I’m a bisexual mama raising my child in queer-friendly home

Guest post by Rachael Jordan
By: Girl Guides of Canada - CC BY 2.0
By: Girl Guides of CanadaCC BY 2.0

My mom always had a box of old pictures in her closet (it’s probably still there) that, at random times, I would want to look at with her. Among Girl Scouts and family pictures, there were others: the boy she first held hands with in fifth grade, her first boyfriend, her first kiss, prom pictures, the guy she lost her virginity to, my dad. We’d go through the pictures and she’d tell me stories about each one (the stories getting more age-appropriate detail as I got older). I enjoyed these moments with my mom and told myself that as I grew up, I would save pictures to share with my future kids (if I decided to have any) so that they could have a little glimpse into me, outside of being “mama.”

I now have one of those boxes but mine is a little different than my mom’s. There’s the boy I first held hands with, my first kiss boy from 7th grade, my prom pictures, and then the first girl I kissed, my first girlfriend, my college boyfriend, the only woman I’ve said “I love you” to, and, of course, Funk.

I remember sitting in my Queer Studies class at the beginning of my pregnancy, among a bunch of other LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) students and feeling like a traitor. No one in the room made me feel that way; it was my own insecurities and my own questions of what this pregnancy meant to my identity — an identity I had to convince my family and friends was not “just a phase” or “an experiment” or “a transition.”

It just so happened that I was with a male partner, nature worked its magic, and Droidlet production commenced. Then, SLAM, the questions. Was I “copping out” into the comfort and safety of heterosexuality?

I’ve always believed that sexuality is a spectrum, that even those five letters used to describe the queer community aren’t enough, and that people fluidly move along the sexuality spectrum their whole lives. “Bisexual” seems to have fit me the best. I’ve had relationships with and am attracted to both males and females (and have been open to transgender and transsexual individuals, just no one ever fit).

It just so happened that I was with a male partner, nature worked its magic, and Droidlet production commenced. Then, SLAM, the questions. Was I “copping out” into the comfort and safety of heterosexuality? How could I identify as bisexual while simultaneously reaping heterosexuality’s benefits? Was having a baby meaning I had to relinquish that huge part of myself that I have always considered queer?

I’m still struggling with all of the answers. Being in a committed relationship with Funk doesn’t mean I’m no longer attracted to other people and the same goes for Funk. We happen to believe in monogamy, so those attractions stay just that. But just because I’m in a relationship with a male doesn’t mean I consider myself heterosexual; just like if, in the end, my partner had been a female, I wouldn’t consider myself a lesbian. This is where identity based on sexual preference gets muddled. Just like I don’t define myself as only a mother, or only a student, or only a writer, I don’t identify myself only based on the sex of the people I am attracted to.

What’s more important than my self-labeling is how I’m going to handle these questions from Droidlet as he gets older. When he asks me who the woman in that picture is, with her arm around mama, I’m not going to lie and say she was just a friend. Sexuality is such a complicated subject for an adult; I know there are going to be many, many questions from Droidlet as a child.

What it comes down to, yet again, is that Droidlet knows there is a spectrum, that there are options, that not every family has to be a Mommy, a Daddy, and a baby.

If asked, I will be just as honest with him about how people of the same sex have intercourse as when he asks me how babies are made. What it comes down to, yet again, is that Droidlet knows there is a spectrum, that there are options, that not every family has to be a Mommy, a Daddy, and a baby. Sometimes, it’s two daddies or two mommies, sometimes (like for his mama) it’s two sets of parents, sometimes it’s just one parent. Sometimes, a family is a community raising the children together.

Luckily for Droidlet, he’s got a wonderful set of gay uncles, a bisexual mama, and an aunt with a heterosexual, nuclear family so he gets to see parts of the spectrum interacting and loving one another.

