Invisible Identities, Pride and Adoption

Date: June 25, 2017 Author: Communications Contract Staff Coordinator Categories: Adoptees | Events | Guest Blogger | Mental Health

Written by: Wendy Hayes, Communications Coordinator

Silhouette of a feminine person in the sunset.Learning who we are is an ongoing part of life. Not all of us have an Eat, Pray Love moment where we figure ourselves out and move on. Identity is multi-faceted, and it’s certainly not stagnant. It can include events that happen in our life, the things we believe and the labels we give ourselves or are given to us by other people, some of which are associated with stigma.

As someone who has experienced adoption and who identifies as bisexual, my identity is constantly in flux. Often times it is dictated more by what people see than the truth of who I am. I am in a constant state of coming out, or choosing not to in order to protect myself or simply, not complicate things.

I recall in high school, after being morally adopted, friends so easily conversing with each other about their parents. Someone asks me about my mom or my dad and I carefully word an ambiguous response. Sometimes I ‘pick’ a mom to talk about, adoptive or biological, not admitting that I have both and hoping that something I say in the future about ‘my mom’ will not contradict what I am saying now.

As someone who is queer and adopted, I am in a constant state of coming out.

Why? Because it’s too complicated to explain, or because I don’t feel like dealing with the questions or comments that are likely to follow.

“Woah, that’s not your real mom?”; “So your real parents didn’t want you?”; “What’s adoption?” “How do you know your real mom? Wouldn’t you have been adopted as a baby?”

People assume that I have a ‘normally’ constructed family, through birth. When they do this, it forces me into an unwanted secrecy that I intentionally must break through if I want to live my truth.

What does all this have to do with being part of the LGBTQ community? Well, my identity as an adopted person and as someone who is bisexual actually resonate with each other and at times feel very similar.  

I am in a long-term, monogamous relationship with a cisgender man which was recently strengthened through marriage. I am in the habit of calling him partner, and someone asked why I don’t now call him husband.

The real answer – because when you see me with this man, you are likely to assume that I am straight. With a presumption that is barely a thought, a whole piece of me is erased. The title of partner gives me the ambiguity I need to embrace my identity, it shows my solidarity with the LGBTQ who cannot disclose their partner’s identity for fear of discrimination. I am not ashamed of this relationship, or my partner’s gender identity, I simply struggle with how a word can form who I am in other people’s eyes.

Because of these presumptions, I often feel like I am not wholly myself in any given situation. Parts of me remain invisible. To be who I truly am, my identity usually needs to be expressly communicated.

As someone who is queer and adopted, I am in a constant state of coming out. It doesn’t happen once, but again and again and again.

It’s human nature to categorize, to assume a norm, whatever our norm is. In honour of the Pride celebrations this weekend, let’s broaden our horizons. Let’s commit to recognizing our own assumptions and change the language we use to be more inviting and considerate of all identities – seen or unseen.

Happy Pride! Hopefully, I will see you there!

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