Growing up in a rainbow family

A teenager in a rainbow family writes on his experiences on the occasion of World Family Day celebrated on 15 May

Pride march 2023 (File photo)
Pride march 2023 (File photo)

I am a 17-year-old teenager and I am currently in sixth form studying to become a psychologist or a human rights lawyer – I am still trying to figure that out.

My family is a rainbow family and I would like to raise awareness on the matter as it’s never been said from a child raised in such a family. Basically, my family consists of two mums, my adopted younger sister, our dog and myself.

My two mums are both in their forties. They met when I was seven years old and they got married after being together for four years. I was not only proud of my mum for finding someone she loves and being able to marry that person but I was also proud that she never gave up no matter what the church said about gay marriage or what other people would say. This marriage was important to me as even though my family is not the norm, it is normal for me. It made me realise that my parents were just like everybody else’s as they also got married and loved each other. In 2017, we as a family decided to foster a baby girl and we were also able to adopt her in 2022. She came to us as a baby of eight weeks old and this year she is turning eight. I always wanted a baby sister and I love her to bits.

Although society has opened its arms for rainbow families in recent years, I was brought up in a country where it made me feel uncomfortable having a different type of family. Due to the way society has treated my family I have become very reserved about it. Only those friends who are closest to me and who I know are open-minded know about my family and this frustrates me because I would like to be able to feel free to mention my family to anyone without being judged.

I’ve had various experiences where having a rainbow family has affected me. One of the biggest issues was in school. Children in my school more often than not would pass jokes or negative comments about gay people and this would make me feel extremely bad as they would be insulting my family. This led me to refuse having both my mothers at school events as I would feel scared of being judged, embarrassed and ashamed.

It is a shame that a 17-year-old in 2024 has to pass through all this just because I have two loving mums.

My sister was born in 2016, the same year marriage equality was introduced in Malta which led to more acceptance. In fact, I can see quite a big difference between the way my sister feels with our family compared to the way I’ve been forced to feel. She grew up with two mums from the beginning which led to her feeling freer. She is very open about her two mums and shares it with all her friends and teachers. This is also because her school is very open where they teach small children about different families so my sister can feel normal like everyone else. This makes me so happy as I can see how the younger generations are growing up to live in a world where everyone is welcome and equal.

I hope that one day my family will be seen as everyone else’s family and not used as a political pawn. I wish that different families such as rainbow families get more recognition, especially in schools. Schools should have more discussions and talks with children to make them aware about all the different forms of families such as single parenthood, fostered children etc. I dream that in the near future I can feel less judged and be able to be completely free to introduce my family to my future university colleagues, partners and their families and my future co-workers.

The author of this piece was granted anonymity for privacy reasons. The identity of the individual is known to this newspaper.