I don’t “look queer” – whatever that means. When I’m one of 10-20 moms chasing after a toddler at the playground (or a music class or in the pediatrician’s waiting room) and I’m dressed in jeans and t-shirt with comfortable walking shoes and my hair is pulled back in a messy ponytail. I’m everymom. I look a lot like most of my peers. I usually fit right in in the “mom crowd”. I blend in and can slip into the common small-talk we so often connect over – napping, eating, pottying. The thing is, unless it’s a familiar group that I’m regularly friendly with – until it comes up, no one knows I’m a lesbian.
I’ve been out a long time. Like REALLY out. My partner likes to joke that I was BDOC (big dyke on campus) in college. I shaved my head, wore t-shirts with things like “No one knows I’m a lesbian” written on them, and I was president of the campus LGBT group. After college I made a career of being queer by working at LGBT organizations. For a long time I lived in a bubble filled with LGBT people. So now, it’s strange to me that I’m constantly coming out of the closet.
I realize that coming out is a never-ending process – but I’m still surprised when a fellow mom is caught off-guard by the revelation that I’m queer. I spent so long living in predominantly LGBT circles that I forget that the natural assumption is that everyone you encounter (especially if they look downright boring and have a toddler in tow) is straight. I’m lucky to still run in a pretty progressive crowd, so I’m rarely met with a negative reaction – just a quick adjustment of thinking; a reframing of me in their head.
It’s a quick reminder that we are still “other” – and in that in a lot of ways that means unequal. That my partner has to adopt her own kids. That even though my partner’s job offers health insurance for our family we still have to fill out extra forms, “document” our relationship and pay tax on the insurance as income. It’s also a reminder of how fortunate we are that in our particular situation we don’t usually face physical harm or harassment – unlike so many other LGBT parents around the country.
Hopefully being out as a parent has helped challenge some assumptions. Are you inconspicuous as a queer parent? Do you find yourself coming out often?
[Cross-posted from West Philly Mama.]