Becoming a parent has changed who I am drastically. I’m more selective about who I choose to spend time with, I am more passionate about environmentalism and activism, and I’m being more outspoken about who I am and what I stand for.Before addressing how it has changed how I relate to my sexual identity, I wanted to first point out that I am what is considered a “passing” lesbian. If you’ve never heard the term “passing” before when it is used in the context of the Queer Community I will do my best to define it. Passing is used to refer to an individual who is not visibly recognizable as a member of the LGBTQ community. As a result of this passing, I can have access to certain privileges and will often experience less homophobia and discrimination.
This passing is significant because I have the choice about whether or not I want to have the sometimes awkward or challenging conversation when someone assumes I’m married to a man or my son has a father. Prior to having Jasper, I would often allow people to assume I was straight and not correct them if they weren’t significant to me. Now that I’m a parent I feel the need to correct people every time because I don’t want my son to think that I’m ashamed, or that it’s something to hide. Being a parent has led me to come to terms with my own internalized homophobia and ensure I’m consciously working to acknowledge when this comes up and work through it.
So that’s my work; ensuring my son doesn’t absorb my internalized homophobia so he can feel confident and proud about where he comes from. I also know that many parents are looking for suggestions on how to raise children that are more conscious and accepting of diversity.
Here are some pointers to help you ensure that Queer families around you feel more supported and seen:
- Don’t assume anyone is straight. Just anyone at all. This will make no difference to those people in your life who are straight, and it will make the world of a difference to those people who aren’t. Easy ways to do this are to use words like “partner” or “care-givers” or “family” instead of gendered terms like “wife,” “husband,” “mom,” or “dad.” I personally love asking a child about who their grownups are, instead of who their parents are to go that extra step!
- If you’re unsure of what language to use, ask the parents away from the children, and then use that specific language. Use it when you’re talking to the family, but also use it when you’re talking about the family. When you hear others referring to the family in terms you know they don’t prefer, take it upon yourself to correct them. The great thing about children is that your kids will probably do that for you!
- If your children ask questions, answer them in ways that are inclusive and respectful. If you act like it’s something that’s a secret or, in some way, shameful children will absorb that. I am not ashamed that my partner is a woman so if your children ask you, tell them our family is lucky enough to have two moms!
- An easy way to introduce your children to different types of families is to buy books and watch movies that normalize it — and I don’t mean buy one book and call it a day! By introducing your children to stories about all kinds of families it means the first Queer family your children see doesn’t have to be mine!
This blog post was written by Coach Katherine Miceli