“Wait, Is This a Date?” Podcast Episode 201: Mommi Culture

The year: 2017. The day: the beginning of Pride Month. Big Little Lies and The Good Fight had recently released their first seasons. Rihanna had an album out the previous year. Images from Carol still danced across our feeds with a swooning urgency. The air was hot with the sparkle of new life. June 1, 2017: Mommi was born.

Former Autostraddle writer Erin Sullivan and current Autostraddle managing editor Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya co-wrote an article titled, “Mommi Is the New Daddy” and our lives were never the same.

I had only come out a couple months prior so it’s safe to say I’ve never really known a gay world without mommi. And why would I want to? Whether you are a mommi, like to date mommis, or are just an admirer from afar, we all have reasons to appreciate this gay archetype named a mere five years ago.

But amid all this mommi madness, I started to think of the actual moms. Some moms are mommis, but, of course, not all. And while we love to discuss mommis, moms — like people with actual children — are sometimes left out of the gay dating convo. And that’s why we’re so excited that for our season two premiere we have Autostraddle’s director of operations — and real-life mom — Laneia Jones to talk to Christina and I about all things dating as a mom. And before that great convo, we have mommi co-creator Kayla on to play a little mommi game!

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SHOW NOTES

+ I am once again sharing the seminal mommi piece.

+ “All Star” is about climate change and my mind is blown. “It’s a cool place and they say it gets colder. You’re bundled up now, wait ‘til you get older. But the meteor men beg to differ judging by the whole in the satellite picture. The ice we skate is getting pretty thin. The water’s getting warm so we might as well swim. My world’s on fire, how ‘bout yours?” I mean, just read for yourself.

+ If you want more on my decision not to have kids and my feelings about it, check out this essay I wrote about the movie Good Manners as part of my series, aptly titled, “Monsters and Mommis.”

+ Read Laneia’s interview with her girlfriend Amanda!!

+ Read my Tahara review and then go see it as soon as you can.

+ Kristen Stewart really is starting a ghost hunting show.


Laneia: And that did feel awkward. And that did feel like it was putting me in a specific type of dating. Not very hookup, not that sexy to date, for brunch only.

Christina: You’re saying Wednesday brunch isn’t the hottest time to get a date? Good to know.

Laneia: It is not. I would not recommend it.

[theme song plays]

Drew: Hi, I’m Drew.

Christina: And I’m Christina.

Drew: And welcome to Wait, Is This A Date?

Christina: (singing) Season two, baby.

Drew: This is when you say what Wait, Is This a Date is? Traditionally.

Christina: Okay. But what if I chose to give it like a sparkly new vocal? Like what about that?

Drew: I support that.

Christina: Wait, Is This A Date? Is an Autostraddle podcast dedicated to dating and sex, and all things fun. And of course, the perennial question, wait, is this a date?

Drew: Correct.

Christina: Whoo. Got it.

Drew: And I guess now we say— God, it’s been a long time.

Christina: It’s been a minute.

Drew: It’s been like six months since our special episode. And like almost a year since our regular episodes.

Christina: It’s been truly a long time since we have rocked. And some might even say rolled.

Drew: Yeah, we’re on like a TV schedule, but like an HBO or like something prestigious.

Christina: Yeah. Excuse me. I’m getting like big channel dollars. I’m no network. I’m not getting like network money. This is not an NBC Production. Thank you very much.

Drew: I do remember that we say who we are. And since this is a new season, maybe we have new people coming who don’t know. So, I’m Drew Gregory, I’m a writer and a filmmaker. I write for Autostraddle where I do like film and TV criticism, personal essays, dating stuff. I’m trans. I’m queer. I’m a trans woman. Should I say that? Should I clarify that? And I like— I don’t know why I was about to say that I like the idea of someone thinking that I was like transmasculine, but that’s something I’ve been unpacking for several years now.

Christina: I also like the idea of you asking me for permission about like, how you should identify yourself as if I’m going to come down with the correct ruling like, baby, live your life. Who am I to say?

Drew: I think where I’m at is queer trans woman and labels are what they are. What about you?

Christina: That’s really gorgeous. I’m Christina Tucker. I’m also a writer at Autostraddle, and at the internet at large, a podcaster. Yeah. Some sort of like queer Black woman who just kind of like vibes, will accept all labels of any kind of gay sexuality. But I’m also like very bored by the labels’ conversation, perhaps because it is, I am over 24, and it does not feel important to me anymore, who can say? I’m gay, like let’s vibe, let’s fucking party. Wow…

Drew: I love that.

Christina: Simply the greatest intro to myself I’ve ever given.

Drew: Should we party? Should we get into it?

Christina: Let’s party.

Drew: Great.

Christina: How are we defining party in this moment?

Drew:Well, how we’re defining party in this moment is that our first episode of the season is all about Mommi Culture. So, we have a very special guest that we will introduce later for our main conversation, but we also have another very special guest. Yeah, that’s right. Premiere episode. Two, very special guests. We have a returning guest to play a little game with us.

Kayla: Hi, everyone. I’m Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya. I am the managing editor of Autostraddle, which I think is new, since the last time I was here. Last time I came to you as a writer, and now I’m a full-time editor here. Growth.

Christina: We love Kayla.

Drew: Also, I do think of you as like something of an expert of like Mommi with an i culture.

Christina: Absolutely.

Drew: And so, I’m wondering, what does that mean to you?

Kayla: Well, I was the co-founder of mommi at autostraddle.com. It was Erin Sullivan and I coined the term originally for the website in maybe 2015, I want to say. And we wrote a piece together called, “Mommi Is the New Daddy”. And honestly started a cultural revolution.

