Newly Out Gay Dads

Derek McClary on Coming Out as a Gay Dad and Living His Authentic Life

Derek McClary, 41, from Ontario, Canada, has known he was gay from a very young age. He was teased and tormented for much of his childhood, starting in the fourth grade and continuing through the end of high school.


Before moving away to attend university, he actually made a conscious decision to "straighten out" to make sure the bullying didn't follow him to his new life. It was during these years that he met the woman who would become his wife. The two graduated from the same program in 1998 and were married soon after in 2001. Two daughters eventually joined the family.

Coming out

After more than a decade of trying to hide his authentic self, Derek had finally made the decision to tell his wife the truth -- that he was gay. While he struggled with just how and when to tell his wife, by January of 2014 he was forced into action. Sensing a possible threat that he would be outed became the impetus he needed to approach his wife one evening as she was cleaning the dishes after dinner.

Derek recalls that the two sat down and talked for a very long time. He summoned the courage to be completely honest with his now ex-wife. They agreed that they needed to work towards a separation, and, keeping their daughter's needs top of mind, they kept the communication open and honest.

Within a week Derek and his wife had confided in most of their friends and family. Before sharing the news of the impending separation with their daughters, they decided to take a family vacation to Walt Disney World. And they brought close family friends along with them. While all the adults on the trip knew about the impending changes that would soon affect the family, none of the kids did. As such, Derek remembers that the trip had some very surreal moments.

In March, the month following their family trip, Derek moved out into a condo that was close to the home in which his ex and two daughters would continue to live. "All in all it was as amicable as possible," shared Derek.

Coming clean to his kids

At first, neither Derek nor his ex-wife explained the true cause of the separation to their girls, who were 9 and 5 at the time. It wasn't until after Derek had been living in his condo for a couple of months that he and his ex-wife finally sat down with them to explain that their marriage ended because their daddy was gay. Derek says that they didn't really process the news fully as they were still hurting from the surprise of the separation.

"It didn't change their opinion of me," said Derek. "They told me that they still loved me." His eldest daughter was upset because she had just told all her friends about her parents' separation, and now she felt like she needed to share the reason behind their separation. His younger daughter asked if he wanted to "kiss boys" and then went back to playing.

On co-parenting

Today, Derek co-parents with his ex-wife. While she has primary custody, Derek gets the girls each Wednesday and every other weekend. "We try to support and enable each other to be individuals as well as co-parents," said Derek. "Our relationship has its ups and downs, but for the most part we are consistent and supportive of each other and our kids."

"I really don't think I have this thing mastered enough to give anyone advice," shared Derek honestly, though as you read more we think you'll understand why we respectfully disagree.

"We try to communicate as much as possible. And our situation has definitely been helped immensely by the fact that we live so close to each other. Also, everyone knows about our situation...friends, neighbors and even teachers. In fact, some of the kids' teachers have responded in a real positive and amazing manner to my coming out and to showing the girls real empathy following our separation!"

Derek tries to model a decent, respectful life for his two daughters. He is more liberal than his ex-wife, which can sometimes cause issues. He works at balancing his need to express his gayness and liberal opinions in a way that doesn't impact his daughters' relationship with their mom and friends.

Living his authentic life

"Coming out is such a personal and emotional event in each of our lives," recognizes Derek. "It really should happen on your own time and according to your own terms."

Even so, the reality is that under the best of circumstances not everyone we know will be open to the news.

"I lost some friends because of my decision," admits Derek. "However, the opportunity to strengthen many of the relationships that I had and the chance to build meaningful new relationships while being my authentic self has been incredible! Only now do I realize how much being in the closet limited my potential."

Derek is clearly still very much enjoying his new life. "Coming out has brought out my true personality." explained Derek. "I'm in a gay volleyball league that has allowed me to meet many amazing guys who have become really supportive friends."

Derek continues, "I have the privilege of being out at work and in my community. The only real struggle I have now is when my eldest daughter catches me checking out guys. She rolls her eyes a lot!"

"It's not always an easy journey," Derek says, ending his story for Gays With Kids. "And it sounds cliché, but we really only get one chance at life. Being true to yourself is so incredibly worth it!"

Show Comments ()
Change the World

Gay Dad Opens Up About His Experiences With Conversion Therapy

The California-based gay dad was one of 8 people to be interviewed about his experiences with the disproven practice of conversion therapy for The Cut.

Conversion therapy, the disproven practice of attempting to change an individual's sexual orientation through psychological interventions, has been in the news a lot lately. This past May, Maryland became the 11th state to completely ban the damaging therapy for minors. Some states are even considering bills to further prohibit the practice for adults.

Hollywood is paying attention to the trend, with two major movies, Boy Erased and The Miseducation of Cameron Post, to be released before the end of the year.

Keep reading... Show less
Change the World

Gay Dad Comes Out to Son in a Hidden Camera TV Show

The scene, which aired in a recent episode of What Would You Do?, took place in a New Jersey diner.

A recently aired episode of ABC's What Would You Do? featured a staged situation in which a gay man comes out to his son in a restaurant in New Jersey. The premise of the show, which features hidden cameras, is to subject unsuspecting people to a certain dilemma, and then gauge their reaction as the drama unfolds.

This latest episode was inspired by a popular op-ed in the Washington Post by a man named Jared Bilski titled "My dad lived a lie. I'm determined my kids won't have to do the same." In the piece, Bilski writes about the regret he feels for his father, who finally came out to him just a few days before he passed away.

Bilski writes in part, "It wasn't death he was afraid of, at least not at that moment. My dad was terrified of how I'd react to hearing he'd been lying all along."

What would passersby in a crowded diner think of a father coming out to his son in a similarly-staged situation? John Quiñones, who hosts the hidden camera show, sought to find out. In the scene, a man, seated next to his wife, tell their son they are getting a divorce because of his sexual orientation. The couple then leave the room, leaving the son alone, pondering this news.

Fortunately, most of the feedback the young man receives from other diners who overhear the conversation are positive.

"You didn't lose him," one diner tells the son. "He is the same person with the same values and the same emotions. Let me tell you, it doesn't matter what age you are, divorce is divorce. It hurts. But these two people don't change. These two people still love you very, very much."

"It's still your dad, man," says another "Accept him for what it is, you know? It's the only thing you can do."

"Being gay, it's not a big deal," says yet another. "It doesn't change the fact that he's your dad."

You can watch the full clip of the touching episode here.

Gay Dad Family Stories

Newly Out Gay Dad is Living His Truth

"All of my relationships in my past were real," says Steven, who began living his authentic life as a gay man in 2015. "My marriage included."

Partners Steven Graffam and John Stivale met commuting to work on the bus in New York City. The two had noticed one another for months. Then one day, they went beyond exchanging looks and exchanged phone numbers too. The two have been together a little under a year.

Steven is a gay dad with one son, via a straight relationship, who came to terms with his sexual orientation in 2015. Now he's in a serious relationship with a man who adores his son and they've begun to talk about their future, one that might include more kids. Here's Steven's story.

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
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.

Bravo!

Sponsored

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

Fatherhood, the gay way

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

FOLLOW OUR FAMILIES

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse