Five years ago, I found out I was pregnant with my daughter after several months of trying to conceive with the help of a known sperm donor. I became pregnant as a single mom by choice. I figured love could happen at any time, but my fertility was finite. I was ready to be a parent and didn’t want to wait for someone else to come into my life before making my biggest dream in life come true. So, I made it come true on my own (mostly – can’t forget the donor!).
When I found out I was pregnant, I was immersed in queer culture: all of my friends were lesbians, I went out to lesbian events and bars. I was visibly queer – it was obvious by looking at me that I am gay, and that was even without being decked out in rainbow accouterments. I almost never had to come out anymore – my entire life was as “out” as any one person can be.
All of that changed after I gave birth to my daughter. My body changed – it became softer and frumpier. My style changed – I no longer cared about the latest (lesbian fashion) trends; instead, I threw on whatever t-shirt and jeans looked the least ratty in my pile. My friendships changed – I lost a lot of single/child-free friendships, and the friends I do have are all moms too and we are more immersed in toddler/preschool interests than we are queer culture.
On May 27, 2016, I wrote about how invisible I had become – at least how invisible I felt – as a queer mom to a small child.
Being openly queer in the world touches nearly every part of your life in big and small ways. But now I feel so, so invisible as a queer person. And it hurts and it sucks to admit it to myself (and you). To look at me is to look at a slightly overweight mother of a small child. That’s it, that’s all. I don’t have time or energy for much else.
The cultural presumption of straightness is deeply ingrained, and because I don’t have a partner to navigate the world with, I think people read me as a middle-aged straight woman more than they don’t. I spend my money on clothes for my kid, not myself. I don’t spend any time being out in the “queer world” in the ways I used to, though 90% of my friends are queer-identified. So at least I still have them/that.
I guess this is just another story of a mom losing herself in the throes of motherhood. Maybe some day I’ll get back to finding me in all of this. I don’t anticipate that day coming any time soon, but I look forward to the day when I can get to just a little bit of me. Maybe this is about aging and feeling a longing for my youth just as much as it is about motherhood. I don’t know.
A lot has changed in a year, yet so much remains the same. I have a girlfriend now. I have a new job. I still feel like a slightly overweight mother of a small child, though (because I am). I still have to come out again (and again) when meeting new people, because often times I am read as straight (by straight people – most gay people get my vibe right away) just by virtue of the fact that I am a single mother. People assume I am straight because someone calls me “mom”. Coming out is a life-long process for many (most?) gay people. First, we come out to ourselves. Then our friends, our families, colleagues. And we continue to come out when we meet new people, when we’re in social situations. It really is a life-long endeavor.
We come “out” to our children, too. My daughter has grown up surrounded by 2-mom families, and she knows that children can have one parent or two, be raised by grandparents or aunts and uncles, and that love makes a family. She is familiar with family diversity both from the people we spend time with and the books we read. Hearing that she has a gay mom has always been a part of Evelyn’s narrative – I’ve always spoken about it to make it as normal as possible, but in the past I think it was more abstract and hard for her to understand, both because of her age and because I didn’t have a partner to demonstrate a relationship with.
Now that I have a girlfriend, I have “come out” to her by explaining that I am a lesbian and that means I fall in love with women and want to marry a woman some day. Evelyn sees me with Briann and understands that our affection and love for each other goes beyond that of friendship. Seeing our relationship has sparked many conversations from her: she has asked why I like women and not men, what makes someone “gay” and what does that mean, and – why can’t I marry her (Evelyn) if I’m gay? To her, marriage means committing yourself to the person you love most, so she remains convinced that she will marry me and her best friend Henry (both of us, of course).
One day, my daughter will have to “come out” as a child of a lesbian parent. She will have to tell new friends, teachers and anyone else she chooses to tell. So coming out is not only a life-long experience for gay people, but for our children as well. Fortunately, we live in Toronto where family diversities are embraced and celebrated. For now, I will ‘come out’ not only for myself, but to show my daughter that our family has so much to be proud of – gay mom included.
This post was inspired by the “Blogging for LGBTQ Families Day.
All LGBTQ bloggers, children of LGBTQ parents, and allies are welcome! The only theme is to celebrate and support our families.
Grab the event image and share on your own blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc., before the event to help spread the word! Send folks back to: