Lesbian Dad

To sire, with love

Yes, someone–a former hacker & current nightclub owner–did indeed bronze a turkey baster as a gift to lesbian friends who’d just had a baby. Caption: “A Miracle of Modern Science!”

I have been able to co-parent with my partner as a result of donor insemination (DI), also called alternative insemination (AI). As a result, I have a lot in common with heterosexual men in the same position. Of course we have a lot of differences: I never expected to impregnate my partner, and my inability to do so doesn’t play a complicated role in my understanding of my essential self, or my parenthood. Or perhaps it does.

I know many lesbian women, including myself, who at one point or another have wished they could have been able to have gotten their sweetie pregnant. This is touchy, complex territory, stuff I recall first encountering waaay back twenty-five years ago when I first came out and began to think of the ramifications of my sexual identity on my parenthood. Back then, the early-to-mid-1980s, I thought I simply couldn’t be a parent. Back then, the only visible model for family was a nuclear, heterosexual one. Then I saw the documentary Choosing Children, and began to realize there were many more ways to make a family than I had thought.

Since that time, the confluence of many factors–innovations in alternative insemination initially pioneered for heterosexual couples contending with fertility issues, ongoing evolutions in LGBT civil rights movement, ongoing evolutions in family and kinship networks, and more–have led to the “gayby” boom we’re in the midst of. It’s sonic. It’s super-sonic. And it’s opening up infinite opportunities for connection between LGBT people and others–namely, potential allies whose life paths we (now) share. Alternative or donor insemination is one of those paths.

On this blog’s homepage, I keep a link to the site DI Dads Speak Out in order to facilitate the exchange of insight and understanding across these two communities. DI Dads Speak Out evolved from a Yahoo! group, and lists a series of links to other DI and donor conception (or DC) sites which I’ve found enlightening. The blog content itself currently consists of an ongoing Q&A. The Qs represent many of the things that we DI or AI lesbian parents think and worry about, with some obvious distinctions (such as, we have no choice but to disclose that the kid was conceived witih a donor’s sperm).

The areas of contrast themselves make our potential connection richer, more complex. As DI Dads contributor Richard put it in one post, “Society worships fertility and links it inextricably to virility.” That’s an issue I don’t face directly, to be sure. But I do have a stake in dismantling that misbegotten social myth wherein a cartoonish virility is the sign for masculine strength, rather than compassion and vulnerability, which I believe to take far, far more internal strength to muster. I appreciate it, and applaud it, in the DI Dads forum. In answering the question, Why openly discuss DI issues?, Max, said

How can I give my potential future children a sense of pride in who they are if I as an infertile man, live my life in shame?!…It’s time to break boundaries set by years of secrecy and misinformation and speak out loud. Time to share our stories with the world in order to support those who share our pain and dispel all untrue beliefs via open communication.

It’s easy to substitute “lesbian,” for “infertile man,” reading that, and find that the statement still rings true. Other statements, such as this from Richard, take no effort at translation: “I will love my kids and I will trust them to love me, despite the fact that they don’t share my genes.” For Richard, I would think the LGBT family slogan “Love makes a family” rings just as true.

The commonalities between us make for powerful connections. But our distinctions make for equally powerful glue, to my mind; a different kind. Because I think we’ve done something more active, and I think ultimately more powerful, when we forge that connection across a point of contrast. That’s the part of our alliance that feels more voluntary, based on compassion in spite of difference. Maybe we could think of the two bases for connection (commonalities and differences) as a kind of two-part epoxy resin: the both together make for an amazingly strong bond. My family’s social and legal well-being is staked on heterosexual allies doing this same thing for us.

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