Sunday, May 1, 2011

Queerest mama? Mama queerest? Straight Martha Stewart Wannabe?

There are lots of identifiers people use to make sense of their lives, their politics and their place in the world.  As I've talked about lots in my blog - I'm queer. I'm a mama. (I'm also a feminist, fat activist, an anxiety ball, a pinko- lefty, and a hothead).  But today I want to talk about the queerness and the mama-ness in particular, because they don't always get along so well.  I don't mean that I have a problem with my queerness or my mama-ness or how they fit together.  They fit together just fine, in my estimation.  But my estimations aren't the only ones around.

Starting with the mamaness as related to the queerness -

Being a mama makes my queerness far less visible, which is annoying (throw in that I'm run to the girly side of things and unless I'm with L. or get caught checking another girl out, I don't read queer at all.)  It also means I'm always on the alert for heterosexism and homophobia for my kids.  It means I have to try twice as hard to make the world navigable to them.  It means I have to worry about things other parents just don't.  It means my kids will have to worry about things other kids just don't.  (Everybody has worries about their kids based on life circumstances and particularities.  I'm not trying to say that mine are more important.  But I am trying to say that this particular worry for us is systemic and widespread and sometimes seems overwhelming).   And there isn't a day that goes by where I don't have to come out with the kids in tow.  Applying for new schools, parents and coaches and swim instructors and day camp leaders and random people in the grocery store who feel compelled to ask if my kids got their eyes from "daddy!"  And while we're on that - I have nice eyes, people.  They coulda fucking gotten them from me!  Breathing and moving on).  The mama who is queer doesn't jive for lots of people.   

And the the queerness as related to the mamaness -

Being a mama also makes some folks in the queer community less comfortable.  (Throw in the fact that I'm a  married stay-at-home mama and chalk me up to livin' la vida straight-wannabe, supporting the institution of marriage, which to be clear, ain't such a great institution, and watering down the in-your-face-ness of queer life and queer sexuality).  We're right out of a episode of Leave it to Beaver, right? (Ha!  Accidental funny.  Digressing.)    The queer who is mama doesn't jive for lots of people either. 

Take for instance, the essay I read this morning, entitled:  "Is Queer Parenting Possible?" by Shelley M. Park, that argues that 1. the fight for marriage equality will not further queer rights, (and just to be clear, I believe marriage rights are a tiny wee part in a broad sweep of changes needed to further equality for all kinds of queers - not all queers want or identify similarly-, so not all social changes will appeal to all queers... anyhoo but maintain that legal rights for those who want them are kinda important),  2.  that lezzie families like mine are practically un-queer in our acquiescence to heteronormative, biological family structures and relations.  The article actually did make some good and fine and challenging points -perhaps even to be talked about another day in another blog, but I also came away from it feeling like I was getting a little bit of a spank.   (And not in a good way).

The article also references a theorist (whom I hope never, ever, ever to meet) who argues that lezzie families like mine are, in fact, aiding the right-wing queer haters in our procreating ways.   Oh my.  My.  My.  My.  Unclenching fists to type.   (Reading this particular paragraph made me seriously rethink any sort of theoretical investigation into queerness and mamaness in a potential Phd because I'm not sure the old heart can take it.) 
So - I guess I feel like my lezzie identity and my mama identity (and the tricky combination therein) take me to this weird sort of no man's land. 

Not only do I have to worry about all the parents looking at me like I have three heads at softball games and classroom orientations, field strange and awkwardly personal questions about who got the sperm in them and how, and spend scads of time explaining and re-explaining and coming out as graciously as I can so that I can normalize us to my kids  in this effing redneck town - but I also apparently have to worry about not being queer enough

Do I need to change the name of my blog?!  I dunno. 

But somehow, "a straight-esque family grows in redneckville" doesn't quite have the right ring... 

I'm open to suggestions. 


  1. Oh I think you should leave it the way it is. Title is perfect.

    As always, thank you for your perspective on things. You're right, of course, these are things that many people never have to think about. I have loved my family members regardless of their sexuality forever, but I sometimes don't stop to think what it really means for them to be who they are.

    Too bad people can't just... let people be who they are, ya know?

    It may be oversimplification on my part, but doesn't everything boil down to trying to be happy being who you are, how you are, in the circumstances you find yourself in?

    Not always easy for people, no matter their orientation or lifestyle.