In her essay, she explains that when she was 2 or 3, her mother, who already knew that she was gay, left Barwick’s father to have a relationship with a woman. “Her partner treated me as if I was her own daughter,” she writes. “Along with my mom’s partner, I also inherited her tight-knit community of gay and lesbian friends.” Her father, meanwhile, “wasn’t a great guy,” and “didn’t bother coming around anymore.”
As she grew up with her loving mom and stepmom, Barwick writes, her family taught her “how to be brave,” have “empathy,” “how to listen,” and “how to stand up for myself, even if that means I stand alone.” And for a while — into her 20s — that meant being an advocate for gay marriage. But now she’s had a change of heart.
“Same-sex marriage and parenting withholds either a mother or father from a child while telling him or her that it doesn’t matter. That it’s all the same. But it’s not,” she writes. “A lot of us, a lot of your kids, are hurting. My father’s absence created a huge hole in me, and I ached every day for a dad. I loved my mom’s partner, but another mom could never have replaced the father I lost.”