Christina: Yeah. My life’s never been the same. I’ll say that.

Kayla: The reputation certainly precedes us. I mean, most people don’t even know that I wrote that term for Autostraddle. So, your children outgrow you, and they have their life of their own. Like, that is how I view Mommi now, because also honestly, sometimes people will tag me into conversations about Mommi. And I’m like, “I don’t actually know what you’re talking about.” I feel like maybe I’m not an expert anymore, because it has grown and expanded so much. But yeah, I don’t know. It’s still part of my identity. Talking about labels earlier. Yeah. I’m not a Mommi myself, but an appreciator of.

Christina: Yes. Yes.

Drew: I mean, by all means, I would never want to put anything on you, but I feel like you’re approaching, like you definitely are getting into a new level where you’re close. Like, now you’re in your 30s, I think like 35, maybe you could get there.

Kayla: Yeah. You’re not wrong. And I’ve always kind of skirted the line between the things that I like and the things that I want to become, a deeply queer thing. But yeah, that has definitely always been a part of my identity crisis journey. And I think you’re correct. I think something about living in Miami in particular has brought that Momminess to the surface.

Christina: I was really going to say, I think in the year that we have been much closer, I have just seen such a gorgeous growth of Mommi energy. Truly the condo has a very incredible Mommi energy that simply the amount of coffee you can make at that home really is incredibly Mommi Culture.

Kayla: Truly any style. Yeah. All the ways, we have every coffee machine that you can imagine.

Christina: Yes. Yes.

Drew: Should we jump into this game, Christina? Do you want to describe it and name it—

Christina: Whoo-hoo.

Drew: —off the top of your head?

Christina: Simply no way I’m going to be able to name it off the top of my head. Absolutely not one of my strengths, but Drew and I were banding around just like the idea of things that can be quantified as Mommi, despite them perhaps having no real connection to Mommi Culture. So, we just figured it would be just like a fun, silly time of us saying things. And let’s be honest, being a little bit charmed by our own cleverness with regard to a bunch of things that are similar, but very different. And then, Kayla will choose, which is the most Mommi of the options that are given to her.

Drew: Yeah. You need to justify it.

Kayla: Okay.

Christina: Yes.

Drew: Should I start us off?

Christina: Start us off.

Drew: Okay. So, the first one is eagles, the bird, Philadelphia Eagles, the football team, and The Eagles, the band.

Kayla: I’m going to go eagles, the bird. They have a very specific haircut, a very specific look. They like to keep it consistent too. I feel like there’s something very Mommi about like, I’m going to have the same hairdo every day. Yeah.

Drew: I love that.

Christina: I will accept that. I also think, yeah, eagles have the haircut of like what my friends and I call the accidental mom butch, where you’re like, “I think that’s just a straight mom, but she’s accidentally cut her hair in the way that she looks like a butch lesbian, like what’s happening here.” And that is very an eagle look, I accept this answer. All right. For you, I have King Triton, Kings of Leon, and “King” by Florence and the Machine.

Kayla: I’m going to go King Triton, because I do feel like he is—

Christina: I’m loving this.

Kayla: I hope I’m only picking unexpected answers. I do think King Triton is like often trying to upstage his own daughter in terms of drama, in terms of look. And it’s like, there’s nothing more Mommi than that than somebody who’s like, “No, it’s me. It’s not my daughter’s day or my daughter’s time.” Like, “Sure. The movie’s named after her or whatever, but I’m here. I have my little outfit.”

Christina: I love calling his tail and shirtlessness an outfit.

Kayla: Yeah. He’s definitely topless.

Christina: He’s quite literally just in his body.

Drew: Look, nipples are the best accessories, so…

Kayla: There we go.

Drew: Okay. Next one. The Wild West, Wild Wild Country, the limited series, and Olivia Wilde.

Kayla: Oh, I feel like I’m being baited into saying Olivia Wilde, and I’m not going to go Olivia Wilde. I think I’m going to go The Wild Wild West, which you just mean as like a concept, right?

Drew: Yeah, yeah.

Kayla: I think it’s not a specific…

Christina: Well, Drew would’ve given you the year that movie came out.

Drew: That’s true.

Kayla: Yeah. I will say the first thing I thought of when I heard Wild Wild West is the seminal Mary-Kate and Ashley movie film, How the West Was Fun. Not necessarily a Mommi film, but definitely Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen today, veering into Mommi Culture, for sure. And I don’t know, there’s an unpredictability there. It is wild, Wild Wild West. I just mostly don’t think Olivia Wilde is very Mommi at all, so…

Drew: Yeah. I mean, that was the point of the game is that the things aren’t necessarily.

Kayla: Yeah. There’s a real lack of Mommi there.

Drew: Great.

Christina: Yeah. I love you finding the Mommi in these things that are just simply unwell.

Drew: I will say her like current age gap relationship with Harry Styles feels like the most Mommi thing she’s done yet, but that’s my answer, and that’s not your answer. And you’re the person playing this game. So, Christina?

Christina: All right. We have RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars’ all winners, Smash Mouth’s “All Star,” and Cap’n Crunch’s OOPS! All Berries.

Kayla: I’m going to go Smash Mouth’s “All Star,” which I performed at karaoke for the first time ever a matter of weeks ago.

Christina: Wow. Can’t believe I missed that inaugural performance. What a bummer.

Kayla: It was in my own home, because I do have an at-home karaoke machine. Yes, the more I’m talking, the more I am becoming Mommi, but…

Christina: Okay, good. I was going to say it, if you didn’t, babe.

