Queer Mom Chronicles: I Don’t Want To Be a Parenting Influencer

During my days as a parenting writer, I often got lumped in with parenting influencers during press events. When you’re a parent who chooses to create content around raising a family, people are quick to call you things like a blogger or influencer, never taking into account there are parents who create content that goes beyond the things happening in their own home. I have always been against the term influencer for what I do. I’m a writer, and there is a difference between the two.

As I’ve talked about, there are not a lot of queer writers who write about being parents. As I was navigating those early days of being an openly queer mom, I was desperate to read more about this life. And then after my partner and I started dating, I wanted to read more about other families like ours. But that content doesn’t really exist in written form, so I had to turn to social media, mainly Instagram. There, I started to find queer mom influencers who were creating punchy social media content showcasing their families. I was excited that they existed, but I struggled to relate. I wanted to dig deeper than an Instagram story or caption under a goofy dance video could go. I wanted to connect on what felt like a more “real” level than is possible on social media.

Please don’t take this as me putting down queer parent social media influencers. What they do is great — it’s so much work for what can be very little reward. I just cannot fathom being a full time digital content creator. I make one Instagram reel and need a nap and a Xanax. So kudos to them for even taking that responsibility on AT ALL.

I’ve cultivated my social media to be a space for me. I post when and what I want and I only follow accounts that make me feel good. Because I started all of my social accounts before I made the decision to have a forward facing job like being a writer, I’ve always used them as places to share my silly little thoughts. I made a conscious decision to not do a lot of education on social media even though I have a lot of followers who found me through my work. It’s a way to not only protect my peace in a space where that’s really hard, but to maintain a work-life balance where the lines are already really blurry. Being a queer parent social media influencer doesn’t just blur those lines, it makes them nonexistent.

For me, there is a line when it comes to being visible. Being a queer parent social media influencer crosses that line for me.

Queer parent social media influencers create the platforms they do because they want to create visibility. They want to become a beacon for other queer families to see themselves among the noise of parenting influencer spaces, to show that queer families merely exist. Visibility is one very large component of normalizing the existence of queer families. If we show them, “hey, I’m just like you because my partner hates doing the dishes too!” then maybe they won’t teach their kids to be little homophobes and tease ours in the schoolyard about having two moms. But when you’re talking about social media, you’re constantly fighting against the algorithm. There have been enough studies that show algorithms create an echo chamber for social media users; whatever they most engage with is what they’re going to see. So if those hetero moms aren’t explicitly looking for queer moms to relate to, they ain’t gonna find them. But you know who ALWAYS seems to find them? Bigots.

Without fail, some homophobic, racist, etc. bigot will show up with some sort of nasty or dangerous comment. Every so often, the queer parent influencers I follow will do a post or story about how they receive these awful comments on their posts and I have to think why would you open yourself up to this? Call me cynical, but acceptance doesn’t feel worth putting myself and my family through that. Especially when you get comments that tell you that the world would be better off without you. Nowadays, it’s just too easy to find things like your address or phone number. It’s one thing to subject yourself to potential threats, but it’s a VERY different thing when you have children. Especially now when queer people are the subject of so much widespread hate from the government, it emboldens regular people to act on those threats.

There are plenty of ways to be visible as queer parents without subjecting ourselves to the hate and vitriol of social media. I’m a work-from-home freelancer, so my schedule is flexible. That has led to me being a more visible presence at my son’s school. Parents are finally allowed back on campus as volunteers this year, which is something I was excited about. When the school year started, we had a virtual meeting with his teacher and explained our family dynamic and asked about how she creates an inclusive classroom environment. She invited us to come and help out whenever we had the opportunity to, and I knew that I would help out as much as I could.

My partner and I have cultivated a good relationship with my son’s teacher, so she offers both of us volunteer opportunities as they arise. My partner usually has to work, but she was able to come help with their holiday class pancake breakfast, and it was a lot of fun. It was the first time his class got to see us as a united front, and while they all know exactly who we are without each other, it’s important to be seen together.

“So, you’re both the moms?” one of the kids asked my partner.
“Yup, I am,” she said with a smile.
“That makes sense,” the kid said and walked off.

As far as I know, we’re the only same-sex parents at the school. That’s why it’s so crucial for me to show up when I can. If kids see me and know me as one of the two moms in our family, they begin to just accept it at face value. When my son says he has two moms, chances are they know one or both of us from seeing us around school. Parents know me because they see me at pickup or drop-off wearing my “who’s all gay here?” shirt.

In addition to volunteering with my son’s class, I also volunteer with his former first grade teacher’s class. I help out with their dance class and read to them during their reading period. They’re the sweetest, most loving little buggers I’ve ever met. Every time I see them, they run up to me with big smiles and hug my knees. They know about my wife and son, and they still think I’m the coolest person they’ve ever met.

