I don’t really write about the fact that we are a different family. Same-sex, lesbian, gay… whatever label you want to give us doesn’t really matter because at the end of the day we really are just another normal family. Ninety percent of the time I’m not even aware of the fact that we are “other” however since the boys have been born it has become more and more obvious.
A friend of ours, who is also a married lesbian with twin boys, made an observation: Having children outs you on a daily basis. You have no choice in who you want to share this information with anymore.
It doesn’t matter where you are or with whom you’re speaking, if they make an assumption about the kids “father” you have to correct them. Why you ask? Well there are a couple reasons:
Firstly I don’t want my boys to ever think that our family is less than or that the fact that they have two moms is something to be ashamed of. We have to be so careful of the unspoken signals that we send our boys in what we allow to be left unsaid or unacknowledged. This means that if the cashier at the local Spar asks about their father I have to correct them, the plumber who comes into our house will see our family photos on the walls, their school and teachers need to be coached on how to deal with sensitive issues like what to do on father’s day and bullying.
Secondly it is also important to normalise same-sex relationships in the greater community. I often say it is easy to hate what you don’t know, what is unfamiliar and what is removed from you. Homophobia is very difficult to maintain if you are in constant contact with a normal, well adjusted, happy same sex family especially when you get to know them. It is our job to make the future better for our kids by bearing the brunt of some of the social stigma associated with homosexuality so that by the time our kids are older they will be able to look back and laugh at how backwards society was. I think this might also be a bit of my idealism showing through because truly each one of us will agree that racism and sexism is wrong and very backward behaviour but unfortunately it is still rampant in our society even after liberation and all the various social reform movements. African Americans still live in largely segregated areas 60 years later, SA has racism and xenophobia bubbling dangerously close to the surface, and lesbians are still raped and murdered in townships across the country (continent even).
It means our sexuality is open to scrutiny and judgement by everyone. Doesn’t it seem silly that what we do in our bedroom is the business of anyone else? How would you feel if your proclivities were laid bare to the public? If you had to admit your perchant for kinky sex to the cashier at Spar, or your fertility issues to the plumber, or your love of sex toys with your kids’ teachers?
I have equal parts of me that are intensely private and outspoken activist. Some days I find it immensely exhausting being constantly vulnerable to people’s disapproving grimaces or discomfort at not knowing how to react.
We are also blessed to have a large and loving support system of family and friends who happily recognise and embrace us, our sons, our relationship and all that it entails. It is a blessing to have a safe place where we can just be without having to be on guard, without being rubbed raw by stigma.
So my question is… are we really so different? Is our family so different from yours?