LGBT History Month – Featured Families: The Gayby Project. 

I have followed the ladies from The Gayby Project for a long time. They’re not only one of my favourite favourite bloggers, but we actually shared our bump time; with our beautiful sons only being 2-3 weeks apart!

In addition to all this, not only are they a frickin rad couple (which you can see in their wedding photos alone) but they’re extremely passionate, especially when it comes to LGBT rights.

So when it came to contacting my favourite families to feature on our blog, I couldn’t not ask Andie, and I’m so so glad I did.

Very few things make me speechless these days, but when Andie sent me a letter I was lost for words.

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Dear Ansel,

By the time you can read this, you’ll know at least a little bit about the world, your family, and yourself. One of the things you might realize is that your family looks a little bit different from some other families. It will start gradually, when you start to see difference in gender, notice the words people use to describe themselves and their parents don’t quite match the words you use. You’ll start to understand that you have two moms, and other people have a mom and a dad, and some have only a mom or a dad, and some have a Baba or an Abba or Nanas and Poppy’s who care for them.

But there are many children like you now. In fact, just last week, there was a Facebook group (do we still have Facebook, in the future? I sort of hope not!) with 10,000 self identified Queer Mamas. So I know, at the very minimum, there are 10,000 babies who are growing up with families that look at least a little like yours.

This wasn’t always the case, though.

I’m sure I seem so old to you now, but my life has been short in comparison to the long struggle of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer folks. When I was a kid, one of the most progressive president’s to date signed legislation that made my marriage to your mommy impossible, and even Ellen Degeneres was pretending she was straight. When your Uncle Joe was coming out, there wasn’t even an AIDS crisis yet, and the LGB community was still freshly releveling in no longer being considered mentally ill (though our Trans brothers and sisters still bear this burden now.)

And when your Nana and Papa were children, it was illegal everywhere to be gay and people hid in their homes for fear of violence, made up secret signs to know one another in hiding (my blue star tattoo pays tribute to this sad time in our history) and knew they might be risking everything in their lives if they chose to come out.

And now, we are common place. Not even someone’s entire lifespan, and we’ve gone from hidden to pedestrian. Of course, the work isn’t done just because both your Mommy and I got to sign your birth certificate. Some of the people who love you most dearly still have to be careful with their lives, because other’s don’t understand them and the world doesn’t welcome them. In some places, two people can get married on Sunday and then lose their jobs for that marriage on Monday. Our world is still a very, very hard place to exist for trans people of color, especially.

But I want you to know that things can and do change. They change because people – all kinds of people – demand that it be so. Lots of people hid in the 1950’s, it’s true, but then a group of beautiful, bad ass drag queens stepped up and threw rocks and now we celebrate the difference that act of defiance made each June. So many of our beloveds were dying from AIDS and the government didn’t care until a group of people called ACT UP shut down the Golden Gate bridge and made them pay attention.

I am so very glad that you will grow up in a world where your Moms were able to be so openly, so forthrightly, your moms. But I hope that this goodness will not make you complacent. I hope that whoever you grow to be, you keep looking for the places where people are left out, or hurt, or ignored. I hope you will use whatever you have in you – your privilege, your defiance, your sensitivity, your passion, your charm – to carve out a space for them. I know already that you possess the gifts to do this.

Love,

Mama


See what I mean?

LGBT History Month – Featured Families: Pauline Kirby (Pols80)

I haven’t followed Pauline for as long as other LGBT families but when I did I wish I’d done it sooner. 

As someone with little to zero knowledge of transition, I’ve followed not only with great interest but with huge admiration. 

Their journey together as a couple and a family has been a roller coaster but something that’s definitely made them stronger. 

Introducing, Pols80…

*taps* Is this thing on?

Hello! I’m Pauline, and I’ve been asked by my lovely friends at LesBeMums to tell you a bit about myself, and what LGBT History Month means to me. I’ve been with my partner Jessica for almost two years, and between us we have five children aged between 3 and 20. When I first met Jess on Twitter in 2012, she was living as male having been assigned male at birth. Jess is transgender, and officially embarked on her transition 14 months ago when she began living full time as female.

