Coming out is constant

This is not news to anyone who defines themselves with an invisible identity – be it sexual orientation, disability, or a life experience like loss or trauma. You’re going to encounter people on almost a daily basis who make an assumption about you that you feel the need to correct. Or maybe you just want to feel authentic and share who you are and what’s important to you, totally unprovoked. Both of those scenarios are familiar to me.

Today I had my hair cut at a new place. I was priced out of my old salon – just couldn’t afford it anymore as my stylist became a master stylist, and inflation increased salon fees. A new hair stylist is stereotypically someone you’re going to open up to. You’re stuck with them for an hour, and awkward silence is sometimes worse than awkward small talk. So I made small talk with my new potential stylist.

I wanted to share that I had a toddler. Pretty soon that led to a discussion of her genetics – the stylist wanted to know where my daughter got her curls from. I explained that my daughter had two moms, and our sperm donor has his own kids who have super curly hair. I figure her hair comes from his genetics. I say this with confidence, because I’m asked all the time.

The stylist replied, after a moment of pondering, “so your boyfriend or husband… Wait, can you explain that?”

“I have a wife. My kid has two moms. We used a sperm donor to have our kid.”

“Ooh, I see. I was like, ‘how does she have two moms?’ You just assume that a woman is with a man, you know?”

And there it is. I’m totally OK with people making the assumption that I have a male partner. I get it. We’re socialized to make that assumption. What I don’t like is when it’s used as an excuse, rather than as an awareness building exercise… When someone uses the “I just assumed…” line on me as an excuse (it happens a lot), it comes out as almost an accusation on me for being confusing. For having a confusing family arrangement. I’d love it if one day someone said “oh I’m sorry, I assumed…” and then continue with a recognition that they didn’t have to make that assumption, and don’t have to in the future. That it’s ok to use the term “partner” until someone discloses the gender of their partner.

Anyway, I shrugged it off. But then she continued to dig herself into a hole. She asked if I was married (after I referred to my wife multiple times). She said “it must be nice to be able to get married now, right? You can do a lot of things now, actually.”

Ummm, yup, I guess I’m pretty lucky to have almost equal rights here in Canada. Not sure how to respond. And without a response from me, she continued…

“I mean, I can see why people didn’t want you to get married, too, but I guess it doesn’t really matter.”

Oh god. This woman needs so much guidance and information.

To put icing on the cake of subtle prejudice and ignorance, she ended with this comment, as she was holding up the mirror to show me the finished hair cut: “your wife must be really happy that she found you!”

I stared blankly, trying to figure out what reason she had in mind, as someone who has known me for 30 minutes and has never met my wife.

She responded to my blank stare with, “because you’re really pretty! It must be really hard to find someone who looks like you, you know, in the gay scene.”

And there it was. She slapped me with possibly the most offensive lesbian stereotype in existence – the stereotype that all lesbians are butch and/or unattractive by Western beauty ideals. That butch = unattractive. That femmes don’t exist, or are some rare exotic gem that all the butch lesbians must be clamouring over.

Anyway, despite this yucky social experience, I liked the hair cut. And you know what? I think I’ll go back to her, because I’m paying for the haircut, not the conversation, and I think she needs to spend more time talking with me.

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A Community of Families

I took Avery to campus with me this week to pick up some paperwork for my taxes, and I bumped into an old roommate. We hadn’t seen each other since before I married, although he knows my wife from when we were dating. He’s a really cool guy and I always wished we’d been able to maintain a friendship, but our lives just took us down different (but in many ways parallel) paths. 

In the 60 minute elevator ride we shared, he met Avery and was tickled to hear that I was still with the same woman and had had a child with her. He also shared that he had donated sperm to a lesbian couple in Toronto (neighbouring city), and they recently had the baby. It was such a cool connection that we suddenly shared. Even though he wasn’t OUR sperm donor, I feel like known sperm donors (and egg donors and surrogates) hold a special place in the community of LGBTQ families.

The sense of a common community of family building really hit home when he shared the name of the baby that this couple had – I instantly knew who he was talking about from the blog world. There are only so many two mom families in Toronto, narrowed down to those with a new baby, and finally pinpointed to one family with a baby with that name… 

Although I haven’t met any of the members of my LGBTQ Family blogging circle in real life, I am still struck by the sense of community that we share. I wonder if this is what it’s like for heterosexual couples in every day life – is the whole world their community? – or if the sense of common ground is lost in the masses. 

Weekend update: Easter

It was a beautiful spring long weekend. My wife got four days off (her new job gives both Easter Friday and Monday off!) and we only spent one day away from home. It was ideal. Busy, but at least we were busy in our own home doing our own stuff. Oh, and we were both sick, which was exhausting. We caught Avery’s bug. 

Friday 

I prepared an Easter dinner to have with my mom, and I managed to get the house cleaned too, all while taking care of Avery. It was one of those super mom days that balances out the days where I can’t even seem to get dressed by 5pm. My wife got a lot more progress done on the chicken coop, and my mom got a good visit in with Avery. 

Saturday 

I got some plants for the garden transplanted into bigger pots until all risk of frost has passed (mid May), and we sat on our first pub patio of patio season. Avery couldn’t get enough of the fries. 

Sunday 

We went to the in-laws for Easter dinner and Avery had a great time interacting with all the family she used to have stranger anxiety around. Except for her 1 year old cousin… She still has some issues to work out with him.

Monday

I had to go to work to invigilate an exam and Avery stayed home with her Mo. More coop building ensued, and some relaxing in the afternoon. 

Sleep

Since I last wrote about the floor bed arrangement, we have changed gears with sleep arrangements again. She seems to have matured a bit in the needing comfort area, because when she wakes through the night (which is still every 30 min to 2 hours) she doesn’t wail or cry in a panicked way. She cries in a complaining way now. So for a little over a week I have been putting her to sleep by nursing in the chair in her room, and then transferring her to her crib. The first transfer of the evening is hard. She needs to be really asleep to go for it, so it can take an hour and a half still. But after that all it usually takes to get her back down is a quick (2 to 15 minute) rock. She sometimes rolls around to get comfy after you put her back down, too, so she seems aware that she’s going back in the crib alone. 

The problem I’ve had over the weekend is that I’m too exhausted to rock her back to sleep. My legs feel like they’re on fire and I just don’t have the will power and I instead sit down in the chair with her. Sometimes she nurses, sometimes she just cuddles. She falls asleep, but so do I. A couple of hours pass. This isn’t helping our “training” because she still spends half the night sleeping with me, and it doesn’t benefit me like bed sharing did because I’m so uncomfortable. 

My wife took some of the night waking shifts over the weekend which was great for our “training”, but she can’t keep it up once she’s back to work this week. This will be my greatest challenge – staying the fuck awake through the night.