Gay Dad Family Stories

It's 'Full Speed Ahead' for These Newly Engaged Race Track Owners

It was 'love at first sight' for track owners Brandon and Jamie — who are engaged to be married this coming year

"I grew up very much in the closet and always knew I wanted kids," began 34-year-old professional go-kart driver and track owner, Brandon Adkins. "I met my ex-wife through some mutual friends and I thought this was exactly what I wanted." And that feeling lasted for Brandon until after they had their second child.

Brandon had been closeted and scared of his sexuality for some time, avoiding his feelings and not confronting his authentic self. When he met his ex-wife through mutual friends, he genuinely thought it was what he wanted: someone he loved, with whom he could have a family. "I had always looked at other parents and felt jealous knowing they had something I wanted."


The couple were together two years before welcoming daughter Kinley in March 2010, and lived in St. Louis, Missouri, for Brandon's job in the karting industry. Not long after Kinley's birth, they relocated to Pittsburgh for Brandon's job, and in June of that same year, they were married. "Our son Cruz was born September 2013 in Pittsburgh."

Early 2014, shortly after welcoming their second son, Brandon's employment ended and the young family moved to his then-wife's hometown of Cincinnati. Months after the move, and unable to keep his true self buried, along with a growing distance between he and his wife, Brandon began to explore his sexuality. When he was discovered by his then-wife, their relationship fell apart, and a long and difficult divorce began.

"After the ex and my divorce started, I kinda ran away from everything and took the farthest, best paying job I could find, which was in Charlotte working for a newly formed kart team," explained Brandon. "Before I left I had already come to terms that I was gay but was still closeted. So like any other gay man that wanted to explore, I took to the apps. I found Jamie on both Scruff and Grindr."

"I was 18 the first time I ever mentioned it to anyone," said Jamie Wince, now 39 and co-owner of Adkins Raceway. "I lived in a small town where everyone knew everyone. My dad was, and still is, a through-and-through Southern Baptist, and active member of the church, and my mom was a well-known teacher in the area and at my school, so I was super guarded." The first time Jamie told anyone he was gay, it was a close female friend he had met working a job out of town. "I found my nerve through her and by living quite a bit of my life and free-time in the city I was working up north in Virginia. From there I came out little by little. Clearly, most folks knew, but once I verbally came out I felt more and more relieved. My parents were last to know."

Jamie's parents were going through a divorce at the time and he was angry at his mom. "[My mom] said something to me during this time that fueled our discussion in which, out of anger and malice, I came out to her. Her reply was, 'Duh I knew you were gay.' Ha! So much for my plan to piss her off." Jamie didn't tell his dad till a few years later. "He was the one I didn't want to disappoint, to let down, to embarrass. I didn't come out to him till I met Brandon and the kids."

When Jamie met Brandon, he'd just come out of a bad relationship so he had some hard rules about dating. The two decided to meet late October 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the two were living at the time.

Brandon & Jamie | August 2019

"It was seriously love at first sight. We sat in his garage for hours talking and getting to know one another," recalled Brandon. "We are both fairly reserved people so nothing happened except at the very end of the night as I was walking out we decided to kiss. I'll never forget it. I have never felt sparks, energy whatever you want to call it like that before. It was amazing. All I could think about that night and then all the next day until we met up again and I guess you could say the rest is history."

Brandon told Jamie about his kids during their first date. "We both shared our whole life story that first meeting so we started out completely fresh. He was immediately took interest and was very much part of the reason I fought so hard for them."

"When Brandon told me about the kids, I was stoked," said Jaime. "I wanted to know more: ages, sexes, names, where they were, how often he had them." And, most important, Jamie said it was important to know what kind of dad he was — if he was financially and emotionally still supporting his ex-wife.

"I specifically said, 'if you're a shitty dad, you'll be a shitty partner,'" Jaime said."Quite frankly I didn't have time and would not support such behavior. The kids sold me. I was hooked. I couldn't wait to meet them. It was a dream, did I really just stumble into my dream family?!"

When Brandon decided to move back to Ohio to be closer to his kids, Jamie went with him. It was also through being with Brandon and being step-dad to his kids, that Jamie finally found the courage to come out to his dad. "I said this is my life and these are your grandkids. His reaction, 'Awesome, the more grandkids the better!' He met them the first time Christmas 2015 and has been a very active part of their lives and ours since."