With four of our children still at home (my sons, my daughter, and my step daughter), our house is noisy and busy and joyful and stressful! They all spend half of their time with their other respective parents, and the quiet can be unnerving when they’re not here. It’s a joy and a privilege to guide little humans as they grow to full size humans with personalities and characters of their own, and also a massive responsibility. Raising children requires patience and courage and a bottomless food cupboard!

Our own circumstances are unlike those of any of my friends, and our same-sex parenting has an added twist. We spent every hour of every day worrying about how to deal with Jess’ gender dysphoria, worried about how transition would impact the children. I think we forgot to give credit to our children for being resilient and open-minded, and also to ourselves and our children’s other parents for having raised courageous and principled kids. It hasn’t been all roses in the garden but, a year down the line, we have a well-adjusted family and we’ve settled into our new normal.

For me, the biggest challenge of our rainbow family has been the way we’ve been catapulted into a vulnerable position; we’ve never experienced homophobia or transphobia while out with the children, but it was something I was hyper-aware of in the early days. I suspect our larger-than-life horde means few people take much notice of us parents! I didn’t start my family as part of a same-sex couple, but I imagine it could be a daunting prospect. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how accepting most people are, and I’d hate to think there are potential parents out there being kept from their dream of being a parent by fear of persecution. I think if I was starting my family now, I’d look at finding support right from the word go: people who’ve been there, and can share their experiences.

My three children were born into a family with opposite-sex parents, but we both modelled attitudes of equality to our little ones, and I’m definitely reaping the benefits of that now! The older kids have all had friends over to stay, and there has never been so much as a raised eyebrow or a long stare. My biggest challenge with the children has been addressing use of the word “gay” by my boys as an insult; its use so deeply engrained in our society that I don’t think they even stop to consider what they’re saying. I can only imagine how hearing language used in this way affects young people who aren’t yet “out”. As someone whose own identity has been challenged at the age of 33, I can understand how difficult it must be for young people questioning their sexuality or gender identity in a school environment.

I really hope we reach a point where “coming out” isn’t even a thing, because we stop making the assumption that everyone is straight and cis gender unless they tell us otherwise. Until then, I’d urge young people questioning their identity to reach out for support. Stonewall Youth offers invaluable support to LGBT+ young people, and the realisation that you’re not alone is a huge relief. I don’t really feel qualified to offer advice, because I’m relatively new to this experience, but I do know that finding others with similar experiences gives you a safe place to chat and work through how you’re feeling, whether that’s online or in person. My own experience is that the expectation of how people will react is much worse than the reality, and our society is slowly and steadily improving its awareness of, and attitude towards, LGBT issues. That doesn’t mean that you’re wrong to be wary, though: persecution of members of our community is a dreadful reality, and it’s one that most of us have experienced at some point. Please remember that Hate Crime is exactly that, and by speaking out we help protect ourselves and those who will walk this path behind us.

LGBT History Month is important, not just for the recognition of how far LGBT rights have progressed (and I’m proud to live in Scotland, the most LGBT-friendly country in Europe), but also for the reminder that we are the future of LGBT History. Everything we do, whether we address international conferences or just get up, show up, and try not to give up, matters. Every tiny change we make, and every voice we add to the conversation about equality, counts. I’m so grateful to those who went before me and challenged homophobia, and stood up for transgender rights, and fought tirelessly for equality whether in their everyday lives or through leading a revolution. I hope that by adding my own solitary voice, I’ll make the conversation just a little bit louder.

I’m no expert, but I’m always happy to share experiences and offer support to those in a similar position to me. I’m on Twitter @@Pols80, or you can find my blog at pols80.wordpress.com.

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LGBT History Month – Featured Families: Jenni Tellyn. 

I’ve known Jenni since joining our local a Rainbow Families Facebook group.

We are so glad we joined the group. Not only have we met a wonderful community of rainbow families, where meet ups and events are arranged regularly, but we have people to go to if we have questions specific to LGBT Families.

