Daniel & Philip

multiple homestay | school program

Now that we have three children, we have formed an image of ourselves as fathers – since we do not have children “of our own”, the decision to take someone in was associated with a great deal of excitement and nervousness. How do we see ourselves, as a couple and individually, in the role of father? These are probably thoughts that are quite universal.

Our son Eric is gay himself and came to us from the American provinces after being outed. It seemed to us that it was very nice for him to live in an environment where he doesn't have to justify or explain his queer identity. Our daughters didn't make an issue of our gender, much more relevant - and the bigger change - was that they were only children with us.

The major mental shift, as we understand it, took place in the birth parents. Unfortunately, it is still the case that a placement with same-sex or queer families requires express permission, regardless of the cultural and legal context the children come from. We can understand very well that children from Malaysia, for example, cannot simply be placed in rainbow families, but when the children come from countries where queer identities are not persecuted either legally or culturally/socially (apart from individual cases), that seems to us one thing to be a superfluous hurdle in the meantime. Here the focus is on an aspect that plays little role in everyday family life (having no siblings is much more relevant for everyday life together).

We went to all parenting preparations; before these meetings we were always quite tense about how the other host parents would react to us. A gay father couple is still not an everyday thing. And every time we were very relieved and really happy because it wasn't an issue at all (more interesting were the jobs, the children's housing, the school - what parents talk about). We have not experienced any limitations from AFS itself, either consciously or unconsciously. There was no special preparation or anything like that, but that's because, at least in the context of AFS Austria, (sexual) identity doesn't play a role at all when it comes to suitability as a host family, volunteer, full-time employee, etc. That is very pleasant (but it also means that there is no special networking – but what's the point; you don't have to enforce anything, you have absolute equal rights).

It wasn't a problem or an issue at school either, which may also be due to the fact that the district where we live and the adjacent district where our children attended their schools (we tried two schools) are very open-minded . There are much more conservative areas in Vienna than ours.

We speak of the three as our children and we see each other as one big family. And overall, being a rainbow family has never been an important issue for us (and for our children, as far as we know).


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