Gay Dad Life

Challenges of Being a Single Gay Dad in Rural England

“Will your wife be coming next week?” I was asked during my son Sam's and my third visit to our local toddler playgroup. I didn’t know the lady asking the question, beyond recognizing her face, and her three kids, from the previous weeks. She asked pleasantly enough, but it still gave me that oh god, here we go, feeling.

Sam and I live in a very rural part of England. Our town has a population of approximately 9,000 people, in a count of about 144 people per square kilometer. It is predominantly white (97%). Our nearest big city is 45-minutes away by car. Major industries here, such as they are, are tourism and agriculture, and the county remains one of the most disadvantaged places in the UK.

“No. I’m not married,” was my reply to the pleasant lady with the three kids. I left off the I’m gay. It wasn’t relevant yet, and this was in the aftermath of Brexit, when hate crimes against LGBTQ people (and Muslims, and black people and foreigners) rose 147% in three weeks. I’m out, but I think I can be forgiven for being circumspect.

She was confused. “Oh, I thought I saw you with your wife last week.”


I could see she was embarrassed. It was getting awkward. “Not married,” because I still didn’t want to announce to this twenty-something strong group of women (there was only one other guy there) that I was gay. I could hear the question she didn’t speak: “So, where’s Sam’s mum?” The conversation gave its last gasp, and drowned in the awkwardness. She went off to rescue one of her kids from the crash mats.

It’s not the only incident of its kind. I’ve encountered similar confusion from our health care providers:

“So, why is Sam living with you and not his mum?” said one  health visitor. “I’ve invited Sam’s mum (surrogate) along to Sam’s 12-month check-up,” from another (yeah, don’t even get me started). “Oh, is mum working today, then?” when I took Sam for his first round of vaccines.

By far the weirdest was an altercation with a lady in the parking lot of the local grocery store, who took exception to a man using parking that she thought should be for mums only.

I’m not complaining, really. Britain’s come a long way. Equal marriage is the law of the land (except in Northern Ireland) and the law similarly protects us from discrimination in employment and services. But wider cultural awareness still lags in some archaic little corners of the realm, and where Sam and I live is one such place. We go to the playgroup up the street, run by the local Anglican Church (even though I’m an atheist) because it’s in walking distance, and because its much the same as any other playgroup in the area. There are no LGBTQ dedicated playgroups near us. The absence of awareness in the local national health service is a little more perplexing. It might say something about absent training, but likely says as much about absent experience. This is a town of 9,000 people after all, and---the usual suspects on certain gay dating apps aside---it can feel like gay people are invisible here.

It’s indicative of the situation in the county, and the region. The only LGBTQ parenting support group I’ve come across purports to cover the whole region. That feels ambitious: it’s a 3-hour car ride to travel from one side of the region to the other. And it meets only one day in the month, usually no-where near where I live. There are a few gay advocacy groups in the county, but they are largely targeted at youth. I’m closer to forty than the magic 25, and in any case, they seem more focused on arranging bungie-jump-athons, than discussing the complexities of diaper rashes or  speech development. Those that aren’t for the tweens are mostly gay health groups, promoting educational stuff like Grindr best-practice, and why STIs are at crisis levels among Britain’s gay men.

What’s left, in terms of LGBTQ targeted services, are a sparse scattering of gay bars, restaurants, and coffee shops. There’s about five of them in the whole county.

Sam and I are pretty self-sufficient. I know my rights, and know how to advocate for myself. We’ve got excellent family support, and I have a good circle of friends, some excellent mums among them, whom I can go to in crisis moments. But my circumstances sometimes leave me feeling isolated from the gay community generally, and from gay parents specifically. For people who aren’t as lucky as me, though, the consequences of the absence of LGBTQ services, can be more than just isolation. Adoption and surrogacy (paid surrogacy is illegal in the UK, and so no surrogacy agreement is enforceable by law) have hurdles that gay men need to be aware of, which means having the services in place to help them.

More than that, though, gay people still experience challenges that straight people do not, and having a community of people with shared experiences, can make all the difference. Advocacy by and for LGBTQ people is more important than it has ever been. We can all benefit by engaging with local LGBTQ groups, and sharing our experiences and knowledge. Not merely because it makes sense to network with people with similar backgrounds, but because normalizing, and celebrating, gay relationships and gay families is an indispensable part of building a tolerant and accepting society, and we only do that by making ourselves visible.

