Gay Dad Life

A Love Letter to All the Wonderful Mothers Out There — Yours and Mine

One gay dad's love letter to the mothers in his life

How great are mothers? Think about it. Not a single one of us would be here without them. They serve so many special roles in our lives and they deserve to be celebrated more than just one day out of the year. But life oftentimes gets in the way of that. And so, as this Mother's Day approaches, I'm reminded once again how fortunate I am to have been blessed with wonderful mothers in my life.

I'm lucky to have not one, but two lovely women I get to call Mom. There's Brenda, my biological mom, who taught me how to dream, then there's Helene, my step mom, who taught me how to love (the word "step" comes no where close to describing the impact she's had on my life, by the way). If you're a young, gay child trying to navigate your way through adolescence, you'd be hard pressed to find two more understanding and compassionate women to support you unconditionally, every step of the way.

First let me tell you about my mom, Brenda. Growing up, I spent my weekends and part of my summers with Mom, which enabled a lot of quality one-on-one time. My mom's a true character. One in a million. Mix Cher, Bette Midler and bad-Sandy from the end of Grease, and you've got my Mom. She's bold, stylish, brash and ballsy. She taught me to go after what I wanted in life, even if what I wanted wasn't responsible or widely accepted. Mom instilled in me a great appreciation for style, design and fantasy. I watched how she'd present herself and admired how she never got bogged down worrying about what other people thought of her. She's her own person and unapologetically so.

Left: Brenda and David; Right: Helene and David

That sense of "be proud of who you are" reverberated in my head when it was time to both accept and announce my sexuality to the world in my late 20s. She provided a foundation of self-assurance for me, early on, that I still rely on to hold me up, even today. And one I hope to pass on to Max as he gets older.

My stepmom, Helene, came into my life when I was just five-years old, becoming another motherly figure for me at an important, impressionable age. Helene is the living embodiment of of the word compassion. She's a giver, not a taker. When she loves someone, she loves hard and gives that relationship every ounce of her being. Seeing a woman love my father so strong made me fantasize about one day having someone love me that way. Helene was the first to recognize the things that sparked my interest early on — like my penchant for art, love of music, fashion and writing… and so she encouraged me to hone in on these interests. While other parents can force hobbies upon their children, Helene saw what made me happy, and choose to encourage those things. That's something I try to do with my son, Max. Follow his instincts. Let him be who he is, without forcing him into something he's not. It makes for a much happier child in the end. She taught me that… and so much more.

Left: Helene and David; Right: Brenda and David

Not everyone is as lucky as I have been to be surrounded by so much love throughout my life. These two women's hugs last long after they let go. And all these years later, I am a better father and a better man for being their son.

And as if I wasn't already blessed enough, after getting married to my husband Alex, I also inherited a fantastic mother-in-law and sister-in-law who've proven to be an incredibly kind, generous and loving grandmother and aunt to our boy Max… not to mention bringing extra laughs, light and love into my life.

Max may have two dads, but there's certainly no shortage of strong, intelligent, kind and powerful women around for him to learn from and be inspired by.

To the mothers I've written about — and all the others out there worthy of praise…

Left: Brenda and David; Right: Helene and David

Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for your patience. And thank you for being so easy to love. I couldn't do my job as a father without you all beautifully doing your jobs as mothers.

I'd be remiss without sending my most heartfelt thank you to Max's birthmother, who along with his birthfather, gave Alex and me the greatest gift of all — the gift of family… which is something that we will never take for granted. We love you. Always.

Show Comments ()
Gay Dad Life

Gay Dads Featured on Cover of Parents Magazine for First Time

Fitness guru Shaun T. and his husband Scott Blokker are the first gay dads to be featured on the cover of Parents Magazine

I literally never thought I'd see the day. Literally.

Gay fathers on the cover of Parents Magazine! Gay fathers being celebrated in a "main stream" publication about being parents. Gay fathers!

I don't want to get overly dramatic here, but this is a milestone. A massive cultural milestone.

Sure, gay dads have come a long way in being accepted in our popular culture, but to my eye we've never been on the cover of a big popular parenting magazine celebrating our parenting skills. As if we are the norm.

We are now - thanks to Parents Magazine.

This is a particular milestone for me because I have a bit of a history with the magazine and with parenting publications in general. My first job out of grad school was in brand marketing at Johnson's Baby Products where I did indeed run advertising in this particular magazine. Back then though we only featured married, straight couples. There were no other kinds of parents to feature back in the day! And if I'm to be really honest, they were generally white, married, straight couples.

I distinctly remember one photo shoot where I forgot to put a wedding ring on the "husband's" finger and we had to reshoot it. No photoshop back then!

Now admittedly this was before I was a dad and before I was out, but as the years went by and I embraced my own journey as a gay dad, there were no role models or pop culture markers to say that I (and other gay dads) were accepted. There were no Andy Cohens publicly making baby announcements. We were alone on our parenting.

It was hard. There was a constant barrage of straight parenting norms that constantly reminded us that we were different.
Not any more! Being a gay dad, or any dad, is now simply being a parent. A good parent. A loving parent. And we have Parents Magazine to thank for the reminder and endorsement, with hopefully more to come.

And I can't help but think, and actually know, that this kind of normalization will inspire the next generation of gay dads who will simply accept, without hesitation, that fatherhood as a gay man is a real, accepted, and normal option.


Gay Dad Family Stories

9-Year-Old Girl Starts Successful Jewelry Line With Help of Gay Dads

Riley Petersen is 9 (!) and already a Creative Director, with the help of her gay dads

Riley Kinnane-Petersen is 9 years old, enjoys playing tennis, being with friends, has a pet cat, and lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her two dads, John Petersen and William Kinnane. She's also the official Creative Director of a successful jewelry line she founded with the help of her dads. Two years ago, John even quit his day job to assist in the day-to-day operations of the jewelry company.

What began as a long road to adoption for William and John, has become a thriving creative business, and more importantly a family.

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Life

New Children's Book Explores a Different Kind of Gay Fatherhood: Doggy Dads

Pickles + Ocho is a real life story about two French bulldogs in a family with their two gay dads.

Guest post written by Dan Wellik

Pickles + Ocho is a real life story about two French bulldogs in a family with their two gay dads. It tells the story of how Pickles' life changes once his new "baby brother" Ocho joins his family. The themes in this story are important ones – families come in all shapes and sizes, all families look a little different than the next and diversity and inclusion should be celebrated. I have always felt strongly that children need more exposure to LGBT families and wanted to add my voice to this very important conversation.

Keep reading... Show less
Change the World

Study Finds Two-Thirds of Gay Dads Experienced Stigma in Last Year

The study also found that over half of gay dads have avoided certain social situations in the last year for fear of experiencing stigma.

According to new research by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the vast majority of gay men and their children experience some form of stigma. The findings are based on a survey of 732 gay father across 47 states in the United States.

More gay men are becoming fathers each year, and have more options for doing so than ever before: including adoption, foster care, and surrogacy. However as the study's authors write: "Despite legal, medical, and social advances, gay fathers and their children continue to experience stigma and avoid situations because of fear of stigma. Increasing evidence reveals that stigma is associated with reduced well-being of children and adults, including psychiatric symptoms and suicidality"

Almost two-thirds of respondents, or 63.5%, reported experiencing stigma based on being a gay father within the last year. Over half, or 51.2%, said they have avoided situations for fear of stigma, in the past year. Importantly, the study found that fathers living in states with more legal protections for LGBTQ people and families experienced fewer barriers and stigma. Most experiences of stigma (almost 35%) occurred, unsurprisingly, in a religious environment. But another quarter of gay dads said they experienced stigma from a wide variety of other sources, including: family members, neighbors, waiters, service providers, and salespeople

Surprisingly (or perhaps not?) another source of stigma cited by the study originates from other gay men. "Gay men report suspicion and criticism for their decision to be parents from gay friends who have not chosen parenthood." The study also says gay dads often feel "isolation in their parental role."

The study concludes, "Despite growing acceptance of parenting by same-gender adults, barriers and stigma persist. States' legal and social protections for lesbian and gay individuals and families appear to be effective in reducing experiences of stigma for gay fathers."

Read the whole study here.

Gay Dad Photo Essays

5 Pics of Ricky Martin In Newborn Baby Bliss

He may be a superstar most of the year, but with a new baby girl at home, Ricky Martin is just a regular ol' dad deep in the throes of newborn baby bliss.

On January 1st, 2019 superstar Ricky Martin and his husband Jwan Yosef shared a post via Instagram announcing that they'd welcomed a baby girl named Lucia into their family.

Keep reading... Show less

Broadway Husbands Talk Eggs, Embryos and Exciting News

The husbands explain what is considered a good egg retrieval.

In their previous video, Broadway Husbands Bret Shuford and Stephen Hanna shared that they found their egg donor. In this video, the dads-to-be discuss their embryo creation process. And - spoiler alert - there are now frozen Hanna-Shuford embryos, and the husbands are ready for their next step: finding a gestational carrier.

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Family Stories

Adoption for These Dads Was Like a "Rollercoaster" But Well Worth the Ride

After multiple scam attempts, bizarre leads, and a birth mom's change of heart, Jason and Alex finally became dads.

Photo credit: Dale Stine

Every gay man who pursues fatherhood fights for their right to become a dad. They've had to keep going even when at times it's seemed hopeless. Jason Hunt-Suarez and Alex Suarez's story is no different. They had their hearts set on adoption; overcame multiple scams, some very bizarre leads, a birth mother's change of heart at the 11th hour, their adoption agency going bankrupt, and tens of thousands of dollars lost along the way. But after a long, turbulent, and heart-wrenching three-year-long journey, it was all worth it.

Keep reading... Show less

Fatherhood, the gay way

Get the latest from Gays With Kids delivered to your inbox!


Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse