Lesbian and Gay Parenting: Funnier than Fiction

NBC’s The New Normal, a sitcom about two gay dads and their surrogate, premieres in a week. ABC’s sitcom Modern Family, which includes two gay dads, has won an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series. I therefore thought I’d post a list of some of the funniest true memoirs by lesbian and gay parents. Humor can be a coping, teaching, and entertainment mechanism, and the authors below use it in all three ways.

Parenting, as I see it, is an inherently funny business. No surprise that there are sitcoms about it—and I’m delighted to see gay parents (and, I hope, the full LGBT spectrum) enter the mix.

Is truth funnier than fiction? In many cases, yes—which is not to say we shouldn’t also applaud the fictional telling of funny and positive LGBT parenting tales. As Mark Twain said, “The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.” Fight on.

To label Dan Bucatinsky’s Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight?: Confessions of a Gay Dad a “gay parenting” book is to do it a disservice. Not that there is anything wrong with gay parenting books (far from it)—but Bucatinsky’s work is about parenting, period. To limit the scope of this hysterically funny, often bawdy, and unexpectedly touching book to gay parenting alone is to miss that essential point—even if the book also contains some supremely sharp observations about being both gay and a parent.

Harlyn Aizley’s Buying Dad: One Woman’s Search for the Perfect Sperm Donor is the story of two nice Jewish girls and their quest to start a family while they struggle to maintain their own relationship with each other. Aizley’s anxieties combine with her dry humor to produce a book that will keep you laughing (perhaps providing some needed comic relief if you’re in the throes of trying to start a family yourself). At the same time, she treats some topics, notably her mother’s cancer diagnosis, with poignancy and emotion, showing both how humor can be a coping mechanism and where its limits lie.

Andrea Askowitz’s My Miserable Lonely Lesbian Pregnancy is a similar tale of a Jewish lesbian trying to get pregnant—but Askowitz is doing so as a single mom, giving her story a different angle on the process. She also reflects on why things fell apart with her previous partner, how pregnancy is changing her relationships with her friends, and her friend Robin’s struggle with cancer. Her curmudgeonly take on getting and being pregnant will appeal to those who also felt miserable during their pregnancies, or who tend to view the world with a cynical eye.

The Kid: What Happened After My Boyfriend and I Decided to Go Get Pregnant, by advice columnist and “It Gets Better” founder Dan Savage has a blunt, sarcastic style and sometimes crude humor that won’t be to everyone’s liking. The memoir is also more political than any of the others on this list—no surprise to those who read Savage’s blog. For those who take him with a few grains of salt, however, his story of adopting a son is another wonderfully funny tale with an undercurrent of love and parental dedication. It’s also one of the earliest LGBT parenting memoirs, first published in 1999.

A. K. Summers’ online graphic memoir, Pregnant Butch, is free online, at least for now. She’s serializing the 100-page comic at the rate of several pages per week, and hopes someday to find a print publisher. She describes the work as “semi-autobiographical,” which means she sometimes plays fast and loose with details, but there is clearly much truth, as well as humor, in her tale.

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