As an out lesbian from the age of 15, Keeli thought for a long time she would never have a child. Once she decided that she wanted to be a mother without first needing a partner, she went for it full-steam ahead.
“When I came out, my mom had a really hard time dealing with the idea because it wasn’t the Christian way, and because she’d always dreamed of me marrying a man,” Keeli explained. “I went through a phase where I didn’t want to be a mom because I thought being gay was not a trait to pass on, I guess. But when I got to about 22 years old, I thought ‘You know what? If I do have a kid, I can love them and raise them right.’”
While Keeli was sure she wanted to be a parent by her early 20’s, one very obvious problem stood in her way.
“I’m definitely not into guys,” she laughed. “And I’ve never been well-off enough to afford IVF. So I had to get creative. I formed my family in my own way, with a friend’s sperm in a cup, and a medicine dropper.”
For many women who don’t have the money for sperm banks and IVF clinics, DIY-insemination may be their only real option to get pregnant. In many states, including the state of Georgia, it’s a felony to do any kind of medical procedure if you’re not a licensed physician, which makes at-home sperm insemination illegal.
Although she didn’t know that at the time, Keeli said she still worries sometimes about any possible legal ramifications from how she got pregnant alone.
“It’s almost a decade later, and I still get concerned. But I want to tell my story anyway, because it’s a cool story!” she laughed.
Besides the legal concerns over how she formed her family, Keeli said she’s also faced more direct discrimination as a lesbian in the South.
She has always been careful when speaking at work about who she’s dating. But in 2018, Keeli inadvertently revealed her sexuality to some of her colleagues. Not long after that, she was fired.
“It slipped by accident,” she said. “I had a date one time, and people at work asked what he looked like. So I said ‘here’s a picture.’ And a few weeks later, I was gone.”
Despite the challenges she’s faced to date, Keeli has recently decided to take some big steps to make a better life for her and her 8-year-old daughter Charlie, who she called “a ball of energy and kindness.”
Earlier this year, the two relocated from Georgia to Southwest Florida, where Keeli said her daughter is thriving and making lots of new friends.
“Charlie loves to laugh and be friends with any kid she sees, especially if they’re playing alone,” Keeli said. “She smiles at everyone and gives out compliments every chance she gets.”
As for the single life, Keeli said dating is still on the table for her. In fact, once they got settled in their new state, she decided to connect with like minded people in her town and she’s now been dating someone for a couple of months.
“We haven’t been together for a long time, but it’s such an easy relationship and it brings a lot of joy and happiness,” she smiled.
For other single lesbian women who are considering becoming mothers, Keeli said the most important thing is to make sure you feel emotionally prepared not just to raise a child, but to raise them alone.
“Your finances can always change, your livelihood can always change, but the emotional part of you is what is important,” she said. “Every age for your child is stressful, but every age is also so rewarding. Being able to tackle those challenges and embrace that excitement is the number one thing for me."