Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Do Other Gay Men Judge Us When We Have Kids?

Or is it the other way around? David Blacker muses on the subject in his latest essay.

Like Whitney's infamous "Crack is Whack" interview with Diane Sawyer, I have a feeling this too will turn into one of those regrettable what-was-I-thinking moments. But I'm going to write it anyway. It's why we come to this site in the first place. To read truthful stories about gay men and their children or their desire to have children. But more importantly, it's a place we come to be open and transparent about our lives, our fears, our hopes, and sometimes, even, our confessions. That might be what this piece turns into.

Enough caveats already. Here's the thing: I've recently begun to feel as though my gay friends without children judge me for having one. Or worse yet, I've started to wonder if I judge them for choosing not to have kids. While I've clearly won over straight people as they now perceive me to be more like them — traditional family values, etc. — I feel that I've alienated my child-free gay friends who no longer feel that we want the same things out of life.


David and his son, Maxwell

Their feelings are well founded. On the surface, it doesn't seem like I have much in common with them anymore. Our world revolves around our son Max… and has since the day he was born. Every single decision we make puts Max front and center. Simply put: it ain't about us anymore.

But I've always felt that once you make a genuine connection with someone, you should put in the work to remain close, even if your lives take a different turn. I've really tried to hold up my end of the bargain by inviting my gay friends to countless family brunches, backyard barbeques, birthday parties and asking them to join me on my weekend hikes. I still text them funny, inappropriate memes. I still gossip about the latest makeups, breakups and shakeups amongst our old crew. And, yet, it doesn't feel like my gay friends still think of me as "just one of the guys" (side note: how good was that 80s movie?). While I once felt like the life of the party, I now don't even get invited to those parties.

It's not that I'm experiencing FOMO (fear of missing out, for those over 30). The truth is, I've never been a partier, drinker, dancer or club goer. But that doesn't mean I don't sometimes miss shooting the shit with the old crowd. I always envisioned these guys taking part in my fatherhood journey — you know, becoming one of Max's cool-ass guncles? But in reality, most of them haven't seen Max since he was an infant… eight years ago.

Maybe it's my fault. Maybe I've declined one too many trips to Mykonos to celebrate a gay friend's 40th. Maybe we left game night a little too early to get home to relieve the babysitter. Maybe I stopped laughing at the things that everyone else finds funny. Maybe we grew up a bit and realized there's more to life than bars and gyms. Ugh… there I go again… being judgmental. I'm sorry. I think part of it stems from my envy for the freedom that these guys still have. To be able to pick-up and skip town for a last-minute boys weekend in… insert any perfectly Instagrammable location here. While being a father is hands down the best thing I've ever done, sometimes, on very rare occasions, I look at childless guys and think the grass is greener.

But then Cher slaps me and I quickly snap out of it. No grass is greener than the life I've been blessed with. I managed to find the guy who wanted all the same things that I always wanted. Our little guy has transformed our lives in the best — and, okay, sometimes most annoying — ways possible. I'm able to live the happy ending I use to fear would always elude me. So yeah, fuck the brighter grass. I'm perfectly content with my shade of greenness.

But then I realized something else. And it's a big revelation, so you better sit down for this.

Here goes.

Maybe the shift I've been feeling has nothing to do with having a child. Maybe my old gay friends just plain don't like me anymore. Or worse yet, maybe they never have.

David and his husband, Alex

Yeah, no. It's not that. I'm very likable. I'm still the life of the party (well, the ones I get invited to). I still make sure everyone's laughing and having fun. Generally speaking, people like to be around me. One person even dressed up as me for Halloween (he got the hair all wrong, but A for effort). So why am I sitting here inventing conspiracy theories as to why my old friends seem to be over me?

Does it even matter? In the grand scheme of things, I'm doing just fine. Because with every old gay friend who hasn't embraced my family-first lifestyle, there's another gay-dad friend that comes along to fill his void… and they're able to commiserate with me about the same kinds of things.

So in the end, I guess I'm just as guilty of judging old friends as they are of judging me. I still love those guys, and I miss the fun times we had together, but as my favorite President — Bill Clinton — once said: The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change.

That said, I'm still going to keep making the effort to stay connected with the old crew. And I won't take it personally if they don't reciprocate. Not sweating the small stuff — it's one of the many things parenthood has taught me.


