Writer, speaker and life coach Chelsea Austin grew up with affection. “From the moment I came into my parents’ lives, it was clear that I was the center of their universe…for better or for worse (I couldn’t get away with anything…I’m pretty sure my father had ears and eyes everywhere). My fathers came to every recital and took me to dance classes, singing classes, and acting classes all over Los Angeles County. I even had a special desk set up for me at my father’s office in case he had to work Saturdays during tax season. My dads showed up for me when kids at school were challenging to deal with. My parents showed me that anything is possible. So to say I knew I was loved would be a huge understatement.” This warm and cozy environment was sometimes in stark contrast to the judgment of others. “Of course it wasn’t always easy outside our house. I had to learn early on that politics has a way of disrupting our private lives and that not everyone would always be so open and loving towards our family. We weren’t even invited to Christmas for a year because one of my aunts didn’t know how to tell her kids that my parents would be sleeping in the same room. My childhood had a very interesting dynamic between feeling so accepted and loved and feeling completely misunderstood. As a result, I grew up quickly. I had to learn to deal with adversity early on like many kids who are “different” do, but to be honest I consider that a huge blessing because it taught me resilience and the importance of being open and loving for those I don’t understand, because we all go through something, whether it’s obvious to the outside world or not.”
Chelsea recently released her first book, inexplicably me† “My book, Inexplicably Me: A Story of Labels, Dignity, and Refusing to Be Concluded, is my love letter to the world. Yes, it’s my story about being raised by two gay men, who I’m both biologically related to, but it’s also a guide to how to tap into our self-acceptance as a way of accepting others, even those we may not understand. . I am grateful that I was able to tell my story with fun and humor and to use my own experiences to give some more universal advice.” She has pioneered since birth by being the first single adoption business in California for a same-sex couple, with one of the child’s parents being the sperm donor in the state (his cousin was the surrogate and sister-in-law the egg donor). ). Despite the critical gaze of fascination, she cherished her father’s dearly. “I felt special. Growing up, I didn’t know anyone else with gay fathers, especially those they were biologically related to. I loved that part of my story. But it also felt like it might be easier if I came up with a manual. People always had questions. People were always curious, sometimes in a positive way and sometimes in a critical way. I got used to being an adult early on. I had to answer many questions that as a young child many are not expected to answer or even know the answers to. But to me it didn’t matter what others thought of us. I was always so proud of my fathers and our little family that even if it felt like society was against us, we could take refuge in the beautiful house that Dad and Dad built.”
Of course, it didn’t take long for Chelsea to be singled out by her peers. “From a young age, maybe even at the age of three, I noticed that my family was different. Once I was at the playground building sandcastles with another little girl and she asked me where my mother was. I told her I didn’t have a mother, that I have two fathers and she replied, ‘You either have a mother or she is dead!’ It made me laugh and I shrugged my shoulders, but man oh man, kids can be cheeky. Through these kinds of interactions or really when someone asked me where my mom was, I knew there was something different about my family, but it never really put me off. I was always so proud to show off my parents.” The novelty wore off quickly and her parents became loved in the school district. “I’m lucky enough to have grown up in the very liberal bubble that is Malibu, California, so kids at school weren’t so upset about having two dads. My father was always around. He was either the president of the parent/teacher association or worked in my classrooms. He was a fixture at every school I attended, and my father was never far away either. My parents were the parents you could rely on and funnily enough they ended up being the old married couple at my schools. Most of my friends’ parents were divorced, so my parents were a source of stability for many of my friends.”
Chelsea found it interesting to try to cultivate her own identity in a world that has always been defined by her parents. “This is one of those things that is hard to explain and I think I’ve struggled with it all my life. I’ve always defined myself as ‘the girl with two gay dads’ and that’s why it’s been hard to think about who I am out there. A big way I was able to shape my identity as a child and teenager was by tapping into what I was passionate about and having parents who were always supportive of whatever I wanted to do. When I wanted to sell potpourri instead of lemonade, my parents set up a booth for me. When I wanted to start a dog walking business, my parents helped me place the ads. They were always happy to support me in whatever I wanted to do, which meant showing the world how incredible my fathers were and that they could raise a wonderful child. However, this obsession with being perfect meant I never rebelled, so as an adult I’m still doing a lot of my identity building. However, I think some of that is normal too, because in every chapter of our lives we’re always changing and shaping to figure out who we are and how we want to appear in the world. It is constantly stimulated by the prospect of growth and change. “Defining and redefining are probably my two favorite words when it comes to self-development and promoting my self-esteem. I like to define everything that allows me to live that aspect of my life fully and authentically. Everything from how I define success and achievement to the labels I am given has given me so much more grace and an ability to take advantage of who I am and what I have to offer the world. It is also very important to consistently check our emotions in any given situation. I’ve wanted to be liked by people for so long that I tended to adopt their likes and dislikes without really considering what I like. It may sound elementary, but tapping into my emotions as often as possible has helped me tremendously in identifying who I am, what my time is worth and what I enjoy.”
This motivation turned into a desire to help and guide others. “I decided to become a life coach because, although I often give life advice to people, I was afraid I wasn’t necessarily doing it in the way that would help them achieve the greatest possible growth. I wanted to have methods and a deeper understanding of how I could support the people in my community online, through my book, and in my everyday life.” Living free is the key to laying the groundwork for a more empathetic world. “A big part of showing kindness and compassion is tapping into your empathy, constantly standing up for yourself and others, setting compassionate boundaries, being honest, and being your authentic self. I feel like that’s all easier said than done, but an easy way to start is to focus on how to be fully present with people. Think about how we can give someone our full attention by putting down our phones and listening to what they have to say instead of thinking about how we might respond or what else we might want to do. It’s also vital that we take care of ourselves, whatever that means to you, so that we can go out into the world and feel rested and more human. We know when to be kind and compassionate and when not to. The trick is to pay attention and ask yourself, “How can I be kinder or more compassionate in this case?” Keep asking yourself the question and keep checking.” When your good intentions radiate from within, there is no limit to the impact you can make.
Read more celebrity interviews at ClicheMag.com
Chelsea Austin talks about growing up with two gay fathers in the 90s in the new book ‘Inexplicably Me’. Photo credit: Hannah Rummel.
This post Chelsea Austin talks about growing up with two gay dads in the 90s in new book, “Inexplicably Me” was original published at “https://www.clichemag.com/interviews/chelsea-austin-recounts-growing-up-with-two-gay-dads-in-the-90s-in-new-book-inexplicably-me/”