On Being Queerer Than We Look

SELKE FAMILY TRISTAN CRANE

Lori Selke is an LGBT, fat, sex-positive activist and journalist who started her publishing career in the pages of early-’90s zines like Fat Girl and Black Sheets. She later co-curated “Perverts Put Out!,” the longest-running spoken-word series in San Francisco, and edited the famous lesbian erotic magazine On Our Backs. She’s since authored and edited numerous books as well as writing for publications like Girlfriends, Curve, and SF Weekly. For many years her nontraditional, San Francisco Bay Area family consisted of three adults and two children (plus a cat). Now Selke, 46, and warehouse manager Guy Gayle, 48, who have been together 12 years (and legally wed last year) are raising twins, Simone and April, 8, in a postmodern way.

(RELATED: This Is What a Queer Family Looks Like)

You’ve had a nontraditional relationship for decades. Did that change with motherhood?
Not really. Guy and I are still polyamorous, although the kids take up most of our time — they’re totally our “primaries.” And I, at least, don’t have any regrets about that.

Have you ever needed to explain your family to others, especially as a mixed-race, poly family?
I often choose not to explain and let people either ask or make up their own stories about how our family fits together. I’ve talked to the kids about how to handle misplaced assumptions about their race and family makeup because I figure it’s coming sooner or later, but for the most part we’ve been lucky. We live in Oakland [Calif.] so our kids are often easily “clocked” as having parents of different races. I’ve sometimes had to remind people about the kids’ third parent — my now ex-husband and the kids’ legal, but not biological, father. I’m sure people wonder sometimes how he “fits.”

You’ve always claimed your space, self-identifying as a “dyke” even when you had a husband. How do you and Guy now identify?
Guy and I both ID as queer, which to us means explicitly rejecting heteronormative gender and relationship roles, from the division of housework to the assumption of monogamy. Parenting hasn’t changed that at all, though currently being in something that looks like a traditional nuclear family from the outside is definitely a bit of a mind-fuck.

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