When I was in counseling back in high school, I was told that I suffered from “terminal uniqueness,” meaning that I didn’t think anyone could ever possibly understand what I was going through and therefore couldn’t give me any feedback that would improve my situation.
Terminal uniqueness is often revealed through the person’s obsession with an imaginary animal called the Yabbit. Anytime you try and explain something/give advice/offer a suggestion, the Terminally Unique person will reference this creature.
Now, I’ve gotten over my TU tendencies for the most part—I have grown at least a tiny amount since I was fifteen—or so I thought. Then I learned the word “Queerspawn.”
Queerspawn are children of GLBTQ parents, and the word has been around for a least a decade. There’s even a group called COLAGE (Children Of Lesbians And Gays Everywhere) that has been around since 1999. Apparently I have a tribe, and they are more organized than I thought.
You would think that I would be excited. Growing up we had only one real friend with a lesbian mother, and although I have met a handful (a one-hand handful, not a double-fisted handful) of other people who were raised by queer parents, none of them became close friends. I was used to being an island, a flight of one, a stranger in a strange land. (I could go on forever with the metaphors.)
Having lesbian parents was something that made me different, but it also wasn’t nearly as interesting as other things that happened to me as a child. Sure, like all queerspawn, I have a coming out story, so to speak. I felt additional pressure to be straight and well-adjusted, you know, a success story of gay parenting. And I, too, had to constantly defend my family to people over and over throughout my life. But one of the most defining parts of my childhood was how alone in it we were.
Now that I am finding writers and bloggers and all sorts of other people online who had a similar upbringing, the yabbit has reentered my vocabulary. Yeah, but one of my moms was mentally ill. Yeah, but when I grew up, it was the ‘70s, and it was way worse back then. Yeah but I had a father, I didn’t come from an intact family with two parents who happened to be gay. Yeah, but…
I’ve never had a tribe before. I don’t know if I want one. I can tell myself that it is because I don’t need a community anymore. I’m 43, and I have resolved my issues to the extent that they are resolvable. I no longer care. Because I am a mother, my parents are less important to how I identify. But it’s more. It’s this feeling that I’m not as special as I was last month, before I knew I even had a tribe.
Don’t get me wrong—I am glad that COLAGE exists, and I would have loved to go to their events back in high school and in my twenties. I probably would have been way better adjusted if I had. I might even look into it again when my own kids are older.
I am glad that other queerspawn are writing books and blogs. I know we need more representation in the world, so that we don’t each have to feel like we are poster children for the GLBTQ parenting community.
I suspect like my ambivalence is the opposite of what I am supposed to feel. I am supposed to feel joy and relief and eagerness to take my place in this community. I secretly fear my confliction is because I am really a self-centered asshat. But maybe this is just my terminal uniqueness yet again. Maybe what I feel is completely normal for queerspawn. Maybe I’ll ask a couple of them, which means I’ll have to join my tribe. Leave the fringes, approach the fire circle, and see if I belong after all.