Gay Dad Life

How One Gay Couple Found Themselves Fathers in Their Early 20s

Though Michael and Adam said learning how to parent at a young age was difficult at moments, they had each other to lean on.

Raising a gay stepfamily comes with its own obstacles. You're juggling a partner, children, an ex is likely in the mix, all while also trying to determine your own place within the complicated family dynamic. For Michael and Adam McAtee, it was no different. Except they had to go through this in their early twenties, when many of their peers were living a much more self indulgent lifestyle. Here's a look at how Michael and Adam have managed to raise a loving two-dad stepfamily, all the while trying to figure out where they fit into society today.


Michael (left) and Adam with their daughter

Michael and Adam McAtee quickly became fast friends while working at a gym together in southern California. Adam was married to a woman at the time and had a 1-year-old daughter. Through Michael's friendship and support, Adam gained the courage to come out to his family and wife. It was an excruciatingly difficult time for Adam as many of the supports he enjoyed as a "straight" man did not stick around for the newly revealed gay Adam. Tension was also high with his soon-to-be ex-wife.

Michael and Adam's wedding

After Adam came out, he and Michael began to see one another romantically. Michael knew that getting closer to him would inevitably mean assuming the role of stepparent to his 1-year-old daughter. Michael and Adam were 23 and 22 at the time, respectively. "Because we were so young, we shared a lot of similar feelings of confusion and frustration around being parents," said Michael. "We were still discovering ourselves and finding out who we wanted to be as adults." But the two had each other to lean on which helped get them through some tough moments. Seven years later, the dads feel as though they've learned a lot, and are grateful for the wonderful impact parenthood has had on their lives. For Michael, it also brought to the surface some unresolved issues from his own childhood. "For me the biggest challenge growing up as a gay boy was learning to love myself and believe in myself," he explained. Sure, there were times when Michael's resilience and commitment to the family waned because he didn't feel like he belonged, and the feelings of uncertainty, fear, and worry bubbled so close to the surface. But his love for Adam and his daughter, and his commitment to their family, helped him overcome his roadblocks and ultimately become a better person overall.

Adam and his daughter

"Seven years later, we are now married and much more secure in our relationship and in our ability to parent." But the family continues to face challenges, both from their respective families and society as a whole. For Adam and Michael, the lack of recognition from family and friends manifests in small but hurtful ways, such as forgetting birthdays or holidays such as Father's Day. Finding a place where they feel like they belong has been a struggle, even within the gay community.

Michael (left) and Adam at their wedding


"In the fight for marriage equality, the gay community concerned itself with 'selling sameness' to present a comforting image to straight society," said Michael. "My husband and I know that raising children as gay parents is not the same as raising children as straight parents. Gay dads have had to contend with unique challenges, including lack of resources and cultural invisibility both in and out of the gay community." Still, Adam and Michael realize how important it is to be a gay dad, especially today. "I believe gays have the opportunity to raise children in a revolutionary way by modeling how to construct a positive identity out of the experience of oppression," said Michael. And that's what the dads are doing: raising their daughter to be part of the next generation who are compassionate, accepting of diversity and self-exploration.

Adam and his daughter

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A Dad Gives Thanks After Finally Saying These Words: "I'm Gay"

Cameron Call, a dad of three, came out this past July — and is thankful to be living in his truth.

Guest post written by Cameron Call

During this time of year when our hearts soften and we focus on our thank-yous and grateful-fors I feel it's time to share one of mine: I am grateful for courage. Particularly the courage to be vulnerable and finally allow myself to be seen. I've made some effort to be more real and honest the last little while when I post on here but social media still remains the world's most viewed highlight reel. It's so easy to keep up an appearance and maintain a certain reputation based on what we allow people to see. I admit that I have done this for far too long my entire life. I'm tired of hiding and I am sick of pretending.

Speaking of courage, I haven't had a lot of it throughout my life. I've always been an introvert, soft spoken, scared to share my ideas, rarely spoke up, etc. But things are different now. I'm different. For so long I've been afraid of admitting and embracing a certain truth about a part of myself. And that fear has motivated some life altering decisions throughout my 33 years of life.

