Reflections On Gay Parenting

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There comes a time when you look into your partner’s eyes, and all you can think about is how badly you would like to have a child with her. Not choosing to submerge myself into lesbian clichés, I must admit I am a woman and the feeling of motherhood tends to kick in at times. Throw that instinct into a lesbian couple and you get double the anxiety. The question is: How is it possible to start a family with your lesbian partner when you live in Lebanon?

I keep coming up with possibilities, and I bang my head from one wall to the next as I become aware of further obstacles in each of my schemes. Let’s explore the possibilities.

Some couples might opt to leave the country. The lesbian factor serves in favor of immigration. But packing your bags and starting anew somewhere is complicated. You need to have some savings, and high skills in addition to a couple of degrees to be able to find a proper job and settle somewhere. Given the current economic crisis, chances are slim. It gets worse if none of you holds another citizenship in a country that allows same-sex marriages. A solution could lie in a partner marrying someone in order to obtain the citizenship and in turn marrying her girlfriend. But that is a long procedure and it involves much stress. How much of it would your relationship be able to withstand?

Let’s say you ditch the country and you and your partner start forming the idea of having a child. First, the conversations are cute and basic, you talk about ethnicity (in case it matters to you), about it having traits resembling you both (- Oh, Baby, I want it to have your eyes! – No, hu2u your smile!). Then you research online, you go talk to clinics, you even join a forum to read about all the beautiful experiences other queer parents and parents-to-be share before you receive that lovely brochure in the mail. It leads to a lot of questions and a lot of doubts and no matter how many websites reassure you that the child will grow up not lacking anything, you just shut down. How are you supposed to introduce this child to your family? How are you supposed to raise it in this society? Were you being selfish? What were your motives anyway? And did you need any?

Then you start thinking, if you were in a heterosexual relationship, the idea of bringing a child into the world would have consisted of a discussion around how to raise it and provide for it, making sure that you, as a couple, were stable enough to do so and then the pregnancy is expected.

Needless to say doubts start pouring and you can’t bring your partner to understand the different social contexts and why it was nonetheless important to have some kind of reassurance from within your own social context and not a westernized one.

Hello cold feet, goodbye queer parenting and images of you running around after a toddler.

So what are your local options? A common consideration is getting married to your gay male best friend. The families meet. Some of their members know the truth when it’s really a huge lie embellished in a heteronormative package. But will it achieve what you want? Assuming this is the man you find suitable to father your children, how will you accommodate your partner in your gay married bubble? And more importantly, what kind of upbringing will your children receive in such a threesome, or maybe even, foursome?

Suddenly ditching the country seems the lesser of two evils.

Oh, well, desperate times call for desperate measures. My craziest idea about the rainbow triangle has been the following. Picture it: A Muslim society, a man, two women, and a certain “God-given right”! How about both you and your partner get married to your Muslim gay best friend? Let patriarchy reap the fruits of its labor! Do you find it outrageous? Yes, indeed it is. When life gives you patriarchy, you screw it over. Call me crazy, but I find it outrageous for a man to have the right to marry four women when I can’t marry my partner. (Further patriarchy screwing note: One gay man will be married to two lesbians. Straight men, eat your hearts out!)

I am still theorizing. So far, the speech has been selfish. Regardless of how you manage to have the kids, my greatest concern lies in raising them.

So let’s say you’re back in the country, not back in the country, or back in the country for a visit. Your 5-year-old is running around and you go like: “Don’t call X mummy, ok? This isn’t our house. Call her…  Well, call her… call her me.”

Or let’s say you follow that brochure, and the day comes for dreaded question to be raised: “Who’s my daddy?” How does one reply? If you have chosen a gay friend and went through with it all, then you’re mommy. Daddy is daddy. And daddy’s partner is? And mummy’s partner is?

Or the day comes and your kid is back from school, roughed up by schoolmates and unleashes homophobia and frustration and hates you for being who you are and calls you selfish.

Or maybe, all of this is pessimistic. Maybe everything happens organically and love between people who raise the child whether biological parents or not is enough to empower this child and have it understand that discrimination in all its forms exists, and what makes a difference is how we stand in the face of it.

Maybe the child will grow up not wanting to have it any other way. Maybe, just maybe, it brings all your family closer and the estranged father becomes the ever-present grandpa.

A bottomless pit of questions. If you fall too deep in it you risk destroying your relationship, your partner and yourself. I believe there’s a solution to every problem but this is a tough one, even for an optimist. It feels like swinging between the titles of “World’s Greatest Mum” and “World’s Greatest Hypocrite”. Within all these ideas, I can’t help but ask myself one last question: is it all worth it?

– Contributed by Shant & Phoenix


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