Norse is a queer evangelical. Well, at least that is the joke at our house. And, it is partly true. Norse is an LGBTTQ* community educator, and they often travel to small and remote communities to spread the good news. While Norse leaves the pup and I at home during the school year, I have been lucky enough to play assistant for the month of August.
Driving has given us plenty of time with little distraction (because there isn’t much to look at in the prairies) to talk about gayby-making. And, we have also been able to make baby-dates with a bunch of queer friends and acquaintances during our travels. While our gayby-making process hasn’t really moved forward, we’ve been busy talking to queers.
In the past three weeks, we have met with a number of incredible people with cute infants, busy toddlers, and giggling kids to talk about their journey to parenthood. People have graciously opened their homes and made delicious coffee for Norse and I because they know what it is like to want to make a baby, but not know how. They know what it is like to “free-float,” as one person described it, through a tornado of desire, optimism, fear, confusion, and dead-end research.
There are little-to-no formal resources for #parentslikeus, with the exception of the fantastic work being done by the LGBTQ* Parenting Network in Toronto. While I’m grateful for their open-access library and guides, they are Ontario-centric (which is likely their mandate). There are few other resources for queer and trans* parents publicly available, and there is nothing out there about making gaybies in the Canadian prairies.
Since there are few resources, queers make babies by talking to each other. Move over dyke bars and bathhouses! Now queers meet online, and then IRL at the front doors of each other’s homes. To be fair, most lesbian and queer bars are closed anyways.*
When we first decided to “start trying” to make a baby, we thought it would be important to keep our plans quiet in case we were unable to get pregnant, changed our minds, had to put the plan on hold, or fell apart under the stress of it all. Folks who can get pregnant on their own (without the help/intervention of what feels like a million people) have the privilege of trying quietly. We kept our “trying” quiet for about two weeks before realizing that we would never access sperm on our own, and would not be able to become pregnant (completely) on our terms.
So, we got loud and literally went to a bunch of people’s houses, pointed at their kid(s), and asked: “how do you make one of these?”
Queer communities are incredible. They really can be. People with absolutely no time, or little time, for leisure or self-care took hours out of their day to talk to us. They let us tell our story, describe our experiences so far, and affirmed us every time we told them what made us scared.
I’m sure these folks know how great this feels. I mean, they did the exact same thing when they were first trying to make babies. They too had no resources, so they talked to each other. They wanted to give back to the community, and we promised to do the same. After all, we’re family.
The sheer amount of information we gathered—from iPhone cervical checks to cloth diapers, and sperm banks to daycare mishaps— was wonderful, if not completely overwhelming. And yet, I found some of the moments before and after our conversations were the most impactful. For me, it was when people trusted us to hold their children, let us linger too-long in their nurseries, and how they shook my hand on the way in, but hugged me on the way out, that truly made this experience incredible.
Every single person told us to call, text, or write with questions and concerns at any time. Jokingly, I told every single one of them that they would regret ever offering. But seriously, they’ll hear from us again.
* For a great short documentary on social spaces, the transformation of queer communities, and the decline of lesbian bars, watch http://www.shewired.com/feminism/2015/08/18/watch-broadly-asks-where-have-all-lesbian-bars-gone