Kristin and I finalized our divorce back in July after more than ten incredible years.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

One Dad's Plan to 'Co-Parent Like Crazy' with His Future Husband and Ex-Wife

"I see my daughter being raised in such a loving home," said Nick. "She'll understand equality and love, and I hope I will instill those qualities in her so that she spreads it to others."

When we asked 30-year-old Nick from Fort Worth, Texas, about his path to fatherhood, he told us it was a long story and to get ready. Nick became a dad through a previous straight relationship and only came out a few years ago, but a lot has happened since then.

Growing up, Nick was raised with the belief that he should, one day, become a dad and have a family. He was brought up Catholic, and was taught that his only option to have a family was with a woman.

At first, he didn't question this belief, but he distinctly remembers the first moment when he realized he was attracted to men.

"At around age 14, I remember getting in trouble in class and was sent to sit in the hallway and this guy came walking down the hallway and I thought, 'Oh, he's cute.'" After pondering that thought for a while, Nick began to look at other guys and soon realized that he was attracted to guys. "I never asked my parents, or any religious figures from church, about these thoughts that were rapidly swimming around my head—even when I was supposed to confess my sins in confession at church. I was terrified that the Father of the church would tell my parents and I'd be exiled or forced into being straight."

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Change the World

A Gay Fertility Doctor Opens Up About His Own Path to Parenthood

Parenthood is the "one and only job" held by the majority of the population, wrote gay fertility doctor Mark Leondires in a recent op-ed for The Advocate

Dr. Mark Leondires, founder of the fertility clinic RMA of Connecticut, has helped thousands of LGBTQ people become parents over the years. But in a recent op-ed for The Advocate, he discussed his own path to parenthood as a gay man, and some of the lessons he's learned along the way.

"Similar to most gay men I struggled with the coming out process," Dr. Leondires wrote. "I strongly desired to be a parent. And as a fertility doctor I knew this was possible. What was enlightening was after we had our first child is that in the eyes of my community, I went from being a gay man or gay professional to being a parent just like most of my straight friends."

Dr. Leondires goes on to say his reasons for opening up about his parenting journey is to offer some perspective LGBTQ people who are considering parenthood. "Once you have a family you will have this common bond with the vast majority of our population and something they can relate to — having children," he wrote. "You are no longer someone living this "special" lifestyle, you are a parent on a shared journey."

Being a parent is the "one and only job" held by the majority of the population, he continued. "It is also the only job you can't be fired from."

Understanding this commonality helped Dr. Leondires in his coming out process, he said. "I had to be proud of my family because I want them to be proud of our family," he wrote. "It wasn't about me anymore. The reality is that 5-7% of patients identify as LGBTQ+, and there may be a greater likelihood that your child might be LGBTQ+ because you are. Therefore, you need to be proud of who you are and who your family is, establish and maintain this foundation unconditionally."

Read Dr. Leondires entire essay here.

News

World's First Sperm Bank Opens for HIV Positive Donors

Sperm Positive, started by three non-profits in New Zealand, hopes to end stigma surrounding HIV and parenthood

"Our donors have so much to give," say the promotional materials of a new sperm bank. "But they can't give you HIV."

The new sperm bank, Sperm Positive, launched on World Aids Day this year by three non-profits as a way to fight stigma surrounding HIV and parenthood. For years, scientists have known that those living with an undetectable level of HIV in their blood thanks to antiretroviral treatments can't transmit the virus through sex or childbirth. Yet discrimination and stigma persists.

The sperm bank exists online only, but will connect donors and those seeking donations with fertility banks once a connection is made on their site. Sperm Positive was started by three New Zealand non-profits — Body Positive, the New Zealand Aids Foundation and Positive Women Inc. — who hope the project will help disseminate science-backed education and information about HIV and parenthood.

Already, three HIV positive men have signed up to serve as donors, including Damien Rule-Neal who spoke to the NZ Herald about his reasons for getting involved in the project. "I want people to know life doesn't stop after being diagnosed with HIV and that it is safe to have children if you're on treatment," he told the Herald. "I've experienced a lot of stigma living with HIV, both at work and in my personal life that has come from people being misinformed about the virus."

