Personal Essays by Gay Dads

6 Tips for a Fun, Family-Friendly and Fabulous Pride Experience!

A gay dad shares some of his newfound appreciation for gay pride after attending his first ever pride event

A couple of weeks ago I did something that I never thought I'd do.

I watched “Fox & Friends."

Come on, you know me better than that.

I attended my very first Pride event.


We were invited to join a group of other LA-area gay dads to proudly represent Gays With Kids by riding through the Long Beach Pride Parade in beautiful GWK-branded convertibles.

When another gay dad reached out to me to ask if we'd be interested in joining, I was honored. I asked our son Max if that sounded like fun. I had him at convertible. Then, after I accepted, the panic set in. I had never been to a pride event before. So I didn't know what to expect. More importantly, I wasn't sure it would be an appropriate venue to take our seven-year-old son, Max.

I feared we might encounter hateful protestors. And if so, how would that affect Max?

I've always admired what Pride stood for — a safe place where men and women from all walks of life could stand united to show the power of their love. Despite centuries of suppression, Pride acts as an important reminder that we belong and that we don't have to be ashamed of who we are. On one level, I very much wanted to use Pride as a way to reassure Max once again that our family is just as special, important and celebrated as all the other types of families in the world, but on the other hand, I was terrified by my own preconceived notions of what happens at Gay Pride.

At the risk of sounding like Judge Judy – I have a slight bias against those who perform graphic, lewd acts in public. Showing a little skin? Go for it –– like Madonna said, express yourself. Having full-on sex on the sidewalk? That's a different story. That's not something I want my kid to see. Some of the uninhibited Pride images I've seen captured in broad daylight disturb me, let alone an impressionable seven-year-old. I feel like those images continue to perpetuate negative stereotypes about our community. That said, I'm am by no means the morality police and I refuse to let a few vulgar people negate all the positivity that Pride brings. And so I decided it was finally time for me to stop judging a book by its cover and see for myself what Pride is really like.

What I discovered was an overwhelming sense of love, acceptance and belonging. I expected to feel supported. But the part I didn't expect — and what affected me the most — was having so many older gay men and women thanking me and my husband, Alex, for being gay dads and setting a great example for the next generation of LGBTQ individuals. I never thought doing something that seemed so regular to us would have such a profound impact on the very same people who've paved the way for us to be able to live our lives openly, freely and honestly. We are a family because of the earlier generation of gay men and women who refused to be silenced. And seeing so many of these people mouth the words “thank you" as we drove by gave me a profound sense of serenity and fulfillment.

Max took in the festivities with a huge glittering smile stamped across his face. Yes, there were a few R-Rated exhibitionists showing off a little too much bod, and yes there were a few scary protestors spouting highly inappropriate, hateful rhetoric from loudspeakers. But these are opportunities to teach Max. As much as we'd like to, we can't shelter our kids from everything we'd rather they don't see. It's up to us as parents to prepare Max for these very real, be it uncomfortable, parts of life when you grow up as a minority. When Max asked why those men were saying such horrible things, we explained that some people don't support families like ours. He, of course, was sad and confused. Then we told him to look out there at the thousands of people in the crowd who are proud of us, the ones celebrating our family, cheering us on and showering us with so much love and acceptance today. Those people far outnumber the bigots.

At the end of the day, I was reminded how necessary and crucial Gay Pride is for my family, and for countless others. At its core, Pride is about not being ashamed of who you are. And that is a powerful message to give my son –– and an important reminder for me. Pride welcomes and accepts to ALL gay people — and that includes me. So why should I have the right to pre-judge people that don't sit in judgment of me. I don't. And that's what attending Gay Pride for the first time taught me.

So whether you're a Pride-regular or a Pride-first-timer, here are some useful tips to help you and your family brave the exciting, unpredictable and unforgettable experience that is Pride.

1. GO IN WITH AN OPEN MIND

Pride is about freedom of expression. That means — spoiler alert — you're likely to see some scantily clad people shaking their moneymakers. Be the eyes and ears for your children. If there's something you don't want them to see, distract them. Have them look away for a moment — trust me, there's no shortage of other more entertaining things to look out.

2. COME PREPARED

Usually Pride parades take place in metropolitan areas where there are plenty of businesses and restaurants open to the public. But just to be safe, pack plenty of snacks, sunscreen and water. If you've got young children, consider bringing a stroller or wagon because carrying them or making them walk themselves might prove tiresome real quick. Also, if it's super sunny and hot, consider bringing an umbrella (a rainbow one, at that). Lastly, just so you don't lose your spot during bathroom breaks, set up camp near a restroom (but not too close… for obvious reasons).

