Life as a ‘Gayby’

20 / 03 / 2015

Twenty-four percent of gay and lesbian couples in Australia are now raising a child. In the UK, USA and Europe, it’s even more. These kids are part of what can only be described as a ‘Gayby-boom’. And yet, Gaybies are a cultural phenomenon we know nothing about. In this months First Person, journalist and self-proclaimed Gayby Claudia Long takes us through her journey of what it’s like to be part of this new generation of Gaybies – and she’s loving it.

I’m often asked by strangers about my childhood, but it’s not because I was a particularly remarkable child. In fact, I was just your average rambunctious kid and this is something that frequently surprises people. You see, both of my parents are gay and I am what has come to be known in recent years as a Gayby; the child of same-sex attracted parents.

Sometimes I forget that, to many people, the idea of two women raising a child is a rather foreign concept. I am regularly reminded of this when people, and frequently so, decide to ask me myriad questions on the subject. If I had a grain of glitter for every time I’ve been asked (often by someone I barely know) ‘what it’s like to have no father’ or ‘if I was a lesbian because my mum is one’ then I’d be a very fabulous lady.

The thing is though, I do have a dad and for me, having been brought up by two women is just part and parcel of everyday life. I usually don’t mind answering people’s queries because they are mostly just curious. However, many people seem to forget their manners and ask very personal or unsettlingly homophobic questions about my life. For example, in Year 8 art class one diligent student proudly asked “Do you miss your dad?” followed up by the charming “Does your mum have crush on you?” with the same casual manner as someone who had just asked you what your favourite colour might be. Unfortunately, many people – including ones I’ve only just met – feel some sort of overwhelming drive to ask me these kinds of misinformed or deeply personal questions.

So before we go on, let’s clear a few things up about my experience of being a Gayby:

Yes, I do have a father and he is indeed gay (shocking concept I know). No I don’t miss him, because I still see him and how often I do so isn’t anyone’s business but my own.

No, it’s not weird being raised by two female parents and yes I do prefer to say Mum and Janet* rather than calling them both mum but that’s my personal preference.

No, my mum and dad never broke up because they were never together, no I’m not an IVF baby and no they never had sex (yes, some people see fit to ask me about how I was conceived, how sweet of them).

One memory that I feel really reflects what it’s like to be a Gayby (in my experience anyway) is from when I was in primary school and participating in a class discussion about our dad’s favourite musicians for a Father’s Day card project. As we went around the group my fellow primary schoolers listed all the classics, with The Beatles, Guns ‘n’ Roses and The Rolling Stones featuring heavily. That is, until it came to me when I emphatically and unashamedly declared that my dad’s favourite musician was Madonna! The rest of the class looked rather confused and a tad shocked, so in a bid to clear things up for them, I followed with “you know, from the ’80s, like Tina Turner, he likes her too.”

The reason I like to relate this story is because it sums up what it’s like growing up as a Gayby in a nutshell. Yes, my family is a bit different, but the only reason this is sometimes difficult is because of the judgement and expectations that other people have. My parents proudly embody traits that are typically associated with being Queer which I really appreciate because A) It makes them who they are and B) I had the privilege of being introduced to Priscilla Queen of The Desert at age 9 and if that’s not good child rearing then I don’t know what is.

When it comes to parenting, Mum and Janet are (mostly) pretty typical: they love me, they look out for me and, most importantly, they watch Orange is the New Black with me. From where I stand, these are the things that really matter, not how much I see my dad or how I was conceived which, to be honest, are fairly personal and creepy things for people to want to know about anyway.

I love my parents and they love me and in my humble opinion, that’s all anyone really needs to know.

*Names changed

For another insight into the life of Gaybies, you can watch the trailer for the upcoming film Gayby Baby, experiences told from the perspective of the kids, as well as a film about what family in the 21st century might mean to us all. Directed by Maya Newell.

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