Expecting this.

Homophobia is nothing new.  I’ve been intimately familiar with it since I came out.  Actually, since well before I came out.  Homophobia and I became acquainted when I was fourteen and went to get a haircut.  My mother was out of town.  Under the more permissive, and slightly oblivious, gaze of my father, I instructed the hairdresser to “cut it all off”.  Which she did.  Having your hair cropped above your ears does nothing to support the presumed heterosexuality of a teenager, and I became familiar with rumours and suspicion.  Suspicions were confirmed and rumours turned to blatant homophobia when I came out at 18 and slowly began to give up the vestiges of femininity that had always been unnatural to me.

At 30, I get sir-ed as often as I get ma’am-ed.  I get stared at in bathrooms.  I hear slurs and snickers.  I’m so used to navigating the world in my body and my identity that I don’t notice the stares, though when Sea and I go out together she points them out.  These microagressions are a part of my daily life.

The thing is, for the most part, I don’t care.

 I have a supportive family, a strong community, good friends, a loving partner, work that supports my identity.  Being called a dyke by a drunk stranger is only a small annoyance in the face of this love.  Less significantly, I’m also acclimatized to how my body and identity are read and responded to in this world.  I’m so used to not caring, in fact, that I was shocked a few weeks ago when I did.

It was the weekend and Sea and I had been out shopping for hours, in a large store whose logo is the shape of a large red bullseye.  After hours of wandering through aisles of brightly coloured plastic products, I had to pee. As I walked towards and into the bathroom, I was chased by a store employee.  She had run so quickly from her register that she was out of breath when she caught me, just inside the bathroom door.  “This… is… for WOMEN… ONLY!” she huffed.  “I know”, I responded to her silent glare.  Her only apology came by way of blaming my haircut for her mistake.  I left the bathroom embarrassed and angry, upset by my own emotional response as much as by her gender policing.

Sea and I left the store and began to walk.  Seeing that I was upset, Sea reached for my hand and squeezed reassuringly.  “Don’t worry.  I like that you look like a boy.” she said.  I felt a little bit better.  I squeezed her hand back.  Until I noticed the hostile stare of the man leaned against a nearby wall.  His stare reeked of judgment and disgust.  As noted, I’m usually oblivious to those stares, and I rarely care when I do notice.  But on that day I looked back and I was upset again.

Yet again, these stories are not outside my ordinary.  They could be repeated with hundreds of others from the last decade and a half of my life: stories that I would recount with a laugh and a shake of my head and then move on.  So what’s changed?

We’re having a baby.

As Bingo grows, diligently turning cartilage into bone, totally oblivious to the jerks who exist outside my body, I begin to see how homophobia will impact our child and our family.  I see it in the woman drawing my blood who asks– for a second time– when I’m going to start wearing dresses.  I see it in Sea’s cousin, demanding to know who the “daddy” is.  And I imagine what it will look like when Bingo arrives: people chiding us over the lack of male role models, Bingo’s classmates asking whether I’m a mommy or a daddy, strangers wondering who the “real” mother is.  And I suddenly, I care more about the looks and insults I experience.  Not for me, but for our family.

I am confident that Bingo will be just fine.  If Bingo ends up with some combination of Sea’s intelligence, my relative calm, our shared stubbornness, then we’ll really have little to fear.  Bingo will also have a supportive family, a strong community, good friends.  But I also wish that Sea and I could spend all of our time worrying about what shade of white to paint the baby’s room, without also having to worry about how the world will treat our little family.

I don’t believe that homophobia is any reason for queer people not to have babies, any more than I believe that sexism is any reason to not have girls.  I do believe however, that it is a very good reason to advocate fiercely for our families.  To say, “Look, here we are!” in the face of judgment.  And I believe that our families are one of the most important reasons to fight against homophobia and to confront hatred in all of its forms.

Don’t worry kid, you just keep working on building bone density and growing eyebrows: we’ve got this.

(This blog post is a part of Blogging for LGBT Families Day.  Chime in!)

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6 thoughts on “Expecting this.

  1. Pingback: Blogging for LGBT families Day: Master Post of Contributions — Add Yours! – Mombian

  2. It shows what a strong person you are that for the most part you don’t care about the homophobia that is still running rampant in society. It also shows you are human that it does get to you sometimes – I think you should be very proud of your strength and vulnerability in this regard. What a beautiful post for me to read this morning – thank you for inspiring me.

  3. I actually follow a lesbian couple whose daughter is in daycare or preschool, I can’t remember which and the children don’t seem to have a problem I suppose, I’m more concerned about the adults. You are not the only one concerned about this for sure! I’m sure we can all learn from each other’s experiences as the kiddos get bigger. Hang in there!

  4. Great post! I feel very similar and have only really began to worry now that I’m pregnant, how homophobia may affect our family. Yay for a strong support system of family, friends and community!

  5. Love this post. Thank you for sharing. As someone that’s on the opposite end of the femme/butch scale, I cop a lot of stupid shit too.

    I was once in a serious/long term relationship with a woman that would get chased out of ladies bathrooms etc so I’ve seen first hand the sting of strangers’ ignorance. You’re a perfectly wonderful human being. F them…

    When Jo and I decided to have a child, we realized that we were not only deciding to have a child, but we were deciding to become what I call ‘educators of the general public’. And so far, we’ve been right. We’ve educated ignorant folks about families that don’t fit in their little box and have been met with little or no negativity.

    You’re a pioneer! 🙂 You’ll be educating people on families that don’t fit with their norm AND their ideas of gender/what mums look like/gender roles etc. you’ll be surprised at how much easier it is when they’re distracted by a cute kid 😉

    Sorry I rambled. The subject matter is a bit close to my heart 🙂

  6. Not sure if this will make you feel better, but since we had our daughter, I am noticing a lot LESS homophobia. I am no stranger to being mistaken for a boy, and have had my share of being chased down on the way into a women’s bathroom. These days, no one blinks an eye. If I am on my own with the little one, everyone (rightly) assumes I am mom. When we are all together, for the most part no one bats an eye. Granted, some weird stuff still happens, but not overt homophobia. For example, we are looking at new houses (twins on the way!), and this week we visited one with a very hoity-toity realtor. The whole time I was annoyed because I thought she was trying to figure out where my wife’s husband was, and who I was in the equation. Later that night MY realtor got an apology note from her, stating that she could tell the husband didn’t like the place from the start. Hmmmmm…. I guess she meant me 😉 Which goes to show you that people will see what they want to see – despite my big boobs, all she could see was a pregnant lady and a guy. Makes me wonder how many other people see that – maybe that’s the reason for the lack of stares or comments… On the plus side, I have a super happy, well-adjusted kid who doesn’t care that mommy has long hair or mama has short hair. And 2aussiemammas is right – the cute kid really helps fend off rude comments. 😀 Being a butch mama rocks!

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