Not all attached LGBT parents are in same-sex relationships
Families with LGBT parents are as assorted and diverse as any other, and not all attached LGBT parents are in a same-sex relationship. Caroline tells us about her experience as a married Mum who identifies as bisexual.
C: 'I'm a food writer and yoga teacher, living in South East London. I've been married (to a man) for the last 8 years and we have a 7-year old daughter. She's feisty and funny, there's never a dull moment. My husband's always known I'm bisexual. I don't censor myself in front of our daughter. I want her to grow up knowing she can love freely.'
BP: 'How and when did you become aware of your bisexuality?'
C: 'Probably around the age of 14 when I started to find girls at my school attractive. I could not accept it at all and wasn't able to be comfortable with the idea until my twenties, even then the idea of coming out was difficult and most of my straight friends, particularly long-time friends did not know.'
BP: 'What are the particular challenges you face in your situation?'
C: 'The longer I was in a straight relationship with my current partner, the more closeted I began to feel. My friends who knew about my bisexuality started to see it as a phase and most of his friends did not know. It really hit me when I was pregnant, I started to feel very trapped and anxious and in fact suffered serious anxiety during pregnancy and afterwards (I had to spend some time in hospital). In retrospect, although triggered by hormones, I think this was down to not being comfortable in my life and feeling confident in who I was.'
BP: 'What have you learned from it/advice you could give others in a similar situation?'
C: 'Talk to someone! I now run a group for married and attached bisexual women. I've made some great friends through this and finally feel 'normal'. I have people in my life, lovely people, who I can relate to. We're very different, some have been predominantly with men, some with women, some have always known about/ been comfortable with their orientation, others not - it's a beautiful spectrum.'
BP: 'What are the best things about it?'
C: 'A lot of bi people have faced difficulties coming to terms with who they are, feeling they don't fit in one 'team' or the other. As someone put it recently, you find you're jumping out of one drab closet to a sparkly rainbow closet depending on whom you're in a relationship with but either way you're in a closet. We bisexuals are always having to come out in every situation, gay or straight, and facing that has made us a compassionate, interesting and open-minded bunch. It's great to be part of that community.'
BP: 'The worst?'
C: 'I've been lucky enough not to experience much discrimination. The worst thing for me is feeling inauthentic. If I mention I have a husband, people assume I'm straight. When I say otherwise I feel like I'm telling people about my sex life rather than who I am. It's been hard with my fellow school run parents. It can be a barrier to getting to know people better. I feel I'm concealing part of who I am, where I go, who I know. So far I've only been able to find an opportunity to tell one. I'm working on it but it's often on my mind.'
BP: 'Do you know any other families in a similar situation to yours? If so, is it helpful? If not, would it be helpful?'
C: 'As I said I run a group for attached bi women and many of us have kids. It's such a great support network. As parents we have our own unique set of joys, concerns and restrictions. I wish I knew some LGBT parents at my daughter's school, there probably are some but we've yet to meet.'
BP: 'You recently took part in the Stonewall Bi Role Models Programme - what did you think of it and what was the pledge you made as part of the programme?'
C: 'I think this provided the final piece in the puzzle for me in really finding my community. My pledge was to be more out for both myself and for the benefit of others - to show 'we are the people you know'. Even in the few weeks since the event I've had some big conversations with family and friends. It's been liberating.'
Caroline runs Bi.W.Hitched, 'a friendship-focused, social and supportive group primarily for attached or married women who identify as bi-curious/bisexual'.