• Tue, Feb 14 2012

Lesbian After Marriage: I Found My Sexuality After I Had Kids

lesbianSexuality may take a lifetime to really master, but as for identity, many would assume that gets sorted out in the teen years. But for Jessica Streit, mother of two boys, she didn’t become aware of her own sexual orientation until well after she was married to a man and her sons were born.

The topic of LAMs — lesbian after marriage — is hardly new terrain. Jennifer Baumgardner explored the phenomenon not too long, defining LAM as:

These are the women who have tied the knot, procreated, and, once the children are out of the home or more independent, found love in the arms of a woman.

Jessica tells me that she was well aware of her attraction to women at the time of her marriage and had openly dated a woman prior to marrying. She describes herself as “madly in love” with her girlfriend at the time, but ended the relationship a year before meeting her husband. She considered herself bisexual and was out to both her husband and her mother. Yet, after her first son was born, Jessica began to doubt whether she was actually sexually attracted to men.

Prior to marrying, Jessica had shared with her mother that if she had not married a man by the time she was 35, she would seek out a sperm donor and have children either on her own or with a woman. Jessica’s mother replied that she didn’t want “children whose father came from a test tube.” She adds that something about about the conversation stayed with her well into her relationship with her girlfriend, and the relationship eventually ended because she couldn’t reconcile her identity with her desire for a family.

“…we ended it because I didn’t feel like I could be a part of a lesbian couple. I just didn’t feel like I could live open and out and raise kids as a gay woman. In retrospect, I was scared and not feeling very strong,” says Jessica.

A year later, Jessica met her husband and engaged in a whirlwind in courtship that she admits “moved very quickly.” The pair moved in together after five months of dating and married a year later. Jessica was eight weeks pregnant on her wedding day. But not long after getting pregnant, the mother says that she lost all interest in her husband sexually. She began to experience physical pain during intercourse and visited multiple doctors to determine the cause. Even after an exploratory surgery turned up no explanation, Jessica began to realize that her block may be mental.

She remained in the marriage for another five years.

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  • Clericsdaughter

    I don’t like seeing behavior like this glorified (and by behavior, I don’t mean her sexuality, which is fine). Plenty of gays and lesbians have the emotional strength to stay out of the closet and raise stable families, so I won’t applaud this woman for breaking two hearts (her ex’s and her husband’s) all for her self-centered desire to have children. Now the kids have to deal with a divorce and an awkward situation between their parents, which will hurt them too. She should have been honest with herself long ago.

    • bl

      True, it would have been great if she figured that out before the marriage and kids, but who is always that perfect and strong? I think it would be especially hard given that so many people don’t accept gay parent families, and that her mother didn’t give her the support that would have been helpful. Plus, she wouldn’t have had her children without taking this path. (I know she could have had children, but I mean her specific children, who I’m sure she and her ex are grateful for.)

    • cathy

      she should have been honest, but it’s not as easy particularly for people who do want a family, to say “hey world, i’m gay and i want to find money for IVF, a man to help inseminate me and a loving partner to support me and to raise children in a system that doesn’t accept two parents of the same gender! wheeeee!” the fact that she’s being honest now and setting a good example to her children now matters most.

      my father came out when he was 50 and i was in my early 20s. it broke my mother’s heart. it caused an existential crisis in me – if he’d been true to himself, i wouldn’t have been born. he assured my sister and i that he’d never want it any other way, that being our father was the thing about which he was proudest. going through his coming out strengthened us all as individuals and our relationships as a family. a few years later my mother married another woman, and my parents are still best friends.

      we don’t all have the insight, privilege and opportunity to make the best choices when it comes to making a family. we all do our poor best. be careful about how you judge a stranger.

    • Clericsdaughter

      I admit that I wouldn’t be this harsh if I knew this woman personally, or if I were speaking to her face to face. I realize that people make mistakes, and that trying to start a family while openly gay is an unfairly difficult process that can drive people to do desperate things.

      What I suppose I’m really objecting to is the tone of the article, which focuses on the mother’s personal struggles without really addressing the moral ambiguity of the fact that she hurt other people to reach her goals. I’m sure the father loves his children and doesn’t want them to go away, but think about how he must feel to know that a woman he loved was out-and-out using him. She must not have realized it at the time, I don’t picture her cackling maniacally over the prospect or anything, but she certainly used him. Sure, in a way it’s society’s fault for blocking off other paths she may have had, but it’s never right to harm another person because you yourself have been oppressed. Aside from the birth of the kids themselves, I find this story to be more tragic than uplifting.

  • Nadia

    I’m wondering if one of my friends might turn out to be a so-called LAM… She claimed to be bisexual and pursued women throughout college, then very suddenly (within a year and a half) met a man, married him, and got pregnant.

    I wish her all the best, and I hope she’s made decisions that will make her happy, but I can’t help but be reminded of her as I read this article.

  • Cee

    Well, I really don’t think this was a lesbian after marriage (not to discredit that there are some, because I know some to be), she seemed to have been a lesbian before marriage, throughout her marriage and after. I think its pretty selfish of her to have done what she did.

    I once had a boyfriend and I wanted a family, but I knew what I was doing and no matter how much I wanted children, seeing the love in his eyes would kill me. The physical, emotional, and mental investment he put in me (and would continue to do so had we gotten married) could not let me continue this relationship strictly to gain an easy way towards parenthood.
    When people are in these beard-style relationships, all they think about is themselves, how they feel, what will happen to them, what will people think about them and they never think about what will happen to that person that lives in a state of ignorant happiness to just be put through something like this. In cases like these, gay people have to see how they will damage a person they claim to love, if not sexually at any rate they must respect them. I particularly hate the way the gay person just walks away pretty smug “Oh I feel so free now that I said it..sorry to have lead you on forever” or ” We got wonderful children out of this”…yea which they thought they conceived with love. When gays after marriage or always gays walk away from their hetero situation, they need to credit their spouse and see their point of view from time to time, they always take the “my poor closeted soul” victim approach, what about the spouse who will now question a shitload of things about their life and find themselves alone?

    I know the process of becoming a parent in a lesbian relationship will be harder, but in the end, I will conceive, give birth and raise children with the person I honestly love.

    • Sunny

      The mind is an incredible thing. Maybe there was more to it than this article states. Maybe she was able to convince herself that she loved the man and is only able to make these statements now in hindsight.

      We’ve all made mistakes in our past and in hindsight we can see how our thinking was skewed for one reason or another.

      Just playing devil’s advocate.

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  • claire

    And now she´s gonna have dating problems, cuz I don´t know what lesbian would want to be with a divorced mother of two. So I think she should date bisexuals.