More from Justin Miller:

Single Gay Dad Seeks Female Role Model

A Gay Single Dad Says: Don't Wait




Show Comments ()
Gay Uncles

Gay Uncles are an Essential Part of This Gay Dad Family's Village

It takes a village to raise a child, and this village includes many gay uncles

In November last year, Ottawa-based husbands Matt Ottaviani and Rej Gareau (whose story we shared in July) became first-time dads through surrogacy. They were overjoyed to welcome their daughter Andy and become a family of three.

But as many of us know, raising a child isn't always just about the nuclear family. The African proverb "it takes a village to raise a child" is a commonly repeated phrase, and rings very true for many families. Matt and Rej are no different, and when they shared their story last month, one thing jumped out to us: the important role Andy's guncles play in her and her dads' lives.

In honor of Gay Uncles Day today, we reached out to Andy's many guncles to learn first-hand how their relationship with the family affects their lives. Here's what they had to say.

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Life

Need a Sitter for Your Kids? Gays With Kids Reviews UrbanSitter

Back-to-school is already here for some of us, and if you're looking for a sitter to help out with school runs, after-school pick-ups, and the occasional date night, check out our review of UrbanSitter.

Instagram @davidcblacker

We moved from New York to Boston the summer of 2017. Along with the Manhattan skyline, our beloved Broadway, and late-night cookie deliveries, we also left behind our sitters — two sisters who had become more like family.

After settling for several months into our new home and neighborhood, we realized we hadn't had a dads' night out since our move. Our kids were still too young to leave alone at night, so I began what I presumed would be the tedious task of finding a sitter.

The first thing I did was to leave a post on our local parents' Facebook group. The dad of one of our daughters' classmates told me about UrbanSitter, a website and mobile app that he'd had success using to find last-minute sitters a few times. He also mentioned that within the app, I could see see babysitters and nannies recommended by parents at our kids' school in addition to local parenting groups.

While I appreciated the tip, I let him know that I was really hoping for a direct referral. But when none others came from the — other than a couple of middle schoolers looking for their first sitting jobs — I decided to give it a try.

Keep reading... Show less

Move over Modern Family, there are some new gay dads taking over the small screen! Big Bad Boo Studios is bringing their animated series The Bravest Knight to Hulu. The series is based upon a children's book called "The Bravest Knight Who Ever Lived" by Daniel Errico, and it follows the life of Sir Cedric - now grown and married to Prince Andrew - as he regales their adopted daughter Nia with tales of his knighthood journey as she trains to become a knight herself.

"We are so excited about The Bravest Knight, its values and our partnership with Hulu," said Shabnam Rezaei, the director of the series and co-founder of Big Bad Boo Studios. "They understand how to push the envelope with authentic storytelling."

"I immediately fell in love with the idea of a girl wanting to work hard and make something of herself," Rezaei continued. "I also have a nephew who has two dads, so it's a very personal issue for me. I want him to have role models when he's watching TV. I want him to feel like having two dads is completely normal. That's what this show is going to do for him."

Errico's book was first realized as an animation when Hulu created a short film based upon his writing and were interested in exploring the concept of a full series. "I watched the eight minutes on Hulu and at the end the prince and the knight get married and I was in tears," says Rezaei. Rezaei then stepped in to create all new art work including new character design by Tim Linklater and backgrounds by Sarita Kolhatra. Together, they created a kickass bible and pitched the series to Hulu and were successful.

Diversity and inclusivity is celebrated throughout The Bravest Knight, reflected by its casting choices. Nia is played by Storm Reid, from "A Wrinkle in Time," and her dads Sir Cedric and Prince Andrew are voiced by T.R. Knight and Wilson Cruz respectively. The star studded cast also includes Wanda Sykes, Bobby Moynihan, RuPaul, Steven Weber, Teri Polo, AJ McLean, Jazz Jennings, Maz Jobrani and Christine Baranski as the formidable Red Dragon.

"With so many wonderful stories yet to be told, we hope that The Bravest Knight stands as an example of the undeniable strength in inclusivity, and the inherent joy in all forms of love and identity," said Errico, the author of the original book.

The first 5 episodes were released on June 21, and there are 8 more planned for release before the end of the year. Be sure to tune in!

This is the Main Title Song for Big Bad Boo's Hulu Original Series "The Bravest Knight". The song is performed by Justin Tranter and composed by Michael Plow...


Utah Court Rules Gay Couples Can't Be Excluded From Surrogacy Contracts

The Utah Supreme Court found in favor of a gay couple attempting to enter into a surrogacy contract.


