By: Shannon Ralph
I need a man. Maybe even a couple of men. I am not talking about needing men in a hey-I-got-a-heavy-couch-to-move sort of way. Nor am I talking about needing men in any sort of seductive-titillating-let’s-get-it-on way either. Ew. Rather, I am simply looking for a little bit of male presence in my estrogen-dominated life. More specifically, I am on a quest to add more of a male influence to the lives of my children. Yep, I need a man. Not words I ever expected to utter, but here I am saying them, nonetheless.
So how is a bona fide lesbian to find appropriate male role models for her children? I think my boys would benefit from a positive male influence. As they grow up, I can tell my sons how to be good men, but I am incapable of showing them. And chances are good that my daughter will grow up to be straight. I want her to have the ability to develop healthy relationships with men. People often assume that lesbians hate men. I don’t hate men. I don’t even dislike men. As a matter of fact, I genuinely adore men. Strangely, however, almost all of my friends are women. My children are surrounded by women on a daily basis.
Being the proud proprietors of two mommies, my children do not have a father (obviously). Unfortunately, they do not have grandfathers either. My dad—who was an amazing father and would have adored my children—passed away from cancer when I was eleven years old. Ruanita’s parents divorced when Ruanita’s mom was pregnant with her, and her father never had much to do with her growing up. Today, she has no relationship whatsoever with him. So not only do my children not have a father, they are also woefully lacking in the grandfather department, as well.
Fathers and grandfathers aside, our entire family is strangely female dominated. Most of our family get-togethers end up being ninety percent women…at least. I have two sisters, one of whom is also a married lesbian. So that adds her partner—another woman—to the mix. My other sister is married to a man from Morocco who, although a wonderfully sweet man, is a bit of a work-a-holic and has little to do with the extended family. Being Muslim, he tends to work most of the Christian holidays we get together to celebrate—Easter, Christmas, etc. My children do not see him often enough for him to act as any sort of role model.
Aside from my two sisters, I have one brother who would be an amazing male role model for my children. He is an ex-marine, a current police officer, and an all-around “man’s man.” Being the youngest and the only boy (and the only male in the entire house after my dad died when he was a mere babe of three years old) he was always kind of an anomaly. Really more of a pet, of sorts, to my sisters and me than an equal. As a matter of fact, at some point, we stopped calling him by his name altogether. He is simply “Brother”. Brother managed to survive growing up in a household of women. Having three sisters, he spent his childhood surrounded by women and all things feminine. He’s seen women in all their glory…the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. As a result, I think he has a wonderful sense of respect for women as human beings that he acquired in the trenches. I say “in the trenches” because I am certain it was not easy for him being the only masculine voice in an indubitably female-dominated house. However, through it all, he has maintained a remarkable sense of humor and is truly one of the kindest men I have ever met. He provides me with a real sense of optimistic hope for my own boys who are being raised in a household of women. I pray that they can grow up to be just like their Uncle Matt—the best pet I ever had. Unfortunately, however, my brother lives seven hundred and fifty miles away from us in Kentucky. Not exactly close enough to act as their primary male role model, regardless of how much I would love to have him in that role.
There are simply not a lot of options for male role models in my family…at least local male role models. Unfortunately, our group of friends really proves no more helpful. Most of our friends are lesbians. When we have friends over for dinner, they are likely either going to be lesbians or relatives. Or both. When we have a barbecue, it is primarily lesbians who attend. When our kids get invited to birthday parties, they are for the children of our lesbian friends. My children are constantly surrounded by lesbians. I am not entirely sure how it happened, but somehow through the years, we’ve developed quite a lesbian entourage.
I had hoped that school would be the Holy Grail of male role model-dom. I anticipated when Lucas started school, we would find numerous options for him to get involved with positive, nurturing men. That hasn’t quite panned out as I had planned. When Lucas first started kindergarten, he almost immediately brought home brochures from The Boy Scouts. There are probably some absolutely fabulous male role models in The Boy Scouts. As a matter of fact, I know there are. But come on…they went all the way to Supreme Court to fight for their right to discriminate against gay people. Not really an organization I feel comfortable entrusting with my impressionable young sons, regardless of the positive attributes or open attitudes of the individual troop leaders. I simply can’t get past the national Boy Scouts’ stance on gay people.
I hear that church is a hotbed of manliness. Church could be an option. Of course, that is, if we attended a church. We’re not exactly highly religious people. I went through twelve years’ of Catholic school and Ruanita was raised a Southern Baptist (sort of). Not exactly two of the most open and affirming denominations when it comes to gay people. We’ve tried other churches, but neither of us really ever felt at home. Though we consider ourselves spiritual and are raising our children as such, church just doesn’t seem like a very viable option for us to cruise for men.
Last year, I enrolled my twins in an Early Child and Family Education Class geared toward gay and lesbian parents and their kids. At the beginning of the year, there were two gay male couples in the class. However, the domineering lesbians quickly scared them off and the class remained lesbian-only for the remainder of the year. I met some really great people during the class. And I added a few more lesbian friends to my arsenal. However, I walked away as man-less as I started.
I am hopeful, as my children grow older, they will find their own male role models to emulate —teachers, coaches, friends’ fathers. In the meantime, however, I will continue my search for a man. Or two. Or three. But how does one initiate a relationship with a man? Perhaps it is time to step up my game. Bat my eyes. Twirl my hair. Giggle coquettishly. Vamp it up a bit. Umm…yea…or maybe not. Unfortunately, my flirting skills when it comes to the opposite sex are pretty much non-existent. The fact that I just used the word “coquettishly” in a sentence is proof-positive that I have no freaking clue what I am doing. I am afraid I would come across more deranged crackpot than sexy siren if I simply approached a man out of the blue. As much as I love my children, I have my limits. So what is a poor man-less lesbian to do? Where do I find a shining example of masculinity? A paragon of virile manliness? A testosterone-saturated man’s man to model a nurturing and chivalrous Y chromosome to my children? I am not asking for much. Just the perfect man. Or even a moderately adequate man —at this point, “adequate” would work for me. Or just a man. Any man.
What can I say? This lesbian needs a man.