Personal Story: Defying Stereotypes

“Some people judge us because we are gay and have a child, but we don’t let that bother us anymore,”

share Julian Browne, wife to Jacky Browne and mother of 13-year-old Jacquilla Browne.

This resilient family is a testament to the power of love and unity, despite the challenges that come with being same-sex parents in a community that is not always accepting. They have a close relationship with God and each other, which serves as the foundation for their unwavering bond. From their shared values to their love of family time and sports, their story is an inspiring one that sheds light on the importance of embracing diversity and inclusion. In this piece, we delve deeper into the lives of the Browne family, exploring their journey of love, acceptance, and resilience.

Jacky works as a Sports and Recreational Coordinator and a softball coach in her free time – which is why the community knows her as ‘coach Jacky’. Julian works as a school Administrative Assistant, and Jacquilla, 13 years old, is a first-form student at a local high school. Julian is the most talkative of the three, sharing stories of how she and Jacky met and what they enjoy doing as a family.

Julian “I am not into softball, but twenty years ago, I agreed to meet a friend at the softball field. While talking to him, I saw Jacky pass by and said: “She is cute!” and he introduced us.” Jacky and Julian have been together ever since. In 2010 they welcomed Jacquilla and this year they also got married.

They describe themselves as “a tight-knit family with a close relationship with God, and they discuss everything together.” Watching movies, playing board games, and spending weekends having breakfast and lunch together are some of the things they enjoy doing as a family. “I also love to play sports such as softball and taekwondo,” says Jacquilla. Julian adds: “Jacky and Jacquilla are the sporty ones in the family, and I am their cheerleader!”

Regarding parenting, Jacky and Julian think that being on the same page is most important: “Even if we initially disagree, we will first discuss the matter together before we talk to or involve Jacquilla.” Open communication, being able to say sorry to one another, and recognising that parenting is a learning process are other values that the family tries to maintain.

The couple agrees that being gay parents can come with some challenges: “It is still unique on Sint Maarten to see a family with same-sex parents,” Jacky admits. “We are grateful for our small, supportive circle, but people are not always positive when hearing that Jacky and I are married with a child. We get questioned about our personal choices and often get the bible quoted to us. People even think that Jacquilla will ‘turn out gay’ because of our relationship as if your sexual orientation is contagious. If it were, then I would be straight!” Jacky laughs. 

Although Julian admits that she used to get upset, today, she does not let these comments affect her as much: “We are a good family who positively contributes to society.” Jacquilla shares that most of her friends and classmates are open-minded: “They ask me questions such as why I have two moms or how I was born. I don’t mind answering them, though I can get frustrated if they don’t understand my answers. My moms, ‘mama and jaja’, are my parents; I’ve always understood this.”

Jacky: “Culture has a lot to do with how you grow up and the beliefs that you inherit. We have a lot of cultures on our island that do not accept gay people. This unfortunately often results in judgement and abuse. More inclusive informative sessions about sexuality in schools and spaces for teens where they can get advice and support would be a good start to creating a safer community for all.”