8 Things I Learned Growing Up With A Mom Who Loved Other Women

Growing up with a lesbian mom will have consequences — some good, some bad.

8 Things I Learned Growing Up With A Lesbian Mom Falcona / Shutterstock

It's a fact, ladies and gents, that in the US more than half of all starry-eyed newlyweds will end up in a courthouse listening to lawyers divvy up who gets the signed Bieber poster and who gets Atticus, the emotional support poodle.

If you add all those divorced people to the increasing number of parental hopefuls making the choice to raise a few minis on their own, you're left with a substantial number of kids who grow up watching their parents navigate the dating scene.


Subsequently, these kids watch men and women go in and out of their parent's lives like a revolving door.

Don't get me wrong; a parent has every right to date. This is not an article about the negative effects a sexually active parent might have on their children. On the contrary, single moms and dads, date your diaper-wipin' hearts out. I applaud your superhuman ability to juggle, PTA meetings, careers, cross-fit hulk-out sessions, and the occasional rendezvous with the flavor of the week.

I'd rather tell you about my experience being raised by a mom who dated other women.

It shouldn't be that surprising, given that in the US "eleven percent of people acknowledge at least some same-sex sexual attraction." Astoundingly, there are still people in the world that use someone's sexual identity to pass judgment on them. (Just so there's no uncertainty about my position, passing judgment on someone because of their sexual identity is wrong. It's akin to passing judgment on a person for being short or tall. So cut it out, and go find some gay friends.)


RELATED: What I Learned After Coming Out As A Lesbian Later In Life

1. Her kids always came before her relationships.

My parents split when I was six. Pops quickly re-married, got divorced, and remarried again (resulting in my three half-sisters). Mom took a bit longer before diving back into the dating pool. Looking back, it's safe to assume she needed time to adjust to the realities of her sexual orientation.

My mother is a strong, beautiful, and brilliant woman, but the world is a much less accepting place than it should be — and she knew that. She knew she had to protect not only herself but my big sis and me. Growing up, my mother made one thing clear above all else: her kids came first.


2. My first introduction to my mom's same-sex dating life was more normal than you think.

Enter Alice, Mom's first dip in the gay dating pool. The first time I was introduced to Alice, it was as my mother's "friend." She'd come over, watch TV (when we could get reception), play cards on the floor, and join us for dinner once or twice a week.

What did I think of Alice? I thought she was great! When I heard the loud engine of her jeep wrangler pulling into the driveway, I remember the excitement and ear-to-ear smile it put on mom's face.

3. A divorced, gay, single mom will feel the need to bend the truth to protect her kids from societal judgment.

Alice was never referred to as anything other than "mom's friend" and I intuitively knew she was more. I don't know how that relationship ended. At some point, Alice just didn't come over anymore.

There were more women like Alice that would periodically pop into our lives, just a handful really, but my memories of them are mostly positive. Of course, there was the occasional need to steal mom's attention back, but from my current experience with my girlfriend's kids, that's completely normal.


(I'd like to add that my current girlfriend was a single mom for some time before I came into the picture. Her two kiddos are happy and well-adjusted having seen their mom date. They occasionally mention a good memory of an ex. Admittedly, not my favorite thing in the world but to them, it's a special memory.)

I know this to be true because I was once in their position. This also speaks volumes about my lady and who she has allowed into her children's lives. I can only hope to have my own positive and lasting effect. My mother shared this protective trait as any good parent would.

As the years passed, mom did start calling them her "girlfriends." I remember being 7 or 8 and being sat down on our blue futon couch for a family talk about what that meant.

4. Everything will eventually get real.

At school, I had been introduced to the terms "faggot" and "queer" as words the meaner kids used to bully their victims. I wasn't picked on much, but I knew the words and what they were used for. So when mom told us that she was gay, I lashed out with an ugly and strong tantrum that I can only attest to being deeply afraid.


Being just a kid, I wasn't so much afraid for my mom, I was afraid the mean kids at school would find out and put me on their bullying circuit. Until that moment, I knew my mother had special friends that were women, but it never dawned on me to label it. If you think about it, what reason would I have?

After our talk, mom dating women had a label. Which meant so would I. If she was gay, then I was the child of a lesbian mom. I realized my association with my own mother would make me a target. After my tantrum, I went to bed that night without speaking a word. I was afraid.

I wasn't upset with my mom for dating women. In fact, I had never thought twice about her choice of partners. It was only when I was old enough to have been influenced by outside bias that I felt anything negative about it.

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5. Having a gay parent doesn't make you gay. (DUH.)

Let's fast forward to puberty. Did the influence of growing up with a mother who dated a woman make me gay? Nope! From the onset of puberty, (even before) it was always women that did it for me. My choice of sexual partners has almost exclusively been female.

Eventually, the kids at school did find out about mom, and I did become a target. If my mother was gay then I must be too, right? I'm not gay, but that didn't matter to the bullies. After a few scuffles on the schoolyard, (because no one talks about my mom), I realized that I could fight, and I landed more blows than they ever did.

6. You can't control how people treat you, only how you react to it.

The sad thing is, I should have never had to fight. Whether it was them or me who came home with a bloody nose, ripped jacket, or a black eye, it never felt good. Even if they deserved it.

7. Church is not a safe place.

We moved to Vermont in the middle of all this and Mom started taking us to a little church up the road. She grew up Catholic and I think she wanted us to be introduced to God. Honestly, I loved it. The ceremony, ritual, the feeling of community, running around after the services with the other kids. It was wonderful.


I'd probably still go to church today if the priest hadn't found out mom was gay. He took her aside and said, "You and your children have been a wonderful addition to our congregation, but you'll need to not be gay or leave the church."

We never went back. No more tag with my friends in the church parking lot. God hated my mom apparently. Let me tell you something, though: "God" is out there somewhere, and he/she/it doesn't care who you have sex with.

8. Growing up with a gay mom will have consequences — some good, some bad.

One thing that was instilled in my psyche was the knowledge that love doesn't recognize gender. The gender(s) you have a sexual predilection for is based more on a person's physiology. Who you love, on the other hand, doesn't require a sexual attraction.


In college, I found myself sharing deep affection with a male friend of mine. We'd explore NYC together, play punk rock at the soundstage together, and had no reservations showing one another affection in public (arm around one another walking home, giving his hand a squeeze, watching a band at a favorite venue).

However, when it came to physicality beyond surface affections, my plumbing was simply out of service. My heart cared deeply for this man but my body didn't follow suit. Although our relationship never became sexual, it was intensely enriching.

Growing up with a mom who dated women gave me a gift: an ability to connect to members of either sex with a broad emotional spectrum removed from sexuality. I don't siphon the more caring emotions like empathy, compassion, affection, and love because of someone's gender. At the end of the day, we're all human, and that's the only label we need.

What was it like growing up with a mom who dated women? Completely normal, my normal. That didn't change until the world told me it wasn't.


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Howard Hunter is a songwriter, stepdad, and adventurer from Nashville, Tennessee.