Dedicated to Regina Glynn, my mother.
The “atypical” nature of my parents’ union did not register for me throughout the entirety of elementary school. Sometimes when friends would come over for play dates they would ask the set of quintessential curious kid questions, to which one of my mothers would politely explain the nature of their relationship: they were married and loved each other just like mommies and daddies did—but instead, they were both mommies. (Although I much prefer to remember my mother’s now-infamous assertion of the term “bed buddies” just because it makes me laugh.)
Perhaps I was oblivious or too consumed by the newest Mary-Kate and Ashley movie to notice, but I don’t remember anyone during my primary school years talking about my lesbian moms; it just wasn’t a big deal. But upon my arrival to Wisconsin I discovered a new usage for the word “gay.” In this new city “gay” was a word associated with something inherently bad. Boys in my classes threw the apparent diss around freely and its usage was always followed by a wealth of callous sneering. It was through this repeated social custom that I began to associate queer identity with negativity, and my apprehension of being ostracized by peers crushed me. So, in fear of rejection, I attempted to hide it. When friends would ask about my parents I would avoid the question or conveniently leave out the existence of my stepmother, a reality that plagues me with deep guilt to this day as I adore her and credit her for a great deal of my personhood.
In the perfect storm of adolescent angst, it was also during this time that my own queerness began to shine through. I distinctly remember sitting in an acquaintance’s living room watching T.V. and getting butterflies when her hand inadvertently brushed against my thigh. My heart raced when I first saw pictures of Aaliyah in her oversized Tommy Hilfiger denim and I developed a serious crush on a girl I had never spoken to but passed in the hallway every day. These internal musings were met with a tumultuous mixture of feelings, none of which my twelve-year-old self was even remotely equipped to deal with. The use of “gay” as an insult had transformed homosexuality into something I actively rejected, hoping the feelings would dissipate. To help justify this denial I reasoned with myself that, because my own mother was gay, there was no way, statistically, I could like girls too. I held onto this desperate assumption for longer than I’d like to admit.
It was not until eighth grade that my own internal homophobia was first significantly cracked. A new friend of mine found out about my two moms and told me she thought it was “really cool.” This particular classmate, Izzi, was a soccer star, universally well-liked, and, for the first time in my new home, made me feel ok about queer identity again. I have since told her how much that simple sentiment truly meant to me but I recently realized she not only made me feel accepted, she provided me with the first step toward embracing my own sexual identity. While no one needs outside affirmation to legitimize how they feel, and I recognize I was, and am, privileged to have people in my life who continually support me, what she gave me is a true gift.
Thankfully, as I moved from middle school to high school the antagonistic use of “gay” became less frequent and, frankly, I started giving way fewer fucks about what people had to say about my family. By my senior year I embraced my parents’ marriage and advocated for it on the rare occasion it was brought into question. Still, one holdover delayed my open admission of this major part of my identity: I was plagued by the guilt I was perpetuating the misconception of the “gay gene.” While preposterous, there are those who argue against queer couples having children in fear they may pass their gayness to the child. I was the product of a gay woman and didn’t want to embody that malarkey hate speech. As I had become an outspoken champion of queer rights I feared becoming some asshole’s ammunition for somehow “blaming” my parents for my identity. This concern caused me a great deal of anxiety and it was not until college, empowered by the knowledge and confidence of a roster full of gender and women’s studies classes, that I abandoned this fear and realized I deserved to embrace who I was, I deserved to be fully me, and I deserved to be happy.
Now, as I reflect as an adult, I feel embarrassed about the self-inflicted hindrances I forced upon myself. I wish I had cared less, defended my parents every chance I got, and allowed myself to feel whole much sooner. However, I am not one for regrets and, as I sit next to my astonishingly brilliant, compassionate, and beautiful partner I know my unique journey led me to who am I and, ultimately, to her.