Kayla: Because I was like, I don’t want to wait in a line, wait in the queue to do karaoke. I want to do it in my own home. Go as many times as I want, try out new things. And one of those things was “All Star,” and I did not know that that song was about climate change.

Christina: What?

Kayla: I had never noticed. It’s very obvious actually. I just hadn’t sang it since I was a child. But when I was singing out loud, I had a realization mid singing. I was like, “Is this about climate change?” I said it out loud to my girlfriend. And she was like, “Oh, my God.” But that type of realization, that kind of like rocked my world is on the same level as when I created the term Mommi. It was like life changing. Yeah. I can never go back to before.

Christina: I mean, as they said, “It is a cool place, and they say it gets colder.” So, that’s—

Drew: Whoa.

Christina: —really something to think about up there.

Drew: Wow. My mind is blown.

Christina: Gorgeous answer.

Kayla: Go read the lyrics, go read the lyrics after this because it’s like all of them.

Christina: Treat yourself.

Drew: I will. Okay. Monster trucks, the concepts or the thing, Monster Energy drink, and Monster, the film from 2003 with Charlize Theron and Christina Ricci.

Kayla: Oh, yeah. I got to go Monster, the film. This feels like the easiest one. And it’s one where I’m like, “No, I can’t even avoid it, because it’s the obvious one.” Like, “I have to pick it. That’s the one.”

Drew: So, yeah, like murder Mommi, I guess. Aileen Wuornos is Mommi Culture.

Kayla: Yeah, obviously.

Drew: You said it here on the podcast.

Kayla: Actually. Yeah. Erin Sullivan would agree, honestly. Yeah. Mommi stay up for approval right there. Mommis can murder too.

Drew: Great.

Christina: Yeah. I mean, listen, it’s a whole genre of film. I’ve seen White Oleander. Come on now. All right. For my final, You’ve Got Mail, the film, You Got Served, the other film, and “You’ve Got The Love” by Candi Staton.

Kayla: This is the hardest one, because none of these things are pinging as Mommi, for me personally.

Christina: We came to test you.

Kayla: Yeah. Yeah. Finishing with a real stumper, because that is like You’ve Got Mail is probably like the least Mommi of those rom-coms.

Christina: Mm-hmm.

Kayla: Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. Like three-way tie, nothing’s Mommi. I don’t know.

Christina: I love it.

Kayla: Is it a cop out?

Christina: No, it’s not a cop out. You’ve argued strongly for every other one. And if you have one where you say a three-way tie, I can fully support you.

Kayla: Yeah. There’s a lack of Mommi there. And honestly, some of why I feel like when I get brought into Mommi conversations. And I’m like, “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” is because sometimes Mommi gets thrown around a little too much.

Christina: Mm-hmm. Say that, girl. Say that.

Kayla: It’s like, sure, Mommi is a spectrum, but not everything can be Mommi.

Christina: Not everything can fit on a spectrum.

Drew: Not everything is King Triton.

Kayla: Not everything. That one felt obvious to me.

Christina: I simply love your mind. And I think it’s so gorgeous that we’re opening this second season with this like unbridled, Gemini chaos. I think it’s so lovely of us.

Drew: Well, thank you so much for coming back to play this game with us, and for reminding everyone where the term Mommi comes from.

Kayla: Yeah, no problem. Thanks for having me.

Drew: Do you want to say where people can find you?

Kayla: I am Kayla Kumari — that’s K-U-M-A-R-I — on everything, every single… If there’s a social media that exists, I’m on there and that is my name on it. And then also just on autostraddle.com, where I write about everything from tinned fish to like my life. I don’t know.

Christina: Yeah, those are the big two really. Always a delight. Now, go do something incredibly Mommi like throw on, I don’t know, light a candle and put on an album.

Kayla: I was wearing macramé earlier. So, just—

Christina: Well, and there she is, folks.

Kayla: And with that.

Christina: (singing) And now, it’s time for part two. Why am I so vocal today? What is going on with me?

Drew: I love it. I want you to sing this entire season.

Christina: Very surprising.

Drew: We should have a special musical episode where we have to sing the entire time.

Christina: See, I give you an inch. You run a mile. You run a ding dang mile.

Drew: Well, we are going from a one air sign to another, from a Mommi Culture to an actual mom. Would our guest like to introduce herself?

Laneia: Yeah. Hi, I’m Laneia Jones. I am the director of operations at Autostraddle where I’ve been for, I think somewhere around the past 78 years of my life.

Christina: Yeah. That math checks out.

Laneia: Yeah. Mm-hmm. I am qualified to have this discussion, I believe because I have two children of my very own, and I think that’s about it. I’m a lesbian.

Christina: Great. Love that.

Laneia: I’m 41. That’s probably important to this as well. Yeah.

Christina: I love all of this. Thank you so much for joining us to really drill down into that delineation between like someone can be a mom, but not necessarily have a Mommi feeling, like that is part of their identity, or culture, or even really care to understand it. And I think we’re going to have a fun little chitchat here today, I hope.

Laneia: Thank you for having me.

Drew: What is your relationship to like Mommi Culture in queer community?

Laneia: Honestly, I think when the term was coined, I felt like I was at least close or orbiting that definition. Honestly, there’s something about Mommi that I feel is like in a specific age range, and it’s like I’m between the young version of it, and the older version of it right now. And I’m in this weird in between place where it’s like, I’m not sure I’m there. I think I’m like on the outskirts at this time.

Christina: Skirting Mommi. Wow. That’s an erotica book.

