LGBT parenting

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I am the step mother to three beautiful children. They are my partner’s biological children, but over the last year, I have come to see them as my children as well. In the beginning of our journey, the children and I tip toed around one another. We had to learn our boundaries and where we fit in the lives of one another. This is something I’ve never experienced before. With the help of my partner, I learned which boundaries to uphold, which lines to cross, which ones to not. Over these hurdles and through learning experiences I still feel like I’m learning every day. I believe that part of parenting is that you have to just be there, simply show up, and do your best. You don’t always get it right, all the time or every day, but as long as one continues to try and grow, you’re doing something right.

samesex_parentss(Photocredit: Media files)

Last weekend my partner, (whom I’m nicknaming Cee), had to go to work so I had to juggle and get the kids to some events and appointments. The youngest had to go to two birthday parties, one right after the other. I made the mistake in letting the youngest choose what she wanted to wear that day. Normally I would put my foot down and take away her tablet until she listened if she didn’t listen the first few times I told her to do something. That day I was tired, distracted by other things and didn’t put my foot down. So she went to the birthday party in a mismatched outfit (something I at times struggle with myself), and I went home.

Something that I’ve learned about parenting is that other parents will judge  you on your appearance and the appearance of your step child. I should have had the forethought to this before, but I didn’t. About a year ago, before I got to Cee, she still lived in a heterosexual relationship, therefore she didn’t feel that she was being judged as harshly by the other parents except for the usual judgement that comes with being a parent from other parents. Once we became a couple, she felt that she had suddenly became judged 10x more harshly because she had a same sex partner and as a result, the youngest wasn’t invited to as many events or birthdays. The homophobia and judgement that comes with being in a same sex partnership isn’t every easy and it gets better once you find your niche in the community; However, with kids, homophobia is never fair as it affects them, whether they know it or not. As a result, some friends may not be able to come over, or the kids might not be invited to certain events or birthdays because the ideals the parents hold are ignorant or they lack open mindedness.

So when I came to pick up the youngest from the birthday party, I felt like I had all the eyes of all the children’s parents on me. My mind flew in a flurry as I tried to ignore the eyes and tried to be polite to the other parents and children. My hope was that if they saw a gay woman being polite and kind then ideals might change and the youngest wouldn’t have to face and repercussions for having two moms. Of course I could have slightly fubbed that up because part of being a good parent is that you set boundaries and tell the children what to do-that day, of all days-I had let that slide. Her hair was wild and curly and her outfit didn’t match. It wasn’t fair, but all I could do was realize my mistake and make a promise to do better the next time. That’s all that you can do when you’re a parent: learn, grow and try to do better next time, even if there is added judgement involved.

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Judgement in the LGBTQ community

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I’d like to discuss a more serious topic today.

People like to judge. Everyone does it, from judging what you like, to what you don’t like in food preferences, colours, hobbies and people you prefer to spend time with. People need to fit things into specific categories in order to understand them and see where they fit in our lives, this leads to us acquiring biases about things. Judgements align with these biases that we carry from a young age. Unless something occurs to an open minded individual that smashes stereotypes or their judgements, the judgements will remain; We must remain open minded about our biases, judgements and be willing to see things from different points of view in order to allow our judgements to fall to the wayside.

People who identify as LGBTQ become accustomed to feeling judged negatively and may actively fight against societal biases. One thing that some people may not know about though, is that individuals within the LGBTQ community (worldwide) fight against discrimination and judgements within the LGBTQ community. These forms of discrimination and judgement may come in words, veiled sarcasm, dirty looks etc.

For example, many lesbians or women who identify as gay and lesbian tend to hold ideas and biases against bisexual women. It is probably due to the fact that some bisexual women can date men and women happily which leads to gay women feeling the pressure about competing with straight men for the women to date. It is a lot easier for someone to be in a heterosexual relationship than in a same sex relationship, according to society. Heterosexual relationship couples do not get the odd looks, dirty looks, whispers, calls, or ignorant language. Many lesbians see it like that. I used to see things like that, worried that I would date a bisexual woman and she would break my heart and leave me for a man because that was easier than dating me.

My partner broke that mold for me. She identified as bisexual and had never dated a woman before. I had to banish my past trust issues with bisexual women and deconstruct my biases and judgements. I realized that although the gay and lesbians get discriminated against, the bisexuals get discriminated against more. My partner has been discriminated on by lesbians before at events that we’ve both attended to and now she feels left out like she doesn’t fit into the heterosexual or the gay community. I told her that’s not the case and that we will go together and leave together if such discrimination does happen to her. Our local Pride is happening this week which is why I bring this topic of events up. I told her that I support her and if she feels discriminated against, I will call said person on what they said or did and we will leave.

