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!"

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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.

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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.

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How Fatherhood Has Impacted Tom Daley's Diving Career for the Better

British diver Tom Daley, and new-ish gay dad, is looking to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in South Korea.

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But he also has another concern that most young gay men his age couldn't fathom—fatherhood. He and his husband, filmmaker Dustin Lance Black, recently welcomed Robbie Ray via surrogacy in June 2018.

In an interview with the Independent, Daley explained how fatherhood has changed his routine and training, which he says is often for the better.

"It has changed my life completely in all of the best ways possible," Daley said. "It has changed my perspective, the way I think about things. [My son] is the most important thing in my life, everything I do is for him, everything I think about he is at the forefront of everything."

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Whatever the challenges he faces while training, he said, "I can leave it there because you don't have time to think about diving when you are looking after a kid under one."

The strategy seems to be working in Daley's favor. He recently enjoyed his most successful FINA Diving World Series ever this past Spring in Canada, winning 12 medals across five events. And barring any major catastrophe, he is overwhelmingly expected to qualify for South Korea 2020.

And we can't wait to cheer the young dad on!

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"While we should never gloss over the things that divide us, there is a lot more that unites us," Polis said. "When we close ourselves off from discussion or debate, and we reject the possibility of hearing and understanding other perspectives, it threatens the fabric of our democracy."

If he was hoping for a Kumbaya moment, he didn't exactly get it. As he was called to the stage, he was greeted with a smattering of applause—while others booed and shouted for a "recall" of the Governor.

"It was almost unbearable for me to sit there to listen to his talk," Abby Johnson, one of the event's attendees, told the Denver Post. "And I'm going to tell you why. He kept talking about equality for all persons, yet we live in a society where 60 million innocent human beings have been slaughtered in the name of choice. Where is their justice? Where is their equal rights?"

Polis was also criticized from his left flank for attending the same event that refuses to let the Log Cabin Republicans, a group of gay GOP members, participate—and that featured Donald Trump Jr. as a speaker the same day. "To me it feels like vanity," Katie Farnan, a staffer with progressive group Indivisible, told the Denver Post. "He can go and be a hip Democratic governor who isn't afraid to go into GOP sanctuary. Or maybe it's recall insurance. But unless he was there to hold them accountable for their support for fascist and racist policies, what's the point?"

In response to the criticism from both sides of the political aisle, Polis told the Colorado Sun: "I think it's very important that Coloradans of different ideologies, different races, different geographies, different orientations and gender identities all really celebrate that we're all part of what makes Colorado great."

The event is hosted each year by Colorado Christian University to bring together conservatives from around the state, and the larger West.

What do you think, dads? Was Polis's decision to speak at the event a savvy political move or mere pandering?

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