I’m Going To Homeschool These Damn Babies

I never really understood family. What I did understand was that I couldn’t really get attached to it.

My mother is what many might have called a mistress, making me the bastard child. Although she was with my father for 14 years, the three of us marked his third separate family as he had five kids from his previous marriage and four kids with his then and current wife. My relationship with them has been strained at best. I’m a painful reminder of my father’s indiscretion and was the only one raised in North America, which gave them far more reasons to welcome my distance than my presence. And coming out as queer to that side of the family produced tears and accusations that this was so selfish of me as now I could never give them a grandchild.

My single mother, although thankful for me, always swore that if she could do it again, she would do it alone.

I bounced around a lot, weeks and months spent as a guest in many different families. I have found my home for a time in abundant loving Filipino families surrounded by a lot of food and a lot of kids; in small, Polish families of visionary artists and travelers, who nurtured me with stories of Sartre and introduced me to oil paintings; and unfriendly corporate, wealthy families with massive homes devoid of the spirits to fill them. As a transient little Queer Black Girl, I have seen a lot of families.

And the skill I became best at with all these families was leaving: in the middle of the night, before I overstayed my welcome, leaving when I had nowhere to go, leaving when the yelling started, when the sun rose or in the dead of night.

And once I started dating, as a Queer Black Girlfriend, I was not normally the girl that parents wanted to welcome home. My first partner’s Trinidadian mother upon realizing who I was, dropped her hand limply in mine with an icy stare and asked her daughter to make sure I was gone before she left. One of my long-term white partner’s father would regularly offer soliloquies on how immigrants were ruining this country, and me with my polite immigrant tongue swelling in my mouth shifted my gaze to my partner’s sheepish shrug and realized that just like everywhere else, this was not my home.

Most of the time I am an obvious secret, an exceptional exception or a quiet reminder: the friend, the colleague or a laundry list of accomplishments that will hopefully quiet the family rumblings.

Anti-Black racism and femmephobia while dating is real. I have had partners shame me for the sag of my breasts, all the femme rituals that are integral to the way I do gender and even the smell of my pussy. I have had partners walk away while I am being harassed by a group of men and partners who in drunken rages have left me with bruises across my body.

And in a world where it seems like there is an article monthly decrying that Black women are the least desirable in dating, the strength and desire to keep going comes from my homegirls, my mentors like Punam Kholsla and a small fire burning inside that is stoked by mi abuela’s unconditional love.

I gave up on family a long time ago. I built community. I created coalitions and organizations, but that kind of ride or die, got you for life shit — I never put any stock in it. It was better not to have hope than to risk more and more crushing disappointment.

And now at the end of my 29th year, I am in love for what feels like the first and last time and we are deciding to start a family and merge a family. She is a Newfoundland born butch with Italian roots and on our anniversary after a lot of years and heartbreak and work, she asked me with a ring purple as my heart chakra to spend the rest of our lives together and I tearfully said yes.

For us the way we have reimagined engagement is a commitment to create a family together. A commitment to acts of daily solidarity. For her daily acts of acknowledging and being accountable for her privilege as a white masculine of centre woman, to holding me down in the street, to creating lots of space for me to shine and interrupting racism whenever she sees it whether it is her family or friends.

Our engagement is a commitment to learn together, to study our mother tongues as well as learn sign, to explore quantum physics and Indigenous knowledge systems and to believe in magic.

When you come from trauma, survival seems like self care and our engaging each other is a commitment to let our guards down, become increasingly vulnerable, to love sweeter and softer and with more and more consent. And as a chronically ill babe, the care I get and I give to her humbles me every single day.

In a world that is framed by systemic racism, sexism, ableism and a gamut of institutionalized experiences of oppression, and as someone who has been engaged in active resistance there are a lot of values that are important for me, and to be entirely honest I didn’t think I would ever partner with someone who was white again.

I was tired of the ‘casual racism’ from their friends and family, explaining that my Blackness was something I never got a break from, and the denial of privilege and all that comes with it.

Reconciling these things is an ongoing process, one that I could not do without a powerfully tight circle of women and people who are Black and People Of Colour who make up our closest friends and mentors. These folks have held and counseled us together and separately when we needed to be apart. Us sharing a best friend, two relationships that developed entirely unbeknownst to each other, has also been such an asset. There are countless people with values I trust deeply who love us separately and together and check us both when we need it.