Throughout the first year of his and Jamie's relationship, Brandon's divorce continued with his ex-wife, and it was a tumultuous time, and ended up in court. "I had a horrible lawyer and he got everything wrong," said Brandon. "Not filling out paper work and not showing up at hearings which really set us back. I was only able to see the kids once a month and I also had to pay astronomically high amount in child support which I could not keep up with." After months of battling in the court, the once married couple reached a breaking point when the judge threatened Brandon with jail time when he was unable to meet the child support requirements. "I turned to the ex and begged her to say and do something, which she did and the new child support was set. A new visitation agreement was made and things finally started to take a turn for the best."

Afterwards, Brandon and Jamie moved to Ohio in October 2015 to be closer to the kids. Today, Brandon and Jamie, and Brandon's ex and her new husband, began a great co-parenting relationship that worked for all of them. "It started out rough but once everyone started to respect one another things changed drastically. Once we decided the kids should come first things got much better overall." They have the kids every other weekend during the school season, scheduled around their longer breaks, and they alternate holidays, birthdays and vacations, while also working with each family's schedules.

Having children changed Brandon's outlook on life. "Before having kids, I was scared and closeted not knowing who I really was. After having kids it made me realize I needed to make myself happy before I could take care of them and give them proper direction. Now I feel I have the best of both worlds and my kids will get to grow up knowing it's okay to be gay."

When Jaime came on the scene, he was delighted with how well the kids accepted him, despite some initial challenges. "Cruz was younger, only one year old, so that was super easy. Kinley was older, so that transition was tough at the beginning. The change in mom and dad, to dad and this dude was mind boggling and not normal for her. And I got that and did my absolute best to understand her little emotions." But they worked through it, and went from Daddy and Jamie to just recently, 'I have two step daddies and a mommy and a daddy' and 'I have a lot of people who love me.'"

"I never wanted to be pushy. Not of my position. No forceful titles, no names, no positions. I believed it would all come in time. Just respect and slowly a family unit will come. I'm not called 'Daddy' or 'Dad' and ya know what, I'm good with that. I'm not 'Daddy' or 'Dad', I'm a step parent and I respect them and they respect from me. I get to share their life with them... all of them. And that's enough. I love my little family."

***

When Brandon's father passed in April 2017, his mother decided to turn it over to Brandon, and he and Jamie rose to the opportunity. They now co-own and operate Adkins Raceway in Port Washington, Ohio. (If you're ever in the neighborhood, go check out the gay dad run business!)

Brandon and Jamie were engaged last Christmas 2018 and are excited to wed sometime in 2020. "We both had purchased rings and were not really planning a surprise or anything but we knew we wanted to do something," said Brandon. "Once we opened them we decided we wanted to wear them so we kinda agreed to be engaged on the spot."

We look forward to celebrating their upcoming nuptials!

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Diary of a Newly Out Gay Dad

A Gay Chiropractor Explains Why He Came Out to His Patients

After Cameron Call, a chiropractor, came out to his family this past year, he knew he had one more step to take — he had to come out to his patients

Fear is an interesting thing. It motivates when it shouldn't, shows at inconvenient times, and is the author of stories that do nothing but hold us back. I would argue though, too, that fear has some good qualities. I believe it helps us to feel. And I think it can be a great teacher as we learn to recognize and face it.

For years fear prevented me from embracing my truth and accepting a large part of who I am. I know I am not alone in that regard. But for so long my fear convinced me that I was. Fear is what kept me from ever telling my parents or anyone growing up that I am gay. Fear mingled with strong religious teachings, embraced at a young age, which led me to believe that I could cure myself of my attractions to the same gender. And fear is a part of what kept me in my marriage to a woman for over ten years.

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Diary of a Newly Out Gay Dad

Coming Out to My Kids Was the Most Raw and Tender Moment

Cameron Call, a newly out gay dad, wonders how to come out to young kids who can only understand so much.

Cameron Call, who came out in summer 2019, has generously agreed to chronicle his coming out journey for Gays With Kids over the next several months — the highs, lows and everything in between. Read his previous articles here.