Comments on I’m a bisexual mama raising my child in queer-friendly home

  1. THANK YOU! When I met the man who became my husband, I was very clear with him that if he were a she (or somewhere in between), I’d feel the same way about him.
    It took him a while to understand (he feels he’s solidly het and never had much positive interaction with other versions of sexuality), but he gets it now, and we didn’t have any of the weirdness I’d had in the past where the men I’d dated were nervous that I’d leave them for a woman and vice versa.
    We’ve been together for seven years and married for four (_that_ was a surprise to me, let me tell you!), and expecting our first child in March.
    I’ve been challenged as a “traitor” from time to time, but after some frank discussions about the desire for equality and where judgment might come from, we’ve worked things out.
    I plan on being as age-appropriately open as possible, and it’s great to hear from others who are making it work successfully!

    • I have had an almost identical situation. I had a harder time committing to my dear partner, because I also somehow worried I might leave him for a woman one day. However, we have been together for 8 years now, and married for the past two and a half of those. And we are also expecting our first child in March. I hope I can be as open and honest with our little one as you all have been.

    • I completely understand. And it is very important to be open with your partner – as I have been with Funk from the very beginning. The judgments can be pretty harsh but, as with most things, I think education is the first and most important step. The more positive light, and acknowledgment, that we can get for queer families (in all their forms!) the better!

    • Thank you! I had to “come out of the pregnancy closet” in the Queer Studies class I wrote about in the post and because of past experience, I was really nervous about it. Honestly, that queer community was more receptive and supportive than some of my friends who have done everything the “traditional” way. You know, there’s that saying about assumptions… 😉

  2. I could have written this myself!

    Thank you so much for speaking out about bisexual women with male partners. I happened to fall in love with and marry a man and we’re having our first baby in just a few weeks… but it doesn’t make me any straighter. I’ve been “out” since I was 14 and can’t quite fathom it when people presume I’m heterosexual.

    I think about how I’m going to talk about it with my son, and I figure I’ll just be honest with him and treat it like it is – just a part of my identity. I have a gay uncle and that’s how it was when I was a kid – Uncle Craig fell in love with other boys and that was just it. It wasn’t weird, it wasn’t something that we needed to “talk about,” it just was.

    Looking back, that my parents handled it that way is a huge blessing as when I came out, it was the very same thing – it just was. No big shock, no big drama, nothing *changed.* I hope I can do the same for my son so that he knows that he is who he is and who he loves won’t ever change that in my eyes.

    • This is so true– I’ve been with my partner (a man) for 3.5 years and have been out as a bisexual since I was 13 and living a “straight” lifestyle has not changed a thing about my bisexuality!

  3. Good gracious, Offbeat Mama. Y’all are hitting it out of the park today. I so did not need to get all weepy on my lunch break.

    As a bisexual lady who happened to settle down with a dude (albeit non-monogamously) and get knocked up, these issues are on my mind a lot. It can be seriously hard. Thanks for sharing, Rachael.

  4. Just thinking out loud here: I wonder if their are bisexual women who have settled down with female partners but struggle with being viewed as lesbian when they still identify (and want to be acknowledged) as solidly bisexual?

    • YES! This happened with the first girlfriend I ever had. One of our biggest issues was that she didn’t support my identity as a bisexual. She told me once that being bisexual meant that when I was with a female, I was a lesbian, and when I was with a male, I was heterosexual.

      Also, a very close friend of mine has a female life partner, they’re engaged, and both of them identify as bisexual. They deal with the same discrimination of everyone assuming that they are lesbians when they solidly feel comfortable in their bisexual identity.

      It’s all very, very interesting and here we are, living it.

    • *waves* Hi, welcome to my life. 😉

      I’ve been with my partner for nearly 10 years now (!) so most of my friends have only known me as dating a woman. People who knew me in high school or the early parts of college would remember me dating guys, but even some of them seem to think it was just me “figuring things out.” If I weren’t with my current partner, I would be open to dating people across the spectrum of gender!

      I often feel like I get to come out twice – once as having a girlfriend (and the assumptions that come with that) and once as bisexual/queer.

    • *raises hand* This is me. I identify as queer rather than bisexual, which for me means I am open to an attraction with anyone, male/female/trans/insert-other-identity-here. I have been with my wife (who identifies as lesbian) for 3.5 years, and have fielded any number of rude comments about how “now I’m a lesbian”. I like to respond by asking ‘If I were dating a Korean man, would that make me Korean?’ This generally ends the conversation.