As part of LGBTHM, the group are taking part in an oral history project at our local library in Brighton on Saturday 20th February from 10am. Children are very welcome with lots going on, including; face painting, badge-making, story-time, singing and crafts – there’s even a play area for under 5’s too!!

But back to the featured family!

Who are you?

I am Jenni Tellyn and I live with my partner, Kathryn Clarke and our family.

How long have you been together?

We’ve been together nearly 6 years.

Where did you meet?

We met on match.com! It was technically “doomed” from the beginning as her profile said she definitely wanted children (and indeed had the drugs in the fridge already in preparation for her fertility treatment!) and mine said I definitely didn’t want them. We thought we would have some fun and see what happened and five years, two dogs and two daughters later, here we are!

Do you have any children?

Yes. Kathryn is birth mum to Isabella who is four going on 14 (sheesh!) and I am birth mama to Bibi who is 9 months old Web Site.

We used the same donor for both girls through the European Sperm Bank so we will be watching to see any mannerisms/character traits they have in common!

What’s the best thing about being a parent?

I love the excuse it gives you to be silly. We laugh a lot. I like watching them learn new things and I thank Bibi for getting me a year and a bit off work!

What challenges, if any, have you faced as a same-sex family?

I didn’t come out until relatively recently so I feel a bit of a fraud having missed the struggle many people went through to be accepted. I’ve never had any adverse reactions to my sexuality, even in the macho hetero world of the City of London, despite having had to come out again and again to explain how I came to have our first daughter despite not having been pregnant!

The only awkwardness was the health visitor squirming her way out of having asked both me and my partner about contraception in our post natal check-ups! Doh! Am unlikely to spend five grand at a fertility clinic by accident!

Has it been easy to teach your children about diversity?

To be honest, we haven’t really gone there with our conversations with Isabella yet. She has matter-of-factly just accepted she has two mummies.

Indeed, a little boy at her childminder took to calling his Daddy “Mama” as he wanted two mummies too! Not sure what his Dad thought of that 😬!

We have now bought an “Our Story” book from the Donor Conception Network site so we can read it with Isabella before she starts school. Her mind has just been blown, when we were talking about her birthday, by the idea that she came out of “Mummy’s foofoo!!” so the whole sperm donor thing might be too early to introduce!

What would be your message to a young person “coming out” today? 

Is “coming out” even much of a thing these days? Don’t sweat the labels! Be yourself!

What would be your message to a couple starting out on the TTC journey?

Brace yourselves for an emotional roller coaster and a fair bit of expense (depending on which route you choose to go down). Don’t overthink it – there’s never an absolutely perfect time. If you need to do it, do it. No regrets.

What does LGBT History mean to you?

Being thankful for the backdrop of struggle people went through so the world has changed for the better for those coming after those pioneers.

Where can we find you?

I blog at www.babyweaningchart.com and am on Twitter as @bibisgrowingup.

Thanks!

LGBT History Month – Featured Families: My Two Mums

I’m pretty sure My Two Mums were the first same-sex family blog we followed when we first started out on our TTC journey.

We hadn’t really come across many young same-sex families online, certainly not ones in England, so finding My Two Mums gave us hope right at the beginning.

Back then, Clara and Kirsty were just Clara and Kirsty! Little M hadn’t even arrived yet! Three years have since passed and M is now a bright young boy!

It’s really been a pleasure to read (and watch via their Instagram) M growing up.

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Who are you?

We are Kirsty and Clara, two women in love from Dorset. We write an award winning blog about our lives and adventures with our 3 year old son. Clara is the Mummy in our house, where I am the Mama. We both bring very different qualities to our household and are just doing our best to be the best parents we can be.

How long have you been with your partner?

We met in 2007 and pretty much Uhauled straight away. Next year we will have been together for 10 years and married for 7 years.

Where did you meet?

We met online and a friendship developed and how learned how local we were to each other.

How many children do you have? How old are they?

We have a 3 year old awesome ball of energy who is everything we could have hoped for in a child and more. We hope to add to our household at some point, but our life plans are all about working on the now until that happens.

What’s the best thing about being a parent?

Every age is my favourite age. Children just get more and more awesome as they grow. It’s amazing that you have no idea how much you can love a child until it comes into your life and just causes your heart to expand with so much love.

