Gay mother raising her son: My son saw me kissing a girl in the bathroom
In celebration of the 2015 Metro Manila Pride March, writer Rica Palomo-Espiritu shares what it's like being a gay mother raising her son. Read her story below.
1. When did you first know that you were homosexual?
I didn’t know I was gay until I met my first girlfriend 17 years ago. Although I was attracted to women [before], it was never sexual. When I first met her, she was in the closet. She was my first and I was her first. We were in our late 20s at that time.
We just told ourselves, “Let’s try this for a month and see if it works out.” Sixteen years and six months later, we are still trying to see if the relationship is working out. You’ll never know until you look back and say, “Wow, we did all that together, huh?”
2. How did you come out to your family and friends?
Oh, that is the most amusing story, ever! When I finally got her to say ‘yes’ to having a relationship with me, I went home and told my parents right away:
“Mama, guess what? I have a girlfriend,” I said in front of my parents.
My mother rolled her eyes and went, ” I knew it! I had two boys!” “Excuse me, Mama. I like my boobs and my big butt. I also love my lipstick and eyeliner. I am still very much a girl. I just have a girlfriend!” I exclaimed.
“You have always been the most aggressive, even inside my tummy,” my mom said, reminiscing.
“I’m still aggressive, Mama. Actually, I courted the girl,” I said.
“You what?!?” my dad said. “Hay….”
“Ano na ang nangyari sa pagiging dalagang Pilipina?!” my mom joked.
“Mama, dalaga pa rin sya. At habang buhay na syang dalaga unless magmilagro ang
Diyos!” I said.
3. Can you tell us about the birth of your child? Had you come to terms with your sexuality at that time?
I gave birth to him when I was in a heterosexual relationship. I was 25 years old and I wasn’t ready to be a mother. My sexuality was not an issue because I was primarily concerned with earning, living on my own, and trying to raise a family with a perennially unemployed husband.
4. How is your relationship with your child’s father? How did you tell him about your sexual preference?
I had a feeling I was bisexual during the courtship. He felt it wasn’t an issue then because, well, I was having a relationship with him. When he learned that I was in a relationship with a woman, he still tried to make up and come back. That’s because, in his mind, a homosexual relationship is not a real relationship.
5. What has it been like raising your child as a lesbian mother?
I think it would be no different if I had a heterosexual relationship. You still deal with porn, clumsy sex topics, masturbation, first love, and the like.
When Brian was about 10, I went home and the maid went, “Ate Rica, Brian has a question for you.”
Brian was there and he asked, “Mama, how do you do it?”
Everybody’s eyes were on me. “Do what, hunnybunny?” I asked.
“Do it together,” he cheerfully answered.
My girlfriend went, “That’s your son, I am giving you some private time.” When I turned, I was alone in the dining room with my son. Even the maid left me.
“Well, if you’re asking about sex, we sometimes use our fingers and tongue,” I said squinting.
My son was trying to understand it all. “That’s how you make babies?”
“OHHHH, BABIES! You want to know how babies are made!” I was so relieved. I had no idea how to discuss my sex life with a 10-year-old. “You need a man for that.
Technically, a guy has a penis, the girl has a vagina, and they have sex.”
“But you and Tita Billie have sex too, right?” he asked.
I squinted trying to look serious. “Yes, but sex between two women doesn’t result in babies. I cannot give you any baby brother or sister because I will need a man to have sex with.”
“Ohhhhh.” My son was nodding. “So you can’t have babies anymore?”
I was so relieved and saw the end of the discussion. “Not without a miracle.”
“Ok, I will ask Tita Billie if she can make babies instead,” my son said, sliding off the dining chair.
“Hooooooooooold it! Tita Billie cannot have babies too,” I said.
“Why? you said you need a man, will tita Billie need a man too?”
“Yes, plus the fact that she’s having a relationship with me. It’s a monogamous relationship. We cannot have sex with anyone—just between both of us.” I said.
“Ohhhhh,” my son said, looking sad.
“Tell you what, being a big brother has its advantages and disadvantages. I’ll let you babysit Frances’ kids [she has 3 sons] and then tell me if you still want to have younger siblings, ok?” I said, smiling.
That resolved everything. After babysitting kids that were two to three years younger than him, my son swore off having to share everything, mediating between fights and picking up after children. For now.
Click “Continue Reading” for more of Rica’s interview.
6. Were there any times you felt you were being discriminated in your son’s school? Has he ever felt discriminated?
His first school was a Catholic school. They didn’t allow single mothers to attend parent-teacher meetings. We had to come as a couple. I was separated then and they didn’t allow partners. I had to move him to another school that was non-sectarian.
Brian feels that having been raised in an all-female household is no different from the issues that his classmates are facing. Although, he’d get nasty comments on Facebook saying, “At least ako may tatay, ikaw wala.”
He’s learned to counter that with, ” Ikaw isa lang ang nanay mo, ako tatlo. Sige nga! He would count the maid as his mother because she has been with him since he was 2 years old.
7. How did you tell your child about your sexual preference? How did he react?
He was 2 years old. He saw me kissing a girl in the bathroom. He stared at us and smiled and said, “More! More!”
8. How have family and friends been supportive of you and your child?
I think my family has no choice. (Smiles.) I also live on my own. My girlfriend’s family was okay with it, but it took some time for them to really accept us.
After some time, you just realize that the people whose opinions should really matter would be that of your family’s. Yes, we can’t choose our relatives, but we can still choose our family.
9. How did you introduce your partner and child to each other?
Oh that was simple. [I asked her,] “Can you babysit my son?”
She was an employee of mine. I didn’t know we’d end up being together back then.
10. How is their relationship now?
Different. Our parenting styles are very different. She’s the sermon/nagging type of person. I am not. But my son knows that when I say something, he has to do it or else.
That’s because I have a violent temper but it takes a while to get there. Since I am also the breadwinner in the family, what I say is final.
11. What is your message for LGBT parents raising kids?
There’s no rule. I only suggest that be as truthful as possible. Kids are exposed to sex as early as 2 years old once they start watching TV and going on the internet. It is up to us to tell them what it is all about, why it is important.
Not just about sex, but the relationships that revolve around it as well. Yes, sex is important; same with relationships, whatever the relationship may be. So that means trust, self-respect, happiness, and love—in that order—are important.
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