Gay Dad Life

Family Spotlight: Richard

AT A GLANCE


Name: Richard

Age: 58

Relationship Status: Committed partner of 11 years

Two Children: Morgan (32) and Ashley (30)

Five Grandchildren: Haileigh (7), Adrian (5), Cody (3), Sarah (2), Kieran (2 months

Location: Nestleton / Toronto, Ontario

Always wanted children: Yes

Process to becoming a parent: Conceived two children during marriage to wife, came out as gay at age 45 when children were young adults

Advice or insight for other parents: “You have to make things happen.  Someone’s not going to do it for you.”

Favorite playtime activity with grandchildren: Legos, trains, movies, and tablet games

Grandkids call him: Papa

Grandkids call his partner: Nonno (Italian for grandfather)

“I’m gay.”

“No!”

“Yes.”

“No...”

“Yes!”

“No.”

The dialogue exchange between Richard and his son Morgan who – at the time, a college student – was finding out for the first time that his father identified as gay.  “We were actually in the car when I told him,” described Richard from the floor of his living room in Nestleton, Canada, recalling the decade-old conversation.  Morgan was actually the last person in the immediate family to hear this announcement from his father.  “The first person I told was my dog,” explained Richard “it was like an explosion went off in my head.”  At 45, His wife of 26 years was the next to find out.  “After I told my wife, it was much easier,” he explained.  Easier, but still, he decided to wait till both children were out of high school before coming out to them.  His daughter, Ashley, was just finishing high school when she was told.  Her reaction? An accepting, “Get out of here! Really?! Good for you!”

“Actually, coming out was very easy for me,” added Richard.  “[My kids] have seen how [coming out] has calmed me down.  I used to always be an angry person.  I didn’t know why I wasn’t happy before – now I do.”  Even in our short time together it is hard to imagine the Richard he describes; someone the opposite of the positive and upbeat person I see before me.  “I still get grumpy,” admits Richard “but doesn’t everyone?” A playful statement that I do feel resonates with the person before me.

Following his discovery and announcement, Richard had to make some difficult decisions about his life.  His newfound understanding of himself was surely exciting and liberating, but also difficult to reconcile with his current life.  “Even after I found out I was gay I was going to stay with [my wife] for the rest of my life.  The only thing we really fought about was money.  It wasn’t a fantastic life, but it was an okay life.  I did it for 26 years; what was another 15-20,” Richard professed.  He and his wife did stay together for a time, but eventually separated.

He currently enjoys life with his partner of 11 years who has requested to remain anonymous.  The two met at a weekend retreat for bears not long after Richard came out.  The pair are not married due in part to Richard still being legally married to his wife as well as his partner’s decision not to go public about his lifestyle.  There is no doubt, however, that they are both comfortable with this arrangement and very committed to each other.

“I just had to have [him], and I do,” Richard beams, recalling how the two first got together.  The pair manage to see each other regularly despite the fact that they are often apart.  His partner lives and works in the Toronto area while Richard spends most of his time in Nestleton so he can be closer to his kids and grandkids.  “If I could, I would keep them here all the time, but they have their own lives,” says Richard wistfully about his time at the lake house with his children and grand children.  It’s clear he loves being father and grandfather.

When asked about whether he always wanted to be a parent Richard wasted no time responding with, “Oh yea! I love kids!”  He continued on to say, “It’s always something I wanted to do.  Even after my daughter was born I considered having more but I thought – no, I can wait for grandchildren.”  A decision that ultimately proved to be in his favor as his wife was less involved with the child rearing duties, even leaving him to vacation with the children alone.  It was clear he was responsible for a lot of their needs without assistance.

With his grandchildren, Richard, who goes by ‘Papa’ to the kids – finds himself in a different situation.  He does have backup.  Not just in his own children, but also in his partner, who the kids affectionately call ‘Nono’ – Italian for granddad.  “He loves the children.  I think he loves them more than I do,” Richard chuckles while talking about co-grandparenting.  “He spoils them rotten where as I have rules,” Richard continues, “He’s quite happy with the rules, but he’s happier spoiling them.”

