Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bisexual Mamahood

My mom always had a box of old pictures in her closet (it’s probably still there) that, at random times, I would want to look at with her. Among Girl Scouts and family pictures, there were others: the boy she first held hands with in fifth grade, her first boyfriend, her first kiss, prom pictures, the guy she lost her virginity to, my dad. We’d go through the pictures and she’d tell me stories about each one (the stories getting more age-appropriate detail as I got older). I enjoyed these moments with my mom and told myself that as I grew up, I would save pictures to share with my future kids (if I decided to have any) so that they could have a little glimpse into me, outside of being “mama.”
                I now have one of those boxes but mine is a little different than my mom’s. There’s the boy I first held hands with, my first kiss boy from 7th grade, my prom pictures, and then the first girl I kissed, my first girlfriend, my college boyfriend, the only woman I’ve said “I love you” to, and, of course, Funk.
                I remember sitting in my Queer Studies class at the beginning of my pregnancy, among a bunch of other LGBTQ (ahhh! An acronym! Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) students and feeling like a traitor. No one in the room made me feel that way; it was my own insecurities and my own questions of what this pregnancy meant to my identity – an identity I had to convince my family and friends was not “just a phase” or “an experiment” or “a transition.” I’ve always believed that sexuality is a spectrum, that even those five letters used to describe the queer community aren’t enough, and that people fluidly move along the sexuality spectrum their whole lives. “Bisexual” seems to have fit me the best, I’ve had relationships with and am attracted to both males and females (and have been open to transgender and transsexual individuals, just no one ever fit). It just so happened that I was with a male partner, nature worked its magic, and Droidlet production commenced. Then, SLAM, the questions. Was I “copping out” into the comfort and safety of heterosexuality? How could I identify as bisexual while simultaneously reaping heterosexuality’s benefits? Was having a baby meaning I had to relinquish that huge part of myself that I have always considered queer?
                I’m still struggling with all of the answers. Being in a committed relationship with Funk doesn’t mean I’m no longer attracted to other people and the same goes for Funk. We happen to believe in monogamy, so those attractions stay just that. But just because I’m in a relationship with a male doesn’t mean I consider myself heterosexual; just like if, in the end, my partner had been a female, I wouldn’t consider myself a lesbian. And this is where identity based on sexual preference gets muddled. Just like I don’t define myself as only a mother, or only a student, or only a writer, I don’t identify myself only based on the sex of the people I am attracted to.
                What’s more important than my self-labeling is how I’m going to handle these questions from Droidlet as he gets older. When he asks me who the woman in that picture is, with her arm around mama, I’m not going to lie and say she was just a friend. Sexuality is such a complicated subject for an adult; I know there are going to be many, many questions from Droidlet as a child. If asked, I will be just as honest with him about how people of the same sex have intercourse as when he asks me how babies are made. What it comes down to, yet again, is that Droidlet knows there is a spectrum, that there are options,  that not every family has to be a Mommy, a Daddy, and a baby. Sometimes, it’s two daddies or two mommies, sometimes (like for his mama) it’s two sets of parents, sometimes it’s just one parent. Sometimes, a family is a community raising the children together. Luckily for Droidlet, he’s got a wonderful set of gay uncles, a bisexual mama, and an aunt with a heterosexual, nuclear family so he gets to see parts of the spectrum interacting and loving one another.


  1. I love this! I saw that you had started a blog, but had not taken the time to read any of your posts thus far. This one caught my eye because I know, and have experienced, how important this subject is for you. Congrats on not losing you identity and instead becoming more comfortable in yourself as a person, lover, and now mother. XOXOX

  2. Thank you! I think identity is so complex and then you become a mother and it makes you question everything you've ever thought about yourself and then challenges you to integrate who you were before you had kids with this new addition of "mama." It's definitely going to be an interesting ride!

  3. Thank you for this wonderful reminder Rachael! I've also pondered this subject many times; how to explain everything in a way that makes sense and stays balanced. I applaud you for leading the way, hopefully you can offer some tips when I get there myself.

  4. Hi Rachael,
    It's nice to see a blog by another bi mom partnered with a man. It's not hard to start feeling invisible. Because I haven't been in a relationship with a woman I know there will be fewer organic chances to share this part of myself with my daughter so I don't know how I'm going do it yet. If you're interested here's the blog post I wrote about it.