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Exclusive: What is the life of lesbian family in Brighton Like?

lesbian family in Brighton

Many years ago a status of same sex family was something no one wanted to hear about. Time has changed, society is changing. These days the same sex families and marriages are the hottest topics on the table.
I have lived in Brighton (United Kingdom) for 12 years and got to know many wonderful people within gay community. Through my work I have met Suzanne and her partner Joe -wonderful and always positive people. We had an opportunity to ask them some curious questions about their unusually ordinary life. Enjoy!

Tell us something about yourselves – Where do you live? How old are you? What are you doing for living?

Suze: We now live in Brighton, we moved from North London in 2002 when our son was 2 years old. We were very lucky because 2 families that were good friends also moved to Brighton around the same time. One was a gay family, 2 women and 2 small children and one straight family with one child. 

When we moved Jo started up her business frankontheweb.com in marketing, publishing, website design, SEO etc – Jo is now 53. I worked part time and did some voluntary work for a few years, Sans (our Son) was attending Nursery part time, I continued in part time work (school for children with special needs, charities, gardening, helping Jo with administration) until Sans went to secondary school aged 11 years – I am now 61 and work in administration for a Care Home – I had Sans when I was 42 years old.

A few statistics – How have you met? How long do you live together? Are you married/in civil partnership?

Suze: Jo and I met at work in 1989! We both had our own flats in London and a couple of years later Jo sold her flat and we started living together.
We had a Civil Partnership (CP) in 2007 the year I was 50, Sans was 7, civil partnership were possible from December 2005.
2 or 3 years ago we converted our CP to a marriage, so we are now Wife & Wife!

When did you realise you’re “different” and was it difficult for you and your family to identify yourselves with it?

Suze: I never really felt ‘different’ I just fell in love with Jo. We had both had relationships before with Men, and I had one previous with another woman. We never really explained ourselves, people just got used to us being together as friends and then as a couple.
We did have conversations with family when we decided to have a baby, and again when I became pregnant. In general everyone was very positive and supportive. We have been very lucky through our lives with no negativity.

When did you come to the decision that you would like to have a child and how it all “happen” ?

Suze: I had always known that I would like to have children and Jo knew this, she didn’t want me not to fulfil this, so said that we had better start trying. 
We found out about the London Women’s Clinic and I started going for regular donor sperm inseminations, we tried this for 2 to 3 years with no luck.
As time was passing and I was getting older the clinic suggested IVF. All of this was paid for privately, with the IVF our doctor agreed to fund 3 attempts paying for the medication, we still had to pay the clinic for the inseminations.
The IVF didn’t work as I only produced 1 egg, so they couldn’t do the IVF, instead they did a procedure (IUI) where they put the sperm a bit further up. And that was how Sans came to be!!

Who is a biological mother?

Me, Suze  🙂

Are you in contact with father?

Suze: No, it was an anonymous donor and neither we or  Sans are allowed to know who it is, that law has changed now I think. We just got a few basic details, colouring, height, occupation etc.

What were the reactions of your families and friends when you told them about your plans?

Suze: They were pleased.

How old is your son now?

Suze: He is 19, nearly 20.

What were the reactions (negative/positive) of his schoolmates and their parents knowing that he is being raised by two mums?

Suze: Being in Brighton, there were quite a few children with same sex parents, including his best friend, so it wasn’t really an issue.

Was it difficult to explain to your son that he has two mums?

Suze: We felt very strongly that we talk about it openly, never ever apologised for it. And again, as we/he had similar families and friends, there wasn’t too much of an issue.
We did get a simple book, explaining about different families.

Do you think he miss a father figure?

Suze: I think sometimes a bit, but never in a big way, we always made sure he had some positive Male role models and lots of boy type adventures.

Is he attractive to women or men?

Suze: He is attracted to women.

Has his attitude towards you or LGBT community changed when he got to the puberty age?

Suze: Don’t think so, not any more than any teenagers question or rebel against their parents and their views. We have quite a lot of parties and get together with our ‘extended’ Brighton family and they are always fun, so Sans has become used to this.

Do you feel any big differences living life of lesbian family in Brighton and raising a child in comparison to heterosexual couples/families?

Suze: We are lucky as it is very accepted in Brighton so a pretty normal family life. Obviously it took more planning to become pregnant and had to be a very conscious decision!
Also after our civil partnership, Jo decided to adopt Sanson, at the time of his birth she could not be named on his birth certificate (again this has changed now) therefore she needed to adopt him in order to make any medical decisions for him, if anything should have happened to me. Otherwise she would not have been his next of kin.

Dear Suze, thank you very much for an interview. We wish you and your beautiful family all the best 🙂

Lívia Salajová

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