Monday, January 16, 2012

We're Here and We're Queer... Kind of

I am writing this from a deck overlooking the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, beer on one side and a palm tree on my other side, rustling in the warm breeze. Devon and I are on our first vacation in over two years and are enjoying every minute of it. Our neighbour from home texted us a picture of our hometown today, covered in wet snow. I like it here.

What I didn’t expect on the trip here was my anxiety at customs around choosing whether to declare that I was traveling with a family member or not. Although I have no problem being out with US or Canada customs agents, we decided (or did I force Devon to?) that we would pretend, if questioned, that we were traveling together as friends. Not that they are stupid here, but it just felt safer in this very conservative Catholic country that we are visiting. Although Devon and I are married, neither of us took the other’s last name, so although it felt a little wrong, it was the easy thing to do.

As we left the airport to head to the place we are staying, I realized that pretty soon, we are not going to be able to have the option of pretending we are someone else, and I realized immediately after that this is not bad thing. The next time we travel outside of Canada or the US, we will hopefully be traveling with our baby. We will undeniably be a family, traveling as a threesome. And for some reason, with the addition of a little heartbeat, it would feel wrong to lie about who we are just because it feels safer to, in the moment. [But yet, isn’t safety a number one priority when you have a child to care for?]

First, let me say that we have been treated very well here and as hotel guests, it is quite obvious that we are together. Despite having to ask specifically for a room with a king bed instead of two, we have been treated as a couple. For some reason, it was tougher to handle at the border with official gun-holding, uniformed guards. Fair enough, I say, but something still doesn’t feel right about it.

I never want my child to feel as though we need to hide who we are as a family. I never want my child to think that having an “alternative” (I hate that word) family is something to be ashamed of or anxious about. I want my child to know that we are proud of who we are. That we are exactly what we should be. That family is stronger than religion or conservatism or bigotry or hate.

But my actions this week have not stemmed from pride, but from fear. So what is worse? Me judging Mexican authorities to be homo-hating monsters, or me being a shame-filled lesbian because I’m not the norm?

I think the latter.

This is hard to admit, but I still have a long way to go before I’m comfortable being a two-mom family. Yes, Mexico – and many other countries – is a bit of an exception, and I appreciate that I’m just trying to be protective here, but even back in our hometown, there are still scenarios when it is easier to walk away from the truth, like distant colleagues or clients who ask me what my husband does. Though I answer them using the word “partner,” I’m still not using the word “wife”. Because it’s easier that way. Less awkward for both parties.

But where do you draw the line? Where is the happy medium of being honest about your family without being in-your-face and loud-and-proud? I don’t want to draw attention to the fact that we’re different, but I also don’t want to pretend we’re not.

Apparently I need to figure this out before we make this two-person family a three-person family. 

7 comments:

  1. You think too much Lex. Just relax and enjoy your vacation. All the other issues will take care of themselves when you feel ready. Have fun.

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  2. This is something that I personally really struggle with as well. With our baby being only 6 days away from due (Eeek!), it seems like I need to make some headway on this. And so I've been trying to be more honest and open with people, starting with coworkers. I want to be honest yet at the same time I don't want to come out of the closet every 5 seconds. So I think as a mom I've decided to pick my battles. I won't lie to anyone about it, but I'll only correct someone or come out to someone if they are a more than one interaction type of person. And maybe as our baby grows and understands more, maybe I'll come out more. Its a difficult thing to decide though when it feels safer to just hide and as someone who doesn't at all "look like a lesbian" I feel like the temptation is bigger to do exactly that, hide. I wish I had better answers!

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  3. I think a lot about this as well, especially these days. On one hand, I don't want my child to deal with the stress of "hiding" and on the other hand, my child's safety is paramount. I think we are going to be cautiously open, meaning we will be honest with ourselves about whether we are closeted to be truly safe or just because as adults, we have times when its just easier or more comfortable for everyone else. The former we will tread lightly, the latter we will have to get over, I guess.

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  4. my wife and i traveled to DR for a wedding with our then 10 month old daughter. it was a bit of a sticky situation for us as well upon arrival and going through customs there. we just filled out all of the paper work for the baby with my wife's info (her biomom). it is hard to purposefully hide who you are, but for us i think we acted in a protective manner, though fear was a part of it. its hard, but hopefully the world will continue to openly accept our families more and more.

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  5. Oh, I worry about this all the time! Gone are the carefree days of just going anywhere and expecting people to be sweet to me. Now I'm paranoid that they'll decide to...well, I don't know what, but something! I think it's going to be scary travelling with a baby, but I think that it also might become more clear what the right course of action is at any given time, you know?

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  6. Glad you're enjoying your vacation. It does become much harder to 'hide' when you have a kid. I was pretty open before, but I'm WAY open now. lol. You'll see...it'll just happen naturally.

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  7. I never thought about travels....something new to ponder

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