It seems that somewhere along the line with all the leaving and the running, I got found by a small crew of folks who define family as these loose elastic relationships. It is like we are being held in a cat’s cradle. It is sometimes chaotic and unclear, but we are knitted together by our struggles, linked by shared experiences and shared values to love each other’s autonomy and freedom most of all. We work hard not to bind each other, but nurture each other, recognizing that the only thing that will always remain true is that everything will change.

And change has come so swiftly, I realized I want to have as many children as possible, at least 4, but hopefully 6. I finally feel safe enough to imagine the big queer family I never had. A home where gender is an option, not an obligation, where parents can apologize to each other as well as to their kids and where long, ongoing conversations about race, power and privilege exist.

I am going to homeschool these damn babies.

I want to spend more and more of my time building this fragile precious thing called family. I think it will be one of the most radical, transformative and healing things I will ever do to love and be loved, to create everything I never had and never dared to wish for, at least not until now.


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Avatar of KimKatrinCrosby

A daughter of the diaspora, Arawak, West African, Indian and Dutch, hailing from Trinidad and living currently in Toronto. Kim Katrin Crosby is an award-winning multidisciplinary artist, activist, writer, facilitator and educator. She is co founder and co director of The People Project, a movement of queer and trans folks of color and our allies, committed to individual and community empowerment through alternative education, activism and collaboration, and was also featured as one of Go Magazine's '100 Women We Love' in 2012 sharing the list with Ellen Degeneres and Wanda Sykes and in 2013 one of the Huffington Posts 50 Loved Gay Canadians sharing this list with the likes of K.D. Lang & Kathleen Wynne current premier of Ontario. She is currently producing and co-curating the Buddies In Bad Times Cabaret Insatiable Sisters with Gein Wong.

KimKatrinCrosby has written 2 articles for us.

27 Comments

  1. Thumb up 11

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    This was beautiful.

    I related so much to your concept of queer family, queer community. I’ve never understood family, I’ve never truly been part on one. I’ve been taken in at Christmases and birthdays and special occasions and while I appreciate and love those who have taken me in, I’ve always been the queer girl without a family, drifting in and out of their lives, being allowed to experience a hint of what it feels like to belong.

    My queer community is my family. I’ve found family in my incredible partner, for the first time I’ve thought about bringing little baby beans into the world. I think there is something so radical, so powerful about a queer family, where it’s ok to love and be loved.

    ‘A home where gender is an option, not an obligation, where parents can apologize to each other as well as to their kids and where long, ongoing conversations about race, power and privilege exist.’

    That is my dream, that is the home, the family I want to have.

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    Thank you so much for writing such a beautiful piece. I am so sorry about the pain of your past, but happy that the future looks bright. Your description of the kind of Queer family you want to build brought tears to my eyes.

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    This was exceptionally beautiful and moving.

    ‘A home where gender is an option, not an obligation, where parents can apologize to each other as well as to their kids and where long, ongoing conversations about race, power and privilege exist.’

    I look forward to the day when I have a family to live in this home, too.

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    I had all sorts of things written but I don’t think any of it accomplishes what I want to say, which is that this is so beautiful and relevant and goodness gracious can I relate.
    Have you read River of Names by Dorothy Allison? I feel like you might understand like I did.
    And it’s always good to see someone like me (gaymo PoC in a interracial relationship) wanting a gaggle of kids.
    Whenever I see a white person in a relationship with someone who is not white, not saying something when racist comments are made or actually involving themselves in racist conversations, I just think about what they’re going to do if their future kids’ non-European heritages grace their little faces and oh so beautiful skin. Are they going to say those things about their kids? Are they just going to let people say hateful things about their kids? And it makes me angry.

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    Congratulations on your engagement and being ready for family :)

    Unsolicited, I’m going to spill a bit about my homeschooling experience. I got excited by the article title, sorry.

    I homeschooled all the way until college. I admire my parents a lot for doing it, and for how they did it, and I often credit good things in my current situation to my homeschooling.

    I’m a scientist in training, and I think that the best skill sets I picked up were: self-motivation and understanding the joy of learning things for fun; prioritization, time management, and getting a job done without a daily structure set by someone else -> ability to take advantage of a flexible schedule; ability to relate easily with adults, and to act like an adult and expect to be treated like one; and a focus on a smaller number of friendships that are deeper and maintained across significant distance and time, which you seem to share. Abundant freedom to explore was critical, I can’t tell you how many times my life has been changed by something I came across while having fun or exploring. Exploring has to be one of the best things anyone can do, at any and all ages, and if I had spent my youth as academically highly-worked and as generally exhausted (if gratified) as I am now, then I can’t imagine I’d be half as happy.