      I do find, though, that I’m less offended at people assuming I’m a lesbian than I am at people who assume I’m straight. That one really sets me off. I can only imagine how much worse it will be when I’m sporting a big old baby belly… (maybe I will make maternity shirts that say ‘queer people make babies too’.)

      • I would totally buy that shirt! Walking around with this big belly is like walking around in a closet all day. And the diamond ring on my finger certainly doesn’t help! It’s harder for my wife though who has to explain to people why she’s taking maternity leave any day now even though she’s very clearly not pregnant.

    • I know for sure there are, I can think of at least two pairs of women I know, one legally married in California, who work for bi visibility within their same-sex relationships.

  5. When I have been questioned in the past about my sexuality, I usually just say ” Why yes, I AM sexual, thanks for asking.”

    Why label it further at all? The labels bi- gay- homo- hetero- trans- seem to me to be there so others can fit me/us into some kind of slot, shelf, or pre-determined category in their own mind. I’d rather not be labeled at all TYVM.

    Please note that this isn’t a shot at you, Rachel, or at anyone who identifies themselves as bi-, homo- ,etc. I just don’t understand, really, why these labels are at all necessary, or any of anyone else’s business!

    Yes, I understand that we all do tend to apply lables like wife, mother, Christian, Democrat, etc to each other, but as you say at the end of your post, what’s important is to see (and here I will add a word) ALL “parts of the spectrum interacting and loving one another.” Amen, Blessed be, and Whoo Hooo to that!

    It sounds like your Droidlet has a wonderful family to look forward to! Congrats!

    • LOVE this. And I totally understand. That’s why I write in the post that the “alphabet soup” we have in queer culture isn’t in itself enough. There are the constant questions: If you’ve only been with men but are attracted to women, are you bisexual? If you’ve never had sex with anyone can you have a sexual identity? If you’ve only had one lover, is your sexuality defined by their sex? Etc. etc. etc.

      So, I completely agree with you. At the same time, I think our society tends to function with these labels. So, as a person with a “queer” identity, the label I’m most comfortable with is “bisexual.” And what is so interesting about language is that the more we try to define things, the more words and terms that get added to our expansive language, the more ambiguous everything becomes – the closer we get to not being labeled at all.

      • It’s hard to talk about abstractions without labeling them. The real trouble comes, in my opinion, when people stop listening to individuals and start thinking, “You said Lesbian, so I know everything about you.” Labels are good because they give us big brushstrokes to begin the conversation; the fun part however is filling in the details.

        Great post! Thank you for sharing.

    • I agree. So far, everyone I have fallen in love with has been a blond male (note, I have *dated* with no discernible pattern, but when it comes to love, the list is shorter). I did not fall in love with them because they are blond, nor because they are male. These are simply characteristics that they happen to have in common. To me, the fact that they happen to all have been men is no more significant than the fact that they all happen to have been blond. But them all being men makes me “straight.” What’s my label for loving blonds?

    • I so agree with this, “why do we need to label at all?”

      I have a good friend, I dont know how to describe her. She shaves her head, dyes her hair funky colours, wears strange clothes that change genre all the time, she doesnt care what other people think and she’s the most open minded person I know.

      For some reason my friends/family that dont know her always ask me if she is a lesbian. I say no, and they say “so she’s straight then?” and I say no to that too. And no she doesn’t identify as bi-sexual either!

      She doesn’t define her sexuality and I find it weird that everyone around her wants her too. Sometimes she sleeps with men, sometimes she sleeps with women, sometimes she sleeps with a group of people at once. Does it matter?? Do we need to put people into little boxes?

  6. Thank you for this. Even though my future husband is the only person I’ve ever dated, I am attracted to women. How much my children will know this is something I do have to consider, especially as a Christian. I want them to be comfortable being who they are but also know how that stands in relation to what doctrine and other Christians might say. (These are things I’ve worked out for me but how will I explain them to my kids without sounding like I’m right and everyone else is wrong? Just because I’ve come to my conclusions doesn’t mean my kids will come to the same ones and that’s okay!)

