Gay Dad Family Stories

One Gay Dad's Path Towards Realizing Being Gay and Christian are Not Mutually Exclusive

Gay dads Matt and David Clark-Sally talk about coming out, parenting as gay men, and reconciling faith and sexuality.

Coming out in your 30s is difficult. But coming out while blending a family, parenting two kids, and reconciling faith and sexuality? Some may call that crazy.

For gay dads Matt and David Clark-Sally, that's just what they did. And they couldn't be happier!


"Having grown up in the church and more conservative circles, I was always scared to come out," says Matt. "While I wouldn't wish some of these challenges on anyone, I wouldn't change a thing. Meeting David was worth everything, and having our daughters is such a blessing."

Life looks vastly different now for Matt and David than it did 10 years ago. From coming out and living their authentic lives, to getting married and forming a blended family in Madison, Wisconsin, these dads are excited about their future.

Matt and David both grew up in evangelical churches. Early on, they learned the value of family, and both knew they wanted to be dads. Yet they struggled to reconcile the teachings of their faith with their sexuality. They didn't feel they could live authentically as gay men of faith, much less become fathers and have a family.

"I used to believe I could not live as a gay man and be loved by God," Matt shared. "And be fully accepted and affirmed by my church, my work, and my friends? No way."

Matt spent years in therapy and suppressed his sexuality. He pursued a straight marriage, which included having two beautiful daughters.

"I was blessed in many ways, at least on the outside looking in. I had great friends, a solid church community, a job I loved, a beautiful family. And I truly believed I was following a path that was best for my faith, even if it meant I had to hide who I truly was," said Matt. "Externally I had it all. But deep down, I was crumbling emotionally and mentally."

In 2017, after much introspection, counseling, and studying, Matt decided to come out and end his marriage. The decision changed almost every aspect of his life: church, work, friendships, and his parenting journey were all deeply affected.

Brown Stones Photography

"Making the decision to pursue divorce was hard. I didn't want to hurt anyone, but I knew that for my kids and for me to fully flourish, I needed to live authentically… Even if that meant changing so much in my life," Matt says.

Once fully out of the closet, Matt began to date slowly. Through a crazy set of circumstances, he was introduced via text to David by a mutual friend. Both of them were coming from very unpleasant dating experiences and not expecting their texts would lead anywhere.

"When we started texting, we were annoyed with dating," said David. "We were venting to each other about others, but the conversation quickly changed to getting to know each other. We quickly realized there was a genuine interest there. After our first in-person date, we knew it was the right fit immediately."

Brown Stones Photography

"After David and I met, I knew he was a keeper," Matt exclaimed. "I wanted the girls to know him eventually, so I first had to tell them I was gay. I'd been setting the stage for awhile, so when I told them, they didn't even bat an eye."

Meeting David went extraordinarily well, also. "The first time the girls met him, our oldest proclaimed that I should marry David," Matt shared.

From day one, the girls have embraced David – first as daddy's friend, and of course later on as one of their dads. "Our girls have shown me ridiculous amounts of love from the very first day we met. For some reason I'll never understand, and without questioning, they opened up their hearts and lives to me, and have never looked back," said David. "I hope they always know that they're loved, they're beautiful, they're capable, and that they are worthy — just the way they are."

Added Matt: "The girls have been resilient in the face of much change and have embraced David as their dad. I mean, what's not to love? He's kind, compassionate, caring, loving. He brings good balance to our lives. I knew when I met David he would be a great dad. And after just a few dates, I knew he was who I wanted to do this crazy life adventure with!"

"It can be messy," Matt said. "We've hit plenty of speed bumps along the way. But we wouldn't change it for anything!"

As their family looks towards the future, they find themselves thankful for their past and its outcome, having just celebrated David and Matt's wedding on April 14, 2019 with their girls, friends, and family there to celebrate.

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News

Ed Smart, Father of Kidnapping Victim Elizabeth Smart, Comes Out as Gay

In coming his coming out letter, Ed Smart, a Mormon, condemned the church for their "ridicule, shunning, rejection and outright humiliation" of LGBTQ individuals.

In a post on Facebook, Ed Smart, father of kidnapping survivor Elizabeth Smart, came out as gay. He also discussed his strained relationship with his Mormon faith, claiming he felt he didn't feel comfortable living as an openly gay man in a church with a difficult history with respect to its LGBTQ members. He and his wife, Lois, have filed for divorce.

"This is one of the hardest letters I have ever written," he began the letter. "Hard because I am finally acknowledging a part of me that I have struggled with most of my life and never wanted to accept, but I must be true and honest with myself." He went on to acknowledged a new set of challenges facing he and his family as they navigate a divorce and his coming out — in the public eye, no less — but concluded, ultimately, that it's a "huge relief" to be "honest and truthful about my orientation."

He went on to condemn The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for their "ridicule, shunning, rejection and outright humiliation" of LGBTQ individuals. "I didn't want to face the feelings I fought so hard to suppress, and didn't want to reach out and tell those being ostracized that I too am numbered among them. But I cannot do that any longer."

In an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune, Ed Smart further discussed his reasons for coming out now, as a 64-year-old man.

"I mean, I knew that it would probably come out at some point, just because people can't leave things alone. I did anticipate that it would happen at some time, but my intention in writing it was to try to let my friends and family know, you know my extended family ... know where things were. So, you know, I was really concerned about how the rumor mill starts," he told the paper. "I knew that at some point in time, that would come out," he elaborated. "I didn't know when it would come out, and so I would rather have it come out the way that it did versus having some rumors going around, and you know the crazy way things can get twisted."

In 2002, Ed Smart's daughter Elizabeth was abducted at knife point by a married couple from her bedroom in Salt Lake City, Utah. She suffered physical and sexual abuse at the couple's hands, for nine months, until she was finally rescued by police. During the ordeal, papers — including the Salt Lake Tribute — speculated about Ed Smart's sexual orientation based on some fabricated information sold to the paper by tabloids like the National Enquirer. (The Enquirer retracted the story, and the reporters at the Tribute were ultimately fired.)

"I think that in April I started feeling like I needed to prepare something," Smart told the Tribute. "Because during Elizabeth's ordeal, there were things said, and it wasn't what I wanted to say, and I was not going to allow that to happen again."

As to how his family has taken the news, Smart said they've been "very kind" to him. "I think it was very difficult to have this kind of come out of the blue. I don't think any of them knew I was struggling with this, so it was something they were, if you want to call it, blindsided by. I totally get that. They've really been very wonderful."

Congrats to Ed Smart on making the difficult decision to live his truth. Read his full letter here and his interview with the Tribute here.

Gay Dad Life

How Do Gay Dads Raise Kids in an Interfaith Household?

How do gay dads of different faiths choose to raise kids? The Daddy Squared guys tackle the issue in their latest episode.

How do you raise kids with dads from separate faith backgrounds? Interfaith relationships are not uncommon in the gay community, and with the 'gaybies' explosion, some couples choose to raise their kids with awareness of both partners' religious backgrounds. We spoke to Ferd and Brian, fathers, husbands, and founders of Gays With Kids about religion and faith, and building a home where both Christmas and Hannukah are celebrated, though with a clear understanding that Brian's passion to raise the kids Jewish strongly outweighs Ferd's interest in Catholicism in their home.



"We surely came by dads who have different faiths and traditions and they celebrate them both," explains Brian Rosenberg, who co-founded GaysWithKids.com with husband Ferd van Gameren, "the idea is that the children have a good understanding of the background of both religions and they will get to make their on decisions and choices when the are adults."

Having been together for almost three decades, Ferd and Brian started blending their holidays a long time ago. "We used to be more relaxed about how we spent them," Brian says. But since becoming dads, they are much more focused on celebrating holidays that hold special meaning for them. "We've been creating new traditions around these holidays that I hope will stay with our kids well into their adult lives."

Our conversation with Brian and Ferd sparked some thoughts about what kind of people, in general, find a partner with a different religious background. "When you are a single person looking for a partner and the religion is really, really important for you, I would imagine that you then primarily look for a partner in the pool of people who have the same religion as you," says Ferd.

We came out of the interview with a realization that men who marry men from other religious backgrounds are open to establish an interfaith household to begin with, just out of love and respect for their partner's heritage. Nevertheless, Brian emphasizes that religion and traditions should be something that an interfaith couple should discussed as part of the overall conversation and research prior to having kids.

"You need to talk about it upfront before you become dads [so you'll have a vision on the environment in which you raise your kids]. I think that so often in relationships, when they fall apart or where there are big challenges it's because of a lack of communication, and a subject like culture and traditions should definitely be discussed."

Coming Out

How Coming Out Helped This Gay Man Find the Strength to Be a Dad

Steven Kerr shares the moment he came out to his ex-girlfriend. "From that moment on," he writes, "my strength and purpose have grown."

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Gay Dad Photo Essays

Pics of the Moment Before and After Gay Men Become Dads

Dig through your phones — what was the last pic taken of you BEFORE you became a dad?

We all have THAT photo: the one taken moments after we become fathers for the first time. For some of us, we're doing "skin to skin" in a delivery room. For others, we're standing proudly alongside our newly adopted child and judge in a courtroom. However or wherever it happens, though, we make sure to snap a picture of it.

But what about that last photo BEFORE you first became a dad? What does that image look like, we wondered? Well, we asked our Instagram community to dig through through phones and find out. Some of us are enjoying a last carefree meal or glass of wine, others of us are captured nervously contemplating our futures. Whatever it is, we've decided these BEFORE pictures are just as meaningful.

Enjoy some of our favorites! Want to play along? Dig through your phones and send us your pics to dads@gayswithkids.com!

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Entertainment

Gay Dad in Sundance's 'Brittany Runs a Marathon' is Relatable AF

Sundance hit "Brittany Runs a Marathon" stars a gay dad trying to get in shape.

Who would make for the best marathon training partner for an overweight, overly boozed 27-year-old woman? A gay dad, of course!

The pairing, for any gay man who has been subjected to impossible beauty standards (not unlike... literally all women?) makes a bit too much sense after watching the new Sundance film, "Brittany Runs a Marathon," starring SNL writer Jillian Bell (as the 27-year-old) and Micah Stock as the (somewhat *ahem* older) gay dad.

Based on a true story, the film follows Brittany, an overweight and over-boozed 20-something, trying to clean up her act by training for the New York City marathon — while doing so, she meets Seth (the gay dad), and the two begin to train together, along with Brittany's neighbor Catherine. Each has their own motivation for running: getting one's live together, recovering from a messy divorce, or an attempt to impress one's athletic son. (Which is the gay dad? Guess you'll have to watch to find out!)

We won't give too much more away, apart from saying that the trio — based off of actual people and events — really works. It's the feel good film you're waiting to see.

Expert Advice

Your 15 Most Common Questions About Adoption, Answered by an Expert

We asked our Instagram community for their biggest questions about adoption. Then asked Molly Rampe Thomas of Choice Network to answer them.

As part of our new "Ask an Expert" series on Instagram, our community of dads and dads-to-be sent us their questions on adoption in the United States. Molly Rampe Thomas, founder of Choice Network, answered them.

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Popular

'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!

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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