I'm Bisexual and a Mom: Don't Erase Me
By Kelly Brown
I've never been good at introductions. I believe in today's society we're taught to hate ourselves and one another as a means to control and divide us.
And I know that sounds cliche, but listen –
Many tears have gone into this story. For the last few weeks, I've taken a new look at myself and the world as a whole. I've reflected on old mistakes and new ones I've yet to make, and I've learned that I cannot live in fear. I've bent my beliefs and integrity in the past for the sake of "normalcy," but one thing is for certain: I cannot live a lie.
You see, I am a bisexual woman.
And this bisexual cis-woman can no longer date cis-het men and put on a "straight mask" to appease some heteronormative culture. I could, but that would just be a step back into the closet and I wouldn't be happy.
I started this piece as a way to bring into perspective what it is to not only be a parent in the LGBTQIA+ community (we'll get to that in a moment), but as an out bi woman. I wish I could say this was penned with ease and fluidity, but the truth is this has been the hardest thing I've ever written.
Fun fact: not everyone is loving and accepting, and there are some out there who just flat out disbelieve my sexuality is real, both in straight and queer communities. Can someone say bisexual erasure? Hello?
For someone part of the LGBTQIA+ community, I've heard my fair share of commentary on how being queer is "not right" or it "doesn't have a place in society." It is a hateful lie, and it's been instilled in us via religion and capitalism where we are told how to live and how to not, even if it goes against our nature. And that brings me back to my original point, that we've been taught to hate ourselves and one another.
I have spoken to many whom I love and respect, some of the closest ones to me, and no matter how much I scream from the bottom of my lungs, no matter how many times it is obvious the biases society has for me, I go unheard or am told being queer "doesn't apply to me" because I'm not flamboyant. Hearing that I'm not loud like the "flamboyant" ones hurts. You are denying who I am, and that's wrong. But I am flamboyant, and I am loud, you just don't see it. I will not be silent regardless of the true acceptance I want so badly from those I love (and society).
Not wearing pride merch or displaying rainbow flags doesn't make me less "flamboyant." I'm not even sure what's meant when someone says I'm "not like the flamboyant queers." I've been an open book since my early teens with my lifestyle and a VERY in your face riot girl. I'm anti-religion and I hold sapphic ideals. Is it because I'm a cis-woman? Is it because I am a femme cis-woman? Why do I get a pass? Who knows. I have to believe it's from a place of ignorance, honestly, or at least that's what I want to believe. Nonetheless, if you don't peg me as flamboyant, then you haven't spent any amount of time with me.
I cannot change for anyone, any institution, any religion, any community, or any society. And I definitely don't want to. But what I do want is to be a loving and compassionate person who, regardless of not understanding every struggle, identity, feeling, or way of living, accepts and encourages others to be themselves.
I am especially loud and flamboyant because I am both a parent and a step-parent to a a gender non-conforming child and a gay teen, respectively.
There is only so much you can teach as a parent. What I mean by that is, you teach your children core values and how to survive. You then send them off into the world where they begin to develop their identity and everything that makes them THEM. Imagine, you're in grade 2 and you start to develop your first crush just as your peers do. Innocent enough, right? Healthy, yeah? Absolutely. It's normal. But imagine you're told by your elders, teachers, the ones who protect and educate you, that it's not normal. They then tell you that it is sinful and not the way nature intended. To a developing mind, that's harmful. I am "flamboyantly queer" so my children don't have to be; I am an advocate for them so maybe society is a little bit more understanding.
My seven year old is just now grasping the concepts of gender. It's never really been a hot topic or a concern. Though I identify as a cis-woman, I've never conformed to gender roles and have actively used gender neutral pronouns (and identifiers) as the default for everyone, unless told otherwise.
I think some people have the misconception that because you're a queer parent you're automatically shoving an ideology down your child's throat, and that's just not the case. In fact, I feel like I can argue that it's vice-versa in heterosexual society.
I'm just letting my kids be kids.
Just loved and safe and accepted.
I never knew what pride meant to me until writing this piece. The thought of my children having to deal with a fraction of the struggles I've faced just to be accepted has been jarring, to say the least.
I don't know everything about parenting. I absolutely do not. I also do not speak for the entirety of the community. Just like any parent in any community, there will be differences in opinion. I only hope we can find some common ground with wanting the best for our children. It's often over looked, but children are humans with their own souls, hearts, and identity with a need to grow as their own. It's our jobs as parents to give them a safe place to do that.
I don't think I could ever capture the joy and sorrow of being a queer parent: the joy of seeing your child being authentic to themselves and being happy and proud of that, and then the sorrow of knowing what it means to live authentically and what comes with that in this world.
I want my children to know that I love them, and I will fight tooth and nail for them to live in world where they are loved, too.
Kelly C. Brown (she/her) is a music enthusiast, filmmaker, and single parent currently living outside of Bossier City in a literal swamp with her parrot, Baby, and son, Louie. Kelly's main goal in life is to teach her children to love all for who they are and to love the land. She is also passionate about bringing to light the injustices her community faces and wants there to always be a safe space for all children.