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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

We Gained a Son Through Foster Care — He Didn't Lose his Family

Foster-adopt expert Trey Rabun writes a moving essay about his own experiences as a parent in the foster care system.

My husband, Phil, and I talked about having children since out first date over 11 years ago. Like many other gay dads, we waited to start the journey to become parents until we felt secure with our careers, finances, and home life. This meant we didn't start the partnering journey until 2016 when we were eight years into our relationship.

When we first met, I was completing my graduate studies in social work and subsequently started a career working in foster care and adoption. This made our decision to pursue foster care-adoption as our path to parenthood a fairly easy one. In fact, I can't recall us discussing other avenues to parenthood, but I'm sure we briefly discussed them before solidifying our decision to become foster parents.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

'Shook to the Core': a Gay Dad Remembers Katrina on the Hurricane's 14th Anniversary

On the 14th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a Erik Alexander remembers the event that shook the South

August 29th will always be associated with a series of devastating events brought on by what is often considered the worst in US history- Hurricane Katrina. If you had've told me then that in less than a year's time I'd find the love of my life and legally married husband, I would have laughed at you. But if you said that in just 10 years time that I would be a dad, I would have broke down and sobbed-uncontrollably. Life has a funny way of working out, even in its darkest time. This is my Katrina experience. This is my account - a refugee's story.

It's been 14 years and it still feels as if it happened a couple of years ago. Hurricane Katrina shook the entire South to its core. It single-handedly uprooted thousands of people, many of which never returned home, and affected the lives of everyone here in some way. The livelihoods of countless people were ripped away and tossed into the flooded streets glistening with oil sheen under the hot August sun.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Hurricanes are a way of life down here, right? I mean, we deal with storms every year. So how in the hell could this happen? How could we let our guard down? Both are very good questions. It still makes me wonder because power outages, minor street flooding and evacuations are second nature to most New Orleanians. But Katrina was different. She was a monster.

The day before mandatory evacuations, I remember waking up after a long night of partying and seeing that my mom had tried calling me multiple times. I called her back and, through my hangover, I could tell that she was completely stricken with panic. "Come home now!" she screamed into the phone. "The storm has turned and it is heading right for New Orleans!" Through the night, the storm had shifted from a northwesterly path to due north--straight for New Orleans.

I had lived in New Orleans for about 4 years at that point. My family still lived in Oak Grove, a suburb of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Like I said before, we deal with this sort of thing all the time during hurricane season. But unlike all the other times, this particular instance was like a series of unfortunate events that enabled this storm to be catastrophic. The water temperature in the Gulf and the jet stream were two of the main culprits. Usually, it seems like storms shift away from us, not toward us. And as the events unfolded, it was like the whole city of New Orleans held its breath. You could hear a pin drop. Then, once we all realized this was really happening, everyone scattered.

The silence gave way to the sounds of construction as homeowners and business owners nailed up plywood to protect their property. The people that stayed rushed to the grocery stores and the people that left sped to the gas stations. I will never forget how long the lines were. Waiting to fill my car up with gas is one mistake that I will never make again. Little did I know that waiting an hour for gasoline was a cakewalk compared to what would be in store 2 days later.It was really tough leaving home. This was different that any other time I had evacuated. It may have been because of the ominous path the storm was on. Whatever reason it was, it was very emotional for me. I remember making sure that my house was nice and tidy as I picked up the living room, Weather Channel blaring in the background. My mom had always instilled in me that when I came home from evacuations, it would be nicer to walk into a clean house rather than having to clean when I got home. Little did I know, I wouldn't be coming home for a long, long time. I packed my little car with a couple of duffel bags, secured my garden and lawn furniture, and off I went. It took about 4 hours to get to my mom's house, a trip that usually took 2 hours. Given the amount of cars on the road, that seemed like a success to me.

New Orleans, LA--Aerial views of damage caused from Hurricane Katrina the day after the hurricane hit August 30, 2005. Photo by Jocelyn Augustino/FEMA

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

As the next day approached, it was pretty evident that Katrina was going to hit New Orleans. However, we didn't have any idea that there was a warm pocket of water in the Gulf she was about to churn over that would spike her windspeeds even higher. All of us were frozen. As the winds became stronger, she began to shift east. Wait, what? East? Now, she was predicted to make landfall in south Mississippi. So I left my entire life behind, and for what? To go to ground zero.

