Gay Dad Life

A Security Blanket for Gay Dad Families

“Where are the reindeer?”

This was the kitchen greeting from my son Jason, 2. It was my birthday morning and he knew there would be cake. But he had confused the two holidays.

“Where’s Santa?”

“Sweetie, it’s just Daddy’s birthday,” I said, picking him up.

“It’s not Christmas, Jason,” said my son, Keith, who at 5 years old needs to have all the answers at all times. “Christmas is in December.”

Jason put both hands on my cheeks to draw our faces together, a new trick he has to make me look him in the eye when he really wants something.

“Presents?” he asked, in his sweetest voice. “Presents?”

We have Christmas fever here already, which means we are again reading “A Charlie Brown Christmas." It’s a roller coaster for me. I cringe at Charlie’s cockeyed optimism about that little tree, and the utter defeat in his very shoulders when Lucy demands, “Can’t you even tell a good tree from a poor tree?”

I soldier on in the reading, though, the only catch in my voice coming when Linus wraps his precious security blanket around the tree’s base. I read Linus’ words to the boys and widening my eyes in my patented you-are-the-freaking-grown-up-do-not-cry manner. “It’s not bad at all, really,” Linus says. “It just needs a little love.”

Who among us hasn’t needed a little love? As gay dads, we mostly grew up being told that we are the poor tree. Recent years have made me feel cozy, a national recognition of my marriage cradling me in Linus’ warm blanket. “You’re not bad at all, really,” said my government. And now we face the uncertainty of this new president-elect, flanked by a vice president who said that being gay is a choice. Vice President-elect Mike Pence has even placed the world’s ills at our feet, saying, “societal collapse was always brought about following an advent of the deterioration of marriage and family.”

When I came out to my dad, this is what he feared. I told him on July 4, 1995, while I was home from sophomore year of college. When I started the conversation, Dad was sorting through a kitchen junk drawer. Small tasks like these, bringing order to chaos, mattered to him.

He asked repeatedly if I was sure, and told me I was choosing a difficult life. He was not the 1990s version of a Pence guy by any means, but at that point he did see a choice, even if it was simply choosing to live openly and to commit to a gay identity. Dad died in 2000, proud of me but still fearing that my life would be difficult.

I thought about Dad when I woke up at dawn and checked my phone for election results. For me, the world was again the scary one he envisioned all those years ago, and I worried about the parents of gay and trans kids out there. The ones who want to encourage their kids to be themselves, but feel the fear about them drawing too much attention to themselves. I thought of my friends raising black children. The parents who, white or black, struggle with the pyrotechnic acrobatics of telling their kids to be subservient in order to survive police encounters while also saying they are as just good as anyone else.

But life calls, and that Wednesday morning we had a parent-teacher conference for our 2-year-old. It is a good school, but the owner is the type who spends the appointment explaining how great she is. As the meeting wrapped up, she went off her script.

“I want to tell you that you are doing a great job,” she started to say.

Now, my husband and I have heard this since we started out as parents. It’s always phrased as such: “A great job.” It’s not about us, it’s about us being two dudes and the low expectations for fathers. It’s said in a condescending way, but there are worse things to hear so we always nod and smile.

But this was different.

“Because you didn’t have to do this,” she continued. “I know you could be out there, you know, having a party.” And reader, she raised two fists to her shoulders and shimmied, a parody of how she imagined gay men naturally spend their time. Dancing, and, as she said, partying.

My husband and I cocked our heads at her, likely looking like two dogs who couldn’t possibly comprehend this foolish human.

“And instead you took in these boys…”

“THANKYOUFORYOURTIME,” I said, getting up to go.

My husband and I talked about it on the corner. We decided it was just idiocy, but it felt all of a piece. Our hopes about a Democrat winning lay in ruins, and here’s our son’s teacher telling us she knows our natural tendency is not to be nurturing. This is the deal: You say whatever comes to mind or heart, the consequences of how it make people feel be damned. Whatever, we decided, not a fight worth having.

I felt the eyes of passersby as I quickly kissed my husband goodbye. He was off to the office in his work as an adoption and surrogacy lawyer. His first worried call from a potential client came at 9:30 on the dot. It was a lesbian mom asking how to protect her relationship with their child during a Trump administration. Hers was the first of many calls and emails that my husband received that week from concerned parents. What can I do, each asked him in one way or another, to protect my kid?

The judging Lucy Van Pelts are everywhere, leaving us to just have to work harder to be the Linuses of the world, providing each other with comfort and solutions. I wish I could wrap an America-sized security blanket around you and your family today.

Show Comments ()
Transracial Families Series

How These Dads Address White Privilege within Their Transracial Family

The "white savior" complex is real, said Andrew and Don, who are raising two Black children.

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of ongoing posts exploring issues related to transracial families headed by gay, bi and trans men. Interested in being featured as part of the series? Email us at

Andrew Kohn, 40, and his husband Donald (Don) Jones, 47, together 13 years, are two white dads raising two Black children in Columbus, Ohio. Do they stick out? Sure. Have they encountered racism? They say they haven't. "I keep waiting for the moment so that I can become my best Julia Sugarbaker," said Andrew. "I think because we're a gay couple with Black kids, we're the other-other and people don't really say things to us. We have never had people touch our kids hair or do something that was inappropriate."