Laneia: I think it’s the hair, to be honest. I think it’s the haircut right now is doing a lot to get me out of it.

Christina: Interesting.

Drew: Interesting.

Christina: Interesting.

Drew: I mean, I’d also just love to talk about like dating as a mom, because that’s something that I don’t have any experience with and Christina doesn’t. And that I assume has a lot of specifics. And a lot of specifics that a lot of people can relate to. I feel like I’ve met a lot of people in queer community who have kids, who will bring up like specifics of dating while a mom. So, I definitely like want to sort of dive into that. So, in queer community, when you’ve dated, do people ever have an issue that you have kids or has that been something that gets, that comes up?

Laneia: Not that like I have been made aware of. God, let’s see. I’ve been doing this for a bit, I guess. So, I started off on OkCupid.

Christina: Ah, I see.

Laneia: And did make it very clear there that I had children in an effort to like, if someone’s not interested in that, they don’t need to bother me.

Drew: Right.

Laneia: And since that was… again, like around 50 years ago, I was at that time, my children were younger. And so, if I were going to be entering a long-term relationship, like I think at that time I was looking for a co-parent to build a family around that. And I tried that. That is over. That experiment has ended, and it has ended at a time when the kids that I have are essentially not actually kids anymore. My oldest is 23, and my youngest is 17, because I got started very young. I was like, “Let’s get this out of the way.” And so, now, it’s like, I’m not looking for a co-parent, and I think that has made this third now round of dating as a mom a little bit more chill and I don’t need a babysitter. I don’t really have to worry as much now that they’re older. So, that has been nice. But I haven’t really encountered that. I was worried in the beginning that people would have a problem with it. And then, it actually turned out that the people, that reached out, the people I did go on dates with, were into it. I think to them it sort of was like, “Oh, great.” Like an instant family. Like, we’ll just add water and this is fine, which it is not that easy obviously. It is a whole different thing. But yeah, I think some people appreciated it.

Christina: Yeah. I think that’s interesting that delineation between like, when my kids are young, I’m going to have to think about like what involving a co-parent into their life means. And now, that they’re a little older being like, I get to kind of have a little bit more flexibility when I want to disclose this. Like, do you have a moment where you’re like, “Oh, I’m going to start upfront with everybody about that I have kids,” or like are you getting to know somebody and then, you’re like, “And by the way, I have kids,” or you’re on a date, maybe. Maybe it gets like you’re in person and then, it’s like the moment where you’re like, “Oh, I have two kids.” Or Is it just based on vibes, like the person’s vibe?

Laneia: Yeah. It’s very vibe based.

Christina: Mm-hmm. As much as dating is very vibe based.

Laneia: Yeah. This last round again was like, I wasn’t looking for a relationship at all. So, the whole thing was like, they didn’t need to know. I didn’t need to disclose that I had children in order to just go on some dates, have some sex, have some drinks. Like, there was no reason to talk about that. And so, I didn’t bring it up, and my kids aren’t like on my social media. Well, I talk about them, but they’re not like on Instagram with me. And the person that I’m dating now, like the very first date, she was like, “You have four photos on Instagram, what’s going on?” And I was like, “Well, nothing. What are you talking about?” And then, just really quickly had to disclose pretty much everything, which was fine. But I am the first parent that she has seriously dated. So, that has been interesting.

Christina: I also just love the idea of like, we are all so on socials, and you see someone socials who do not necessarily reflect a life that you think that they would be living. And you’re like, “All right, what’s your deal? What are you hiding? What’s going on? What’s skeletons are in that closet? What’s going on here?”

Laneia: That was exactly it. Yeah.

Drew: As it’s changed over the years of looking for a co-parent versus not has the timeline in which you would bring the person you’re dating into your kids’ lives also changed?

Laneia: Yeah. It did this time. I felt no real push to do that this time for a while. I think it had to happen eventually, because she was coming over during the daytime. But it wasn’t like, “Okay, I hope you like this person, and I hope this goes well.” I pretty much was like, “This is who I’m dating.” Like, meet this person, you meet this person. And they hang out on the couch and watch TV sometimes. But no one’s needing to impart any sort of life lesson, or punishments, or help with homework, or anything like that. So it was just like, if they don’t like each other, that’s probably going to be fine. Or like that’s how I thought about it in the beginning was like, “Nah, I don’t care. Not really.”

Christina: I love that. It’ll be a different kind of challenge, but like we’ll get over it.

Laneia: Yeah. We’ll get over it. Yeah.

Drew: Do you feel like it’s a lot. I mean, maybe you don’t have any knowledge of this, but do you presume that among people, dating as a mom is a lot different than for straight people? Is there stuff that comes up that feels very unique to being queer?

Laneia: I would assume that it is extremely different, just because a lot of things are extremely different about that.

Drew: Sure.

Laneia: I think if you’re a queer person, chances are at least that you haven’t really, like in your own mind, socialized yourself to believe that at some point eventually you will probably be a parent. I think it’s just out there as an option, unless obviously that is your whole thing. And which in case that’s totally fine. But most of the time, I think it’s sort of like if it happens, it happens or it’ll happen like 10 years from now. So, I think there’s not an inherent, like feeling of immediate responsibility or immediate like, “Oh, God, they’re going to want me to step in, and do this, and do that.” I feel like that would be a heavy weight in straight dating, because I think it would be presumed that you would date, get married. Like, there’s a timeline. And then, for queer people, there’s really not. There’s just like a field, and you just roam around in that field. Yeah.

