Four years ago, Staceyann Chin’s groundbreaking one-woman show MotherStruck! pierced the hearts of women theatergoers.
The Cynthia Nixon-directed Rosie O’Donnell-produced play — the true story of how Chin navigated a quest for motherhood as an over-30 lesbian immigrant of color — has since been adapted into a series which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April to acclaim and is continues to entertain audiences across the festival circuit. It’s a universal story, but one that many queer women have been waiting to see.
“[Motherhood] is one of the places where the LGBT community intersects comfortably and holistically with the traditional heterosexual community,” Chin says. “This isn’t gay or straight, it’s people.”
The now 46-year-old argues that her generation is the first in which a large number of women decided.
"'Babies aren’t that important, so let’s live our lives and be gay and be corporate people and be committed to our careers.’ And then we looked up and then it was, ‘Holy moly, we’re close to 40 and we haven’t made a baby yet. Hell, what do we do?’”
Speaking her truth isn’t new for Chin. Soon after arriving in New York City from Jamaica — where she was attacked for being a lesbian — Chin cowrote and performed in and the Tony-nominated Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam on Broadway. She’s been published in HuffPost, The New York Times, and The Washington Post and appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show — often talking about LGBTQ discrimination in Jamaica.
Chin’s MotherStruck! stays true to her real — often hilariously embarrassing — experiences, right down to her sperm donor ejaculating into fine china (“I still have the soy sauce dish in my house,” Chin admits).
She’s hopeful that the series will help defuse shame that some women feel around infertility, especially those who’ve bought into this “traditional notion: We are here, primarily, for the function of reproduction. And when you’re having challenges around that area, it really does something to your psyche, your understanding of yourself as a woman, your understanding of yourself as a contributing member of society.”
Chin hopes to inspire other women to share their stories, “because if there’s conversation about it, the women who either choose not to do [IVF], choose to do it in a different way, [who] choose to adopt, it legitimizes their story and widens the definition of womanhood. Isn’t that where we are now? We’re always trying to widen the definition of what womanhood is.”
Chin may be thrilled to be a mother, but she’s also a staunch defender of reproductive rights, who believes “no woman should be forced to have a kid if she doesn’t want to."
"You have to choose it, and keep choosing it every day,” she continues.