Representations of childbirth in western art and culture have long excluded the lives of lesbian women and non-conforming bodies. From DIY to IVF, scholarly and artistic attention to queer (LGBTQ+) childbirth and same-sex parenting is still relatively new, and there are unique physical, emotional, legal, and psychological challenges that are imposed by mainstream society.
In 1981, the feminist artist Judy Chicago posed the question: how do women feel about all aspects of birth? In the resulting Birth Project, Chicago conducted an original survey and then collaborated with women needleworkers in the United States to create a series of artworks.
Forty years later, using Chicago’s archival materials in the Schlesinger Library at Harvard as a model, this project asks: how do queer people feel about all aspects of birth? To answer this question, we have updated Chicago’s original survey, using inclusive and affirmative language (ex: changing father to partner/donor). New questions have also been added to explore how different bodies experience birth and the many complex relationships that make up queer families.
The Queer Birth Project includes: a new national survey (2021-22), a collection of visual artworks (2022-2023), and a single edition book (2024). This creative research is designed to form community, gain visibility, and serve the next generation of LGBTQ+ families.
Liss LaFleur (she/her) is a (soon to be) queer parent, artist, and activist based in Texas. LaFleur is an associate professor of New Media Art and a faculty affiliate in Women's and Gender Studies and LGBT Studies at the University of North Texas. She is the recipient of a 20-22 John F. Kennedy Citizen Artist Fellowship, and her work broadly explores relationships between gender, technology, and identity. Read more here
Katherine Sobering (she/ her) is a queer parent and ethnographer who studies how inequalities are produced and disrupted in everyday life. Sobering is an assistant professor of Sociology and a faculty affiliate in Women's and Gender Studies at the University of North Texas. Her research on work, politics, and social change has been supported by the Fulbright Program and the National Science Foundation.
Read more here
Image above: Britt & Liss with their chihuahua, Delilah.
Image above: Mel and Katie with their kiddo, Mikey