Magazine article Out

The Opie Bunch

Magazine article Out

The Opie Bunch

Article excerpt

When artist Catherine Opie decided to have a child, she didn't realize she'd be giving birth to a family of five.

CATHERINE OPIE, ARTIST: Fm not one of those people who ever crushed out on straightgirlsbefore - I'vealwaysbeenpretty butch-on-butch in my relationships - but Julie had this really great tomboyish attitude. We'd been friends for about a year, and one day as we were driving back from one of my openings, I said, "Julie Burleigh, you're the kind of girl I would want to marry." And she said, "Cathy Opie, I take that kind of proposal very seriously." And we fell in love. I was already working with Rodney on getting pregnant, and I said, "I want to let you know that I'm trying to get pregnant, and how do you feel about all that?" And she said, "Well, I guess I don't have a choice because I'm in love with you, and I would love to do that with you." And I said, "Fan-fas-tic! " I just really liked the way she held herself and that she just had all these kooky things about her. When we met, she was breeding Persian cats. Like, really? She moved in with five Persian cats, and then one of them had kittens, and there were nine, and you know - having a lot of cats in the house is kind of gross, so her farming is now outside the house. We took over this abandoned lot where Julie has 36 families growing their own vegetables and teaches community gardening to kids. She's basically turning our house into a farm.

I've always had this longing for family, and a family that was much more functional than my own childhood. There were moments in the beginning when I thought, Whoa, what is going on here? I didn't expect Rodney to be so completely involved, and being such a very strong feminist, I was like, Well, who are you? But that went away, to the point where Rodney and I just bought a building together, a 1913 duplex near our block. And now Oliver can say, "I want to go see my dads before dinner."

I have to say that I feel very settled, and I never felt that before. My partner is my best friend at this point. We've been doing nothing but building since we met. The result is that after 10 years we've built this amazing life together.

JULIE BURLEIGH, GARDEN DESIGNER, ARTIST: I was dating someone when I met Cathy, and as we got to be better friends, I found myself wanting to ditch the guy and hang out with her. It was one of those things I had on the back burner: "I think that one day I'll become a lesbian." I've always had a strong intuition and followed my intuition, and I thought that this was really who I needed to be with. We made a plan to spend the day together, take our dogs out, and have a picnic in the park - stepping up the intimacy a little. So on that day, she passed by this church sale, and she saw a bamboo cane chair and thought, Julie would really like that. She asked about it, and apparently it was a whole set of living room furniture for sale. She bought it all and said, "Oh! I got a present for you. I might need your station wagon in addition to my minivan to give it to you." It was just like the oldjoke, "What does a lesbian bring on a second date? A moving van."

She had already made one or two attempts at getting pregnant by the time we met, but I have a grown daughter of my own, Sarah, so I was a little hesitant at first, I mean totally in love with Oliver when he was born, but also thinking, Wow, here I am again, raising a kid. …

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