Christina: Yeah. I feel like my gut is like… and again, having famously no kids and simply not being straight, I feel very comfortable pontificating on this, about straight people and their marriages. But it does kind of feel like if you are straight and you are married and you want kids, like that’s your end goal. And to be a person coming into a relationship that already has kids, I feel like I have certainly experienced straight women who feel like, “Well, then, what does that mean for me if this guy I’m dating already has kids? Like, “Where does that put me and my eventual future children?” “Do we not? Does he not want to have more kids? How do I feel about these kids versus like biological kids that I would have?” That just seems complicated and hard.

Laneia: Yeah. That seems fraught.

Christina: And deeply fraught.

Laneia: Yeah. Fraught as hell.

Christina: And not great. I don’t know. Everybody maybe needs to chill out by what we mean by family. Just like a little bit, maybe. Tap the breaks.

Laneia: Yeah. I agree. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Drew: Christina, have you dated anyone with kids?

Christina: I have not.

Drew: That’s interesting.

Laneia: Would you? Do you think that’s something you would want to do, like if it happened?

Christina: It’s a tough road for me to walk with my obvious love of Mommis and my not dislike of children, sounds incredibly rude, and as does disinterest, which was the other word I was going to choose. My lack of desire to be a parent in any real way. Happy to be the cool gay auntie who pops in every now and then. I think I certainly could date someone who had grown children, a co-parenting situation where things are perhaps sticky. I won’t be joining that. That would be a real struggle for old CT. I have two adult children in their 30s that I live with and that feels like enough for me, child wise.

Laneia: That’s extremely valid.

Christina: What about you, Drew?

Drew: I’ve hooked up with and casually dated some people who have young kids, and it was never from a place of like, it was never serious enough that there was ever a feeling of potential future responsibility, or meeting them, or anything like that. I would definitely be open to it, though. If I was like single and dating, I mean, when I was single and dating, there were some people who had kids who like I actively did at some point want to date, and it didn’t work out. But something that was interesting going back to the straight people versus queer people thing is that, I’m thinking of two people in particular, were talking about it in— were mostly coming from straight dating world, and were like sort of entering a new queerness, and it felt very much like, “Oh, I have kids. I can’t date.” And I was like, “I don’t think it’s going to have issues.” And they did. They brought up a lot of the stuff we were saying about the way that straight men react. I was like, “I can only speak for myself, but I don’t think that that’s going to be an issue for queer people.” So, it makes sense that you’re confirming that, that it hasn’t ever come up for you.

Laneia: It really hasn’t. And also, just the idea of casual dating that is also still meaningful. Like, it’s not something that’s looked down on here. I don’t know. There’s just like a lot less pressure. And I think that makes it a little bit more of a chill situation where it’s like, “That’s fine.” But yeah, if my children were extremely young right now, I don’t think I would have dated as quickly as I did. I think I would’ve honestly given that maybe a couple years, but they can make their own dinner. I had a free Saturday. I was like, “What are we waiting for? There’s no reason to put this off.” Yeah.

Drew: Yeah. When your kids were younger, what was it like? Like, not from a dating — I know this is a dating podcast, but I am curious about this — just like general socializing, did that play into it? Like, as far as… I don’t know, like going out and just being a young queer person? And in environments where I think a lot of people, like you mentioned going on OkCupid when your kids were young, do you feel like you had to rely more on a dating app, dating site more than like going out in the world and like a gay clubs and whatever.

Laneia: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Definitely. Also, I had been married to a man, and then ended that after realizing I was gay. And it was the idea of like going out into the gay culture with no one, with no friends, no community. Literally no. There was no way that was going to happen. One time I did take myself to a gay bar, and it was top to bottom, the most humiliating experience I have ever put myself through. And I was like, “That is never happening again.”

Christina: Wait. Yeah. I’m sorry. We’re going to have to take a quick detour to talk about why this is so upsetting for you. This does sound like the beginning of a film, just so you know.

Laneia: Oh, God, it was horrible. It was very much like Tai at that party in Clueless. Just like trying to figure out how to stand. I wore the wrong outfit. It was like a sweater. It was so, so bad. I got there way too early. The other thing, it just could not have been worse. And luckily, there was a table of queer women types, at least that invited me over, to sit with them, and had conversations with me. And that was nice, extremely nice of them. But yeah, I was like, this is not going to be how I meet people, obviously. And then, also just being extremely online, made it just so much easier to keep being online, doing what I was doing. But the other thing about me, since I did have children so young is that when I was dating like that second round, I was an anomaly in that way. Nobody else had children. I had to make sure that I had day dates. It was all brunches for a while, like during the week, because that’s when they were in a classroom, and it was free childcare. And that did feel awkward. And that did feel like it was putting me in a specific type of dating. Not very hookup, not that sexy to date, for brunch only.

Christina: You’re saying Wednesday brunch isn’t the hottest time to get a date? Good to know.

Laneia: It is not. I would not recommend it, maybe in a larger city, but yeah, not in Phoenix. But that was… I think the hardest part was that I knew that I would be the only person that most of these people had dated that had children, just simply because who at that age would have quite so many kids, and still not be in a relationship yet. So, yeah.

Christina: Yeah. I think that makes sense.

Drew: Was like A-Camp then, like the first time that you were just like… I assume you never brought your kids to A-Camp. So, was that—

Laneia: No.

Drew: —like the first time that you were immersed in just like chaotic queer partying?

Laneia: Unfortunately, it was not. My first immersion in that was Dinah Shore.

Drew: Incredible.

Christina: Gorgeous.