I always wanted to be a father. I am so glad that as messy as my journey might have been it got me three beautiful kids. I can't imagine my life without them. No matter how dark some days are as I navigate coming out and getting divorced I can always remind myself that my journey got me my kids. And I am so grateful for that.

When their mom and I decided to get a divorce I still hadn't told our kids that I'm gay. But once it was decided the best decision for us was to end our marriage, I knew it was time to tell them the biggest reason why. And I was terrified. Even though my twin boys are only seven and their sister is five I was scared to death to be so honest with them.

Some could argue that my kids didn't need to know but I feel strongly that they deserved to. They deserve to know their dad fully. And they deserve to know one of the reasons their parents decided to get a divorce.

Without much preparation or planning, we sat down on our couch as a family one Sunday afternoon and their mom let me speak. I trembled as I attempted to formulate words into sentences. How do you come out to young kids who can only understand so much? I stumbled for several minutes as we discussed the previous year. I asked the kids about their thoughts and feelings as they had witnessed countless arguments between me and their mom, heard several doors slam, and seen a lot of tears. They each expressed how scared and sad seeing their mom and I fighting so frequently had made them.

I explained that after a lot of conversation and prayer we decided we weren't going to be married anymore. But that wasn't enough. I could tell they were still confused and I felt uneasy. And then it hit me. I knew what more I had to say.

I looked at my oldest son and said "You know how God made you with handsome bright blue eyes?" Then I looked at his twin brother and asked "And how He made you with a cute face full of freckles?" Then I looked at my daughter and said "And you know how God made you with the most contagious belly laugh that fills the room?"

They all nodded and in their own way replied, "Yeah."

"Well," I said. "God made me to like boys more than girls. And that is part of the reason why your mom and I aren't going to be married anymore."

And I left it at that. They asked a few questions and I attempted to explain to them that their mom deserved to be with a man who loved her in a way I couldn't. And I told them that I wanted to love a man in a way I couldn't love their mom. I said again, "We aren't going to be married anymore." And that's when reality started to sink in a little bit.

My two boys immediately started crying. They both just wanted to be held. I was squeezed so hard as I hugged my son while he cried in my shoulder for several minutes. I couldn't hold back tears either. It was one of the most raw and tender moments I've ever experienced as a dad. It was a new type of pain I had never felt before. But it was also very healing. My daughter was kind of clueless as to what was going on and she didn't understand. As a five-year-old there's only so much she can grasp. She didn't even cry or ask a single question that day. But I knew we were laying the foundation for the growth that was to come as we navigated this new journey. And we've come a long way.

After holding our sons for a few minutes the conversation continued and I knew I had done right when my son said "A happy mom and dad is better than a sad mom and dad." I was blown away at his wisdom and understanding at such a young age.

As hard as coming out to my kids was, I am so glad that wasn't the end of the conversation. We continue on almost a daily or weekly basis to circle back to their thoughts and questions surrounding having a gay dad. And there continues to be highs and lows. But I'm grateful we are talking about it. I'm grateful they aren't afraid to share their feelings, fears, and thoughts.

While I cannot control or protect my kids from everything, I can control what I say and teach them, especially in regards to the gay experience. And I hope that I am up for the challenge.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

How This Dad 'Redesigned' the Holidays After Coming Out of the Closet

Rick Clemons describes how he made the holidays work for him and his family again after coming out of the closet

What I'm about to describe to you, is something I am deeply ashamed of in hindsight. I was a jerk, still in a state of shock and confusion, and "in love" with a handsome Brit I'd only spent less than 24 hours with.

I was standing in the Ontario, California airport watching my wife walk with my two daughters to a different gate than mine. They were headed to my parents in the Napa Valley for Thanksgiving. I was headed to spend my Thanksgiving with the Brit in San Francisco. It was less than one month after I had come out of the closet and I was so caught up in my own freedom and new life that I didn't realize until everything went kaput with the Brit on New Year's Eve, that if I was ever going to manage the holidays with dignity and respect for me, my kids, and their Mom, I was going to have to kick myself in the pants and stop acting like a kid in the candy store when it came to men. Ok, nothing wrong with acting that way since I never got to date guys in high school and college because I was raised to believe – gay no way, was the way. But that's another article all together.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

These Dads Had 'Twins' — Just Four Months Apart

Angel and Dan's wanted twins, without the complications of a twin pregnancy — so they worked with two separate surrogates at once.

