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

This Gay Dad's Search for Reliable Surrogacy Info in Canada Led Him to Share His Own Story

Grant Minkhorst scoured the Internet for reliable info, relevant to Canada, but found "slim pickings."

When my husband and I decided that we wanted to start a family, we scoured the internet for information and resources about gay parenting. As many of you already know, it was "slim pickings," as Grandma would say. I stumbled from one website to the next with little to show for it. When I wanted to learn more about surrogacy specifically, I would repeatedly end up on surrogacy agency websites. While some included relevant information, I noticed large gaps and a countless inconsistencies. Not only that, but many of the agency websites were based in the United States where the surrogacy process differs from that in Canada. The search for a dependable resource for would-be Canadian gay fathers was frustrating and, seemingly, futile.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

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We've had a busy old few months. Talulah recently turned 2 in October, and Katie made the big 14. Life in the Johnson-Ellis household has been far from dull.

Rewind to August and we receive an email asking us to give evidence at one of their "surrogacy evidence sessions," in view of the Surrogacy Law Reform. For those that aren't fully up to speed the UK currently is bound by the 1985 Surrogacy Act, which is in desperate need of a make over to say the least. So there's currently a group of people that come from a varied background - they may be surrogates, Intended Parents (IP's), Lawyers, Clinicians and other surrogacy experts from all corners of the globe. All with one one goal; to hopefully help drive forward and allow the UK Government to review the current laws, challenge them with a view to make the UK a more current and modern environment to create families without risk or challenge.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

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This is our adoption story.

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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

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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!

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