Bridget and Angie had been a couple for about 15 years when they decided to add their son Harper to their loving home.
Bridget: I was always gay. I was in the theater when I was a kid, so a lot of the people around me were gay and my friends were always gay. I thought it was cool to be gay, in the circles that I was traveling in. But sometimes I’ll notice same-sex couples walking down the street holding hands and it’s still a little awkward for me; even me, I’ll go, “Oh look, two women!” I don’t know if I want people to go, “Oh look, two women,” about us.
We do hold hands, but sometimes I’ll feel a little uncomfortable. In New York it’s easier, but when we go to Jersey to the supermarket , I change a little bit, I wouldn’t hold her hand at the A&P, in Metuchen or whatever, you know what I mean? Although I should, because then they'd say, “Oh, look, they're normal!”
My niece, who was four, was playing in the bathtub with two little whale toys, and she was saying, “You're the baby and I'm the mommy and this is the other mommy.” She was playing a whole game with two mommies.
Bridget: We have a little circle of friends with kids who are the same age as Harper, and the women are Angie’s age, 37, 36. It’s really cool, we're treated very naturally, we're very accepted.
Angie: There are so many more people who are out and kids are reading about so-and-so being gay. There wasn’t a gay organization when I was a kid in high school ... I didn’t know anyone gay in high school, at least not that I knew of.
Bridget: It used to be really different. When I was first out there and going to bars and clubs, the dykey women thought women like me weren't being gay enough, because we didn’t scream it. I had my share of flannel shirts, but they didn’t look good on me!
There are dykes and there are a lot of women who you wouldn’t know are gay. I went through a little period of time when I didn’t want to be associated with dykes, because they’d all think I was a dyke, and I wasn’t a dyke, I was a gay woman. Why couldn’t I be gay? Why did I have to be a lesbian? The word lesbian has no sense of humor. I was so much happier being gay. I never define myself as being a lesbian.
Angie’s a doula and she has a couple of same-sex parents, and two are very gung-ho lesbians. I want equal rights, I don't want to have to keep going down to get fingerprinted and paying all this money so I can adopt my little boy.
Angie: I always wanted to have kids. We spoke about adopting, but childbirth is such a beautiful part of being a female that I wanted to experience it.
Bridget: I liked the idea of it, but growing up, it wasn't a big dream – I wanted to be a star. But I also would say to myself, “When I have a kid, he'll behave better than that one,” that kind of thing, so it was in my head.
Angie: Some of the issues we faced were needing to decide about whether to go with a known donor or an anonymous donor. We didn’t have any immediate friends that were candidates – a lot of our friends are HIV positive, so that wasn’t going to work. We had one friend who is a very good friend, but he also wanted to be a dad. And we discussed it and we didn’t really want the dad in the picture, because I didn’t want to take away from Bridget’s role. Also maybe because of movies, I didn’t want that dad’s family to come back at any point and take the child away from us.
Bridget: We had the opportunity to make it so that the child would be ours and I figured when he gets older there's going to be so many people out there that are going to have two mommies or two daddies, that it’s not going to be that enormous of a question as it would have been 30 years ago. We've decided to say that his dad was a really generous man who wanted us to be able to be together as a family, and that we were lucky to get him.
Angie: Being out has been so much easier for me since we’ve had Harper, because I feel like we had to make so many choices and decisions through the process of deciding to have a child: every procedure, every time we had to sign a piece of paper, we had to re-choose in that moment, do we really want to have a child? It was a recommitment for me. It’s a recommitment to the relationship. Having to do that so many times, if somebody wants to question our love for each other, then it’s … poor you, you should be ashamed. We didn’t meet in a bar and the next morning wake up and I was pregnant, you know what I mean? It was a real conscious choice and we clearly have thought about this and our relationship very hard and had to do a lot of work in order to get to this point.
Bridget: Angie's sister always says, “I wish I had a wife!” Because she and her husband have a typical husband/wife relationship – there is a mother and a father, and there really isn’t that distinction with us. The only difference is that Angie can breastfeed.
Angie: When we were setting up the baby room, my sister said, “Wow, I just realized, when I want to get new dishes, I just go buy them, but you can’t do that, because Bridget needs to have a say in it. It's really two women. Chuck wouldn’t even notice that the dishes were changed for a week! But you couldn’t just go buy a set of glasses, because Bridget would want to have input in it.”
Bridget: I really believe that gay couples are closer to each other than heterosexual couples.
Angie: I think that depends on the relationship, because I’ve seen many relationships that I work with – and being a doula, I get to see them pretty intimately in a birthing scenario – and I don’t know if we're all closer.
Bridget: Maybe not closer, but I think there's a lot of stuff that we’re so similar about that things go without being said. Even little things.
Angie: Yes, like not having to explain that you need alone time, or bathroom time or whatever.
Bridget: I really feel like we’re best friends, besides being married and lovers. I can’t understand how anyone could come into our house and say that we shouldn’t be married.
Zina Saunders 2014