What challenges, if any, have you faced as a same-sex family?

Ignorance is the biggest challenge which is why we started a blog. We wanted to increase visibility and show we are just your regular family, whilst also tackling issues that mean a lot to us. It’s also interesting that challenges are not always what you expect.

Has it been easy to teach your children about diversity? Have they encountered any problems? If so, How did you react?

At 3 we are only just starting to touch on subjects about diversity as in our son’s world we are no different to other families yet. There haven’t been any issues so far.

What would be your message to a young person “coming out” today?

Take your time, don’t feel pressured or forced to define yourself in others eyes. The internet is a giant place with many communities that will offer support as and when you need it. You do not have to do this alone.

What would be your message to a couple starting out on the TTC journey?

Do your research. Know your budget and know that it will be your own personal experience. The thing that can be most draining when you are going through something is those who think they know how you feel as they had a similar experience. At the end of the day, your experience is your experience, don’t let others take that away from you. Also don’t be afraid to lean on friends during your journey, if they are true friends, they will be with you every step of the way. It can be a bumpy ride, don’t face it alone.

How about those especially worried about persecution?

Do not stand for homophobia. At any point if you feel victimised there are many avenues online that allow it to be reported. It is not something you have to take as part of the process. There is no excuse for homophobia and with our voices we can make change.

What does LGBT History mean to you?

It’s the celebration of all the amazing humans who have played a part in shaping the world we live in today. When I was asked when I was 18 why I didn’t like marriage it was because it was illegal. To be married at 33 with a child is amazing. I am so grateful for those who have stood up and moved mountains. There is still so much to be done, but I am proud to live in a country where movement is being made.

Where can we find you?

We can be found at My Two Mums and TwitterYouTube, and Facebook

Thanks for having us!

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LGBT History Month – Featured Families: MummyMumma

Flowing nicely into our fifth featured family is Katie and Kirsty from MummyMumma. Katie and Kirsty are new in our blogroll list but we’re so glad that we do follow them, it’s a treat reading about their son Joseph.

What I’m loving the most about this feature is the variety in where our families come from. Our previous family were from Austrailia, now it’s Scotland!

Who are you?

We are Katie (30) and Kirsty (32) and we live in Glasgow, Scotland.

How long have you been together?

We have been together for 6 years – lived together for 5 and a half, been engaged for 2 and been parents for almost 1.

Where did you meet?

We met in a gay club in Glasgow. We chatted and swapped numbers then met a couple of days later for a drink. Pretty much from that day on we have been inseparable!!

Do you have any children?

We have one gorgeous baby boy, Joseph, who was born 10th February 2015. Katie carried Joseph, who was conceived after our first round of IVF at a private clinic, using donor sperm.

What’s the best thing about being a parent / becoming a parent?

Kirsty – For me, the best thing about the whole process of becoming parent was creating a life with the person I love.

Katie – watching Joseph change and grow and learn new things is completely magical. He surprises me every single day and I can’t believe that Kirsty and I made him! I am so proud of him and I am excited to see the person he becomes. The unconditional, all-consuming love I have for him overwhelms me on a daily basis and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What challenges, if any, have you faced as a same-sex family? / What challenges are you afraid of?

Since starting the whole process, we have been faced with a lot of questions. We have always been very open with anyone who asks, but the “so who’s the father? What does he look like?” questions can get tiring. Some people feel that they can to ask us very intimate and personal questions and it still amazes me how many people refer to our donor as Joseph’s “dad” !! Luckily, we have mostly been met with positivity when we discuss our family.

As parents, we are worried about the questions Joseph will face as he grows up and goes to school. We hope that we can give Joseph the confidence, identity and strength of mind to answer any questions without getting upset, offended or frustrated.

Has it been easy to teach your children about diversity? / How will you teach diversity?

We hope that diversity is not something we will need to teach. We hope that by surrounding Joseph with diversity in his everyday life; through books, friends, discussion, toys, etc, it will be something that does not need to be explicitly ‘taught’. Celebrating diversity is an important part of our family life.

