The debates surrounding human sexuality, the family structure and privacy rights are indeed important, and often emotional. These issues stir up some of our most personal experiences.

Because we have so much invested in the outcome of these discussions both as individuals and as a society, it’s important that we continue to talk. For this, we applaud the Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays in nearby Oak Park for sponsoring a photo exhibit that attempts to expose the triumphs and struggles of homosexual couples and their families.

For all intents and purposes, PFLAG is trying to reveal how “typical” these families really are. The sexual orientation of the people in these photos is certainly an important detail, but if all of society’s focus is drawn to this point alone, we will fail to see the forest for the trees.

The larger point that PFLAG is hoping to make of course, is that a family by any other name is still a family. Strong parental figures that make a sincere, good-faith effort to instill morality and decency should be applauded. So what if they’re gay.

The 800-pound gorilla in the room is whether gay parents are more likely to raise gay children. As with any family it is ultimately a parent’s job to extol the virtues of a caring relationship and how physical affection fits into the equation.

A 1993 U.S. study suggested the possibility of a “gay gene,” and scientists at Northwestern University are currently recruiting gay men for a five-year study that will attempt to answer this question. Regardless of who we choose to love, a strong family unit will help guarantee the development of healthy relationships in adulthood.

In our Hometown feature this week, the Review met with several gay couples, their families and their children in an effort to point out what does and does not distinguish this group of people. It’s likely that during their lifetimes a majority of us will continue to distinguish gay people as different; as oddities that don’t quite the fit mold.

It’s also likely that a great many of us won’t.

We would absolutely encourage our readers to view the photo gallery that PFLAG has brought to the western suburbs and further, to use the experience as a springboard for more talks. If you find that something about the images makes you uncomfortable, ask yourself why and include others in your discussion.

Our hope is that ultimately we will all realize that gender has little to do with the decisions that impact our relationships most deeply.