Knowing me gives them someone tangible to relate queerness to. Because if they hear someone in their life disparage a queer person, they can think: “I know Miss Sai, and she’s not any of the bad things I’m hearing.” They know that I’m kind, and I’m a mom, and even though I don’t let them act foolish, I like to have fun with them. I’m the same lady who baked funfetti cupcakes for my son’s class because they were well behaved on their field trip. The first graders know that I brought them fruit snacks and candy canes. They can see my kiddo is well loved and a good peer to them.

By showing up every day and being as present as I can around school, I am doing my best to destigmatize the myth of what queer people for a group of kids who may not know any in real life. I show parents that I’m just like them, not because I’m exposing my life to them, but because we’re all standing at the lost and found grabbing our kids’ jackets for the umpteenth time this month. When they see my family, they know that there’s nothing different about us. And to me, that’s so much more impactful than a TikTok meme video on Instagram. That’s why I continue to do what I do.


Queer Mom Chronicles is a monthly column where I examine all of the many facets of queer parenthood through my tired mom eyes. 

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Sa'iyda Shabazz

Sa'iyda is a writer and mom who lives in LA with her partner, son and 3 adorable, albeit very extra animals. She has yet to meet a chocolate chip cookie she doesn't like, spends her free time (lol) reading as many queer romances as she can, and has spent the better part of her life obsessed with late 90s pop culture.

Sa'iyda has written 122 articles for us.

18 Comments

  1. I LOVE THIS. As a queer parent and elementary educator, your approach to being visible by showing up at your kid’s school is something I deeply appreciate. From my discussions with families over the years, there are WAYYY more queer parents (and parents discovering that they are queer) than anyone realizes. Your representation is important for kids and adults, including caregivers (and teachers!) who are starting to identify with queer community themselves.

    Also, this line: “ I make one Instagram reel and need a nap and a Xanax.” So fucking true.

    • thank you! i forgot to mention it because i totally forgot when i was writing this, but his school used to have a GSA that i briefly volunteered with before the pandemic. i did it to show them that it was possible to have the life they dreamed of one day, and to be a supportive queer adult for them.

      omg i am so not the video creator type! i’ll do it, but only in extreme circumstances, lol.

  2. Love this! Visibility doesn’t have to mean visible on social media, it can be as simple as being present in your community. Odds are it’ll actually make more of an impact on the teachers, other parents, and kids that they know a queer family than if they just saw a TikTok about a queer family. Please keep writing about queer families and queer parenting!

    • I came to write the same thing. I’m never having kids but if I were, social media wouldn’t be my method of choice to make create visibility as a queer parent. Even as someone who relies on social media to do some organizing in my community, I’ve still made them effort to do in person organizing and events to reach the people social media won’t. As the author said, social media is very much an echo chamber.

  3. Yes! There is no need to invite bigotry in through the nightmare rectangle. Queer people aren’t just on TikTok, we’re in the grocery store, and the movie theater, and the post office.

  4. Yayayay parenting content!!! So excited to see this, and so excited for more. Our little is too young for school yet but especially because my partner and I can appear straight to (oblivious) straight eyes, we’re loudly queer at all chances in exactly these in-person ways and for all these reasons.

    I’d also like to throw in a reminder that while parents making social media posts can be super cool and do important work, kids can’t meaningfully consent to their presence on social media and can end up with a lot of harm, especially when featured on high exposure influencer accounts. I hope the cool social media savvy parents out there are keeping that in mind! (I’m definitely in your no-thank-you boat myself)

    • I really appreciate this comment and I was surprised thearticle had acknowledged this nuance – though I recognzie that’s not what the article was about. Any form of “family influencer” where children’s faces are shown and their stories are shared in exchange for financial gain gives me a major ick, especially since these children are so often coached to be little performers, a trauma of its own.

    • i don’t want to make assumptions about consent because i don’t know how influencer families address that with their kids, especially ones who are old enough to know what it means to say yes or no to something. yes, we have seen conversations around this in recent years, but i don’t want to get into casting any judgment or speculation!

      • Totally, and I respect the middle ground of asking older kids their opinions. But I also think about this in the bigger picture of the corporate ownership of social media platforms, where consent gets even more complicated. Those images aren’t just shared with followers, they’re owned by Meta, Twitter, etc, who can then use them however they please (building facial recognition AI to sell to cops, for example). As adults our “consent” to these things usually means skipping over terms of use and is problematic in its own right, but offering kids’ faces up for these uses feels like a whole different ballgame to me as a parent!

  5. I love this article! My kids are typically the only, or one of a very few, kids with queer parents in their schools/classes too. Pre-pandemic when they were at the same school, my wife and I were both very involved. I’d like to to think that knowing us helped shape some of the other kids opinions of queer people.

  6. yes yes yes! showing up can be tacit activism- doing all the same things you would normally do as a parent (or educator) but making it impossible to straightwash you. being openly and undeniably butch while working a preschool has led to so many conversations about gender norms and the roles that go along with them, and has also led to my single favorite kid quote in five years of classroom work.
    “cayin is not mommy, cayin is daddy” -said by two year old to new classmate

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