    • Oh wow, another Christian bisexual! I am single at the moment, but I am waiting for marriage to have sex which when I also add that I’m bisexual….makes everyone give me some very odd looks! Just because I’m bisexual doesn’t mean that I’m having sex with everyone all the time, or that if I’m married to a man I’m straight, or I’m really a lesbian in denial, or that I can’t be a good Christian. Life is hard enough without biphobia in the LGBT community too.

      • There are very few people I know that are bisexual and Christian (although I do tend to lean toward the guys, I’m not split 50/50). I was told I couldn’t be bipolar because I’m not sleeping around as well as that I can’t be a bisexual because I’ve never done (nor will do) anything with a woman. (I hope to be with my FH for life after all and we are monogamous.) You’ve definitely got company there. “Just because I’m bisexual doesn’t mean that I’m having sex with everyone all the time, or that if I’m married to a man I’m straight, or I’m really a lesbian in denial, or that I can’t be a good Christian.” I definitely agree with all of this. I’ve heard it all and none of it is true for me!

        • Oh wow, are you me? I am a Christian woman, married to the only person I’ve ever been in a serious relationship with, who happens to be male. I’ve always been attracted to both men and women, and committing myself to one partner doesn’t change that!

  7. Yaaay for posting this! I am a bisexual (usually identify as pansexual) mama to a toddler married to a bisexual man and am also polyamorous and living with an additional male and female partner who have 2 other kids (whew that was a mouthful!). The negative reactions from all kinds of people can be very frustrating. Posts like this make me happy that there are more of us out here and we can have families and everything!

  8. Love this! I too am like you – have had relationships with men and women, wound up choosing a male as a life partner, so (knock on wood) will be perceived as a heterosexual for the rest of my life. That doesn’t bug me, but when people do ask or it somehow comes up, I clarify that I consider myself Queer.

  9. Awesome AWESOME!
    This really got me thinking.

    I feel lucky that I found the person that I want to spend the rest of my life with. I’m only 21 though, sometimes I wonder if I would have had the courage to date across the spectrum of all the kinds of wonderful, attractive people out there!

    Thank you Rachelle for writing this, and that you OffBeatMama for posting this!

  10. I identify as queer/pansexual and I am married to a man. If anybody asks me what my sexual orientation is I usually tell them it doesn’t really matter if I identify as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, etc. since I’m in a monogamous relationship with a male. It’s not that I’m hiding who I am. Those who know me well know that I consider myself queer/pansexual. However, more importantly, I consider myself an advocate for GLBTIQQ rights. I don’t want people to get the idea that one must be GLBTIQQ to be an Ally.

  11. I think the easiest way to solve all these alphabet soup issues is a simple “I’m {insert name here}-sexual” if you’re monogamous or “I’m maybe/maybe not interested in being sexual with you” if you’re not monogamous. Please request further details when you apply.

  12. Thank you, Rachael, and Offbeat Mama, for this post! I am bisexual/queer, with some trans feelings and behaviors, have been with a man for almost 8 years, and have never had a formal relationship with a woman (although I have had sex with a woman). I don’t think my family accepts/believes that I’m bisexual (haven’t come out as quasi-trans), even though I’ve been out since 15, almost 15 years. I try to make gentle reference to my sexual identity/orientation every once in awhile, lest they forget!
    P.S. I feel the rejection from both the het and LGBTQ sides, for SURE.

    • I was all excited to post a comment, but it looks like Miranda wrote it for me! Seriously, everything that she said, give or take a couple years here and there.

      Thank you so, so, so much for writing/publishing this article–I loved reading it and seeing this perspective acknowledged and valued makes me love OBM more than ever!

  13. My (male) partner has the same problem, of people assuming his heterosexuality because he is married and we have a baby. Luckily for us, we also have a network of family and friends with other models of raising a family.

    Thanks for the post!

  14. I find it really interesting that bisexual people find themselves challenged and labelled if they choose to marry the opposite sex — does it happen in same-sex marriages as well? (I can’t relate, and thus don’t understand, but my friend had the same experience when she married, and it strikes me as strange.)

    Great post; I love the perspective, and your mom sounds like a seriously cool role model. ^^d

  15. Thank you for writing this and thank you everyone who has responded. It is nice to see others who have children and still identify their selves as bisexual, even in a committed relationship.

