Jessie Nowlan | LGBTQ+ Coordinator
Featured Image: The idea of families is evolving, empowering folks of the LGBTQ+ community. | Sarah Lau
I have always thought about having children. I have thought a lot about the potential challenges of raising children in a society that can be a struggle to navigate, and how my children will look to me for guidance as their provider. As the woman who is supposed to conceive and give birth to them, I have always been very concerned about how to be a good mother.
The idea of being a good mother is hammered into the minds of young girls with every news article that criticizes mothers with children with disobedient children. Pushed deep into our subconscious by every article that praises the mothers who raise their children as society has decided they should. It is in this moment, us members of the LGBTQ+ community become acutely aware of how we do not fit the stereotypical model of family—every commercial displays the cliché happy, heteronormative, mother and father with two kids.
I started to question if I, as a queer, disabled person, could ever have children at all. I was sad. I began to feel jealous of the heterosexual people in my life. Over time, I stopped thinking about having kids in my future because it no longer felt like it was a possibility, or if it was, that it would not be a ‘real’ family. I now know that the answer is yes, I can have children, and while it may not fit the traditional family image, I can have my own family that is just as valid.
I decided to read books, and autoethnographic stories from other queer women about their experiences with reproduction and motherhood. I felt unbelievably liberated, understood, and a part of a community. Many loving people in my life have always told me that I can still have children. I would voice my concerns, and people would comfort me (technology is so advanced now!), but to read about it, from other women who are queer, who have had children, made me truly realize once again, that I can too.
You do not have to be the perfect mother to have a child. All LGBTQ+ people need is resources, representation, and acceptance. While I may one day be a mother, I might not be the one to carry that child—I might not even have any biological ties to that baby. What does it mean to be a mother when society no longer controls the definition? Motherhood is about love, guidance, and a lot of learning; it’s about making the decision that you want a child, not because of the external pressure to reproduce, but because of the love you want to share in raising a child that you can call your own. Whether you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two-spirited, or any other member of the LGBTQ+ community, you have what it takes to be a parent if you choose to. It is not us that needs to change, we can provide these things, and we can challenge and redefine these concepts of motherhood and parenting so that the next generation of LGBTQ+ people can look to us, to hear our stories, just like I learned from the generations before me. It is not us that needs to change, it is society.