As someone who has spent her adult life as a very visible queer women, with all the awesome ups and disheartening downs that implies, becoming a parent has been disorienting. For years I’ve been used to walking down the street and hearing variations on “I can tell that you are Sapphically inclined, and I either approve or disapprove of that predilection, depending on my own orientation and politics!”
But all that changed when I had a child. I don’t know if everyone is aware of this, but small children emit powerful de-gayification rays, dramatically decreasing the queer visibility of anyone within a hundred-foot radius. Anything that screamed “lesbo” when I was childfree is subsumed by the heteronormativity of parenthood, and I am literally going to scream my whole face off the next time somebody asks me “And what does your husband do?” I wanted to poke a hole in the restrictive notion of cis-hetero nuclear family, but instead I feel like it’s constantly on the verge of swallowing me up.
It’s taken some trial and error, but I’ve arrived at these foolproof methods for queering up a parenting aesthetic and I want to share them with you!
1.Your Hair [Head]: Before kids, having short hair meant “I don’t want my bangs falling in my face while I’m trying to stare at a cute girl!” Now, it comes across as “I don’t have time to use a blow dryer anymore.” Oh, and that asymmetrical undercut says “my kid stuck a fruit leather to my head and it was easier to just shave it than to try to wash it out.” If you want your coif to send a can’t-miss message about your sexual orientation, you’re gonna have to dye it into a Pride flag.
2. Your Hair [Body]: Remember when you first stopped shaving your legs and felt totally countercultural and awesome when people scowled at you? Well, now people shoot you sympathetic looks because they think you’re too exhausted to shave. Try having a skilled barber razor the words “I’M A LESBIAN” into your leg hair, although if your body hair is close to the same color as your skin, this might not be very visible or effective. In that case, I recommend simply writing the words across your face in lipstick.
3. Your Shoes: Back in the pre-baby days, aggressively sensible shoes meant “I reject the heteropatriarchy’s attempts to limit my mobility through fashion.” Now it just means “The hell I’m chasing this kid halfway down the block AND wearing heels.” If you’re the handy type, try acquiring some light-up sneakers and programming them so that the lights flash the word QUEER in Morse code. If that’s not an option, at least add some rainbow shoelaces to your Doc Martens.
4. Your Clothes: How did your collection of blazers and skinny jeans – the very same ensembles that were salaciously androgynous a few years ago – suddenly transform into statements of desexualized maternity by sheer proximity to a stroller? You can’t rely on subtlety anymore, so you’re going to have to stock up on overtly gay t-shirts – anything that references The L Word or features two entwined Venus symbols is good. Or just keep your sleeves rolled up so your bicep tattoo of Indigo Girls lyrics is always on display. (“Okay, now you’re just being hyperbolic, no one is so gay they have a bicep tattoo of Indigo Girls lyrics.” False. I am married to just such a human.)
5. Your Nails: Super-short and filed to perfect ovals used to be your watchword. Now you gnaw them off in the car on the way from story hour to swim lessons. There is nothing to be done about this so you’re just going to have to roll with it.
6. Your Wheels: The Venn diagram of “lesbian cars” and “mom cars” is pretty much a circle, so your Subaru isn’t doing you any favors. Unless you want to trade it in for a Harley and get your kiddo a sidecar with a booster seat (please do this, it would be adorable), plastering your vehicle with the gayest bumper stickers you can find is the only way to go.
Got other ideas for kicking queer invisibility to the curb in 2017? I’d love to hear them!
Lindsay King-Miller is a queer femme who does not have an indoor voice. Her writing has appeared in Bitch Magazine, Cosmopolitan.com, Vice.com, Buzzfeed, The Hairpin, and numerous other publications. She lives in Denver with her partner, their daughter, and two very spoiled cats. She is the author of Ask A Queer Chick (Plume, 2016). Follow her on Twitter at @askaqueerchick.