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How Being a Gay Mom Has Changed in the Last 20 Years

Updated: Feb 12

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Barb Herrera Family

Being a lesbian, let alone a lesbian mother, has changed a lot in the last 20 years — and proudly, we can say we’ve made progress for the better, even if there is still a long way to go. In celebration of the transformation of LGBTQ+ motherhood, we’ve decided to tell the stories of those who know it best: those who have lived it.


In our new Q&A series, we’re talking to lesbian mothers who have paved the way for seasoned and new queer moms, alike. 


In this installment of the motherhood celebration, we talked to Barb Herrera (she/her) — a self-described 80s and 90s lesbian and member of Gay Moms Club — about her incredible (and shocking) journey as a lesbian mother 20 years ago, below.


Q: First, can you tell us a bit about you?


A: I’m Barb Herrera, a lesbian mom from the 80s/90s. I had three kids with my former husband, and my partner of 30 years already had her son with her ex-husband, and we got together when the babies were 6 and 8 months old. We met at a breastfeeding support group and co-nursed our babies as we both came out together, she in the Army long before ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Now, we’ve been together for 28 years, have raised four kids together and married for eleven years.


Q: How did being a lesbian mom look twenty years ago? 


A: Trying to find support with other lesbian moms was an underground experience. When I found a group [to join], we didn't get told the location until the day before the meeting. This was a time of major separatism, and I was not allowed in some spaces because I had two male children. It was a time where we shrugged things like that off.


Barb Herrera Family

Q: What were some of the biggest challenges of trying to conceive as a lesbian, then?


A: There was no Heather Has Two Mommies, no books about how to get pregnant, not even a network of ways for women to get pregnant without lying to doctors to get AI or borrowing a gay friend for his sperm. And that was hazardous because of AIDS.


Q: What is a personal anecdote you remember from this time? 


A: We lived in San Diego then and Hillcrest was the gay neighborhood. I am femme and walking through Hillcrest, I was scowled at and people ignored me when I needed help in stores. Even when I was decked out in rainbows and lesbian/gay pins, I was seen as straight because I had kids with me. I remember crying about that more than once. I wished to be butch! My butch partner, on the other hand, was never seen as a lesbian mother! Weird dynamics.


Q: What are some ways you’ve continued to celebrate lesbian motherhood now?


A: I marched as a lesbian mother, sign and all, because other moms were losing their children if they were seen in out public. I was one of the lucky ones who could march. I was out as much as possible for all the mamas!


We still march, today. Our kids are parents now and they lovingly remember their young lives in the LGBT community, too.


Barb Herrera Family

How to celebrate your lesbian motherhood

We’ve come a long way in being able to freely be lesbian mothers — and mamas like Barb have lived to tell the truth. 


But there is still a long way to go. If you’re a new gay mama, you’re on your third babe, or you’re just looking for other lesbian mom friends, Join Gay Moms Club today!


 

 

A vibrant, safe space for LGBTQ+ moms to connect.

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