    Drawbacks and risks: it does take A LOT. However, if you are not a radical in any direction, and if you take abundant care to let your children develop the way they want to within the context of your good moral examples, then you will be fine. There will be people who will never wrap their heads around why your kids aren’t in school on a weekday morning. There will be people who think your kids will have no social life. Your kids may think that they have no social life, and they may resent you for it, but if that happens then there will also be a point where you feel they’re able to decide for themselves if they want to start at a school. I think I probably have had setbacks in the development of my social skills, but that was because I chose to run around in the woods all day instead of spending more time with other homeschoolers and kids in my area. All this ever hurt was my pop culture trivia prowess, and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

    For your children, homeschooling will certainly mean its own watered-down type of “racism”, meaning that whenever they “come out” (so to speak) they will carry the burden of being “that homeschool kid” and later “that homeschool kid who’s actually pretty normal”. Homeschooling will be another way for some to look at your children and, overtly or not, sneer that they are different. But of course no one can ever, say, bring an earth-changing idea that they believe in to fruition without handling exactly that.

    I wonder if the most important thing I took away from homeschooling was that I very quickly internalized the idea that I had four people, or three, or two or even one person who respected me at all times and treated me like an adult, because consequently I felt that anyone else in the world could come into my life but they didn’t need to stay if they didn’t do the same. These good standards of basic interpersonal relationships are what a good family will do. I do also think it helped that I was never exposed for very long to school social situations. Granted, most of what I think I know about school is from the media – Mean Girls was a documentary, right? ;) – but I keep hearing about this toxic school social atmosphere in which most of the people you spend any time with are immature humans who are immersed in the idea that the approval of the alpha individuals is to be sought at any cost. I am always happy when people realize that it really does not need to be this way.

    Of course homeschooling is a gigantic issue with many opinions to be found, not to mention an enormous undertaking to which there are a hundred reasonable approaches. I am very happy that you’re considering it, and wish you the best!

    I think this is the magazine that my mom liked the most: http://www.homeschoolermagazine.com/main.html

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      RugbyGeek, I’ll add my voice to the chorus of the folks telling you that the average/traditional school can be infused with quite the toxic social atmosphere. I attended very good public schools all of my life, so there was no lack of decent education – but I found the opportunities for the types of socializing that I personally wanted to engage in to be sorely lacking. Except for most of my teachers and a few like-minded students, I found the overall experience to be just like you described – and that was a real bummer, let me tell you. Luckily, I was able to focus on my studies and the few people I didn’t consider to be too immature and just plain annoying to hang out with. Okay, I realize that that might make me sound like an antisocial jerk, but I swear that I’m really not one. I was actually just constantly doing my utmost to avoid the jerks and/or tools and anyone else who seemed to have my worst interests in mind. I think your parents had the right idea. I’m a bit envious of your experience. I was always a bit of a little adult myself and I think I would’ve really enjoyed something like that. Nice. Perhaps if I ever adopt, I will consider offering that option to my (as-yet-theoretical) child. :)

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    First of all, congrats on the engagement and a toast to you sweetheart! CHEERS! Secondly, what a beautifully well written article. I thank you so much for sharing with everyone here your journey. Wish you all the best, sweetheart =) You go and home school those damn babies =)

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    Your re-imagining of engagement, family and (I guess) education is so beautiful and so perfect.

    I also loved the way you spoke about close friends and mentors and other trusted, loved people who helped you & your partner’s relationship when you needed it.

    This was just so special. x

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    “A commitment to acts of daily solidarity. For her daily acts of acknowledging and being accountable for her privilege as a white masculine of centre woman, to holding me down in the street, to creating lots of space for me to shine and interrupting racism whenever she sees it whether it is her family or friends.

    Our engagement is a commitment to learn together, to study our mother tongues as well as learn sign, to explore quantum physics and Indigenous knowledge systems and to believe in magic.”

    What a lovely way to define a partnership! I’ll admit I’d never given much thought to adjusting a relationship according to partners’ levels of privilege. This is a simple but bold premise for how to do that, and one I’m going to keep in mind for my own life.

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    I love this. It makes me feel happy and hopeful. I was raised in a multiracial (by adoption) family and while I desperately love my brothers and sisters, I feel like we failed them in a way by not dealing with race and adoption as openly and critically as we could (my parents and I are white.)

    That said, I’m really looking forward to parenting my own gaggle of kids, although since I’m not going to be giving birth and my girlfriend doesn’t want a million kids, it might be a small gaggle.

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