Laneia: Got a couple of Dinah Shores. I went to New York for a while. That was the first time that I was around that many people. And I was like, this is literal chaos. At that point, I was like, “I don’t know if I can actually date, and have kids if this is what it looks like.” But luckily that was just typical New York, like debauchery type stuff. So, that wasn’t everywhere. But yeah, Dinah Shore was crazy. But even there, I was like, “These are just not my people.” I just knew that. So, A-Camp was the first place I went where I was like, “Oh, okay.” Like, “Here we are.” Like, “This feels normal.” Which makes sense, because it was our camp. So, very self-selecting.

Christina: Right. Right. Everyone said, “Yeah, girl, put that sweater on and head to the club.”

Laneia: Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. Mm-hmm.

Drew: At what age did you… Sorry, I’m fully interviewing you. I’m just—

Christina: I know, I’m loving Drew as a journalist.

Laneia: No, I love it.

Christina: Drew said, “Journalism, baby.”

Drew: What age did you first connect with other queer moms and queer parents?

Laneia: Damn, I don’t know if I—

Drew: Or if you ever did.

Laneia: —really would say that I have. It’s been a really weird situation for me specifically, because I did have my first kid when I was in high school. And so, none of my friends at that time had kids. And then, as I got older, I was surrounded by straight people. And so, they were having some kids, but mine were always older. I just never had like a peer group there. And then, coming out, forget it. Absolutely no peer group. I’ve met some parents through Autostraddle and have talked with them, either on social media or in comments, definitely at A-Camp. There’s a lot of parents there, not a lot, but more than I would’ve expected, to be honest.

Drew: Sure. Yeah.

Laneia: And that was fun, but it’s like, I just never have felt super connected to other moms. And I do think that is, because I was exposed to air quotes other moms when I thought I was straight. So, I think I was just like, “This is probably not for me.” Because, God, I don’t want to like talk shit about straight people, but it was… I truly was like—

Drew: This is a safe space for that.

Christina: Yeah. The space literally couldn’t be safer if we tried.

Laneia: I was like this cannot be your only interest. Like you have got to be kidding me. Like don’t you have anything else to do? It just was very centered around like, being a mother was their identity, and being a wife was their identity, which is fine if that’s your thing. But for me, I immediately was like I’m going to go. Like that’s not going to work for me.

Christina: Well, Yeah. And to be surrounded by that fully, and not have anyone who was even approaching your level of like, oh, I also have other interests.

Laneia: Exactly.

Christina: I would feel very Stepford wife in that scenario.

Laneia: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Yeah. That was it. So I just really— there’s someone else at work who we were discussing, she also has kids, and she’s a few years older than me, I think just a couple. And was also like, yeah, I cannot understand, like identifying specifically and singularly as a mom, like that just would never happen. And that’s how I feel. And I did struggle with that for a bit. Just being like, “Am I a horrible parent that I have other interests outside of my children?” But it was really just for a bit, because then I was like, no, this is me. I don’t really just identify as that. And so, I’m not finding my own community there among other parents.

Christina: That’s like an impressive ability, I feel. To be able to feel like that’s not bad parenting, because I feel like so much of media will tell you that that is definitively bad parenting, especially God forbid, if you are a mother. Like, what you should be interested in is your children first and foremost.

Laneia: Just your children. Right.

Christina: And then, maybe your husband, second.

Laneia: Yeah.

Christina: And I think it kind of whips that you were able to be like, “Nope. That’s actually not my failing. That is y’all’s issue, I’m out of here.”

Laneia: I definitely did try it for a while and was just like, “I can’t do this.” And then, honestly, I think coming out of that was around the time that I was like, “And I’m gay?” Like, so, these two might go hand in hand.

Christina: Yeah. That tracks, that really tracks.

Laneia: I am going to need to do more things like be gay. So, yeah.

Christina: This is not an interview question. Well, I guess it is, but it’s for Drew, which is a plot twist.

Drew: Oh.

Christina: Well, just thinking about dating and wanting to be parents, or dating people with parents. Do you have any interest in having children? I think listeners can probably assume by the fact that I went between disgusted and disinterested on children that like I’m all set. But Drew as a person, is that something that when you’re dating, you think about like, “Oh, could I make a family with this person?” Like, “Am I interested in doing that?”

Drew: I would like to have children, but I don’t necessarily think that it’s in the cards for me, which I do think is interesting. I think when I’ve dated people who have kids, the thought has definitely crossed my mind of being like, oh. Like, I wouldn’t be their kid’s parent, but if they were young, I would be like a major role in their life. And that could be really nice. But I also want to check that, because I would never want to assume anything about what they would want. And I mean, maybe if I was dating someone for like six months, I would like start to think about it or like several years, but early on, it crosses my mind that like, “Oh, that’s probably one of the only ways that I would ever have kids in my life in that way.” I’m just like I can’t biologically have kids, because I decided to not freeze my sperm when I started transitioning. And it’s pretty challenging to go back and detransition to get viable sperm. It’s like pretty unlikely. It’s not impossible, but it’s just tricky. And it just was too expensive. And I just wanted to spend that money on… I don’t know. It’s weird to be 23, and having to decide if you ever want to have kids or not. But I just knew in that moment that like, yeah. But it’s definitely something I think about to a certain extent. But I also am okay with the thought that kids would be in my life, because my sister has kids or my friends have kids. Though, most of my friends don’t want kids and it’s annoying to me. I wish that more of them would want to have kids. So, I could like be a gay aunt. But yeah, I don’t know. It still feels like a little fraught to me, because I think I went through a journey of like, “Of course, I’m going to have kids because I’m straight, and that’s what we do.” And then, I went to like, “No, I’m gay. And I do things differently, and I don’t even think I want kids, and whatever.” And then, sort of like settling on a place of being like, “Oh, yeah. It’s something I’d be open to happening. And I don’t really know what scenario it would happen.” I also tend to date people who don’t want kids. All my serious relationships have been with people who it’s either like, “Oh, maybe someday.” Or it’s not. I’ve never dated anyone, who’s like, “I just want to get pregnant.” So, yeah. That’s my long-winded answer. I like kids, though. I really hope that I find ways throughout my life that I’m around kids. And I’ve volunteered tutored before, and things like that. And I always enjoy interacting with kids. Though, I obviously assume that being a parent is very different when it’s 24/7.

