Top 12 Moments of Queer Parenting

At the end of March, my kiddo turned 12 years old. In celebration of 12 years of witnessing this woman come into being, I proudly present to you my top 12 moments of parenting while queer.

  1. After 51 hours of at-home labour with one leg propped up on a footstool, this magical being comes into the world. She doesn’t cry but rather looks at me like “Do I know you?” then proceeds to shit all over my chest. I gaze into her curious eyes and decide that for the rest of her life, I will guilt-trip her about how long it took for her to get the hell out of my weary and ruined body. Perhaps I will engrave it on my epitaph, or better yet, for dramatic effect, on my death bed, I shall ask her to lean in so that I can say my final words “51….hours…of…labour…” before keeling over and dying.
  1. Imagine it: Pride 2005. My baby daughter, balder than an eagle, stripped down to her diapers because of the intense heat. She is sandwiched between two shiny, oily men wearing nothing but speedos and angel wings. They dance heartily to It’s Raining Men. I pat my jeans searching for a camera I do not have to capture a moment I will never forget.
  1. I am buckling Arden into her booster seat when she asks me “Why are gay people in a closet?” I tell her “Us gays don’t have closets. We have armooooooires.”
  1. Arden asks me to sit tight while she gets the birthday present she made for me. She rounds the corner of our bedroom holding what seems to be the silk sachet where I store my vibrator. My heart stops. She went into my sex toy drawer? That means she saw everything. Like, everything. And what is inside? I think to myself. Inside is the world’s smallest scarf, which she finger-knitted herself. She must have searched the house for a gift bag. You know, something long enough to hold it all.
  1. At the ripe old age of 5, Arden suddenly asks me about genitalia. It’s during our weekly “Mama Spa” time and I am in the middle of filing her nails. Now, I could simply answer her question like anyone else would. But the last 5 years of mental rehearsal about this particular conversation results in verbal diarrhea. And you know what they say: great rehearsal means disastrous performance. I mean, this isn’t just the birds and the bees talk. These are motherfucking turkey buzzards and killer bees. In about ten minutes, I give her the impression that sex of any orientation is basically stuffing every known orifice on your lover’s body with anything and everything. That somehow, this is natural, no matter who you were and who you are sleeping with, and that I know that this sounds very strange but it would make sense when she’s older and would want to have sex herself, say around 34 years old. “Um…no,” Arden says calmly, releasing her hands from my grip since I almost filed her nails down to nubs. “I will never have sex.” I can’t blame her. The way I described it, sex sounds more like putting her clothes away into different drawers. It was a fucking disaster. Why couldn’t I have brought her to a petting zoo and let her see a pregnant goat like everyone else does?
  1. At age seven, Arden finds my vibrator under my pillow. She asks me what it is. Although I have been pretty open with her so far about everything from marijuana to sex work, for some reason this time I say “I just need a week to get back to you about this.” This week is enough time for her to approach a more conservative family member who tells her nervously “It’s a woman’s pleasure device.” Still confused, she then asks me what the hell a woman’s pleasure device is. I tell her “Listen. What you saw was a sex toy. Sex toys are really important because it gives adults joy to their bodies.” I decide to never delay my answer about anything ever again – unless it involves complex mathematics.
  1. Later that same year, I prepare Arden for Pride. I explain to her that she won’t see me a lot for the next couple of weeks because I have to perform. “But I always see your shows!” she protests, considering she has toured with me in the past. I explain to her that sometimes being proud as a queer means being naked and dancing burlesque. She thinks for a second before saying “Okay mom. I will miss you, but I don’t want to see your vagina.”
  1. Arden is ten. I find the drawer to my sex toys open again. I talk to her, calmly. “It looks like you were going through my sex toy drawer. Is this true?” She nods yes. “I’m not okay about you going through my things, but do you have any questions?” She thinks for a while and nods yes. I invite her to tell me what’s on her mind. “Well…I guess I was confused. How does a dildo give someone joy?”
  1. “Mom, would you be mad at me if I told you I like boys?” I can’t believe it. My kid is coming out to me as a heterosexual.
  1. Arden comes home heartbroken. After stopping a bunch of kids on the bus from using the word “gay” as a curse word, a Christian friend of hers told her she couldn’t be her friend because her mom is queer and it’s against her religion. I tell her how proud I am of her bravery. The principal of Arden’s school does nothing to combat the rampant homophobia in her school (including Arden being told her mother was high on crack because she’s a lesbian. Nothing wrong with users. Nothing wrong with lesbians. But truly, fuck off), despite meetings and anti-oppressive workshop suggestions.
  1. We attend Arden’s school’s annual family barbecue, this time, with my new spouse. It’s pretty obvious that we are swimming in a pool of heteronormativity with each nuclear family staring at us like we’re licking our own assholes, when in fact we’re just trying to put mustard on our hot dogs. The principal – the same principal who did nothing to acknowledge the homophobia in her own school – introduces me to another parent. “I thought you two should know each other since you’re both…you know…” The principal walks away, proud as a peacock like my job is done here! The picnic ends with a dance party in which the heterosexuals stare at us three, a new queer family, dancing to hip hop, not giving one single fuck.
  1. Just shy of Arden’s 12th birthday, she approaches my partner, Nazbah, in the kitchen. “I’m so glad you’re my stepparent,” she says. Nazbah considers spearing a fork into their own heart in order to stop the tears of joy.

Catherine Hernandez

Catherine Hernandez is playwright, performer and award-winning author. She is the author of M is for Mustache: A Pride ABC Book (Flamingo Rampant) and Scarborough (Arsenal Pulp Press). She is the Artistic Director of b current performing arts.

Read all posts by Catherine Hernandez

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