We all know how it played out. Katrina was a direct hit for south Mississippi. It literally annihilated the Gulf Coast. We were about an hour inland, but that didn't stop the massive winds. Pine trees snapped and crashed down all around us blocking everyone in our neighborhood. I had never seen trees bend like that. It was horrifying. The rain blew sideways for days it seemed. The wind howled like rabid wolves in the night. Then, the lights went out. And they stayed out for 2 weeks.

Luckily, we had a generator to at least run the refrigerator and the a/c for a few hours. We had to really watch our generator because there were thieves that were stealing them and replacing them with lawn mowers because the motors sounded so similar. Days after the storm it seemed apocalyptic. No power, no gas to run generators, no water. There were reports of people killing their own family members over ice, food, and gas. It was 100 degrees outside and we had no electricity, no water. Seriously, what do you do?

To our amazement, it was like a guardian angel guided them to us. My parents' friends owned a furniture store in town. They called us to see if we needed somewhere safe to stay. We were so excited! This place had electricity! It had running water! We walked in and got to pick out our sleeping spot in one of the 2 different show rooms. Each show room had about 10 different room displays. I can still remember how comfortable I was with the cool air blowing on me as I lay on a big sofa. I was able to charge my cellphone and turn it on. When I did, I was flooded with voicemails. Earlier that day, the levees broke in New Orleans. Water inundated the city. Parts of the city were on fire. People were drowning. It seemed like New Orleans had fallen.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia


After a few days of sweating it out with my family, I was elated to find out that some friends of mine came up from New Orleans heading towards Memphis. They stopped by my house to see if I wanted to follow along. As I quickly as I could, I threw my bags in my car and away we went.

A close friend of mine lived in Memphis and I was able to stay with him and his family for a while. They took me in as their own and, to this day, I am eternally grateful. All of a sudden I went from being a guest in from out of town to a New Orleans refugee. Memphis picked me up and give me the tightest hug. Everywhere I went, people hugged me. I couldn't help but to cry- all of the time. All of the stores had signs in their windows reading "refugee discounts." Every time I took my license out to show them, they hugged me. Some cried. Some would put their hand on my face and tell me that it was going to be okay. Memphis will ALWAYS be my second home. The compassion, empathy, and love that radiated from everyone there still shines in my heart to this day.

One week led to a month, then to two months. Then there was talk of New Orleans allowing residents back home. They implemented the return for residents by zip code only. I waited anxiously for them to call my zip code. The city officials stressed that the city was still uninhabitable. This was just to allow residents to assess damages and grab their belongings until New Orleans was operational again. Finally, they announced my zip code and away I went.

There were many detours because of roads and bridges not existing anymore. Finally, I got to New Orleans. It was like it was Armageddon. I could not believe my eyes. Floodwaters, broken trees, debris, caskets. It was overwhelming. There were military check points every half mile. One happened to be right beside my house on Saint Charles Avenue. They walked around in their military garb wielding assault riffles. It was literally like a war scene from a movie. When I finally made it to my house I had to wind my way through broken branches and slate roofing tiles.

I was frantically trying to load my life up for the next few months. As twilight fell, everything was silent. The wind had stopped. No sounds of birds, insects, people. It was incredibly eerie. There was a sunset curfew and I had to be out of the city before the sun went down. Well, needless to say, I was running a little bit late. I jumped in my car and hauled ass toward the interstate. There was another military checkpoint before I could leave. He flagged me down and I stopped. He said I was past curfew and I had to turn around and go back to my house--my dark and scary house. At that moment I lost it. All I could do was cry. Actually, I balled. I was terrified. I couldn't even talk without hyperventilating. Thankfully, he felt sorry for me and let me pass. I felt like I was transported to Iraq. It was so surreal and overwhelming.

I went back to Memphis as quickly as I could that evening. I had nightmares for years after that. Many, many other people do too. Some, much, much worse. So many people died. Entire families drowned in their attics with no way to escape. Katrina left holes in people's lives that will never ever be filled. The images of the rushing water flooding my city will always be burned into my memory.

