Robin Hopkins and Jaimie Kelton are the co-hosts of the podcast If These Ovaries Could Talk, and authors of a book If These Ovaries Could Talk: The Things We’ve Learned About Making an LGBTQ Family. They’re moms, they’re lesbians (who are married to other ladies) and each have two kids. And they’ve made it their mission to talk about LGBTQ families.
Their new book is based on dozens of interviews, full of insights and stories addressing recurring questions about LGBTQ families that came up during their podcast. Such as, choosing an egg donor, sperm donor, or surrogate, adoption and foster care, navigating trans fertility, growing up with gay parents, being out as a family, talking to your kids about where they come from, and the legalese of LGBTQ’s.
The book includes stories from actor and comedian, Judy Gold, State Senator, Zach Wahls, poet, activist, and author, Staceyann Chin, America’s Got Talent alum, Julia Scotti, and Bravo TV’s, The Abbys.
The result is an informative, in-depth journey that is equal parts funny, serious, happy, sad, celebratory, cautionary, and powerful.
Here are some excerpts from If These Ovaries Could Talk: The Things We’ve Learned About Making an LGBTQ Family.
From Chapter 2: “Your Path: How Do You Make Your Family?”
What many folks don’t realize is that there is no simple way for LGBTQ people to have babies. There are so many decisions that we have to make because we have too much of one thing and not enough of the other. Two women have two uterus (or is it uteruses? uteri?), but they don’t have sperm. Two men have all the sperm in the world, but come up short in the eggs and hopper department. And with trans fertility, the questions are more specific to each individual or couple, but that doesn’t mean there are fewer questions to be answered.
In terms of paths, you can embark on the scientific route, but you’ll need to figure out who will carry the baby, whose egg will be used, who will donate the sperm, who will go first. Perhaps you’ll consider using a surrogate, IVF, IUI, or even trying at home with what we like to call the “turkey baster method”. You may think about adopting. If you do, you’ll need to figure out if you want to adopt internationally or domestically or if you want to use an adoption lawyer or private agency. And don’t forget there’s always the option of being foster parents.
Wherever you fall on the LGBTQ spectrum, if you want to have a kid, you’ll have to figure out how to make that baby. And no matter which path you choose, it will cost ya…a lot.
Now, you’d think there would be a lot of grumbling from LGBTQ folks about how hard it is to make families. Well, we’re here to tell you that hasn’t been our experience. The folks we’ve talked to have made thoughtful decisions and were deliberate and intentional at every turn. Instead of the process feeling like a cross to bear, every choice they made defined and illuminated their families in love. And that’s beautiful.
From the Forward by Judy Gold
The great Harvey Milk said, “We will not win our rights by staying quietly in our closets.” But the truth is that even when we storm out of the closet and slam the door shut, we still have to come out every single day. Why? Because people constantly make assumptions and then voice them. Loudly. Whenever my partner Elysa and I check into a hotel, the person at the front desk asks if we’d like to change our king deluxe room for one with two queen beds. When we decline the offer, the next question is, “Are you sisters?” Yes! Really close sisters! I’m 6’2” and Elysa is 5’5”. I have quite a large schnoz and Elysa has a perfectly shaped nose because of rhinoplasty. We look nothing alike. Yet we’re sisters who travel and sleep together in a king-size bed. Sisters of Sappho.
When you are LGBT and you add children to the equation, the comments and assumptions get even worse. One afternoon when my sons were young, I brought them to one playground in Riverside Park. A parent who was there asked me if I was planning on raising my boys as homosexuals. Absolutely! The only music we allow them to listen to is show tunes, and since we live in a one-bedroom apartment, they’ll be spending the first 18 years of their lives in the closet. And this happened in New York City! How does that even make any sense? Did my straight parents raise me to be a lesbian?
Since I’m a very tall stand-up comic, I’m used to people making stupid comments to me like, “Wow! You ARE tall.” Did they think I was lying about my height when I was on stage? Often, when I’m with my younger son who happens to be six foot eight inches tall (yes, he plays basketball), someone will, without a doubt, ask the seemingly innocuous question, “How tall is his father?” Simple, right? Nope. Nothing is simple when you are a member of an LGBT family. “Normal” questions can open up a can of sperm. I mean worms.
He doesn’t have a father. He has 2 mothers.
He doesn’t have a father. He has a sperm donor who is 6’3”. Father? What’s that?
Please don’t ask me if his father plays basketball.
So how can we avoid these awkward situations? Do yourself a favor and learn all you can about how LGBT families are created. Become knowledgeable about people whose families look different from yours, and maybe you’ll figure out we’re not so different after-all. Look, none of our kids are mistakes—it’s not like we got drunk one night and started dialing up the sperm bank. We had families because we wanted to. We jumped through hoops to make something that comes so easily to so many others. And as for our children? You can bet that they have to “come out” to every new person they meet who asks about their parents.
Robin and Jaimie have put together a masterpiece. It’s funny. It’s informative. It’s brutally honest.
And as for my kids? Despite all of my efforts, they turned out to be heterosexual. Barbra Streisand has a gay son. Why does she get everything? Talent. Success. Money. And a gay son who tells her she looks fabulous and that her voice sounds exactly the way it did in 1975. I’m lucky if I get a reciprocated hug. But that’s okay. I raised them to be straight. Fingers crossed for the grandchildren.
Excerpt(s) from If These Ovaries Could Talk: The Things We’ve Learned About Making an LGBTQ Family. Copyright © 2020 Jaimie Kelton and Robin Hopkins. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from Lit Riot Press.
For her day job, Robin is an Executive Producer of Amy Schumer Presents: 3 Girls, 1 Keith the original podcast on Spotify. But, Robin is also an actor, writer and producer who began her career as a stand-up comic. She is a frequent contributor to Medium and Huffington Post with essays featured in the Parents and Queer Voices sections. Robin is also an accomplished playwright. Her one-woman show, In Search of Tulla Berman debuted to sold-out crowds in San Francisco and enjoyed subsequent runs in Winnipeg, Canada, the Pelican Theatre in New York City, and ended with a month-long run at the Ars Nova Theatre. Her Film & TV credits include Boardwalk Empire, Louie and Hindsight and some really great “big hands acting” on Celebrity Ghost Stories. She co-hosts the podcast If These Ovaries Could Talk.
Jaimie Kelton is an actor, singer, dancer, voice over artist and podcaster based in New York City. She has over 17 years of experience performing on stages in NYC, as well as in Regional Theaters, on National tours, and for a few dreamlike years, singing and tanning on a cruise ship. She is a Helen Hayes Award Recipient. Her voice can be heard in various forms on Disney’s hit cartoon, The Octonauts, SYFY’s HAPPY!, and Amazon’s soon to be aired, Bug Diaries. She co-hosts the podcast If These Ovaries Could Talk, where she chats with non-traditional families about making babies when making babies doesn’t come naturally. She lives with her wife, two children and tiny dog in Manhattan.
Watch the video below.