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Queer Parenting: What does it mean today?

Updated: Aug 30, 2023

We asked eight LGBTQIA+ Leaders and Allies from our global community about their experience as Parents. They also share tips on advice they would offer others.

There are many challenges and joys that come with the role of being a parent. However, the idea of parenting is still heavily based in heteronormativity and prescribed gender roles - thinking about both the parents and the children. Furthermore, there is a tendency for people to think only about biological children, when of course Fostering and Adoption are real, viable options for people who wish to grow their families. Family, or Chosen Family can bring all of us as individuals a real sense of belonging.

We asked....

What is the biggest lesson you've learnt as a parent? What piece of advice would you offer to others who may be thinking about having children, or to those who are already parents, who are finding it challenging?

Here's what they had to say...

a photo of Anick, a person with brown skin and short dark hair, wearing a turtleneck and blazer.

Marley Conte (they/them)

"In my role and experience as Trans/Non-Binary parent I have learned that parenthood is an extremely gendered journey. There is always the assumption that if you have a kid you must be straight/cis. So, often, we spend equal time raising our human and equal time educating people on Queer families. On the other hand, it is truly magical to see our kid growing up knowing we love unconditionally, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. It is incredible to see our child thrive and share open and honest conversations, understanding that we are allowed to reject the roles society imposed on us based on binary expectations.

The best piece of advice I can offer other LGBTQIA+ parents is to set boundaries. People are going to ask a lot of inappropriate questions. It is not their right to ask and it’s not your duty to answer. Create a safe space for you and your family."

a photo of Christopher, a person with brown skin and black locs, wearing a puffer jacket and headphones around his neck.

Luca Condosta (he/him)

"LGBTQI+ parenting is the best way to practice equity and inclusion: both have same role and challenges but you leverage on everyone’s best skills to succeed!"

a photo of Jolinda, a person with brown skin and coiffed textured hair, wearing a leather jacket.

Ed Jervis (he/him)

"The journey of growing up queer to now becoming a queer parent is a road full of challenges and complex situations. I believe that our ability to survive and thrive in hostile environments ultimately makes us stronger and more resilient parents. We have had to fight for our rights, love, and families, and it is this strength that has taught us the skills we need to be able to advocate for our kids. My advice to other LGBTQIA+ parents is to embrace your past and use it as a source of strength and inspiration for your parenting journey."

 photo of Vaneet, a person with brown skin and long dark hair, wearing a patterned long sleeve shirt and necklace.

Erica Rose (she/her)

"I have found joy in my role and experience as a Queer parent witnessing the balanced, inclusive, empathetic adults that my children have developed into. I had children already when I came out; I was worried about the impact it would have on them and felt guilty, thankfully there was no need to. The best piece of advice I can offer to other LGBTQIA+ parents is to try to remember that hormonal teenagers have challenges and this isn’t specifically because you’re a LGBTQIA+ parent, it’s probably nothing to do with you and who you are. Have faith in your parenting!"

a photo of Tatum, a person with pale skin and long blonde hair, wearing a white t-shirt and blazer.

Sanjay Sharma (he/him)

"Believe the narrative. Learn to listen and be ready to unlearn. First and foremost accept, understanding will follow. Unconditional love is essential for creating a nurturing environment."

a photo of Emily, a person with pale skin and short auburn hair, wearing a stripy, off-the-shoulder t-shirt.

Shawn Aaron (he/him)

"I have found joy in my role and experience as a Queer parent through learning from the toxic ways in which I was raised, to the healthier ways I wanted to raise my own child. Parenting takes continuous communication. I set my intentions on not just being a good person overall, but being the best parent and role model I could be for my child. Parenting takes a lot of work, and it is not easy. Parenting is a lifelong commitment, and lifelong responsibility. The best piece of advice I can offer to other LGBTQIA+ parents is to be careful what you say. Your child is listening, and you do not want your child to carry that baggage with them into adult life. Let's break generational trauma of how we treat, how we love, how we communicate, and how we discipline our children. Let us raise our children of the future to be kind, loving and courageous."

a photo of Emily, a person with pale skin and short auburn hair, wearing a stripy, off-the-shoulder t-shirt.

"I have raised my son since he was two, I feel I have been for him, the safe haven that brought him out of chaos. There is nothing stronger and empowering than a maternal relationship and even though I am trans, I had that privilege. But when I separated from his father, I couldn't fight for the legalization of my maternity, and it was love that brought Bruno years later on his own two feet, to seek the love of the trans mother who raised and protected him throughout his childhood."

a photo of Emily, a person with pale skin and short auburn hair, wearing a stripy, off-the-shoulder t-shirt.

Coco (they/she)

"My biggest lesson I’ve learn as an LGBTQIA+ parent is to be proud in who we are and to know myself and my wife are the best for our son, to teach him that the world isn’t always kind but that our home always will be - to overcome the stares that society still brings, and to be proud lesbian parents. To find joy in every day as a queer parent, through the smiles our son brings us every morning when he wakes up. Even the stuff that people say is hard - because of the journey we go on as queer parents, we cherish everything, and I mean every little bit from start to finish - regardless of hard this is.

The best piece of advice I can offer to other LGBTQIA+ humans wanting to start their own family is don’t ever give up, for every journey I know is different. Speaking from our lens, it was difficult, we were naïve at the start and faced many obstacles to get our son, our family; but always keep going! Also, do it the way you want to – for myself and my wife we always wanted to do RIVF, and were told by the NHS it wasn’t an option. We saved, we made it our priority because we wanted our family just the way we wanted. We found an amazing private clinic who made us feel ‘normal’, feel enough, feel worthy to be parents. It was a great, exciting experience, regardless of the sad times in between then and now. It took us to our 5th round of IVF but now we are here beaming, so happy with our beautiful perfect 3 month old son. Remember you are good enough to be amazing parents, regardless of what the world around us says. Don’t let it hold you back - we got this together as a community!"

Other terms from our Queer Allyship Lexicon for you to consider on the subject of family:


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