By Erin Rook, PQ Monthly
Parenting can be a challenging and isolating job. All the more so when the parents are queer. Though Portland has groups for lesbian moms and gay dads, until recently there was nowhere for queer parents to connect with others who don’t quite fit the gay/lesbian mold.
True to Portland, when it rains, it pours. The city now has two groups for queer parents, both with catchy acronyms. QUIP (Queers United In Parenting PDX) is a web-based Google group recently created by Angela Carter, N.D. The other group, QPoP (Queer Parents of Portland), was started by Ejiria Walker and will be meeting at Q Center every fourth Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon starting May 26.
Carter, a 33-year-old naturopathic doctor at Sacred Vessel Natural Medicine, says she started QUIP a couple of months ago to provide a resource to fit the diverse and unique needs of queer and poly parents.
“QUIP is all inclusive, welcoming parents and families across the spectrum of queerness, all gender identities, and all family styles,” Carter says. “I hope it will be a forum for discussion of important issues in our lives and in the world, and how they pertain to parenting. Discussing where to find a good lactation consultant is important stuff, but so is discussing how to raise children steeped in the ethics we value with love for their community.”
Though QUIP is currently online-only, Carter says she hopes to schedule a meet-up soon.
“We’re in the midst of scheduling a picnic in Peninsula Park for everyone to meet and play in the (hopefully) sunshine,” Carter says. “It’s great for the kids to meet and play together, and it’s also lovely to have just parent time to meet for tea or drinks and have relaxed conversation. The picnic is definitely for everyone.”
Walker, a 35-year-old nurse at Outside In, started QPoP for similar reasons. She wanted to connect with queer parents who could relate to her experiences. Though she had attended other LGBTQ parents’ groups, something was always missing.
“I have attended a few [groups] and I found that most of them didn’t have what I was looking for,” Walker says. “I felt all forms of loving and nourishing forms of parenthood are important and should be celebrated and welcomed. I found that to be a slight challenge with most groups I attended.”
QPoP, on the other hand, makes it a point to specifically welcome trans parents, poly parents, single parents, and other “alternative” family structures.
The two groups were not aware of one another prior to this article, but Carter says she’s “delighted” to hear about QPoP and points out the potential for “extending the family.” That family includes the children, who also benefit from connecting with others who share their experiences.
“A social outlet where children of queer parents can play together is also essential,” Carter says. “The kid I consider my stepson is very hesitant to talk about his family at school, and simply resorts to, ‘it’s complicated’ most of the time. Kids love to feel a sense of belonging, and enjoy knowing they are part of a larger group where who they are and who their family is will be welcomed.”
While QPoP meetings are open to all family members, including pregnant and soon to be parenting queers, Walker says she also hopes to organize some parents’ nights out in the future.
“Being a parent can be a difficult one. Add to that being a queer parent. We need support and understanding within our community,” Walker says. “It’s important to know that there are other queer parents who endure some of the same challenges. It’s even more important to have the ability to seek support when we are having issues that non-queer parents just won’t have experience in.”
To learn more about QUIP, find them on Google Groups. You can find QPoP on Facebook and at Q Center fourth Saturdays.