A woman with her child on her back


I’m Bisexual, I’m Married to a Man and I’m a Mother — And I Can Be All of Those Things

Jan 21, 2020

Motherhood tends to erase many aspects of our previous lives — our sleep, hobbies and alone time often get tossed out the window when a baby comes through the door. These changes have been tough, but not particularly shocking to me.

What has taken me by surprise are the ways my bisexual identity has been erased.

"Unless I specifically choose to come out — which I do, constantly, sometimes exhaustingly — I’m heterosexual until proven otherwise."

In some ways, feeling invisible is part of the parenting package. We toil away doing weird unseen tasks like wiping noses, scrubbing pots and cleaning baseboards (I think that’s a thing people do, anyway), often with no acknowledgment that we used to be mountain climbers, community organizers or spelling bee champions! Even if we still do these things, there are inevitably times that our new roles overtake our previous selves. These times of eclipse can feel disorienting, to the point where I become just another mom, standing haggard in the middle of a nursery with poop all over her shirt wondering, “How did I get here? Who am I?”

This mom was having a hard time understanding gender and identity until her teen girls helped out. Read about her experience here.

Everyone’s path to parenthood is unique, and mine was never guaranteed. When I started dating girls, it was 1997 and same-sex marriage was a radical-sounding proposition. But I quickly figured out that I was attracted to my own and other genders, and 15 years later I ended up marrying a man. Now we have two kids, ages three and five.

But growing up knowing I was different — often being treated as less-than, sometimes fearing for my safety, always feeling pride in my identity and my community — I carry those experiences with me.

"What does being bisexual in a monogamous mixed-sex marriage mean?"

Since having kids, I’ve struggled to find space for this incredibly important aspect of myself. What does being bisexual in a monogamous mixed-sex marriage mean? How do I hold on to this pivotal part of myself in a world that assumes straight and gay are the two possible orientations? Where are the kids’ books that introduce my children to my own identity?

In our house, representation of the world’s diversity — from sexuality and gender, to race and culture — is not optional. Reading books, telling stories and watching shows that honour a multitude of experiences is essential in teaching our kids compassion and inclusion. We also use these moments to talk about privilege and justice (in preschooler-appropriate ways, of course). We talk about our friends who are in mixed-sex and same-sex relationships, who are raising kids on their own and who are trans or non-binary. My four-year old will often list “he, she, or they” when considering what to call someone, and many characters in our made-up bedtime stories have two (or more) moms, for example.

Looking for ways to introduce the diversity of motherhood to your children? Find the books to do it here.

We have a lovely little rainbow library, including classics like And Tango Makes Three and I Am Jazz, as well as lesser-known titles like the newest releases from the fabulous Flamingo Rampant publishers and the whimsical My Mommy, My Mama, My Brother, And Me by Canadian Natalie Meisner. And of course, any one of the characters in those books could be bisexual. But as in real life, unless a declarative statement is made, or a “bi pride” T-shirt is worn, I’m often left wondering where the “B” fits.

This strand of my identity also gets eclipsed at playgroups, in community and even at the Pride events we attend as a family every year. Unless I specifically choose to come out — which I do, constantly, sometimes exhaustingly — I’m heterosexual until proven otherwise. I have read that bisexual people experience mental health issues that are often the result of erasure and biphobia.

I’d love to see my identity represented in parenting culture and children’s literature not simply so my kids can learn even more about the world around them, but because being included lets me feel whole as a parent — and as a person.

Article Author Brianna Sharpe
Brianna Sharpe

Read more from Brianna here.

Brianna Sharpe is an Alberta-based freelance writer who lives on a mini-acreage with a not-so-mini husky and three humans of varying sizes. A queer parent, font snob and ex-high school teacher, her work can be found in publications like Chatelaine, HuffPost Canada, Xtra, and The Toronto Star.

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