Every single year, as each new storm develops, we all have flashbacks of what our lives were like after the storm. If it is one thing I learned, it's that one event can change everyone's way of life- in one fail swoop. Don't take anything for granted because it can all be gone tomorrow. Every single year, hurricane season is a daunting and sinking feeling that doesn't go away until November. The longer we go with not having a major storm, the easier it is to to go on with our daily lives. But the events of what happened 14 years ago will never ever leave me. With every hurricane season that comes, and every storm that forms, Katrina will always be in the back of my mind.

That which doesn't kill you, makes you stronger right? That couldn't have been more true as we all began to rebuild our lives in New Orleans and all across the South. You can't really and truly understand the beauty of life until it's ripped away from you. It's when you have stared at what is heinously terrifying about life - and then overcame it. It's in those very moments there. That is your silver lining. It's a single seed of hope that sprouts. It's watered by faith, and grown by love, to become the blossoms of our lives.

***

I would love for you to follow our family's journey!

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

How These Gay Dads Prepared for Twins

Marc and Steve, who are expecting twins girls later this year, tell us how they've prepared to grow their family

Guest post by Marc and Steve

As mentioned in our previous blog it was a shock to find out that we will be expecting twins later on this year. It had taken some getting used to idea but now we are counting down the last few months before we can welcome our twin girls into the family.

Both Marc and I knew we always wanted to have more than one child, the main reason for this was so our first (Spencer) always had some company, someone to play with and so he never felt like he was alone. From around the age of three Spencer has been asking about having a sibling, we knew this day would come as inevitably he was going to have friends who had siblings, so at some point he was going to question why he was an only child. We always said we wanted to have as small of an age gap as possible but unfortunately this did not happen for various reasons. Not that it makes that much difference to us now, in fact we believe it has worked out better this way, with Spencer being that little bit older and more independent he can be a lot more involved with the care of his sisters. He is already telling us that he will help us by getting them nappies and wipes.

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'Life Is Amazing': Congrats to Gay Dads Whose Families Recently Grew!

Help us congratulate gay dads on their recent births and adoptions last month!

Wishing all of these gay dads whose families expanded in the last month or so a lifetime of happiness! Congrats to everyone in our community on their recent births and adoptions!

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Change the World

In the Philly Area? Attend 'Family Pride' On October 5th!

Philadelphia Family Pride is hosting their 10th Annual "Family Matters" Conference on October 5th for LGBTQ parents, prospective parents, and their kids!

Guest post by Stephanie Haynes, the executive director of Philadelphia Family Pride

On Saturday, October 5, 2019, Philadelphia Family Pride will hold their 10th Annual Family Matters Conference from 9am to 3:30pm for LGBTQ parents, prospective parents and their kids of all ages at the University of the Sciences in West Philadelphia. The theme this year is "Telling Our Stories." Registration is now open!

In an interactive keynote, Anndee Hochman, author of the Philadelphia Inquirer's weekly "Parent Trip" column, will share highlights from her work as a journalist and memoirist. She'll invite conversation about the stories that shape us—what tales do we share? who does the telling? who is left out?—and how those stories, added up, are changing the world. Read her bio.

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5 Things to Keep in Mind When Preparing for Your Home Study

Molly Rampe Thomas of Choice Network lists the 5 things gay men should keep in mind when preparing for your home study

The homestudy is the first step in the adoption process. In every state the homestudy is done a little differently, but all of them have the some combo of paperwork, trainings, and interviews. The homestudy can take anywhere from 2 months to 6 months to complete. Without it, you cannot adopt.

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'NolaPapa' Launches YouTube Channel: Story of a Gay Dad

Check out Erik Alexander's new YouTune Channel: Story of a Gay Dad

When we first found out that our second daughter was African American I froze. Not because of her race, but because I knew NOTHING about African American hair. So I frantically tried to learn as much as I could while she was a newborn so I was ready to style it when she was a little older.

I decided to launch our YouTube channel Nolapapa: Story of a Gay Dad to focus on this very topic! Episodes 1-5 will solely be dedicated to learning how to wash, care for and styling African American hair. Afterwards, the content will shift towards personal & family situations, adoption, gay parenting questions and other great content! I'd love your support and become part of our little village as we launch this new project!

Sending Nola love to each of ya!

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