Call me old-fashioned, but no matter how close to equal rights queers and lezzies get, at some point we still need a man. There’s no way around it—we can’t do everything on our own. No matter which route to parenthood we decide to take, whether it’s fostering, adoption, surrogate, turkey baster or IVF, at some point at least one splodge of sperm is going to be needed in order to fertilise the egg to make that goddamn baby. So it’s how you get your sperm that’s the challenge for today’s post.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, due to the fact that I do not have relationships with people who are able to produce sperm, I am therefore among other things considered to be socially infertile. When I was unceremoniously dumped by my ex four years ago it’s hard to say what I was crying more for—the loss of her, or our embryonic baby plans. It was six or so months later that my mum gently reminded me that I didn’t need my ex to make a baby. In fact, other than squeezing the turkey-baster bulb she wouldn’t have been much help at all in the actual act of conceiving. I just needed me and some sperm.
Easier said than done.
Not long after my birds and bees chat with my mum I sat down on my bed with my best friend and tried to make a list of guys who I could ask to be my donor daddy. Ok, not daddy, because that implies a higher level of involvement than I was interested in, but perhaps a distant uncle role. The list was shorter than my most recent one-night stand, and I cursed my separatist feminist twenties as I slowly came to realise that I didn’t know many people who actually had any sperm to offer. There were only four guys on my list, which was quickly reduced to two once my friend gently pointed out that B___ and T___ were both trans guys who, er, didn’t actually have any sperm. When I finally got the guts up to ask the remaining two on my list, both of them said no because their girlfriends didn’t like the idea of sharing their partner’s sperm around. So I was forced to cast the net wider, and look further afield.
Here’s a little-known scientific fact: sperm makes people very creative. In a crazed effort to get up the duff I’ve known sperm-hungry queers to ask:
- a friend
- a friend’s friend
- their sister’s friend
- a family member (my ex and I talked about asking her brother if he’d donate to me)
- a stranger they’ve chatted to briefly on a phone app (Pride Angel is a site not unlike a dating service that matches people up with sperm)
- facebook (one friend just put it out there in an update)
- their mum’s ex boyfriend (true story)
- their own ex boyfriend (I’ve known two queer women who’ve tracked down the last cis boys they dated, back when they were 19 or so, and tried to reignite the romance. Neither of these couples lasted, and thankfully neither ended up in a pregnancy).
I decided I wanted my sperm to come from someone I knew, even if it was only vaguely. However for some people this is either not an option or not even a preferable idea. These people usually pick a mystery man from a catalogue—kinda like perfect match without the music playing while you choose. Depending on which country the sperm comes from you can sometimes see a baby photo, their educational and cultural background, or even a letter, in their own handwriting, written to their prospective unborn child. This process can also open you up to discrimination. One friend told me she only got six donors to choose from at her local clinic because all the other donors had either said they didn’t want their cum going to a single person or a lesbian, or that they only wanted it to go to someone from their own cultural background. I had four or five false starts over several years before landing my perfect man. Each time I was knocked back it felt like asking someone out on a date and being rejected, only with even more at stake. I spent long hours drafting “will you be my donor daddy” emails, and even longer hours waiting anxiously for a reply. I sat on buses staring longingly at men’s crotches, thinking about all the wasted sperm in the world and trying to get my head around why it was so hard to get hold of such a tiny little thing, and wishing that people weren’t so precious with their genetic material.
When I finally got my man, just like any blushing bride-to-be would do I dragged him down to the local fertility clinic to introduce him to the crew. The doctor smilingly approved. Then we both had to meet one-on-one with the counsellor so she could check that our stories were consistent, and to convince her that our (genetic) union was a good idea. My session began with me correcting the counsellor on the fact that I identify as queer, not as a lesbian, to which she laughed and said she hadn’t heard that term “for years!”. I was grilled on how I would support myself (emotionally as well as financially) as a single mum, and how I would deal with the lack of a male role-model in my child’s life. We then had to wait several months while the counsellor went on holiday and then when she came back the three of us met together, to check one more time that this was really what we wanted. Then we signed and dated a contract, and finally he was allowed to scuttle off to the clinic and ejaculate into a cup. If only they had these check-points set up along the highways on Friday and Saturday nights, just like RBTs*, catching all the hetero couples rolling home with someone they’ve just met at the local pub.
*random alcohol breath tests