Don’t let Richard fool you, he spoils his grandchildren, too, in his own way.  Up in the attic of the lake house Richard has built the children a game room.  “They can go up there and play Legos and trains and whatever else,” Richard says with enthusiasm.  The kids also like movies and tablet games, leading to copious reminders about sharing, especially during Christmas when the family all get together each year.

Christmas hijinks with two gay grandparents is not a crazy pitch for a gay-interest film, it’s a reality that Richard and I both know will only become more common place with time.  The nice thing about the pair having been together for 11 years is that the grandkids have grown up seeing them as a united same-sex couple.  “To my knowledge, none of them have questioned it.  Maybe when they’re older they will,” Richard says with a frankness that seems to come from a certainty that they will, and a security that their questioning will have no effect on the love between them.

His advice for others is dispensed straight from the vessel of his own experience.  “I really wish I had known who I was sooner,” Richard shares. “You have to make things happen,” he says with confidence, “someone’s not gonna do it for you.”  Of course, he’s right.  The sentiment feels so nice to say it becomes easy to forget that in reality ‘making things happen’ can be as hard or scary as it is potentially rewarding and fulfilling.  Richard’s reward for ‘making things happen’ is said through a grin, “My kids love me more now than they ever have; because I’m happy.”

Show Comments ()
Gay Dad Life

'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!

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Life

Encouraged by His Son, Single Dad Richard Started Dating Again — and Just Got Married!

After his 14 year relationship ended, Richard got a gentle push into the dating pool from an unexpected source — his son!

In 2014, Richard Rothman's relationship of 15 years ended, leaving him understandably reluctant to jump back into the world of dating as a single gay dad. But after spending one too many Friday nights at home, he got a gentle nudge from somebody unexpected —his teenaged son, Jonathan.

"Dad," Jonathan said. "Would you just get out of the house and go on a date already?" (You may remember wise-beyond-his-years Jonathan from this post that went viral of a tattoo he got commemorating his adoption day.)

On his son's encouragement, Richard started dipping a tentative toe back into the dating pool. In 2015, he met Kevin thanks to mutual friends that introduced them via social media. It took four months before Richard introduced Kevin to his son, who was a Sophomore in high school at the time.

On New Year's Eve in 2017, Kevin proposed while the couple was vacationing in Palm Springs. The city has an outdoor festival every year, he explained, which the couple attended. The band Plain White T's happened to be performing their hit "Hey There Delilah" as Kevin got down on one knee and proposed. "Now whenever I hear that song it brings back memories of that night," Richard said.

Richard and Kevin married on March 30, 2019 back at the scene of the crime — in Palm Springs, at the Frederick Loewe Estate. Jonathan was Richard's best man, and also walked him down the aisle (awwww.....). Kevin's brother Bobby served as his best man.

"As so many wonderful moments continue to happen for us in Palm Springs, we now own a home there in addition to our primary residence in Bentonville, Arkansas," said Richard.

Check out video from the couple's special day below!


And Jonathan is now an E4 Master-at-Arms in the US Navy.

Gay Uncles

Gay Uncles are an Essential Part of This Gay Dad Family's Village

It takes a village to raise a child, and this village includes many gay uncles

In November last year, Ottawa-based husbands Matt Ottaviani and Rej Gareau (whose story we shared in July) became first-time dads through surrogacy. They were overjoyed to welcome their daughter Andy and become a family of three.

But as many of us know, raising a child isn't always just about the nuclear family. The African proverb "it takes a village to raise a child" is a commonly repeated phrase, and rings very true for many families. Matt and Rej are no different, and when they shared their story last month, one thing jumped out to us: the important role Andy's guncles play in her and her dads' lives.

In honor of Gay Uncles Day today, we reached out to Andy's many guncles to learn first-hand how their relationship with the family affects their lives. Here's what they had to say.

Keep reading... Show less

'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!

Keep reading... Show less
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.

Keep reading... Show less
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.

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Adoption

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.

Keep reading... Show less

Fatherhood, the gay way

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

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse