My Family’s Long Road to Accepting Their Gay Son
As a gay family we are very fortunate it is the year 2017, not 2007. Times are more accepting now; life has become easier for the LGBTQ community, thanks to thousands of advocates who sacrificed so much.
We are not saying things are perfect. We understand there is still a lot more progress that needs to be made today, especially with Trump in power. On the bright side it is much easier for same sex couples to have a baby today versus a decade ago. In fact we probably would not have felt safe and comfortable bringing a child with two dads into this world in 2007!
We know factors like the country you live in, family support, legal rights and marriage equality play a big role into becoming gay dads. Some of us take this for granted while others are still fighting for these basic rights. We are very fortunate to be one of the lucky ones living in Canada. No matter where you live in the world all you need is love to bring a family together and no government can take that away from you.
From left to right: Paul's dad, Ewan, Jasmine, Paul, and Paul's mom
Just over 10 years ago my parents did not approve of our lifestyle. It was a very tough few years after I came out to my parents. We went through several counseling sessions with little success. They could not get over the fact that this wasn’t a phase and said the entire family would disown us if they found out.
We decided to move countries to get some space. We moved to Los Angeles from Toronto, and lived there for three years to give my family some time to adjust. When we returned to Canada, we received a call from my grandmother. She told me she knew about me and my boyfriend and she didn't care as long as I was happy. That conversation changed my relationship with my family completely. After she accepted us, the rest of the family followed. All of a sudden we were now accepted with open arms, thanks to that one individual standing up for us. My grandmother calls my husband her grandson and now we are closer to her than the rest of the family. This proves one person can make a difference and a single voice can unite or divide a family!
Today, 16 years later after coming out, I have never been closer to my parents. The birth of our daughter, more than two years ago, helped things even more. Right now we are on vacation with my parents who love spending time with us and their first granddaughter. So what changed in a decade? Society has become more accepting, gay marriage became legal and most people now support diversity and inclusion. Personally I owe it to my grandmother who had the courage to accept us even though we were different and not typically accepted by our culture and religion. We believe it is easier to be two gay dads in North America compared to many other countries. Unfortunately, the rest of the world still has some catching up to do but in Canada we now have equal rights similar to our straight counterparts in pretty much all facets of the law. Ontario’s premier is a lesbian and it is not even a big deal!
We are so proud of our gay family that we started the first gay family real estate company in Canada called Modern Family Realtor. Our gay business model would probably not work in over 95 percent of the world today but in Toronto we are not only accepted but supported by thousands of people. This is a new generation, one that believes in diversity, multiculturalism and acceptance.
Our biggest accomplishment to date has been our beautiful daughter Jasmine. She inspires and motivates us every day. People said we were crazy for having a baby. It's not right! Two dads can’t raise a baby. Many recent studies show clearly that children raised by gay dads or lesbian moms fare no worse growing up than their counterparts with straight parents (and perhaps even better).
We want Jasmine to grow up in a world that is inclusive of everyone no matter your gender, race, sexual orientation, religious belief and political affiliation. One of our major concerns about bringing a baby into this world with two dads was the potential backlash from society. I was bullied as a kid and the thought of that happening again to us or more so Jasmine haunted us throughout the process. We have traveled to many parts of the world, and have been welcomed with open arms. Sometimes we even get perks: one time we got upgraded to first class on a flight to Scotland!
If I could leave you with one lesson it is that being who you are and accepting yourself first will make it easier for others to accept you. Be with who you want to be with, do what you want to do and life will be your oyster.