The Invisible Lesbian

Me and my daughter

Photo by Becky Dickerson

As lesbian parents, we are not active in the gay community, nor are we activists for gay rights. We are just two mums trying our best to bring up our two little girls in the best way we know how, feeling our way as we go. I am not vociferous about my sexuality as I rarely find it relevant to conversations with people that don’t know me. I have groups of mum friends – some single, some married, some happily partnered, and even some with a splattering of lesbian affair history, despite essentially identifying as straight.

I am mostly an invisible lesbian. Which is fine by me. I don’t want to be different, to make a point and stand out. I want to be treated the same as everyone else, because to me, that is what equality means. And so far, pretty much, that’s been my experience. Yes, assumptions are made every day about my life but I expect that and am not easily offended – why wouldn’t someone assume that my children are the produce of a male/female relationship when that is the norm, by and large?

I am also not shy of being honest if people are intrigued when they ‘discover’ the truth about me. I am quite happy to explain how my children came to be as I strongly believe that ignorance breeds contempt. In other words, being all cloak and dagger about the (not so) gritty truth helps no-one. There is no shame in having children using medical intervention, and if anything, it only compounds how desperately they were wanted. No-one would jump through those hoops if they weren’t that fussed about having kids I can assure you!!

My children’s school have not once made it awkward for us – we both get cards on Mother’s Day and even got specially made bracelets from Bunny when she was in nursery that she’d designed to match each of our favourite colours. We have heard there are some other gay parents at the school, but don’t know them, and the school has treated us no differently than any other parents (and I know a few of them now so can compare).

Of course, Bunny is starting to ask the inevitable questions about why some of her friends have dads when she has two mums, but she has also surprised me with her frankness. At a recent 6th birthday party, one of the children asked if I was Bunny’s mum. I replied that I was and he went on to ask me who her dad was. I was totally unprepared for this question and not really keen to discuss the intricacies of artificial insemination with a 5 year old I’d never met. Luckily, Bunny piped up with “I’ve told you before, I have a mum and a mummy, not a dad!”. It was enough to stem the questions and made me feel very proud of this confident little girl of mine. And actually, it really is that simplistic. Bunny and Bear have a mum and a mummy. Their friends may have a mummy and a daddy, or a mummy, mum and daddy, or even mummy and X, her boyfriend, or just a mummy or just a daddy. Not one of these families is any more or less than ours.

But should I make it a bigger deal? Should I correct people when they make heteronormative assumptions about me and my family? Does it matter that I am by and large an invisible lesbian, or is it, in fact, a wonderful demonstration of acceptance that it actually doesn’t seem to matter? I know that I am fortunate in that my experiences have been so positive and am painfully aware that this is not always the case, but I do hope that this is a sign that things are changing, and for the better. I pray that I am right.