3. TALK ABOUT THE SIGNIFICANCE OF PRIDE

You know why Pride is important to you, but your children or your straight ally friends may not. Before you arrive, explain what Pride means to you and why it's important to celebrate the LGBTQ community. It'll give them a newfound appreciation for why you're there and give deeper meaning to what they're about to experience.

4. MAKE IT FUN FOR EVERYONE

Yes, there will be plenty of teaching moments, but this should be a fun day out for everyone. Stop at the dollar store on the way and stock up on colorful beaded necklaces, bandanas, funny hats, temporary tattoos and little gift bags so the young ones can collect stickers and other treasures they might find at Pride.

5. LEAVE THE CAR AT HOME

Parades in big cities can mean lots of traffic jams and minimal parking. So give yourself plenty of time to get there. And if you happen to live close enough to walk, or have easy access to public transportation, I say leave the car at home. Otherwise, it could be a very frustrating start to what should otherwise be a happy and carefree day.

6. TOO LOUD; NEVER TOO PROUD.

As fun as Pride parades can be, they can also be super loud! If you're bringing babies with you, consider bringing something to protect their little, sensitive ears, like comfy earmuffs or padded headphones. For everyone else, do your research ahead of time and figure out where the less crazy-busy areas will be (there are often designated quiet and alcohol-free zones for families).

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Change the World

In the Philly Area? Attend 'Family Pride' On October 5th!

Philadelphia Family Pride is hosting their 10th Annual "Family Matters" Conference on October 5th for LGBTQ parents, prospective parents, and their kids!

Guest post by Stephanie Haynes, the executive director of Philadelphia Family Pride

On Saturday, October 5, 2019, Philadelphia Family Pride will hold their 10th Annual Family Matters Conference from 9am to 3:30pm for LGBTQ parents, prospective parents and their kids of all ages at the University of the Sciences in West Philadelphia. The theme this year is "Telling Our Stories." Registration is now open!

In an interactive keynote, Anndee Hochman, author of the Philadelphia Inquirer's weekly "Parent Trip" column, will share highlights from her work as a journalist and memoirist. She'll invite conversation about the stories that shape us—what tales do we share? who does the telling? who is left out?—and how those stories, added up, are changing the world. Read her bio.

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Gay Dad Life

How Canada's 'Gay Dollar' Helped This Gay Man Reflect on His Biggest Regret—Not Having Kids

Canada unveiled a 'gay dollar' coin earlier this year, helping Gregory Walters reflect on the progress the LGBTQ community has made—and his decision to forgo having children children

Earlier this year, Canada unveiled a rainbow-stripped coin dollar to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the country's decision to decriminalize homosexuality. With the coins now firmly in circulation, Gregory Walters, who lives in Vancouver, wrote a moving essay for the Globe and Mail, expressing joy for how far Canada has come on the issue of gay rights, but how the coin is also a symbolic representation of the "greatest regret" of his life—his decision not to adopt children.

Gregory writes that he had hoped to adopt a child ever since his early career working with persons with developmental disabilities. "Several children I worked with were wards of the State of Texas," he wrote. "Their parents having relinquished all rights either owing to egregious acts of abuse or a lack of desire to raise someone with so many needs. There were days when I felt, 'If I could just take you home and raise you.' I knew there was a need for adopting persons with special needs but my own internalized homophobia got in the way yet again. Despite what is probably my own gift in working with children, I never felt worthy enough to be a parent. I always felt that if I were a gay dad it would create more of a liability for the child."

Gregory decision to forgo having children, he says, is his "greatest regret." While he takes responsibility for some of this decision, he also adds: "society's view of homosexuals and its opinions regarding gay adoptions also played a major part."

To critics of Canada's coin, some of who have said its a cheap political pander to the LGBTQ community, Gregory concludes with this thought:

"I don't care if the indulged majority who never had to question marriage or raising children or being secure in a job may feel the coin is frivolous. The coin isn't for them in the first place. It's an acknowledgment for those of us who repressed our true selves and felt oppressed. It is for gays who never lived to see rights and protections enshrined in law. It is for younger LGBTQ people to learn more about how far we've come and to gain a deeper sense of gay pride. For these reasons, the coin has value so much greater than any monetary designation. The coin represents both empowerment and normalization."

Read Gregory's full essay here.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

5 Reasons Why We Love Gays With Kids!

Our longtime blogger Erik Alexander breaks down five reasons he loves Gays With Kids to celebrate our 5th birthday!

Photo Credit: BSA Photography

In the divisive and polarizing environment that gay dads live in today, what would we do without Gays With Kids? Honestly.
Just think about it. GWK gives the gay dads of America and across the world an outlet to feel a sense of belonging and inclusion that, for many, is difficult to find. Furthermore, GWK is primarily about us—gay dads.

