By now, unless your name is Rip Van Winkle and you have just awoken, everyone is aware of the Duggar scandal. Josh Duggar, the bright shining star of the anti-gay right, and a focal point of one of America’s premier reality TV families, was found to have (allegedly) indulged in sexual and incestuous molestation. The story implies cover up and manipulation by the Duggars including an intervention by an authority figure who he himself was later convicted on a child pornography charge.
To be honest, as a commentator, I have tried to stay out of the fray. I never watched their show. Since many of the victims are part of the family being scrutinized, I also would not want to stir up conversation that would create even more guilt, harm or shame.
Yet, there was still something missing in all that has been talked about. The Duggars were not just a benign family in which a horrific situation unfolded. They were advocates and proponents, not just of their own “lifestyle”, but in attacking various personas within the LGBT community umbrella, my family being one such target.
There is more to be said to them, and so I have decided to articulate it in this open letter to their matriarch, and one of the most homophobic voices in the family, Michelle Duggar.
Dear Mrs. Duggar,
I truly cannot imagine how you must be feeling right now, and the challenges you have gone through of late. I also realize that I am the last type of person you would welcome hearing from right now. I am member of the community you have made great efforts to reject and malign.
I am a gay dad, who with my male spouse, adopted two baby boys, and have raised them to become the upstanding 12 year olds they are today.
You were eager to defeat a proposed ordinance that would have protected families such as mine from discrimination. Your recording blasted out to thousands misrepresented it as a male predators in female bathrooms issue. You attacked transgender women and implied they were child molesters. You eagerly boarded a bus and traveled seven states to try to prevent families like mine from achieving legal and societal equality and protections. You and your family members have been vocal in declaring my family inadequate and intentionally withholding because we have not provided our kids with parents who are biologically different.
People have been calling you out for “hypocrisy” due to your current family situation, but that is not accurate. Hypocrisy is when you call people out for doing something that you are also doing. That is not what has happened. You have called out people who are innocent and have not done what has been done, and covered up in your family. That’s worse.
Through your current experiences, I am deeply hoping that you are able to have the humility to sit back and re-evaluate your stance, rhetoric and philosophy in terms of the real fabric of family and the unifying love required to keep it healthy.
Truly, you and I have little in common as parents. While you hold me in disdain for being a male who mothers his children, I have to admit, I have similar misgivings about your choices. The fact that you have given birth to nineteen children is heralded as wonderful thing, and something that many would like to see emulated. I don’t relate to that concept at all.
I have little argument against the idea that you have love for all nineteen. I highly doubt however, that you have enough bandwidth for the attention each really needs, and to use your word… deserves. I have only two kids. They are the center of my universe, and even with only two, I cherish all the time we are able to be together, and regret that I increase its volume tenfold. I am eager to delve into who they are, their thoughts , insights, desires and experiences. To do that , I need to be with them, watch them, communicate with them as well as their teachers and helpers. I know that the time and focus I give them would not be possible to multiply out over seventeen additional children, especially if I were in a constant state of pregnancy.
I don’t doubt you have not done super human things, but to do what I am suggesting would require a metaphysical metamorphosis greatly expanding the being in many places at once concept.
This ability to keep closer tabs on my kids makes me feel that should someone do something inappropriate to them that I would have a greater chance to have a sense of that immediately. I raise my boys with a strong standard of morality, however, I watch to make sure it is not oppressive and stifling. I know that extremes can produce the opposite result tow what I intend. I also sense that the shaming of sexual feelings and the suppression of those feelings may inspire the acting out through molestation. I would think there was a connection between what your family has experienced and the Catholic Church scandal over the last decades.
In short, I know as well as you that diving into parenthood in whatever way is a crap shoot. There is no easy path to what is the exact right methodology, because all kids are different and truly need different things. We as parents, develop our ideals and standards and hope to God that we are right about them. The truth is, sometimes we will be and others we won’t.
When we are wrong, we need to admit it. When our kids stumble, it is too easy to just surmise that they developed a flaw from some outside unrelated source. No, chances are, it was us, acting through an ideal we thought necessary but that in fact brought about an unforeseen consequence.
I am sure I will be admitting some of those when my kids become adults. I am equally sure that none of those will be because of my physical features, just as none of your physical attributes led Josh to do what he did.
I think it is time for you to do a similar reassessment now. There is deep healing needed within your family, and that will not be achieved until more accurate aspects of family life are acknowledged and addressed. You have stated that you are “not a perfect family.” None of us are, and that admission is not enough.
Outward attacks on others, my family included, need to be examined and retracted. There are things that we all can learn from others in diverse family situations that differ from our own. I can take notes from you on family schedule structure and organization, and I think there are things you could learn from me as a parent.
When you are campaigned against us, created falsehoods and demonized our genders and our families, you weren’t listening.
If you were able to take this moment to grow deeper insight and take this horror as a time to reflect, I believe it would lead you to say the words that have not been articulated in this discussion. They are the word the people you have held yourself superior to, that you have lectured and that you have tried to oppress, need to hear. The words you need to say are these: