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 “realwp_postslevel 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!wp_poststhen 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?wp_postsone of the kids asked my partner.
“Yup, I am,wp_postsshe said with a smile.
“That makes sense,wp_poststhe 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?wp_postsshirt.
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.wp_postsThey 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.