Brown Queer Femme Seeks Queer Parent Friends

Verywell / Madelyn Goodnight

I’m making a new friend I met on Facebook. I was looking online for other parents of tweens and teens who are queer like me and located in the North Carolina Triangle. This future friend—I’ll call her Tasha—had a post up that mentioned her 12-year-old so I reached out. 

She responded quickly enough that I wonder if she’s as lonely as I am when it comes to the parenting community. I mean, probably. Most likely, that’s the reason she keeps telling me she’s trans. She’s told me three separate times. And I get it. It’s the same reason I’m lonely—being brown and queer means there’s a huge chance I’ll be rejected by other parents. Especially White hetero ones. 

Having kids while queer is tricky. Reproduction is a heterosexual act. The United States economy is built on hetero breeding. Traditionally, men are paid more money regardless of the work, women stay home to bear and tend the children, and the children grow up to repeat the process modeled to them. Heterosexuality as a capitalist venture is tidy. Queerness is not. 

In a same-sex relationship, who stays home? Especially when, just as traditionally, income is not as readily accessible to those who exist outside the hetero norm. And without a sizable income, among other ongoing barriers, nor are alternate methods of reproduction such as in vitro fertilization.

Having kids while queer is tricky. Reproduction is a heterosexual act. The United States economy is built on hetero breeding...Heterosexuality as a capitalist venture is tidy. Queerness is not.

I can tell you that when I was living as a heterosexual woman, I was financially stable and had ready access to medical care for myself and my children. Now, as a queer woman married to another woman, I cannot afford to pursue medical care that is obviously needed and am at a high risk of becoming unhoused. This is largely due to my ex-husband seeking child support after I moved states despite maintaining the same custody of the children and the fact that his income was four times mine when mine was at its steadiest.

The legal system is on his side because he can afford a more aggressive lawyer, but also because I “broke up” the nuclear family by “taking me time”—as my ex-husband so thoughtfully describes my process of detaching from the trauma of an unnatural sexual relationship and the SAD-inducing darkness of a midwestern state. Combine this with my “time off” work because I was the primary, at-home parent for 12 years, and the fact that I present as female and thus earn less than a man and, well, prospects for reproductive therapies don’t look great for me whether I want them or not.

So it should come as no surprise that the queer community is not quick or able to offer up other parents in my age range with kids near my kids’ ages. Even my wife is six years younger than me. That makes a unicorn like Tasha all the more appealing. And all the more relatable when she keeps putting her type of queerness at the forefront of our interactions.

From it, I can guess that she came out late as I did. That she reproduced before fully shifting into herself. That she is isolated by being a part-time parent who, from the two small comments she has made, is not permitted access to her daughter because, like me, she has bucked the hetero norm and rejected the social constructs of capitalism.

Maybe, unlike me, she was able to keep her job and continues to have a secure income. Maybe she’s been out longer, had more support when she embraced herself and that’s why she can introduce me to some good, queer community. There’s a lot for us to learn about each other, but we already have so much in common just by being queer parents with tweens.

***

When my wife, Marie, and I relocated to North Carolina, it was on the tail of our established queer community. One close friend is a tattoo artist and co-owner of Critter Swamp. They arrived in NC, got established, and were looking for a shop manager. Marie was available and the job fit in with her studies. NC was a state I’d been trying to move to for several years but had been unable to convince my ex-husband to make the jump. Marie was more than willing to jump with me. We leapt, landing close enough to the ocean for weekend trips with the kids and in a spot surrounded by already-made friends.

It wasn’t much of a shift for me when it comes to social groups. I’m quiet and keep to myself for the most part. But when it was time to have the kids come and stay with me, the lack of other tweens and teens from homes that understand or accept ours became glaringly apparent. I searched online for several months before coming across Tasha. The other queer parents I’ve found have toddlers or infants. They, like most of my community, are considerably younger than me and very likely have never lived a hetero life.

But when it was time to have the kids come and stay with me, the lack of other tweens and teens from homes that understand or accept ours became glaringly apparent.

I talked with my neighbors. They are all straight, mostly White families who have shown themselves to be withdrawn from us. It’s unclear whether our queerness offends them or if they are just too busy with their well-off lives. They are all homeowners whereas we are renters. Their kids live with them full time and are part of sports leagues. Their families are nuclear just like those their children associate with. 

So I look to queer spaces, but those tend to be aimed at younger folx or require the type of disposable income parenting doesn’t permit. My last job was remote due to the COVID pandemic, so there is no office community. Even my wife, who does have peers in her age range, is parent-lonely.

My loneliness makes sense. When I thought I was heterosexual, it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t marry a man and have children. When I realized I was queer, I felt cheated. I can’t imagine not having my kids. I’ve met and raised them. But I now understand having a choice. For me, the truth is queer people don’t make kids because there is a lessened sense of a future, and not just due to financial insecurity.

In a queer couple, your chances of passing on genetic material are significantly lower. Because reproduction is not guaranteed, encouraged, or required, reproduction becomes a political act. In a world where queer choices are already limited to the point where we are forced to raise ourselves, why would we also be raising babies?

In a world where queer choices are already limited to the point where we are forced to raise ourselves, why would we also be raising babies?

So I text with Tasha. I hope for a friendship that turns out to be lasting. I hope for the sense of support in community I miss from when my peers assumed me to meet the standard: heterosexual like them. And I’m thankful for the community that has surrounded me in my beginning years as a queer person, even if I have to be, in this sense, an elder.

1 Source
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  1. Gore E. Understanding queer oppression and resistance in the global economy: towards a theoretical framework for political economyNew Political Economy. 2022;27(2):296-311. doi:10.1080/13563467.2021.1952558