays actually seem to be further along in gaining social acceptance than the childfree."
So, yes Hymes agrees that the gay community face more prejudice that childfree individuals she continues to compare the two. I understand that Hymes is linking the two as admitting that one is childfree is a shocker to many people. The phrase "coming out" is often reserved for the gay community and translates to a person who is no longer hiding who they are even if it means shocking or disappointing others. For many it is an act of bravery and liberation.
Even if a childfree person feels liberated when they feel they can be honest with others, the experience cannot be likened to trials and tribulations of so many gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, intersex or questioning individuals. The childfree experience does not come with the history of struggle that the LGBTQI community has endured.