What would be your message to a young person “coming out” today?

Coming out is tough. It can be messy and upsetting and sometimes seems never-ending. But it is something that you will get through!

Keep your head up, surround yourself with positivity and people who make you happy. You are part of an amazing community. Always, always be proud of who you are.

What would be your message to a couple starting out on the TTC journey?

Oh wow. Ok, the journey can be long and hard and emotional and so so draining. But with every low, there will be a high. With every tear of sadness, there will be a tear of overwhelming joy. It’s tough, but incredibly worth it in the end.

What does LGBT History mean to you?

For us, LGBT History month is a time to reflect. It is a time to remember and celebrate the people who have fought endlessly for the rights we enjoy today. It is also a time to realise that the fight is not over. We still have so far to go.

Where can we find you?

Twitter – @mummymumma

Instagram – @mummymumma1

Blog – www.mummymumma.wordpress.com

This post is part of a month long celebration for LGBT history month. If you’d like to get involved, tweet using the hashtag #LGBTHM or find one of your local LGBT groups on Facebook and find out how they’re celebrating LGBT History Month. 

LGBT History Month –  Featured Families: We Forgot The Sperm. 

Since starting this project and featuring all my favourite bloggers and families, I’ve quickly come to realise how lucky we are that we’ve found several friends through our TTC process.

Like most of the other families we’ve featured, we’ve followed (their blog, not physically) Laura and Amy for a long time. Their journey hasn’t been the easiest (far from it!) and it’s been heart-breaking to read what they’ve been through, but they’ve come through it nonetheless and have a beautiful daughter to show for it. They’re an inspiration.

We now call Amy and Laura our friends. Genuine friends that we can chat to late at night on Facebook about leggings and Disney princesses. Friends we didn’t know existed until we both reached the bottom of the TTC pit.

Here’s their story…

Who are you?
I’m Laura and my wife is Amy. We’re a two mum family from London, UK

How long have you been together with your partner?
Nearly ten years, in a civil partnership for five years and we converted it to marriage last October

Where did you meet?
We met through an online forum for a west end show. We then both attended a meet up to see the show and became friends. I moved to London from Yorkshire and we were flat mates for a while before ending up in a relationship

How many children do you have? How old are they?
Just one. Our little girl, Eden, is 8 weeks old.

What’s the best thing about being a parent?
Having a little person that you made! Watching her grow and watching the new things that she learns every day. It’s like seeing the world through different eyes.

What challenges, if any, have you faced as a same-sex family?
Constant “daddy” questions! Especially when we were admitted to hospital when she was four days old. It wasn’t the hospital she was born in and they were obsessed with “daddy”. It’s disconcerting.

Has it been easy to teach your children about diversity? Have they encountered any problems?
We haven’t really got there yet. Our intention is to teach her that families come in all shapes and sizes and we are all as fab as eachother no matter what the family make up.

What would be your message to a young person “coming out” today?
Just do it. There’s never been a better time. Apparently (so I’ve heard) it’s “cool” to not be straight at the moment. But no, seriously, be your best self and be proud of that self. Own it, because there’s only one you.

What would be your message to a couple starting out on the TTC journey?
Don’t believe all the crap you read online. Don’t take medical advice from Internet forums. If you’re using a known donor, be careful and follow your gut. Also, know your cycle. This stuff isn’t about how long you keep your legs in the air, whether you use a softcup or how often you inseminate – it’s about timing!

Also, don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t happen right away. We get a crappy 20% chance per cycle and that’s if everyone is perfectly healthy and with perfect timing.

How about those especially worried about persecution?
Remember families come in all shapes and sizes and you’re part of that fantastic spectrum. Love makes a family, and anyone who tells you otherwise isn’t worth listening to.

What does LGBT History mean to you?
It’s amazing how much of a struggle people who don’t identify as straight have been through to get where we are now. I can be in a loving relationship with my wife and have a beautiful daughter and we are protected by law, and that’s thanks to those who have made history before us.

Where can we find you (Twitter, blog, etc.)?

The Twitter @forgotthesperm and our blog is http://weforgotthesperm.wordpress.com

Thank you!