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Over the past few decades, we’ve seen more and more queer people become parents and start their own families. But while each of their options and journeys to becoming a queer parent will differ, all of them face the same problem: there is very little information out there catering to LGBTQ+ families.

After starting their own queer families and founding their award-winning podcast series Some Families, Lotte Jeffs and Stu Oakley came together to write the first ever mainstream LGBTQ+ parenting book to publish in the UK. The Queer Parent: Everything You Need To Know From Gay to Ze is packed with expert advice through an LGBTQ+ lens, ranging from fostering to fertility treatment, to dealing with homophobia to creating a home.

This landmark publication will inevitably be a vital resource for queer parents, exploring the challenges they will face, but also the joys of raising children. Here, GAY TIMES speaks with Stu to discuss the origins of the book, his process bringing it all together, and the response he’s received from queer readers.

Where did the idea for The Queer Parent originate from?
Lotte and I hosted the podcast, Some Families, which was the first ever UK podcast that solely focused on queer families. During that process not only did Lotte and I discover so much about each others very different journeys to parenthood, we also spoke to so many incredible people who had started families in completely different ways to us but all had one thing in common: we all have the unique LGBTQ+ experience that makes us all unique. The response was incredible and we felt it was important to write a book that not only helped queer prospective parents and families not feel alone, but also something fun and entertaining that those in the community who don’t have kids – or don’t even ever want kids – can read to further understand a part of our community that is raising the next generation.

There’s not much information out there for LGBTQ+ people hoping to start a family. Knowing this, did you feel pressure writing the book?
You are right that the lack of information is quite shocking. The book is actually the first time a major publisher has published a book on queer families. We were, and are, so proud of the book so think that pride carried us through the process rather than pressure.

You answer a lot of questions readers may have about starting a family. Were some topics harder than others? If so, which topics?
We didn’t want the book to be simply a guide to the different ways you can have children as an LGBTQ+ person… of which there are many! It was important that it also spoke to existing queer parents and also painted a wider picture of just the process of getting you there. Therefore in the book we cover a wide range of topics including mental health, schools, holidaying as a queer parent, gender impact on families, race, the impact of gay shame on parenting and doing it solo. We (hopefully) cover these in a fun, entertaining and informative way.

Is there anything you learned throughout the writing process that you didn’t know before? Loads! The thing Lotte and I love the most about our experiences both writing the book and recording our podcasts is discovering the incredible stories from our community. Stories of strength, resilience and love. We can all learn from each other and right now, with the community being at risk of being divided, we should all take the time to hear different perspectives. We also learned that things really are still far from perfect when it comes to queer families. Lesbians are still having to pay crippling fertility costs that straight people get via the NHS, queer people with HIV are limited in fertility treatment that straight people are not, and don’t even get us started on rights for trans parents.

You co-authored the book with Lotte Jeffs – what did the collaborative process look like?
Lotte is truly my work wife. She is the Richard to my Judy, the Ru to my Michelle. We worked closely to structure the book ensuring we were representing the entire community. I hope our different approaches as a gay man and a lesbian woman respectively really connects with people.

What kind of feedback have you received from LGBTQ+ people hoping to start a family? Have you noticed The Queer Parent have an impact?
We’ve had some very emotional responses. As a whole, queer families are quite underrepresented in both mainstream and LGBTQ+ culture so we’ve had many people sending us messages to say how lovely it feels to be represented and to not feel alone. I’ve particularly loved the feedback from friends and families of LGBTQ+ people who have read the book to support and gain a greater understanding as an ally. Last week, the TV vet and author James Greenwood sent us an incredibly emotional voicenote after listening to the audiobook. He has just had a baby and I think it touched him deeply. We really hope there is a lot to get from this book for everyone.

The Queer Parent: Everything You Need To Know from Gay to Ze is available now.

You can also listen and subscribe to Lotte and Stu’s From Gay To Ze podcast now.