Sometimes the best case for LGBT equality comes from a straight person. Especially when the straight person happens to be a kid with a gay parent. And when the kid turns out to be someone people notice, someone who is remarkable, haters lose a lot of their power.
Take Kenneth Faried, a senior basketball player for Morehead State University. Kenneth is the kind of baller that brings NBA scouts from all over the country to small-town Kentucky. People who watch him play compare his game to Dennis Rodman’s.
He’s also a genuinely nice guy who studies hard and takes being a role model seriously. He is popular with classmates and praised by teachers. His coaches and teammates adore him.
And his mom, Waudda, is a lesbian.
As the NBA draft gets closer, Kenneth Faried is getting a lot of press and, of course, people want to know about his family. But in the case of Waudda, the story is so deep and inspirational that sexual orientation seems incidental.
Waudda has lupus, the crippling disease that killed her mother before Kenneth was born. Lupus is a cruel illness — unpredictable and indiscriminate. It attacks the bones, the skin, the joints, the vital organs or the blood with equal fury and can send victims to the hospital for months at a time. Waudda’s longest stint so far is three months.
Lupus is why Kenneth ended up in Kentucky instead of his home New Jersey. Waudda knew the agony of watching a parent with the disease — and she wanted her son to have a chance at his own life. Thanks to her wife Manasin Copeland, whom she legally married in 2007, Waudda doesn’t have to depend on Kenneth like her mom depended on her.
Kenneth calls Manasin “Ooomie,” which is Arabic for mother. He knew she was special the moment he met her, about 10 years ago.
“I think people have an aura about them and the first time I met her, I thought, ‘I like this lady,” he told ESPN. “And when they got married, that showed me what commitment is all about, that there are people out there that can commit, even though for them it really has been the worst of times. I look at them, what they’ve been through and I think, ‘Wow. That’s amazing.’ They’re amazing to me.”
Nobody ever gave Kenneth a hard time about having a lesbian mom.
“I think maybe I was just lucky because I lived in New Jersey,” he said. “There’s everything there, every culture, every lifestyle. I’m sure it would be a lot different if I grew up somewhere else.”
Whatever the reason, I wish we could expose the whole world to it. Waudda and Manasin didn’t sit down for a long processing session with their kids about their relationship. They never even explained it. They didn’t have to – that they loved each other was enough.
Kenneth has grown into a man who doesn’t care about social conventions. He’s comfortable anywhere, with anyone. He’s grateful for his opportunities and excited that his dream to play in the NBA may come true. He’s just like all parents want their kids to be.
I have a feeling we’ll be hearing Kenneth Faried’s name a lot in the next few years. And when we do, we can smile, knowing that he’s living proof that raising great kids has nothing to do with sexual orientation — and everything to do with good parenting.
Join me in wishing Kenneth, Waudda and Manasin all the best.