Episode 159: LGBTQ+ Family Building: Pride and Path to xHood
June is Pride Month and with all the different paths to parenthood available for LGBTQ+ couples and individuals, it’s a great time to elevate these voices within the community.
Today’s episode features Mia Cooley, a Black, queer, mother of three whose desire to connect with families that looked like hers, created an inclusive community called xHood.
xHood is a safe space that supports Black and queer families through the journey of parenthood. It’s an area that’s often challenged by a lack of representation in the healthcare industry, in parenting groups, and even in local communities. The frustration of feeling ostracized has motivated Mia to create a center for advice, a venue for resources, a starting point for advocation in the workplace, and just a space vent.
In this episode, Mia shares why she started this organization, details of the annual Black Parent Pride Summit, and her path to parenthood.
Guest: Mia Cooley, Founder of xHood
Host: Dan Bulger, Progyny
For more information, visit Progyny’s Podcast page and Progyny’s Education page for more resources. Be sure to follow us on Instagram, @ThisisInfertilityPodcast and use the #ThisisInfertility. Have a question, comment, or want to share your story? Email us at email@example.com.
Here are some highlights from this episode:
Great Solutions Start with Great Flaws
01:52 – 06:24
Mia Cooley: That X in front of xHood could mean motherhood, fatherhood, whatever parenthood looks like for you. I am a mother of three by birth and blend. So, our youngest is four years old. And then we have a nine-year-old and a 16-year-old that are from a previous relationship from my former partner.
As a Black-queer parent, a lot of challenges were just around building up what our village was going to look like, so it takes more than just what’s inside of your household to be a successful parent. And as a Black and queer parent, it was hard to find spaces where our family dynamic was uplifted and prioritized and didn’t feel like we were being ostracized. If you think of like mommy communities, even down to pediatricians, it was hard to find people that were life affirming for our family. I knew that that would be a challenge. Then the next thing, you know, as we are trying to conceive was finding a Black donor. They’re probably what feels like 10 across all of your major sperm and cryobanks. And so, thinking about, how high the priority or quality of the list was for us. Just really a major gap in available Black donors.
Dan Bulger: Yes, this is a serious issue that I think isn’t really talked about all that much. Finding a donor with a similar background is something that many put right at the top of their wish list. But there are significant gaps in the donor pool across the country.
Mia Cooley: When you think about marketing from a sperm or egg bank’s perspective, you’re going after the community that has said, you know, we are willing and have the capacity to spend money on babies, and the babies that we want are non-Black or White babies with blue eyes, and blonde hair and kind of all those characteristics. So, then our Black community has been left out of that conversation compounded by our distrust of the healthcare industry and providers.
Dan Bulger: She says she wasn’t exactly looking to start an organization in the community, she was just looking for people to talk to.
Mia Cooley: I wanted us to be able to hang out with families that looked like ours. And that’s really where it started. And we were just facing a lot of racism and homophobia. And we were building a village and just finding our support. So, I just started a space, and I didn’t care if it was like me and three other families. And for a minute, it was just that. It started off being selfish, I wanted to hang out with families that look like ours, and then have grown to how do we solve these problems? The plethora of problems within our community. What can we do, as community managers and leaders, to kind of address those issues.
People ask, “do you have rules in your community?” We don’t. If you’re just looking for a space to vent and you don’t really want advice or input from others, if you’re looking for connections and resources, or a recommendation. We just kind of hold space for you. And then we have a directory that we hold that connects you with providers, adoption support, legal support, assisted reproduction, or even with like, you know, navigating the conversation with your employer about like, what fertility benefits needs to look like for you and for our families, for you to feel like your workplace is providing an equitable chance for you to meet the goals for your family as well.
Ideas Become Reality
11:50 – 16:08
Dan Bulger: The xHood community is big, and it’s growing. And Mia sees a future where xHood becomes a parent and child ecosystem for the Black and queer community.
Mia Cooley: That will look like anything from us being able to find like in-house doulas, and midwives to maybe at some point, a birthing center of our own. And going through the process now of building out our web platform, thinking about what options for telehealth might look like through xHood and how we can kind of be the resource. So, I’m not sure if you’re familiar, but the Black community, the places that we live the most are often quite far from fertility providers, and assisted reproduction specialists. We’re thinking about what it might look like to build our own network of those supporters.
Mia Cooley: At the Black Parent Pride Summit, we spent two days in Atlanta connecting with one another, connecting with external products and service providers that have been intentional and saying, like, “hey, we can kind of acknowledge where we have not prioritized your community or how we can better show up for you.” So just really gave us the space to be on the main stage and talk specifically about the parenting issues that relate to us. And then as leaders, we got to reflect, to learn what we heard from those conversations. Even with, you know, the Black Parent Pride Summit, I didn’t know how meaningful it would be to everyone, like I had this idea, I felt like it would be cool. That people would feel it to be worthy. But I didn’t imagine bringing out over 100 families, I didn’t imagine how our sponsors and partners would really be able to connect with our community members. And you know, just get them to the next step. And then I think what was most meaningful for me was how our, trans community showed up, and they were like, wow, we didn’t expect to have space that felt like it was good for us.
Dan has been in the healthcare industry for the past ten plus years as a multimedia content producer. Better known as ‘Video Dan’ he has interviewed numerous doctors, patients and other experts in the world of fertility. He’s also the producer for this podcast, This is Infertility and the producer behind the Progyny YouTube Channel which features interviews with dozens of the nation’s leading fertility specialists. On a personal note Dan’s parents started fostering kids when he was four years old, and he considers himself a proud older brother to over 100 foster children.
Mia Cooley is a community builder and parenting coach. She specializes in supporting Black and/or Queer families through all of those special and at times frustrating moments on the journey to and through babies. When she’s not connecting families with resources that help them build and nurture children she’s a published writer and fellow Black Woman working in technology.
Music From This Episode:
Artist: Andy G Cohen
Track: A Perceptible Shift
Artist: Doctor Turtle
Track: Wherever I Lay My Hat That’s My Wife
Track: Chill Out Theme