Sunday, 8 April 2012

Gay Parenting: Why do we only see one side of the story?

Having my children was probably the single most important thing that ever happened to me. It was also around the same time I came out. My children were and still are the most important things in my life and as much as I was willing to lie to myself for a long time I was not willing to lie to them. In order to bring them up well balanced and open minded I had to discover who I was and raise them in that spirit. It worked. Though they know I was with their father for a while they don't remember it.  They've grown up their whole lives as the children of a lesbian mother with lesbian friends who discuss lesbian and other issues related to equality. They know no different. I expect there are alot like me out there. Who felt pressured to "fit in" and live the hetrosexual life fearing abndonment, condemnation and even abuse. In fact, there are alot like me but reading the gay press-you would never know it.

All the articles in the gay press related to parenthood focus soley on post coming out forms of conception. Sperm donor, egg donor, surrogate, fostering, adoption. Now, If I came out without child I would need this information and who knows? If I met someone who wanted kids I may need to go down one of those paths one day. My argument isn't that they shouldn't focus on those methods. My point is they shouldn't SOLEY focus on those methods since the MAJORITY of gay parents conceived their kids the traditional way prior to "coming out."  The implication of this reportive silence is since we had our kids prior to self actualisation the challenges we face are not of significance to gay society. This is wrong on so many levels. My kids have to deal with "your mothers a lezza" type taunts, I had to deal with the funny looks at the school gates, the weird vibe from teachers and the accusatory malevelant looks and comments because people felt that a lesbian bringing up children must be damaging to them in some way. Then, there's the coming out. Threats, attacks, the questioning of your sanity. I've known women who've had to move home or just chose to try and "pray the gay away" because threats of death were too much to bear. There are fathers who are banned from seeing their children. Have I heard the gay press report these issues? Never. It's probably seen as a side issue the switchboard can deal with. The worst thing is, it's not a sporadic occurence, it happens more often then you'd want to believe. This non reportage is incredibly divisive too. As a gay mother I only know of other gay mums with similar experiences to mine and I'm sure those who used post coming out forms of conception may know mostly if not only other gay parents with children conceived similarly to theirs. Crazy, since our kids will go through nearly exactly the same thing. This conception elitism is obvious. We are made to feel wrong or less of an identity because we didn't have our kids the gay way. Most lesbians read the gay press so will only realise there are gay mothers like me through meeting them and there the confusion begins. I've been asked whether i'm bisexual... No. Or given this irritating look of disbelief as they ask "well how does that work then?" It takes every bit of composure for me not to scream "YES, I HAD SEX WITH A FUCKING MAN". This discrimination is ridiculous considering we are the majority.

Often, mothers and fathers have nowhere to turn when they come out. All the gay parenting groups are targeted for those who are thinking of having a baby or have gone through the process of trying for a kid through non traditional means. Where are the ones who have children meant to go? We lack visibility. Many tell me they have kids like it's a guilty secret when having children that you do right by is in itself something to be proud of. Though, alot of women and men have been told that it's a less than desirable quality and naturally this can end up being self fulfilling. Some of us were forced into marrige, some of us manipulated alot of us have been threatened and prematurely exposed to our neighbours, family and friends. If homophobia isn't relevant to gay society I don't know what is. Whether they report our struggles or not here we are. The silence is deafening. It's time us gay parents stand up and be counted. Clearly no-one is going to do it for us. Whether we conceived our children with a conception pack or on our back. We have nothing to be ashamed of.

Sirena Reynolds

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