Keep reading... Show less

Take a Virtual Tour of The Homes of These Famous Gay Dads

Many famous gay dads — including Neil Patrick Harris, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Ricky Martin — have opened up their homes to fans on the pages of Architectural Digest.

In each issue, Architectural Digest offers a peak into the homes of different celebrities. In recent years, they've featured the homes of several famous gay dads. Check out the videos and stories the magazine pulled together on the beautiful homes of Neil Patrick Harris, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Ricky Martin below!

Keep reading... Show less
Children's Books

New LGBTQ-Inclusive Children's Book Asks: What Makes a Family?

A new children's book by Seamus Kirst follows a young girl's journey of emotional discovery after she is asked which of her two dads is her "real dad."

Editor's note: This is a guest post from Seamus Kirst, author of the new LGBTQ-inclusive children's book "Papa, Daddy, Riley."

Throughout my life, I have discovered that reading provides an almost miraculous way of changing the way I think.

There is no medium that better offers insight into the perceptions, feelings and humanity of someone who is different from us. Through reading we become empathetic. Through reading we evolve. I have often emerged from reading a book, and felt like I was changed. In that, even in this digital age, I know I am not alone.

As children, reading shapes how we see the world. The characters, places, and stories we come to love in our books inform us as to what life might offer us as we grow up, and our world begins to expand beyond our own backyards.

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Photo Essays

Interested in Foster Care? These Amazing Dads Have Some Advice

As National Foster Care Month comes to a close, we rounded up some amazing examples of gay men serving as foster care dads, helping provide kids with a bright future.

Every May in the United States, we celebrate National Foster Care Month. With over 437,000 children and youth in foster care, it's our honor to take a look at some of the awesome dads in our community who are opening their hearts and their homes, and providing these kids with a bright future.

Thinking about becoming a foster parent? Check out these resources here, and visit AdoptUSKids.

Meet the Foster Dads!

Keep reading... Show less
Transracial Families Series

This Transracial Family Relies on a 'Support Group' of African American Women

Puerto Rican dads Ferdinand and Manuel are raising a daughter of Jamaican descent — and love to find ways to celebrate their family's diversity

Our second feature in our transracial family series. Read the first one here.

Ferdinand Ortiz, 39, and his husband Manuel Gonzalez, 38, have been together for 7 years. In 2017, they became foster dads when they brought their daughter, Mia Valentina, home from the hospital. She was just three days old at the time. On December 13, 2018, her adoption was finalized.

Mia is of Jamaican and African American heritage, and her dads are both Puerto Rican. When Manuel and Ferdinand began their parenting journey through the foster care system, they received specific training on how to be the parents of a child whose race and culture was different from their own. "We learned that it's important to celebrate our child's culture and surround ourselves with people who can help her be proud of her culture." However, as helpful as this training was, the dads agreed that it would've been beneficial to hear from other transracial families and the type of challenges that they faced.

Keep reading... Show less
Personal Essays by Gay Dads

How the Shut Down Opened Me Up to Being a Better Dad

David Blacker's dad used to tell him to 'stop and smell the roses' — the shut down has led him to finally take the advice

"Stop and smell the roses." It was the thing my dad always said to me when I was growing up. But like many know-it-all kids, I didn't listen. I was determined to keep my eye on the prize. Whether it was getting good grades in school, getting my work published, scoring the next big promotion, buying a house or starting a family. For me, there was no such thing as resting on my laurels. It has always been about what's next and mapping out the exact course of action to get me there.

Then Covid.

Ten weeks ago, I — along with the rest of the world — was ordered to shelter-in-place... to stop thinking about what's next, and instead, focus on the here and the now. In many ways, the shut down made me shut off everything I thought I knew about being content and living a productive life. And so, for the first time in my 41 years, I have literally been forced to stop and smell the roses. The question is, would I like the way they smell?

Keep reading... Show less
Transracial Families Series

How This Transracial Family Creates a 'Safe Space' to Talk About Their Differences

Kevin and David know they can never understand what it's like growing up as a young black girl — but they strive to create a 'safe space' for their daughters to talk about the experience

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of ongoing posts exploring issues related to transracial families headed by gay, bi and trans men. Interested in being featured as part of the series? Email us at

Is adopting a child whose race and culture is different from your own something that us queer dads need to talk about? Share our experiences? Learn from others? We've been hearing from our community, and the answer has been a resounding, "yes."

With over one-fifth (21.4%) of same-sex couples raising adopted children in the United States today (compared to 3% of different-sex couples), it's highly likely, at the very least, that those families are transcultural. According to April Dinwoodie, Chief Executive of The Donaldson Adoption Institute, Inc., all adoptive families are transcultural. "All, in my opinion, adoptions are transcultural because there are no two families' culture that is exactly the same, even if you went as far as to get very specific about the family of origin and the family of experience and almost make it cookie-cutter … no two families operate the same."

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