We applaud the effort all around! To read more about our own efforts to end the stigma surround HIV and parenthood, check out our recent round-up of family profiles, resources, and expert advice that celebrate the experience of gay dads living with HIV here.

Gay Dad Life

Top 10 Reasons You Should Date a Gay Dad

Jay Turner lays out the top 10 reasons you should consider dating a single gay dad

We're gay dads. Many of us were married to women, and for various reasons we eventually found ourselves single and looking for companionship from another man. Life is a little more complicated for us because we have kids. But that shouldn't deter you from seeking a relationship with a gay dad. In fact, there are many reasons why we make better partners than men without children. We are generally more mature, responsible, and emotionally available. We are also better communicators.

Here are the top ten reasons why you should date a gay dad:

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Change the World

'Homosexuality is Wrong' Utah Teacher Tells Boy Who Gave Thanks for His Two Adoptive Dads

The substitute teacher went on to say two men living together is "sinful." She was fired shortly after.

To anyone with a heart, the moment should have done nothing more than bring a tear to the eye. Last week, just before the Thanksgiving break, a substitute teacher in a fifth grade class in Cedar Hills, Utah — just south of Salt Lake City — asked her students to name something they were thankful for this holiday season.

"I'm thankful for finally being adopted by my two dads," said Daniel, one of the boys, when it was his turn.

Rather than grab a tissue to dab her eyes, or ask the classroom to join her in a hearty round of applause to celebrate Daniel finding his forever family, the teacher took it upon herself to impart her personal religious beliefs onto the young boy. "Homosexuality is wrong," the teacher said in front of the class, adding that it was "sinful" for two men to live together.

The teacher, fortunately, was fired from Kelly Services, the substitute staffing company that employed her, quickly after the incident, but the moment is nonetheless receiving widespread attention in the press — no doubt in part because one of the boy's dads, Louis van Amstel of "Dancing With the Stars," posted a video clip to his 76,000 Twitter followers with the title: "Our child was bullied."

"It shouldn't matter if you're gay, straight, bisexual, black and white," he said to the New York Times in a follow up interview. "If you're adopting a child and if that child goes to a public school, that teacher should not share her opinion about what she thinks we do in our private life."

Louis also revealed that the moment may not have come to light were it not for three of his son's classmates, who told the principal about the teacher's bigoted comments. His son, Daniel, didn't want to report the incident for fear of getting the teacher into trouble.

Louis expressed thanks that the staffing company responded as quickly as it did following the incident — and also stressed that his neighbors and community have rallied behind he and his family in the days afterward, offering support. He wanted to dispel stereotypes that Utah, because of its social conservatism and religiosity, was somehow inherently prejudiced.

"It doesn't mean that all of Utah is now bad," he told the Times. "This is one person."

It's also true that this type of prejudice is in no way limited to so-called red states, and incidents like these happen daily. LGBTQ parents and our children are subjected to homophobic and transphobic comments in schools, hospitals, stores, airlines and elsewhere as we simply go about living our lives. These moments so often fly under the radar — many classmates don't have the courage, as they fortunately did in this case, to report wrongdoing. Some administrators are far less responsive than they were here — and most of us don't have 76,000 Twitter followers to help make these moments of homophobia a national story.

All that aside, let's also get back to what should have been nothing more than a heartwarming moment — Daniel, a fifth grade boy, giving thanks to finally being legally adopted into a loving family.

Change the World

9 Stories That Celebrate the Experience of Gay Fathers Living with HIV

This World AIDS Day, we dug into our archives to find 9 stories that bring awareness to and celebrate the experience of gay dads living with HIV

December 1st is World AIDS Day — a day to unite in our collective fight to end the epidemic, remember those we've lost, and bring much needed attention and money to support those who continue to live with HIV and AIDS. For us at Gays With Kids, it's also a time to lift up and celebrate the experiences of fathers, so many of who never thought they'd see the day where they would be able to start families.

Towards that end, we've rounded up nine stories, family features and articles from our archives that celebrate the experience of gay fathers living with HIV — the struggles, triumphs and everything in between.

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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