My girlfriend loves me for me. If she left me for a man, it would have a series of reasons attached to it, not because of my parts. Same things if I was dating a gay woman, if she left me it wouldn’t be because of my sexual parts, it would have a series of reasons attached to it. We need to move past these hangups we have in the LGBT community so we can be stronger as a united force fighting for the freedom of Human Rights.

bisexual(Photo Credit: Social science wiki)

Everyone in the LGBTQ community deserves to shine as an individual in the community that was built in order to shelter them and allow them the freedom of individuality in a world where discrimination is rampant. We need to be more aware that we’re inclusive not secluding anyone. After all, doesn’t everyone deserve freedom to be themselves in this world?

Not the only odd thing on the block

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So my neighbourhood/ development that my gf and I live in has its own Facebook page. I’m assuming this makes it easier to chat with each other about neighbourhood potlucks,  street parties, selling things and sharing news.

One of our neighbours made a post the other day about their neighbours tenant. It was a public rant about how disturbing their neighbour’s behavior was plus the name and address of the accused. My gf and I had a good laugh at first. “Guess we’re not the weirdest people on the block now,” my girlfriend commented. Prior to this some of the neighbours on our street (but not all in our development), had stopped talking with us as soon as they realized I was dating and later cohabitating with my girlfriend, hence why we now seemed just like old news almost a year later. At least people were accepting enough to not post about the same-sex couple on the block now.

So to get to the point, neighbourhood gossip is that one man renting in our development likes to rent out escorts or prostitutes. The neighbours can’t report him because police need graphic evidence that he’s doing transactions with the ladies. One neighbour piped up that they had seen a pimp in hand with a debit machine.  Wow pimps use debit now?

So I’m not sure if this is all true, but public shaming aside, it seems like someone isn’t happy with the new guy’s choices in life. I know being gay is not a choice. Using prostitutes is a choice. But I feel like how the angry neighbour went about this issue was not the way to go. The angry neighbour clearly has been stewing about this for far too long. As amusing as this first was to read, I feel like the angry neighbour should have tried to use cameras and video footage if continuously calling the police was not helping before trying to publicly shame someone on social media. And I agree with the other neighbours, I don’t want prostitutes in the neighbourhood where my step kids live. What do you think?

Are you two friends? Roommates?

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The other day, I crossed the Canada/US border with my girlfriend. Something I’ve noticed is that the US border agents are pretty serious. I mean they have a serious job of making sure terrorists, traffickers, drug runners and other criminals don’t enter their country. And that makes sense… but I am not trafficking or a terrorist.

When we were speaking with the US border agent, we were asked the usual questions. “Where are you coming from? Where do you live? Where are you headed?  Why are you headed there? How long will you be?” And… “Are you two sisters? How do you two know each other? Just what is your relationship? ” Wait. What??

Is it because I seem close with my girlfriend?  I mean when you’re dating someone of course you seem close to them. You’re best friends. You laugh, cry, love and support one another. How would you not be close?

But these questions and the manner of questioning were said in a malicious and probing manner. I looked to my girlfriend and the border guard.  “We’re friends.” If there’s something I’ve learned upon coming out and being true to yourself is that sometimes you have to lie and sacrifice the truth in order to remain safe. Is it ideal?  No. Does it hurt? Yes. Is it upsetting? Of course. Who wouldn’t want to live a life of just being able to be honest (not just when asked) and tell everyone you meet that the love of your life is the person you’re with no matter what biological sex they are? But it seems to be a problem even in the 21st century even when world countries and states (in the US) slowly pass Same sex marriage laws.

Silent vieled bigotry in the form of questions such as “How are you two related?” Are things we face. Had we answered honestly who knows what the border agent would have done of said.  Would we have been turned around and told to stay in our country and denied entry to the US? It’s possible. As a border agent who has powers of deciding who enters her country, who knows what she could have said to deny us the power of entry simply because she didn’t like the look of us.

Anti-hate laws aren’t exactly formed into the US constitution or laws like they are in Canada. And even if they were, from my experience, I’ve found homophobic or ignorant people find other excuses to use in order to spread ignorance and homophobia. Is it fair? No. It reminds me of the closet door I have come through and tried to keep open. It reminds me that sometimes it’s safer to lie because I am different than the majority. It reminds me that some people will never approve of who I love and I try not to let it reflect on me because I know in my heart that I’m not a bad person. But this is why we continue to fight for human rights and stamp out bigotry and ignorance. We do so one person at a time, educating them about ourselves to show that the only difference is that we love someone of the same sex. Our love is otherwise the same. We still want the same things that other couples want: health, happiness, love, support. Maybe one day ignorance will die off or at least be a distant,  faded memory. I hope I get to see such a day.