Earlier this month, the Utah Supreme Court ruled that a same-sex couples can't be excluded from entering into enforceable surrogacy contracts, and sent a case concerning a gay male couple back to trial court to approve their petition for a surrogacy arrangement.

As reported in Gay City News, the case concerns Utah's 2005 law on surrogacy, which was enacted prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state. As a result, the content of the law is gendered, saying that surrogacy contracts should only be enforceable if the "intended mother" is unable to bear a child. When a gay couple approached District Judge Jeffrey C. Wilcox to enter into a surrogacy arrangement, he denied them, arguing that the state's law only concerned opposite sex couples.

"This opinion is an important contribution to the growing body of cases adopting a broad construction of the precedent created by Obergefell v. Hodges and the Supreme Court's subsequent decision in Pavan v. Smith," according to GCN. "It's also worth noting that same-sex couples in Utah now enjoy a right denied them here in New York, where compensated gestational surrogacy contracts remain illegal for all couples."

Read the full article here.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Thoughts and Prayers Aren't Working:​ One Father's Plea for Gun Reform

One gay dad's plea to our leaders to enact sensible gun control

My articles on GaysWithKids aspire to be lighthearted, helpful and humorous. This one won't be any of those things. Because I'm feeling heavyhearted, helpless and sad. Last week I woke up to news of yet another mass shooting. This time at a family-friendly Garlic Festival in northern California. I don't know if it's because this one hit so close to home, or if it's because the headline included a picture of the innocent 6-year old who was among those killed, but I am overcome with emotion. But mostly I am angry. And I don't know what to do with my anger.

Then, just a few days later came two additional horrific mass shootings that stole the lives of at least 32 more innocent people, many of them children. And then there's the "everyday" gun violence that plagues American cities like Chicago, where guns injured another 46 people this past weekend alone… creating so much turmoil, a hospital had to briefly stop taking patients.

How does one verbalize the collective sadness felt around the world? One can't. And that's why I am asking everyone reading this article to commit to getting involved in some way, to help end this epidemic once and for all. Even though the solution is so obvious, we can't allow ourselves to become numb to mass shootings. Because becoming numb isn't going to save anyone.

Keep reading... Show less

Gay Russian Dads Forced to Flee Moscow

Fearing the Russian government might take their adopted kids into custody because of their sexual orientation, Andrei Vaganov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev fled Moscow

A married couple in Russia, with two adopted children, were just forced the flee their home in Moscow for fear that the authorities would take their children away, according to German news site Deutsche Welle.

Trouble started last month after investigators in Russia opened a criminal inquiry into the proceedings that had allowed the gay couple, Andrei Vaganov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev, to legally adopt the two boys —adoption by LGBTQ people in Russia has typically not been recognized. The government became aware of the adoption proceedings after the gay couple brought their 12-year-old son to the hospital, who was complaining of a stomachache. The boy was fine, but after he mentioned offhand that he was adopted and lived with two fathers, the doctor called the police.

Andrei and Yevgeny granted an interview with Deutsche Welle after escaping Moscow, but on the advice of their lawyers have yet to disclose where they are currently located. Here is a quick recap of that conversation:

"In connection with the 'propaganda of non-traditional values,' the state representatives are accused of having neglected their duty of supervision," Andrei said, when asked to explain on what basis the Russian government might take his children into custody. "This means that lesbian couples could even have their biological children taken away because, through their lifestyle choices, they propagate "certain values."

Yevgeny also explained the events that led to the couple's harrowing escape "I was alone in Moscow at that time. A week after Andrei and the children had left the country, there was a knock on my door, but nobody called 'police, open up.' After half an hour the violent knocking stopped. My parents' home was searched. They were looking for the children and our Danish marriage certificate because we got married in Denmark in 2016. My friends then got me out of the country."

Read the full interview here.

Gay Dad Family Stories

This Couple is Using 'Wheel of Fortune' Winnings to Help Fund Their Adoption

Need to raise money for your adoption fund? Why not try your luck on Wheel of Fortune like these guys!

Doug and Nick Roberts connected three and a half years ago via a dating app, and on their first date, the two immediately felt a connection. Doug, a psychologist, and Nick, a neuroscientist, were married 18 months later. Today the couple live in the suburbs of Philadelphia, and they're ready to start their next exciting adventure together: fatherhood.

The husbands would like to have children, and Nick has always wanted to adopt. "We considered surrogacy, and may consider it in the future as we expand our family," said Doug, "but right now, it is cost-prohibitive. Adoption was easily the right choice for us as we begin to grow our family.

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