Why “Blood Baby”?
I have this strange thing where I sometimes - often - imagine us, ourselves, humans, as big walking sacs of blood. I obviously know that is not true, that we are comprised of blood AND a whole bunch of other tissue and cells, but still, the evocative sensory image stands. We are 60% water, and essentially all of our tissue, even the hardest parts (teeth and bone and nails) still contain water. They are to some degree “soft parts.” Teeth in particular take a long time to disintegrate, but they do eventually disintegrate, more breakable than concrete or limestone and faster than granite to decompose. And babies are especially sac-like, soft and squishy, and are much more liquid than adults are. Their bones have not fully formed yet, and all the parts are still shifting and moving.
So from a standpoint of feeling, as I dance I often imagine my body as a liquid form constantly de-forming and re-forming. As well, I am obsessed with heating my interior to the point that I can feel the totality of the inside edge of my skin organ. And in that embodied sensation, I imagine it is a contained liquid - perhaps blood - pressed up against and often seeping out of the container itself - the skin.
Queer family by nature redefines what “blood” relation means, in that we can reclaim and reframe the cultural primacy of “blood relation” while also subverting the biological imperative in the phrase’s origin. Blood lineage is often highly privileged in our culture and does not make one a parent. Intention and practice make one a parent in my opinion. I like embracing the essentialism of blood lineage in that our collective blood lineage is related to the earth and stars. Metals in our blood are also metals found in the stars, and those are the atoms from which we - humans - were formed. And it is those malleable selves who then build family that are bonded by a feeling of being “blood” - “they are blood to me” “blood brothers” - without the necessity or hierarchy of actual genetic or biological relation. Families are formed regardless of that and through intention and practice, building the intimacy and proximity of “blood relation” without a doubt.
Blood is one of the abject parts of a human body. The inside. Injury. Gore. Things going wrong. Part of the process of taking apart and building. Blood spilled. It looks different on the inside than it does on the outside.
(If you can’t tell, I like titles that can be viewed through many angles.)
I am a gestational parent, so I produced a human inside my body and then worked with them to get them out of me. In that sense, I gave this other person A LOT of my blood. My blood was the fuel that created them. And in grappling with my experience of gestation - the physically overwhelming transformation I underwent and how it flipped my gender and sex all around - I imagine this collection of a part of myself, funneled into another person, embedded but separate, and then leaving. An extension detached. And for me, that has related to how I think about parenting and particularly gender construction and physical intimacy. For me, as a parent, as my child ages and the physical proximity becomes less and the bodily autonomy becomes more, I am constantly reminded that they are their own person. I love getting to meet my kid over and over. And I am confounded that someone I am meeting now once knew - as the only thing they knew - the inside of me. Which they did not know to be me but just was…
There are many ways to make and be a family, and a parent. My co-parent is a non-gestational parent to our kid with no shared genetic material, and we have a nibling who is adopted, so I think a lot about the ways we form family and appear in our kids. The ways that my kid is so obviously an apple from my partner’s tree, and they too are responsive in that process. I do not believe that experiencing gestation is what made me a parent, but it is a part of my particular parenting journey. And I think what is truly magical about queer family creation and adopted families is both the many paths to parenthood diversity AND that what runs throughout all of them is I think an embodied sense of family and “you are blood to me” however you got there. Because that shit runs deep.