Canadian Cities showing solidarity and pride

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VancouverCityHall_5

(Photo Credit: The Straight)

Several Canadian cities have started flying the LGBT pride flag outside their city halls in a stance of solidarity for Pride and human rights. For those of you who might not know, Russia is crunching down on human rights and adopting stone age homophobic laws, rules and regulations towards anyone who is, appears to be, or helps advocate for LGBT rights. Gay and lesbian people have been beaten, bullied, killed and raped while the government turns the other cheek. President Putin and other government officials have been behind the laws that discriminate and incriminate people who advocate for LGBT rights. The anti-gay propaganda law states that those who are gay are negative influences on minors. Fines are being passed out. Protesters have been beaten and thrown in Jail. These are scenes caught on cameras from journalists around the world. Some Russians have sought asylum and assistance elsewhere in the world.

Enough of the negativity. The cities in Canada have decided to show their solidarity for human rights and LGBT people in Russia. Toronto may not have (due to Mayor Rob Ford openly declaring his homophobia), but cities such as Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and St Johns have flown pride flags that will fly till the end of the Olympic games. The Canadian way of showing solidarity and pride isn’t very aggressive. It shows that Canadians stand for equal human rights no matter their sexual orientation. Some may say that sexual orientation has no place in the Olympic games. Back when the Olympics started they also may have said that different races never had a place in the Olympic games either. I think we fight against one another too often as is in this world. Stand in solidarity for human rights. We all deserve a place in this world.

Reference: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/02/06/canadian_cities_to_fly_gay_pride_flags_in_olympic_protest.html

Dating Bisexuals

There are rules to being a lesbian, the main is that you date women. Seriously. That’s the rule. Once you come out, you are given a book on the rules to dating and the first rule is that you must date women. It’s like a commandment. (For those who aren’t familiar with my sense of humour, that was sarcasm.)

You may find that you have a type of woman that you prefer to date. Some lesbians prefer to date feminine women, others butch or more masculine types. I have found that I do not necessarily have “a type”. My dating history suggests that I prefer to date more feminine women than me, but I have dated and been attracted to women who identify with the feminine, masculine and everything in between type.

As a lesbian you may find you are attracted to women who are straight (gah, the dreaded straight woman-more on that in another blog post). You may also find yourself head over heels for the bisexual or bicurious women. In my mind, the bisexual woman and the bicurious woman fit into two different categories. The difference here is that the bicurious woman is exploring her sexuality and does not know what she wants but she is curious to find out and wants to experiment to see where she fits in sexual spectrum. The bisexual woman has more than likely fallen for, had sexual girl crushes, some flings or partners of both sexes.

Bisexuality is the sexual orientation that falls anywhere in between being heterosexual and homosexual. I will speak about Kinsey Theory in the future.

Being a woman who is attracted to the same sex, it can be difficult to distinguish which partners will be suitable for you. After all, being openly gay is not an easy life to lead and not every female you are attracted to will be attracted to other women. You have to come out to everyone you are close to (of course you can always choose to remain closeted in various aspects of your life); Ultimately if you want to be happy you have to come out to certain people in you life being everyone in your micro circle–ie: those who you are close to in order to feel some sense of security and fulfillment.

You have to learn and gain some sense of gaydar to filter out the women who are playing with your heart or those wishing to put on a show for their boyfriends in order to get to the women that are mutually attracted to you. Some of the women you will find a mutual attraction and connection with, may be bisexual. From my point of view, because I had relationships with women who played with my heart and then tossed me to the curb because they were going through a phase, bisexuals gained a bad rep. I knew that they either weren’t ready to come out as being bisexual or they were curious and just experimenting. I know I’m not the only lesbian to feel this way, in fact I think bisexuals gain a bad rep from the lesbians because of this common reason that they are used and then go back to being a “normal” member of society.

When I first started dating my current girlfriend, my friends said everything from, “Oh you turned her to our side”, “Is she gay?”, “Aren’t you afraid she’ll go find a man?” to “You didn’t fall for a bisexual did you?”

Ouch, I could feel the sting that my girlfriend might feel. No I did not intend to fall in love with a woman who identifies with being bisexual. The past few years I have also tried to date women who strictly identified with being strictly on the sapphic side of the rainbow because I know what it’s like falling for a woman who ultimately decides that it’s easier to be with a man in the fact that their relationship would be accepted by family and society as a whole. When my girlfriend asked how my friends reacted to hearing that I’d fallen for her, I was hesitant to tell her the truth. When I told her what some of them said, I could sense she was a bit hurt. Her response was, “Well that may be the case, but I’m also worried that you might find a woman who is better than me as well.”

ImagePhotocredit: AfterEllen)

That makes sense. We all have insecurities. If we let these insecurities cloud our lives, how are we going to live life to the fullest? My advice as a lesbian: Be careful with your heart, but don’t let that stop you from dating women who are bisexual. They have feelings too and as my girlfriend put it, I could always run off with another woman. Being gay means I fall for women. Being bisexual means that she has the ability to fall in love with a woman or a man, she just happened to pick me. Love is love.