With that being said, this is GWK's 5th anniversary! So how better to show my appreciation than to list My 5 reasons Why: We Love Gays With Kids!

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Coming Out

My Gay Shame Is Officially Cancelled

After years of feeling ashamed of being gay, David Blacker has finally overcome it. And his son had a lot to do with it.

Scrolling through my social media feeds, reading all the posts about National Coming Out Day reminds me just how valuable it is for us to share our stories and be as open, vulnerable and authentic as possible. Warning: this article is about to get real AF, so now might be a good time to switch back to the Face-Aging app that gives Russia all your personal data.

Oh good, you stayed. Don't say I didn't warn you.

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Today is National Coming Out Day, and as we celebrate, we're sharing six coming out stories from dads in our community. Their personal stories are heartwarming, relatable, and empowering. Happy Coming Out Day, and remember, live your truth!

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Growing a Thicker Skin

Experiencing hateful and hurtful comments, Erik Alexander had to learn an important lesson: how to ignore the trolls.

Photo credit: BSA Photography

Twenty years ago when I came out, it was unbearably hard. As I have written before, I am from the Deep South. Anyone who dared to deviate from social norms was sure to be ostracized. It's not that these people were born hateful or mean; rather, it probably had more to do with them not being subjected to other lifestyles. Anything different from their own experiences sparked fear and confusion. Homosexuality, interracial relationships, religious differences – these were all unfamiliar territories to the average person I grew up around. Thus, growing up was particularly difficult.

I remember lying in bed at night when I was a little boy. I would pray and beg God to not let me be gay. Every single night I would end my prayers with "... and God, please don't let me have nightmares and please don't let me be gay." I remember crying myself to sleep many nights. I was embarrassed and ashamed. And I wanted God to cure me.

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Change the World

10 Inspiring Coming Out Stories From Gay Dads

Happy National Coming Out Day! To celebrate, we've rounded up some of our recent stories about gay men with kids coming out to live their most authentic lives.

Happy National Coming Out Day! To celebrate, we've rounded up some of our best articles of gay dads coming out to live their authentic lives.

#1. Former NFL Player Jeff Rohrer, and Father of Two, Comes Out as Gay and Marries Longterm Partner


Jeff Rohrer, a father of two teenage boys via a previous relationship with a woman, is the first NFL player to marry another man. Read the article here.

#2. Coming Out to His Wife Was Painful, Says This Salt Lake-Based Dad of Four. But it Started Him on a Path of Authenticity

After Kyle came out to his wife, with whom he has four children, "she listened, she mourned and she loved," he said. Read the article here.

#3. Gay Dads Share Their Coming Out Stories for National Coming Out Day

We asked several gay dads to share their coming out stories in honor of National Coming Out Day, whose stories are heartwarming, instructive, and everything in between. Read the article here.

#4. Gay Muslim Single Dad Writes Op Ed on His Path to Self Acceptance

Maivon Wahid writes about the challenges of reconciling three separate, but equally important, identities in an opinion piece for Gay Star News. Read the article here.

#5. One Gay Dad's Path Towards Realizing Being Gay and Christian are Not Mutually Exclusive

Gay dads Matt and David Clark-Sally talk about coming out, parenting as gay men, and reconciling faith and sexuality. Read the article here.

#6. Republican Utah Lawmaker, and Dad of Two, Comes Out as Gay in Moving Video

Nathan Ivie has many important identities he's proud of: Mormon, Republican, Utahn, father of two... and gay. Read the article here.

#7. How Coming Out Helped This Gay Man Find the Strength to Be a Dad

Steven Kerr shares the moment he came out to his ex-girlfriend. "From that moment on," he writes, "my strength and purpose have grown." Read the article here.

#8. Ed Smart, Father of Kidnapping Victim Elizabeth Smart, Comes Out as Gay

In coming his coming out letter, Ed Smart, a Mormon, condemned the church for their "ridicule, shunning, rejection and outright humiliation" of LGBTQ individuals. Read the article here.

#9. The Best Part of Coming Out, Says This Gay Dad, Is Being an Out and Proud Role Model for His Daughter

"I couldn't face myself in the mirror and think that I could be a good dad and role model for my child when I was lying to myself every moment of every day," said Nate Wormington of his decision to come out. Read the article here.

#10. These Gay Dads Via Previous Marriages Have Adopted a Motto Since Coming Out and Finding Each Other: "United We Stand"

Vincent and Richard both had children in previous marriages with women; together, with their ex-wives, they are helping raise seven beautiful kids. Read the article here.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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