I don’t know if y’all know this, but I’m kind of a weirdo. I was easily identifiable as the “weird one” in my family a very long time before I realized I was queer. I’ve never been great at fitting into categories, even within the queer community, and when I leave my nice queer bubble and visit the world of mainstream society, it becomes painfully obvious that I never made much sense there.
I’m queer, I’m poly, I’m some kind of wishy-washy pagan who sometimes attends a Buddhist temple. I cut my own hair when I get bored, and sometimes when I’m drunk (though I admittedly haven’t been drunk in quite some time). I’m fat and I’m ok with that. I don’t own a car. I like to go to punk shows for fun. I gave all of my cats middle names. I buzz off all my hair once a year as a celebration of spring coming back, and yet I tend to identify ever so slightly more with femme than I do with butch. I’ve chosen to live in a collective housing situation with my wife and two of our closest friends, where we close our house meetings by meowing in unison. A house in the suburbs is basically my worst nightmare.
When I met and fell in love with Chelsea, my wife, I was overjoyed to have found someone just as strange as I was. In fact, I’d say at least in some ways, she pushes me to be more of myself when it might be easier to try to conform to societal expectations.
And yet, I’ve noticed that with the baby on the way, a few people seem to expect that we will somehow, uh, normal up. Maybe, just maybe, our lives will end up looking like this:
I don’t want to go on a whole long rant about queer assimilation here (ok, yes I do, but I’m stopping myself, you’re welcome) but the times, they are a-changin’. Once upon a time, to have any kind of queer identity was to place oneself firmly outside of the mainstream. But today we see gay parents on sitcoms (notice I said gay, not queer) just trying to live their normal lives. I’m not going to get all romantic about the days of even greater oppression, that’s not what I’m getting at at all. And you know what? For gay folks who actually want to be just like everybody else except for that gay thing, I’m sure finally being able to be seen as gay and normal both at the same time* is wonderful.
I can see how, in our current climate, with the “marriage equality” movement** making strides in many parts of the country, with “Same Love,” with Ellen and Portia, it might be easy to take a look at the recent milestones of my life and think “first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a, well hell, this looks pretty normal to me!”
My life fits into a goddamn nursery rhyme!
And yet, I’m still sick of hearing things like:
“I don’t really see what the difference is!”
“You’re just like everyone else, so what if you’re two women!”
As though these things are supposed to be a comfort to me, as though they are a show of support.
Because, there is a difference. There are many differences. And our differences matter. Just as my big queer wedding did not turn my egalitarian, poly, queer as hell relationship into a possessive, controlling, monogamous marriage complete with clear gender roles, becoming a mama will not make me get either a mini van or a respectable haircut. My wife will still put out zines. We’ll still be the “weird ones” at family gatherings. But it’s actually much more than that. Our radical politics, our staunch intersectional feminism, our less-than-conventional relationship histories, these things inform the way that we do marriage, and you can bet that they are going to inform the way that we do parenting.
Our kid is not going to grow up behind a white picket fence. Our kid is going to grow up in a house where meowing is considered a valid form of expressing oneself, where gender is something you do, and where personal freedom is honored and respected (even for children) with an emphasis on community accountability and how our actions effect others. That stuff matters.
*Just watch to the end of the clip. You’ll get it.
**I put “marriage equality” is scare quotes because equality cannot be achieved by slightly widening an exclusionary group. Advocates of “marriage equality” do not propose actual equality for all people, they instead propose extending privileges only to those who fit within a certain set of norms. For a more thorough explanation of my thoughts on the subject, check out this extremely long winded post on my older blog.