GROWING UP WITH TWO DADS by Tevin Johnson-Campion

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Randy Johnson (L), Tevin Johnson-Campion, Paul Campion (R)

Growing up can be a challenge.

Your childhood ebbs and flows, and you are often times left to your own devices to figure things out. As you age and become an adult, it’s expected that you learn from your mistakes as a child, thus, making you a better person. Your parents are usually the ones taking the credit for the person you’ve become.

But what happens when your parents are a same-sex couple? Shockingly, there is no difference. I know this from my own personal experience, because I have two dads. Yes, my parents are gay.

Oftentimes people have questions for me when I tell them about my experience being raised by two men. I can honestly tell you, it’s no different from being raised by a man and a woman, or any other type of family dynamic. We are just like every other family, boring by most standards, but we live our day-to-day lives, just like yours. We wake up every morning and go to school or work, we eat together every night, we even have a family group chat. Being raised by gay parents is a blessing and not anything to be ashamed about.

A little about my family.

My dads, Paul Campion and Randy Johnson, have been together for 28 years (longer than most couples). They met randomly in a bar in 1991 and have been together ever since. After being together for a few years, they decided to take the next step and adopt children.

Over the course of the next few years, they struggled to find adoption agencies that would work with them and allow them to adopt a child. Thankfully, they were successful. My twin brother, Tyler, and I came into their lives in February 1995. Tyler and I had a really great childhood. We were truly given a second chance at life, thanks to my parents. Our birth mother had the difficult task of giving us up out of necessity, due to safety concerns, and we were blessed by being placed in such a great home.

Our growing family did not stop there. In 2002, my parents decided they wanted to go through the process of adopting again. This time, they decided to adopt a girl. In July 2003, we welcomed Mackenzie and brought her home from the hospital.

By this time we thought our family was complete, but it wasn’t. We went on to adopt my brother DeSean in 2006.

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Front (L to R): Tevin, Mackenzie, Tyler
Rear (L to R): Randy, DeSean, Paul

One of the biggest misconceptions about same-sex parents is that they are going to raise their children to be gay. This is wildly untrue. It is my belief that you are born gay. Your parents do not influence your sexuality. Society does not influence your sexuality.

I believe that couples in the LGBT community do embrace their kids’ sexuality at a younger age, but this is because they have been through it themselves. However, having two parents of the same-sex does not make you gay.

Another huge misconception about the children of same-sex couples is that they are going to be socially awkward, under-developed, and delayed. This could not be further from the truth. My siblings and I have tons of friends, excelled in school, played sports, and are loved by most people we come into contact with.

I went on to attend an all-boys Catholic high school for four years. I was extremely apprehensive during this time because of the Church’s stance on homosexuality. Throughout my four years in high school, I kept my family a secret from most of my classmates out of fear of being bullied. Words like “queer” and “faggot” were thrown around just as often as “hello” and “good-bye.”

The normalcy of this not only frightened me, but made me realize that things were a little more serious than I anticipated. I knew that nothing I could say or do would change the opinion of my peers if the first thing they knew about me was that I had gay dads. Starting a new high school with no friends is tough. Being exiled for having gay dads is tougher. For that reason, I made the tough choice of not speaking about my family under any circumstances during school. I only confided in a few friends who I knew would have my back should anything happen.

As time went on in school, I got older and cared less. My reputation was established and I was well-liked by my classmates and teachers. My senior year, I started to be open with my classmates about my family. Being an upperclassman meant that I no longer needed to “prove” myself within the school, and since college was right around the corner, it didn’t matter what happened.

To my surprise, no one treated me any differently. To this day, I believe this is because I waited a few years to tell people, so they could get to know me first. In fact, some of my closest friends today are from high school.

In 2015, our family faced a new kind of reality after my parents signed onto a lawsuit suing the state for failing to recognize their marriage. This lawsuit started as Bourke vs. Beshear, which later morphed into Obergefell vs. Hodges. Before we knew it, local TV interviews became national interviews. I personally was tapped by the ACLU to share my experience about being raised by gay parents and virtually showing the world how normal a kid of two gay parents could be. [See the author’s Making History with My Two Dads.]

As I started speaking to multiple outlets about my family, people realized that they were misjudging kids of same-sex couples. I remember getting tons of messages of support from people saying that I had changed their views on same-sex marriage. At the time, I was 20 years old and felt like I had a new responsibility to educate people to see the world through a new lens.

Thankfully, the Supreme Court went on to pass marriage equality for everyone in the United States. I feel grateful to have been a part of that and to have had a hand in changing history.

All in all, growing up with gay parents isn’t bad. Having two moms or two dads is not bad. There are so many kids out there who need to have a home or be in a stable environment. Just because same-sex couples are gay doesn’t mean they are “bad” or “evil.”

Actually, let me expand on that: no one in the LGBT community is “bad” or “evil” just because of who they are. It’s important that we remember this. The key is to love everybody.

That is what my parents taught me and that is what I want to teach others.

Tevin’s interview begins at 1:53.
See the extensive Sexuality and Gender section in our Archives.

Tevin Johnson-Campion is now 24 years old. He holds a BA in Communication from the University of Louisville in Kentucky and works in social media for a Keto Supplements company. 

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