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  • Writer's pictureThe Publishing Post

LGBTQIA+ Parenthood

By Rhys Wright, Amy Blay, Becca Binnie and Shan Heyworth

Among the LGBTQIA+ books in a typical bookshop, it’s easy enough to find Young Adult novels or coming-of-age stories, but it’s less common to find books covering the other side of the coin: parenting from an LGBTQIA+ perspective. With that in mind, here are a few books written by queer parents who share their experiences of starting a family outside the confines of societal norms.

The Unfamiliar: A Queer Motherhood Memoir by Kirsty Logan

Having a child as a same-sex couple is a complicated process, something Kirsty Logan’s memoir covers in exhaustive detail. But The Unfamiliar is a book that also sees a certain queerness inherent to motherhood as a whole, to growing someone inside of you that already knows you intimately before you ever meet.

In The Unfamiliar, Logan tells the story of how she and her partner had their child, from the planning stage until after the birth. It’s a memoir full of vivid detail, striking thoughts and memorable anecdotes. They start with a gruelling quest for a suitable sperm donor and once her partner is finally pregnant, she suffers a series of miscarriages. They decide that Logan should carry the child instead and from there, she recounts her experience of pregnancy and childbirth with all of the gothic sensibilities that characterise her novels and short stories.

It’s written in the second person, inviting you to step into the author’s head and imagine all of her feelings and sensations as if they were your own. Logan presents a journey to parenthood that’s at times strange, terrifying, heartbreaking and hilarious. Instead of playing into the cosy and twee aesthetics of motherhood in the digital age, Logan tells her story with emotional rawness and visceral detail, culminating in a gory chapter devoted to her experience of giving birth.

The Unfamiliar is a defiantly queer exploration of motherhood, showcasing the often-ridiculous obstacles that same-sex couples have to surpass if they want to become parents. It defamiliarises heteronormative notions of parenthood and provides a queer alternative to traditional motherhood memoirs that you won’t soon forget.

The Other Mother by Jen Brister

Described by The Guardian as having “explosive” energy and “mesmerising” delivery, critically acclaimed comedian, writer and actor Jen Brister’s life changed drastically after she and her partner decided to have children. From the physical and emotional struggles of IVF to the chaotic highs and lows of raising twin boys as a same-sex couple, Brister quickly learned that parenting can be frustrating, comical, nerve-wracking and wonderful all at once.

The Other Mother was written and published shortly after her partner gave birth to twins and gives a voice to families that don’t fit the traditional mould. Her wicked humour seeps through in her frank but hilarious debut novel and provides moving, eye-opening insight into non-biological motherhood.

You'll Be a Wonderful Parent: Advice and Encouragement for Rainbow Families of All Kinds by Jasper Peach 

In this beautiful celebration of love, You’ll Be a Wonderful Parent provides useful support and advice about how to prepare for the practical and emotional challenges of LGBTIQA+ families expecting a new baby. 

Jasper Peach offers an optimistic and encouraging perspective, highlighting the additional challenges, alongside becoming a parent, that comes with not seeing yourself reflected in mainstream parenting resources or culture. They discuss how rainbow families have the power to build their own structures and foster a loving and accepting environment for children.

This bright and beautifully illustrated book is full of personality as it guides the reader through the journey of both the birth and non-birth parents, with tips ranging from medical care to defining your family. Warm and accessible, Jasper Peach has written a perfect book about queer parenting; it is celebratory and inclusive of LGBTQIA+ families while being educational for all audiences.

The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

The Argonauts is not just a memoir, but a philosophical exploration of parenthood, queerness and language. Nelson tells the story of her relationship with artist Harry Dodge, her journey of IVF and motherhood, intertwined with musings about various philosophers and anecdotes from daily life.

At the centre of the book is Nelson’s relationship with Dodge, whose non-binary gender defies easy categorisation, as does Nelson’s writing. Her prose swiftly jumps from topic to topic and perspective to perspective, stories woven with each other and with philosophical questions. Yet, it is still extremely readable and engaging, as the complex philosophical commentary is made personal.

Nelson’s experience of IVF, pregnancy and motherhood is set alongside that of Dodge’s transition, with Nelson suggesting that the transformative nature of pregnancy could make it queer in itself, rather than just an act of heteronormative conformity. This is a fascinating, genre-bending and profoundly queer book that challenges binaries and perceptions of motherhood and family, among many other things. 



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