Saturday, February 13, 2010

the gay-by boom

Supposedly there is one.  A gay-by boom, I mean.  But I fail to see evidence of said boom here in Edmonton. 

When we arrived here, we were quite surprised that such a huge city lacked a queer parents group.  So we tried to start our own through the local LGBT centre.  It was an abyssmal failure.  (Well, I can't say that exactly.  We did meet one extra-special-fabulous-family through the group).  But on the whole, not a lot of response.

I'm not sure why this is.  It's not that there aren't queers with kids in Edmonton.  I'm sure of it.  I mean, we're like the vampires in a Stephenie Meyers book - everywhere - visible or not.   (We don't actually want to suck your blood - but it does state very clearly in my copy of The Gay Agenda that we get a toaster oven for every straight we turn gay.  Just putting that out there.)

So, if indeed Edmonton does have some queer families kicking around, maybe they all subscribe to the "we're just like them" attitude... which drives me right round the bend.  Mainly because well, we're not.   I'm not saying I don't like straight people.  Hell - some of my best friends are straight! 

But here's the thing - L. and I may look like Ward and June Cleaver, but it will just never be so.   We are not the same as straight families.  Period.  Why?  Because we and our kids have to deal with homophobia and heterosexism (that is, the pervasive assumption that everyone is straight), in big and little ways, throughout our daily lived experiences.    It happens everywhere.  All of the time.  It happens when I asked about my children's father, or my husband in restaurants, grocery stores or in neighbourhood parks.  It happens everytime I hear some teenage boys call each other fag or homo.   Everytime I see homophobic graffiti or some asshole with an anti-gay sign at a Pride march.  Every time some comedian or movie throws in a gay joke or stereotype (and if you listen carefully- this happens A LOT!).  It will happen to my children at their schools, swimming lessons, soccer practices.  It colours the way we see the world, the way we are allowed to live in the world, our sense of safety and our sense of our selves.   Homophobia makes us different.   We are different because we are made to be.

Sometimes I let my guard down, get complacent and hopeful.  I start to think maybe things really have changed.  Maybe, homophobia is getting better all of the time.  Maybe my kids won't be ridiculed, judged.  Maybe they won't have to be afraid that people will hate them just because of who their parents are.   But reality always falls short of this hope.  It could be as simple as a dirty look when I come out for the millionth time on the playground.  Or, something bigger.  A homophobic incident like the one that occured few weeks ago.  Before I got pregnant with Oliver, I'd put out a call for essays and stories about queer fertility journeys on the internet, when I'd had the idea of putting together a book about the many creative ways our community chooses to build our families.  The book didn't ever come to fruition, unfortunately, but that's besides the point).   Then, years later, I get an email from some woman who saw the call for essays, and who feels the need to tell me that she hates queers like me so much that she hopes that I die.   I'm pretty sure June Cleaver wouldn't get those kind of emails.     

My point?  My point is that we have become too complacent.  That there is still a real and pressing need for things like queer parent/family groups.  For a place that us and our children can go to and not only not have to worry about bigotry and heterosexism(because of course we can do this with all of our wonderful and lovely friends), but more than this, where we do not have to explain the differences, the difficulties, the challenges, the fears.  Where we can all just take our queerness and our family-ness for granted because it is a reality that we share.

So if there indeed has been a gay-by boom in Edmonton...

"Queer Edmonton parents, come out, come out where ever you are." 



  1. Amen. Silence still = Death.

    Fight the good fight, sister.

    And consider moving to Vancouver :o)

  2. Okay I admit do not know any gay parents here... lots and lots of us friendly homos here though!