Welcome to Queer Mom Chronicles, where I get real about all things parenting, but especially all things QUEER parenting. I’m by no means an expert, but I am incredibly open about stumbling my way through this mom life thing.
Hi, my name is Sa’iyda and I’m not a cool mom, I’m a queer mom. I’ve been a mom since 2013 when my son was born. His dad (yes he has a dad, more on that another time) and I split up when he was a baby, and I was a single mom for six and a half years. In February of 2020, I met my partner and quickly realized she was the missing piece to our little family. We live in Los Angeles and have FIVE pets: two cats, one puppy and two guinea pigs.
Before I started writing for Autostraddle, I spent five years writing for Scary Mommy, a popular parenting and lifestyle website. During my time there, I wrote about a lot of typical parenting stuff: potty training, having a kid who doesn’t like to wear pants, and mom burnout. I also talked about things that were unique to me: being a Black mom to a mixed race kiddo, being low income, and of course, being queer. Writing about being a queer mom wasn’t a conscious choice; it’s just a part of my life, and most of my work revolves around my lived experiences.
This is what you need to know about parenting digital media: It’s run almost exclusively by white cis-het people. Most of the editorial teams are women. These factors play into things like the site’s audience, the writing staff, and the kind of content that is produced. During my time writing parenting content, I never had an editor of color or a queer editor (as far as I know!). With those things in mind, I tempered my expectations about what kind of queer parenting content I would pitch to my editors. When you’re a marginalized writer writing for a largely not marginalized audience, you have to approach your work differently.
As a Black, queer mom writing in a space dominated by heterosexual white women, I always felt like I had to educate the audience. I couldn’t write a piece that merely spoke my truth — I had to do it in a way that made sense to them. More often than not, I didn’t write about queer parenting stuff unless I was running out of regular ideas. It didn’t feel worth it most of the time, because I couldn’t guarantee that the people who would understand — or need — it would even see it. Most of the writing I do is intended to create personal connections, and it’s hard to do that when I know the people reading don’t get it. When you’re a queer parent writing for a largely hetero audience, it feels like you’re pleading your case to exist. After a while, it becomes demoralizing. I remember writing a piece about why Pride events were important once we became a two-mom family. A lot of it came down to having to explain visibility and the significance of seeing other queer families. If I wrote an essay like that for Autostraddle, I wouldn’t have to explain the importance of visibility; our readers already know what I’m saying.
I originally came up with the idea for my essay “Are All The Queer Moms Hanging Out Without Me?” back in 2021. But I knew I couldn’t have it published on Scary Mommy or any of the other mainstream sites I usually wrote for. The audience simply wasn’t there. Mainly, I didn’t want hetero moms to take over with their comments about how it’s hard for all moms to find friends without recognizing the unique struggles queer moms go through. I didn’t want them taking up space asking why we as queer moms needed to feel special.
“I feel like there’s nowhere to go for queer parenting advice or even to see examples of queer parenting/queer parents,wp_postsqueer mom Kelly Shira told me via email. I met Kelly and her wife after that essay ran on Autostraddle.
Mainstream parenting publications don’t have the infrastructure to cater to marginalized parents. When you look at the mastheads for sites like Scary Mommy, Romper, and Parents, they are overwhelmingly white top to bottom. Even with slightly diverse editorial teams, the people at the top making decisions are white. Take for example, Bustle Digital Group, who owns both Scary Mommy and Romper. Their Chief Creative Officer is a cisgender heterosexual white woman, and the teams she’s created reflect that. As a result, so does the type of content those publications put out.
“I am very mindful of the publications I submit to. While I want to have a hand in normalizing my queer family, as a freelance writer, I also want to get paid for my work,wp_postsNikkya Hargrove, a Black queer mom of three and freelance writer explained. We worked together at Scary Mommy for several years.
She also made a great point about what it’s like to be a queer parent writing for parenting publications: “I’ve had editors seek me out because I’ve worked with them before and it’s Pride Month, which isn’t cool either. There are 335 other days in the year, and I am gay all 365 of them.”
Traditional parenting publications always like to parade marginalized parents out when it’s convenient. But they often “forgetwp_postswe exist all the time, and our stories deserve telling every day of the year. It makes it difficult to want to write content when you know that it only exists to serve as a lesson to less marginalized parents.
Some editors and publications will make an effort, but because the parenting world is largely white, cisgender, and heterosexual, finding marginalized writers who wanted to regularly write in that space was difficult. When I first joined the writing staff at Scary Mommy, I was the only Black writer. While I was never the only queer writer, I was the only queer editor, and the only editor of color. One of my goals was to make a designated space on the site specifically for queer parents, but I was never able to make that come to fruition.
Amplifying marginalized voices was always my first priority, but knowing the audience, it was hard to get people to want to open themselves up. The comments sections on our pieces were often a lot more vitrolic than an essay written by a white parent about “typicalwp_postsparenting content. And while Scary Mommy made an effort to curb those comments, other sites (notably Parents) would not do any sort of mitigating of the comment section to protect the heart of the writer. No amount of money can make an experience like that bearable.
Parenting digital media, much like the rest of digital media, is going through major layoffs and editorial teams changing. In the fall of 2021, BDG acquired Scary Mommy and two other parenting brands: The Dad and Fatherly, making them the owners of the most parenting brands. Parents has two offshoots under their umbrella: Parents Latina and Kindred, which is for Black parents. Both of these brands have had major shake ups in the last year and a half. Most of Scary Mommy’s original editorial team (me included) chose to leave because we didn’t agree with the editorial changes made to the site. One of the biggest ones was letting go of the diverse group of writers that were there despite commitments to diversity. Both Parents and Romper have had major layoffs as well. These changes lead to further homogenizing the digital parenting landscape.
“Change happens when people not only feel the responsibility to be inclusive, but when they also take responsibility to protect the work and people who they are including. Too much lip service happens in digital media, particularly in parenting spaces when it comes to representing queer parents and queer kids,wp_postssaid Ambery Leventry, a writer and editor who is also a queer parent. (Fun fact: Amber was my earliest queerleader as I went through my coming out journey!)
Mainstream parenting media isn’t the same place it was when I started writing back in 2017. Engaging personal stories are becoming scarce in favor of service pieces that ask and answer questions. The heart of what drew so many parents to that space is withering away in front of our eyes. As more queer parents, especially moms, search the internet for connection, those pieces are ceasing to exist. Part of that is because the people in charge can’t see the benefit; they’re all obsessed with metrics: how many clicks a piece gets, which could translate into advertising dollars in their pockets.
I often wonder if it’s worth trying to fight for space in mainstream parenting media. It’s clear that queer parents aren’t a priority for any editorial teams — maybe we should just fully divest from them altogether. But it’s a difficult decision to make — regardless of who is writing, they will try to put out service content that caters to queer parents. So do we suck it up and at least make ourselves available to accurately report those pieces? Is there an alternative?
These are questions I don’t quite have the answers to just yet. But they’re also what made me want to write this column. There aren’t spaces for queer parents to come together in community. We don’t have sites we can go to and learn about things that are unique to our families. I’m happy to be here in community with all of you. I want to create space for other queer moms to commiserate and feel seen and heard. To feel a little less alone.
What are some things you want to hear me talk about? Tell me in the comments!
Queer Mom Chronicles is a monthly column where I examine all of the many facets of queer parenthood through my tired mom eyes.