Personal Essays by Gay Dads

This Gay Dad's Son Only Wanted Girls at His Birthday Party. Does it Matter?

When Frankie asked his son, Milo, who he wanted to invite to his fourth birthday party, he replied, "I only want girls." Does it mean anything?

Growing up most of my friends were girls, and this is still true today. My best friend, Debbie, is a girl I befriended over 35 years ago at summer camp and we have been inseparable ever since. For whatever reason I feel safe and more at ease around women than I do around men.

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This year has been filled with so many amazing memories and celebrations. My mother turned 70, my parents are celebrating 50 years of marriage (which is incredibly amazing!), my son turned 3, and my husband BJ and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary together. There was another huge milestone I celebrated this year; ten years ago I checked myself into rehab for the third and final time and gave up a bad drug habit knowing that if I didn't do it at that point, I was going to die. I chose to live.

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Eight years ago, Jay Faigenbaum messaged Adam Jacobs on the dating site Match.com. Adam had let his membership lapse, however, so wasn't able to read the email. “I'd kind of given up on dating at that point," Adam admitted. Still, he was intrigued by Jay's mystery message.

“I called customer service and said, 'Dr. Phil promised me six months free if I didn't find love on your site,'" Adam laughed, referencing a commercial from the time featuring the self-help guru. Sure enough, the company offered Adam six months for free. But as it would turn out, one extra day was all he needed.

“Jay's email was the last I ever read," he said.

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When Milo turned two, friends and family would say, "Just wait for the terrible twos to start!" They came, they were terrible, (ok not all the time) and traveling with a two year old was trying at times, but it was still enjoyable (kind of)!

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BJ and Frankie, who are dads to son, Milo, wanted to celebrate Father's day this year by asking gay men a question: what's the best part about being a dad? Their responses are below!

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My father immigrated to Canada from Italy when he was 26 years old. He left his homeland in search of a better life, for himself, and his future family. My father defines the Canadian dream. He came to Canada with only two suitcases, which now hold my sister's Barbie dolls. He did not speak any English; he did not have many friends. The only thing he did have was a dream to be successful and make it in this country.

My father at 26

He had various jobs when he arrived to Canada. He worked in a winery and worked in a local bakery delivering bread to houses. He took English classes at night so he could work during the day. He worked hard and long hours. He saved everything he made and after years of committing his life to the bakery, he ended up purchasing it from the owners who were retiring.

Through many sacrifices, hard work and long hours, he lived out his dream and is very successful at it. I always admired the person he is. My father is in his 70's now, yet he still wakes up early, goes to work, and spends most of his waking moments at the bakery. After more than 40 years, my parents still own and operate the bakery.

My dad with my sisters and I at the bakery with my cousins from Italy. Circa 1993

When reflecting on my childhood, my happiest memories with my dad were making wine with him in our garage, making homemade sausage, going on bike rides, taking road trips up to Toronto with my sisters to pick up supplies for the bakery, and when we went to Italy to visit family. Although my dad worked long hours, he did his best to teach us his traditions and spend time with all four of his kids.

We may not agree on things all the time, but I truly appreciate all he has done for me. He sacrificed his life to provide a better one for his family. He taught us family traditions, modeled a good work ethic, and always provided for us. These are qualities I hope to pass on to our son, Milo. I am excited to do the things with him that my father did with me. I want to take him bike rides, teach him to bake, and show him the world. There is nothing more rewarding about being a parent than seeing your child grow and learn.

My father and I in Italy. Circa 1993

Although I'm lucky enough to celebrate being a dad every day, I'll admit it's nice to have a day dedicated to fatherhood. So, let me take the opportunity to with all the fathers, grandfathers, uncles---and anyone who is a parental figure---a very happy day this Sunday.

And to my own father: Happy Father's Day, Papa. I love you.

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Even as a young child, I knew I wanted to be a father. But I also knew I was gay. So while fatherhood has always been a dream of mine, I lived with the fear that gay men just didn't have children, so I'd never be a dad.

I loved kids so much that I spent much of my time babysitting: my younger siblings, my cousins, the neighbourhood kids. Starting at the age of 15 and continuing through my 24th year, I spent each summer as a camp counselor, always working with the youngest kids. I hoped that somehow, one day, I would become a dad.

I came out to my mother when I was 19. (It wasn't on purpose, but that's the subject of a whole other blog post!) I waited five more years to tell my dad because I was scared of what he might say or do. When I finally did tell him, I was surprised by his reaction. Instead of disowning me, he told me, “I love you no matter what, but I am sad because you will never get to be a father.”

This statement resonated with me for a very long time and made me see my dad differently. Times were different back then, the AIDS epidemic was going strong and it was still seen as a gay disease; gay issues and same-sex families were not as accepted in mainstream media or by society for that matter as they are now.

“Was he right?” I asked myself. “Because I am gay, would this dream of mine ever become a reality?”

The cast of Knots Landing, an American prime-time soap opera on CBS

The Gay Father in L.A.

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The holiday season is a time that reminds us about the important things in life, like spending time with our loved ones, helping people and spreading that holiday cheer. Frank is Jewish and I am Catholic, so growing up we had our own customs and traditions.

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I was riding the subway home on October 11, which happened to be National Coming Out Day, and there were posters for PFLAG  (Parents, Families, Friends & Allies of Toronto's LGBTQ community) posted in the subway station that had me thinking.
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Fatherhood, the gay way

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