Hello, internet. It’s me. Your average stay-at-home mom trying to figure out how to get her baby to sleep through the night, help her toddler manage her meltdowns, fold the laundry, prep the meals, not spend too much on Amazon and squeeze in a few minutes each day to connect with her wife.
Oh, yes… wife.
I guess that’s the part that makes me not so average.
For those of you who may be unfamiliar, June is LGBTQ Pride Month. It is celebrated in June in order to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots that helped tip the scales for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. That’s right – the first Pride parade was a riot. A far cry from the joyous, sequin-filled celebration that fills our streets each June. And, in the spirit of radical inclusion, I want to share a bit about my experience as an undercover outsider navigating the waters of traditional family systems.
I promise you, our similarities far outweigh our differences. Nothing unites two moms more than swapping birth stories or strategizing how to get your child to eat more green vegetables.
However, I’m not sure that you had to pre-screen your pediatrician to ensure they will accept a family with two moms.
Or untangle the web that is the county vital statistics office because your child’s birth certificate has your wife’s name under “father” instead of the “parent” option you selected on the hospital paperwork.
Or make a split-second decision about how to respond to the woman behind you in the Target check-out line who asks your visibly pregnant self if your husband is excited about the new baby.
Sometimes my stereotype-ranking game works and saves us both from the awkward conversation, sometimes I’m completely surprised by someone’s acceptance. Deflection and distraction can be my best friends if it just isn’t worth the fight.
I could go on and on about my individual experiences as a member of a lesbian household, but I know that I wouldn’t be able to represent our community as a whole. And, honestly, each family – gay or not – has something that they feel vulnerable sharing with strangers. However, those sensitive topics might not come up in casual conversation like the famous “and what does your husband do” conversation starter. Listen, I get it. I don’t look like your “typical” lesbian, so as much as I am trying to figure you out, you are doing the same with me!
So what are some strategies you can take to be more inclusive?
- Think about how you are structuring your questions. Lean more toward open-ended rather than closed. I promise that I’m not trying to hide who I am and what my family looks like, so when you open the door, I will walk right through.
- Be aware of how you speak about others who aren’t like you in color, creed or orientation. Your children, who may someday identify on the LGBTQ spectrum, are listening and they are definitely paying attention. When I knew it was time to come out to my mom, I had no doubt that she would accept me because she never, ever spoke poorly about any community that wasn’t like us. Good job, mom!
- Remember that your babies may find themselves friends with my babies someday, and they may have a few questions about how their friend got so lucky to have two moms instead of one! If you already have prepared your home with books and toys that feature families that don’t look like their own, you will already be ahead of the game when that conversation develops.
LGBTQ families are here in our community. In general, we are fairly boring. We are scrambling to keep our houses, babies and relationships above water, and, make it to bedtime, just like you. But we definitely have some extraordinary experiences that could be improved with the encouragement and advocacy of our straight allies. We’re all in this together!