    I am a bisexual mama of two kids. I have been with women and men. I just happen to be married and in love with a man. I have been in love with a women too. I like to say I fall in love with the soul of a person and not the body or gender. I am attracted to all walks of life, so saying I am bisexual at times seems to cheat me out of all the other walks of life I am attracted too.

  16. Thank you so much for this fantastic article.

    I am a bisexual woman married to a man who i have been in love with for 10 years. A few years ago i considered the labeling of sexuality really tedious and i simply didn’t think it mattered. The fact was i was in love with one person, who cares what their gender was.

    However, since being married, i have started to identify with my sexuality more and more. I think it is because we are hoping to start a family (we’ve been trying for almost a year) and i’m think about my children and how important it is to us that we never have to teach them about sexuality. I want all forms of gender/sexuality to be normal to them. The best way i can do that is be open.

    I have never ‘come out’ as such. My friends and brothers all know that i am not straight. Mainly because i remind them of this on a regular basis, like many of you i do not with to be considered straight. It isn’t who i am. If anything, i have always been more attracted to women, my husband is the exception rather than the norm for me. But i have never told my parents, frankly there has always seemed little point. But, now i’m trying to bring a child into the world it feels like it’s time to tell them. No lies, just love and all that jazz.

    Funny isn’t it, who’d have thought i’d be 27 years old, married to a man, trying for a child and struggling to come out to my parents.

    • i feel the same way. i’m 25 tho, other than that same situation. All my friends and my sister know. My man knows. Just never saw the point of bring it up with my parents, but now i’m starting to feel like it’s such a big part of who i am that they need to know.

  17. I’m a lurker from offbeat bride, getting married in April with kids way in the distance but I had to post.

    Lizzie, you’re in exactly the same boat as me! I’ve been with my male partner since I was 13 (ten years), so have never had any female partners, yet I knew then I was Bi. I was honest with my partner from when I knew I was being honest with myself, probably around age 18ish and he doesn’t have a problem with it, it’s just part of me.

    I haven’t really come out to many people but a lot of the responses are “how do you know?” when I counter with how do you know you’re straight when you’ve never had sex I get “I just do”. Well duh! Same for me!

    Others seem to have always known, and coming out wasn’t really a surprise to them they just wondered why it took so long for me to tell them!

    My family don’t know. I think my mum has an idea but my dad wouldn’t cope. I think I’m a bit of a cop out not coming out to them but then I’m a wimp and why shake the tree if it won’t affect them? It’s difficult but I think it would just be too much for my dad to cope with.

    • It’s such a tough one isn’t it Jess. I’m slightly different because i was 17 when i met my husband, and before that i’d had relationships with girls.

      I never really struggled with my sexuality, from about the age of 13 i just fancied girls and boys. I never really worried about it and i was surrounded by great role models from older friends. I’ve never needed to ‘come out’ before, it’s never been an issue. And if it’s been an issue for any of my friends, they’ve never told me.

      I think i will tell my parents eventually, for all the reasons i said above. I may just drop it into conversation one day.

  18. Lizzie spot on. I too am in the same situation. 2 serious relationships with men in my life, but a life long attraction to women. I am now happily married to a man who I’ve been committed to for 12 years. I too haven’t broached the topic with my family. I know they will not deal well. All of my friends know I identify as Bisexual. It was also one of the first things I explained to my husband when we started dating. It truly is part of who I am.

    The issues really do come in when you have a child. My parents are homophobic. It has been an on going issue that I try to avoid to keep peace at holidays and get-togethers. But, I will not stand for them passing their hatred onto my child. Trying to navigate that minefield is something I have serious anxiety about already and we haven’t even conceived yet.

    • Absolutely. My mum, rather ridiculously, told her married gay neighbour that she would disown him if he were her son. Yet she’s still great friends with them. Sometimes i feel like she’s bragging about being homophobic. But… I don’t think my parents are homophobic, not really. Just very naive. I’m pretty sure that if me or one of my brothers brought home a partner of the same sex there would be a lot of shouting, a lot of tears, but they’d get over it within a few weeks.

      I just wish i’d been able to get rid of this ridiculous attitude, and it’s probably in my power. I’m just scared!

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