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.
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.