If you have ever been out late on a Saturday night, you may have high hopes of meeting a handsome stranger, but you probably wouldn't expect to meet your future husband. Angel Mario Martinez Garcia, 45, surely didn't when, five years ago on a very early Saturday morning in Barcelona, he casually approached Dan's Mouquet, 40, and asked him, over many gin and tonics, what he wanted out of life. The nightlife setting notwithstanding, Dan's told Angel he ultimately wanted a quiet life, with a partner and children.

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Politics

Gestational Surrogacy Legalized in New York State

The Child-Parent Security Act, which legalizes commercial surrogacy in New York State, was included in the 2020 New York State Budget signed by Governor Cuomo

Yesterday, a years-long battle about the state of compensated gestational surrogacy came to an end in New York when the Governor signed into a law the Child-Parent Security Act in the 2020 as part of the state budget.

The effort stalled last year after opponents, including several Democrats, successfully argued that the bill didn't go far enough to protect women who serve as surrogates — even though it included a surrogate "bill of rights," the first of its kind in the country, aimed at ensuring protections.

"Millions of New Yorkers need assistance building their families — people struggling with infertility, cancer survivors impacted by treatment, and members of the LGBTQ+ community," the Family Equality Council said in a statement about the victory. "For many, surrogacy is a critically important option. For others, it is the only option. Passage of the Child-Parent Security Act is a massive step forward in providing paths to parenthood for New Yorkers who use reproductive technology, and creates a 'surrogate's bill of rights' that will set a new standard for protecting surrogates nationwide."

Opponents, led by Senator Liz Krueger, had once again attempted to torpedo legalization efforts this year by introducing a second bill that would legalize surrogacy in New York, but also make it the most restrictive state in the country to do so. "A bill that complicates the legal proceedings for the parents and potentially allows them to lose their genetic child is truly unfortunate," said Sam Hyde, President of Circle Surrogacy, referencing to the bill's 8-day waiting period. He also took issue with the bills underlying assumptions about why women decide to serve as a surrogate. The added restrictions imply that "they're entering into these arrangements without full forethought and consideration of the intended parents that they're partnering with," he said.

The bill was sponsored by State Senator Brad Hoylman, an out gay man who became a father via surrogacy, and Assemblymember Amy Paulin, who has been public with her experiences with infertility.

"My husband and I had our two daughters through surrogacy," Holyman told Gay City News. "But we had to travel 3,000 miles away to California in order to do it. As a gay dad, I'm thrilled parents like us and people struggling with infertility will finally have the chance to create their own families through surrogacy here in New York."

"This law will [give intended parents] the opportunity to have a family in New York and not travel around the country, incurring exorbitant costs simply because they want to be parents," Paulin said for her part. It will "bring New York law in line with the needs of modern families."


Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Just Like Dad: Ways My Kids and I Are Alike

Joseph Sadusky recounts the ways he and his adopted sons are cut from the same cloth.

Editor's Note: This is the third in a series of excerpts from Joseph Sadusky's new book, Magic Lessons: Celebratory and Cautionary Tales about Life as a (Single, Gay, Transracially Adoptive) Dad. The book contains many stories about my life as a dad, as well as lessons learned, and we're excited to share several excerpts from the the book over the course of the next few months. Read previous installments here!

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Expert Advice

4 Tips for Single Gay Dads Raising Daughters

Here are some ways to create a safe space for your daughter to discover who she is, with you by her side.

There's nothing quite like father-daughter relationships, and when it comes to single dads, your little girl likely holds a very special place in your heart. From the moment she's born, it's as if you can see every moment of her life in front of you, from her first steps to walking her down the aisle at her wedding. You'll be the first man she'll know and talk to, and you'll be her biggest example of what a loving man looks like. She'll come to you for advice on how to navigate challenges, be independent, treat others and grow into herself.

Your relationship with your daughter may be shaped by your personal history, whether you've been through a difficult divorce or breakup, you've transitioned out of a straight relationship, or you made the courageous decision to pursue surrogacy on your own. Whatever your situation is, studies have shown that children with involved fathers excel more in school and have fewer behavioral issues in adolescence.

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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