Becoming a parent and staying bi-visible

BCN 127 cover

This originally appeared in BCN issue 127, October 2014

I am not out as bisexual in the world of the yummy mummy. My baby hides me in a closet packed with heteronormative assumptions.  Think having an opposite-sex partner makes your bisexuality invisible? Try taking a child with you everywhere too!

I have no intention of opening that door as I need the company and support of the other mums. I just can’t afford the gamble.  I’ve learnt that when you are a new parent, it’s just you and the baby for some very long days, every day, week in, week out. The other parents in the local area become a life-line to stave off the insanity, to provide a reassuring ear, and critically to help prevent post-natal depression. Everyone who reads this knows that coming out doesn’t always end well, and you don’t rock the boat when you’re sitting in it without a life jacket.

I was advised to attend an LG(BT) parent group as a way of maintaining my bi identity, so I emailed them and expressed my concerns at joining a space that might not be bi-friendly.  The response can be paraphrased best as “yes you are the only bisexual but don’t worry, there’s one trans person too.”  So, yeah, I’m not really in the right frame of mind to be a forerunner. Not to mention the group is so far across the county it would require hiring a logistics company to get me and the baby there on time and in one piece.

And there’s the real issue.  You can only be visible as bisexual on the outside once you are visible on the inside.  I don’t have the time or the mental energy to pay attention to my sexuality, never mind being out and proud or going to LGBT groups.  Quite frankly there are days I don’t pay attention to my growling stomach or my personal hygiene. My baby doesn’t just hide me in a closet, his all-consuming needs makes me forget I’m in a closet.

You might think this is a bad thing but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love being a mummy and I’m besotted with my child. I’m happy that my life is always putting him first and me second.  I’m happy that this took me a month to write in 5 minute blocks, with one half of my brain writing and the other half permanently engaged in some other practical task.  I’m sure, I hope, that when he gets older this will change enough to make a little room for us both.  In the meantime I’m going to clean mashed banana out of his ear, wipe snot from his nose and give him a big cuddle.”

Parental Misfitting

Despite all the social change of the last few decades, society has its cookie-cutter ideas for who and how we should be, so to be a pansexual, disabled, single parent doesn’t fit so well into the predefined boxes of what a parent should be, yet this is the reality of me as a parent.

When it comes to my parenting it is no different (I like to hope!) than any other parent: I provide my small person with nurturing and love, patience and understanding, familiarity and stability to help enrich her as she grows and develops.

The boxes of parenthood are geared to heterosexual society, and as a lone parent it often hard to keep self identity within the predefined norms, but my family is norm for me and my small person.

It is hard and challenging watching my small person’s friends grow and develop given that the majority of them have a two parent structure: at times I am jealous almost envious of that. Especially at the time of writing this as I am ill with a chest infection and I would love someone else to take over the toddler wrangling for a couple of hours so I can rest!

But we are fortunate that we meet up fairly regularly with a group of LGBT+ parents and their smalls so for a few hours every month or so sexuality and gender of parent/s simply doesn’t matter as all our smalls have familiarity that their family dynamic is normal, this validates internal battles which rage fierce at times of “is my family enough?”

The pigeonholing of being a single parent who happens to be pan, inevitably means when others learn that I am not straight, they wonder if I was in a relationship with a female “clearly you’re gay and were just unsure”; or if I enter into a relationship with a guy “you are cured and must be straight now”. If only the internal voice of “people are people and loveable regardless of gender” was as easy to please and satisfy.

Even as I write this, I notice a thread on a facebook group where someone has remarked their preteen has “come out as gay” I couldn’t help but reply with “when do straight people feel the desire to come out as straight? how do they know they are” in response to someone else saying “but how does the preteen know?”

Biphobia is loud and visible, makes me sad and often makes me wonder what world I am raising my small person in.  I can only hope that as my small person’s parent I am raising her with the self awareness to embrace society and difference and celebrate it.

We have our challenges, what family doesn’t?  But I would like to hope we meet those challenges and embrace them and learn from them and that is what matters.