Christina: Yeah. Yeah. It’s interesting that like, I do have kids in my life who I love and support dearly, but none of them are from one group of straight friends that I still have. I don’t have a ton of queer folks in my life who have young kids. I have some friends who have older kids who are in that kind of like 23, 24-ish range. But there’s not a ton of people in my immediate circle who are like, “Oh, and we’re getting married, and thinking about kids. And this kind of queer way.” I’m like, well, thank God for those couple straights I let hang on these many years. Because their weird little kids are really getting me through, and I’m going to turn all of them gay, and I can’t wait.

Laneia: That’s a wonderful service, honestly. Thank you for doing that.

Christina: Just introducing four-year-olds to many tattoos and watching their eyes get wide with wonder, and being like, “Sorry, mom.”

Laneia: Yeah, I was exposed. I was exposed. That sounds insane. But there was another child that was around the same age as my children, in the family that I was married into a few years ago. And they always were fascinated by me and my partner at that time. And then, ended up coming out as non-binary later. I don’t know how that’s gone since then, but I was like, “Fuck. Yes.” I was thrilled to learn that. Also, you can just tell when a kid is just a little bit more interested in you than the other kids are. There’s something there, they’re picking up on something, they’re studying something, because kids do just study everything. And so, that was really cool to watch, and have it around me in that way. Those are really the only children that I’ve been around, likehat family stuff, that weren’t my own, or weren’t related to me immediately. And I think it’s cool as a queer person who does not have kids, and who’s maybe not in on that journey. I think it’s cool that queer people have, I think a little bit more of an ability to be imaginative about how you could be involved in children’s lives and how you could make a difference, whatever that means. But how you could give back somehow to, like the human race, in that way. I don’t know. I think straight people could do with a little bit of an imagination when it came to things like that.

Christina: I think straight people could do with a little bit of an imagination. It was a really beautiful takeaway, kind of just period.

Laneia: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Christina: Drew, you’ve got your thoughtful face on.

Drew: Yeah. Well, now, I’m just thinking about the fact that, Laneia, when you’re talking about your experience of having kids young and being in a straight marriage, and you’re talking about it like it’s, I don’t know, like the not sort of regular way of queer parenthood. And I was thinking about the fact that most of the people who have kids who I’ve met in dating, and maybe it’s because it’s in a space of dating, and they’re closer to my age or whatever, but that is the scenario of most of the people I meet have kids is, they were in a straight relationship, and had kids young. And then realize that they were a queer and now are dating. And it’s just something that we don’t see in media, like almost ever. And maybe that’s because I think there’s a lot of reasons, one of which is that even queer media is often like sort of trying to fit into like a straight cultural way of being. And also, I think there’s a class element to it of like it’s so expensive to have kids through ways that are, I don’t know, you know what I’m saying. So—

Laneia: Yeah, definitely.

Drew: —it’s interesting that we don’t really have a lot of portrayals of that, but out in the world, that’s the primary way people who I meet, who have kids, had kids.

Christina: Yeah, absolutely.

Laneia: That’s really interesting. I knew I think one or two other people who that was also their experience. Well, two, yeah, that I’m thinking of that they, I believe got pregnant in college, early, early college. And yeah, learning that about somebody will immediately endear me to them. Because it is truly like, it’s either you were in a place where you hadn’t had a chance to be yourself yet, or you did have a chance, and you were trying to maybe talk yourself out of it, or you were trying to figure out if there was any escape patch there. And that is a very specific trajectory. And it is, not to bring this down, it’s like painful really to think that something so huge could happen to you at a time when you’re barely even formed all the way. And so, anytime I ever meet another person who got pregnant super, super young, I am just like, “Oh, my God.” Like, “I love you. How are you doing? How has it been?” But that is really cool. And this is in LA that you’re seeing like a lot of that? That’s so cool. That makes me really happy.

Drew: I don’t want to say a lot, but I would say like two. But those are the experience of like… Yeah…

Laneia: That seems like a lot.

Drew: Yeah.

Christina: Yeah. Yeah. I think the same, like the two, or three people I can think of that have kids, and had a similar experience of were either in a marriage or had kids really young. And then, later were like, “Oh, actually very gay is what’s happening here. It’s like a very gay thing that’s happening here.” Yeah. Because I don’t see a ton of people who have come together as a queer couple and decided to do like, “We are making our family in some way.” I haven’t seen a ton of that in my personal experience.

Laneia: It is also probably like a different age bracket doing that, because like you said, Drew, I can’t imagine how costly that would actually be. And it’s expensive enough to have them after the fact, like, that’s just so much money. So, you’re already pricing out so many queer people.

Christina: Exactly.

Laneia: Just by virtue of that. Yeah. Which sucks.

Christina: Whoo.

Drew: Well…

Christina: Gosh, I feel like I learned some stuff.

Drew: I really did.

Christina: It’s just like a nice conversation to have. That is something that I don’t think about a lot, something I don’t have experience with. And I love having a little brain tease moment and getting to know people. I think that’s gorgeous.

Laneia: Yeah. This was really fun. Thank you so much.

Drew: Yeah. I just read your interview with your partner. And so, today has been a Laneia day. I feel like I’ve—

Christina: Got Laneia on the old brain.

Laneia: You’re like basically in our relationship right now. If you just read it, and you talk to me today, then I think that means we’re in a throuple. Yeah.

Drew: It’s a really nice relationship to be in.

Christina: It was a very sweet interview.

Laneia: Thank you. Yeah. She’s really cool.

Drew: Let’s move on then to our crush of the week segment. Crush corner, is that what we called it last season?

Christina: Crush corner.

Drew: Crush corner.

Christina: But crush of the week is a funny twist on it. Yeah.

Drew: Christina, do you want to start?

Christina: Yeah. My crush corner this week. One, Margaret Cho, she’s just having a year. She was popped up on The Flight Attendant. She popped up on Hacks. She’s delightful in Fire Island. She’s just every which where. I think we should give her many more flowers, and get her in all of the damn projects. I’m always happy to see her. I’m always happy to hear her. More Margaret Cho forever. And she really was living the life that her in Fire Island. I was like, this is going to be me in very few years. This is really actually quite staggering. This lesbian scammer who has a house full of young gays.” Yeah, that tracks.

Drew: That’s beautiful. I want that for you.

Christina: Margaret Cho, celebrate her love her. Drew, who you got?

Drew: Mine is the creative team behind Tahara, which is a new queer movie that is takes place at a Jewish funeral, and is hilarious, and brilliant. And I reviewed it, and that review will be out by the time this podcast comes out. So, I’ll link to it. So I don’t have to spend 10 minutes gushing about it here. But it’s really good. And it’s probably because it’s independent. It’s going to have a slow rollout. So, I don’t know where it will be at theater wise or streaming wise when this comes out. But it’s just so, so good. It’s so special. And I think everyone should see it. And that’s T-A-H-A-R-A for people who aren’t Jewish.

Christina: I was going to say for the gentiles among us.

Drew: Yeah. Laneia, do you have a crush this week?

Laneia: Yeah. I thought long and hard about this. And I think my crush this week is going to have to be all of the ghost hunters that Kristen Stewart is currently rounding up. I have a crush on every one of them. I haven’t seen them. I don’t know anything about them, but I know in my heart that I’m going to have big feelings for them once I do meet them. So, I’m excited about that show.

Drew: I’m really excited for you, and for all of us, really.

Christina: Hunting ghosts, that absolutely whips. And it’s very gay. It’s very gay to want to talk to a ghost.

Laneia: It’s very gay.

Christina: Very gay.

Laneia: Yeah.

Drew: Yeah. Well, Laneia, can you tell people where they can find you if you want them to find you?

Laneia: Oh, yeah. So, on Twitter, I am @grrreen, and that’s green with three Rs. Otherwise, it’s spelled normally. And then, I’m private on Instagram, but if you look even remotely queer, I’m adding you, and that is @laneia, L-A-N-E-I-A.

Drew: Great.

Christina: Yes. With that single name Instagram handle.

Laneia: I got in there early.

Christina: That’s hot girl shit, for sure. Absolute sure. Hot.

Drew: Thank you so much, Laneia.

Laneia: Thank you. This was really fun. Thank you, guys.

Christina: This was a ding dang delight.

Drew: Thank you so much for listening to Wait, Is This a Date. You can find us on Twitter and Instagram @waitisthisadate. And you can email us at waitisthisadate@gmail.com.

Christina: Our theme was written by Lauren Klein. Our logo is by Maanya Dhar. And this podcast was produced, edited and mixed by Lauren Klein.

Drew: You can find me on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok @draw_gregory.

Christina: You can find me on Twitter @C_GraceT. And on Instagram @christina_gracet. And you can find Autostraddle, of course @autostraddle.

Drew: And you can find Autostraddle at autostraddle.com. The reason we’re all here today. Thank you so much, and see you next week. Christina, what is the difference between a date and a podcast?

Christina: Oh, actually, that’s really interesting that you asked that because scientists are at this very moment, horridly trying to figure this out. We have some of our best scholars on this. On the case here, we don’t have an answer, but I think every day we journey closer to understanding.

Drew: I wish them and us, the greatest luck.

Drew (voice memo): It’s a bummer. I was such a prude before I transitioned, because there’s no chance that I’m going to have like a Transamerica situation where I find out that I have a secret kid somewhere. It’d be really, really unlikely considering how little sex I had with how few people. Maybe.


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Drew Gregory

Drew is an LA-based writer, filmmaker, and theatremaker. Her writing can be found at Bright Wall/Dark Room, Cosmopolitan UK, Thrillist, I Heart Female Directors, and, of course, Autostraddle. She is currently working on a million film and TV projects mostly about trans lesbians. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @draw_gregory.

Drew has written 288 articles for us.

7 Comments

  1. Woo hoo! You’re back. I just finished listening and it was such a delight.

    And I learned that I’ve been mispronouncing Laneia’s name in my heard for years. (And now I’m trying to remember which of the other ways you could pronounce Laneia is what I heard on the podcast. It seemed so obvious when I was listening and now I just don’t know)

  2. Felt this episode as a gay mom who had no mom peers. Now that I’m 40 and my kids are 17 and older, all my friends are having babies 🤦🏻‍♂️. Oh well. Dating as a queer single mom was definitely different but doable.

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