Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Gay Dad Gets Real About Parenting Challenges in Anonymous Essay

A gay dad gets real about his struggles with depression, parenting as an introvert, and more in this anonymous essay.

Full disclosure, this post is being written anonymously. I've written several blog posts about my family that aren't too deep or confessional but for a long time now I've been wanting to touch on some topics that are more personally revealing and not so sunny. And that's where being someone who is typically an open book bumps up against needing to consider the privacy of his loved ones, and so this is being shared anonymously.

What is it I've been wanting to get off my chest? My daughter is often my worst parenting nightmare.


Parenting as an Introvert

Ok, yes, that's an exaggeration of course. But when thinking about my three biggest trepidations while planning to be a parent, she's come to embody them all. It's like she was created by someone using a checklist.

The introvert and the extrovert:

When my husband first suggested having kids one of my main concerns was that I'm an introvert. There's no way I could parent 24/7, to be constantly 'on' for my kids with little to no alone time to re-charge. Most people think being introverted just means being shy and withdrawn. It's doesn't. Without going into too much detail, introverts just process external stimulation differently than extroverts. That difference requires ample quiet time that doesn't involve interacting with others. So being around kids who are a constant source of stimulation is not a healthy situation. Unfortunately, society frowns upon the idea of a parent not wanting to be with their children at all times, which is why I feel the need to not be too open about this issue. Introverts as parents specifically, and the concept of parents needing time away from their kids in general, are aspects of parenthood that seem to get very little coverage.

We managed to come up with a way to mitigate my introversion as an issue which has proven quite successful. And it's a good thing too, because our older daughter is an extrovert with a capital E who craves near-constant interaction. I won't lie, without the arrangements we'd made in advance, being a parent would suck for me more often than not. Which no one should interpret as meaning I would love my kids less. It has nothing to do with them and everything to do with my biological make-up.

And speaking of biology, that leads into…

Challenges of Being the Bio-Dad

Bio Dad and Non-Bio Dad:

It was my husband's idea to have kids in the first place and the original plan was that he'd father them. And then we learned he couldn't have kids biologically so I provided the genetics for both. So what happens? Our older daughter ends up being someone fascinated with her family history and in general shows a stronger affinity for her biological heritage. And that was always a concern of mine, that the kids would favor me over my husband based on that genetic connection (our younger child is indifferent on this matter). I also sometimes feel a twinge of guilt because she and I do seem to share some kind of deeper connection, an understanding of each other that's hard to put into words. The guilt comes from feeling that it's not something that's been earned, the way my husband has earned, IMO, being the better parent through actual deeds and effort. He's proof that biology isn't what makes someone a great dad.

When we first started planning for kids, one of the things that excited me was the thought of little offshoots of my husband running around. I never had any desire to pass on my genetics. That was mostly just because it wasn't an urge, but it was also out of concern that I'd pass on my family's penchant for being depressive.

Which leads to the next item on the parenting-fear checklist…

Depression

I've closely watched my kids for any signs that they might have inherited this annoying genetic glitch. Ever since she was old enough to speak my daughter has said things that have been red flags. She's described thoughts and exhibited traits that have reminded me a lot of my own at her age.

She's now a tween and during a recent conversation I casually mentioned my depression. She hadn't known about it before and was immediately curious. Not long after that she slipped me a note asking me about the symptoms and listed a few things about herself that she was concerned about. We did some quick google self-diagnosis and she said that most of what was on a long list of signs of depression applied to her. They're all things I've witnessed in her and many are how depression manifests in myself.

I'm careful to not dwell on it too much so she doesn't become overly concerned, while also being sure she knows the topic is not taboo and should not be repressed. We're now searching for a therapist to not only provide a definitive diagnosis one way or the other, but to also provide general support and guidance with all the typical social and biological changes that girls her age need to navigate.

The Benefits and Dangers of Social Media

All of the above are things I would be more than willing to share openly and would be even more detailed about. I'm a proponent of the power of sharing one's personal issues so that others know they're not the only ones facing a particular challenge. I've personally benefited due to the candor of others, and I credit being able to open up about anything with almost anyone with how I've personally worked through issues of my own. It's something I get from my mom and that I'm trying to teach my kids.

But being honest about things that carry a lot of social stigma such as depression or admitting to feeling anything less than 24/7 joy about being a parent opens one up for a lot of negative feedback. If I only had myself to think about with such online confessions, bring it. But my daughter and her friends are hitting that age when more and more of them are starting to enter the world of social media. And anything on the internet could find its way onto anyone's smart phone or laptop, so I can't open the kids up to one of today's biggest challenges – social media backlash that can be potentially life ruining.

For most of my life being open and honest has been one of my coping mechanisms. I hate using a pseudonym; it feels like lying or hiding. But I have to dial back much of my trademark candor for the sake of the kids while doing my best to teach them how to stand strong against unrealistic social stigmas. Hopefully they will grow into a world where their family's history of depression and the relatively mild imperfections of their family – such as a father who openly admits to needing time apart and that his world doesn't revolve around his kids 24/7 – won't be grounds for their peers to potentially mock them or shun them. Have I not mentioned that this is another fear of mine?

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

As a Gay Dad, What's the Impact of Letting My Son Perform Drag?

Michael Duncan was excited when his 10-year-old son asked if he could perform in drag for charity — but he also felt fear and anxiety.

As LGBT parents, we have all lived through some sort of trauma in our lives. For many it is the rejection of our family, being bullied, or abuse. We learn to be vigilant of our surroundings and often are very cautious of who we trust. As adults, we start to become watchful of how much we share and we look for "red flags" around every corner.

So, what effect does this have on our children? Does it unintentionally cause us to be more jaded with our interactions involving others? For some the answer may be a resounding "no." But as we look deeper into the situation, we often find that through survival our interactions with others have changed and we may not even realize exactly how much we are projecting on those around us.

Keep reading...
Diary of a Newly Out Gay Dad

A Gay Chiropractor Explains Why He Came Out to His Patients

After Cameron Call, a chiropractor, came out to his family this past year, he knew he had one more step to take — he had to come out to his patients

Fear is an interesting thing. It motivates when it shouldn't, shows at inconvenient times, and is the author of stories that do nothing but hold us back. I would argue though, too, that fear has some good qualities. I believe it helps us to feel. And I think it can be a great teacher as we learn to recognize and face it.

For years fear prevented me from embracing my truth and accepting a large part of who I am. I know I am not alone in that regard. But for so long my fear convinced me that I was. Fear is what kept me from ever telling my parents or anyone growing up that I am gay. Fear mingled with strong religious teachings, embraced at a young age, which led me to believe that I could cure myself of my attractions to the same gender. And fear is a part of what kept me in my marriage to a woman for over ten years.

Keep reading...
Personal Essays by Gay Dads

A Gay Dad Gains Clarity After a Health Scare

A recent health scare helped give Erik Alexander clarity.

Sometimes fear can cripple the mind and hinder ones judgement. Having children of my own, I have come to grips with accepting the things I cannot change and learned to take action when there is no other choice. When it comes to my own personal health, the future and well being of my family gives me all the clarity I need to make the right decision about any kind of health scare.

This episode is dedicated to all the parents out there that are going through or have gone through similar situations.

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Change the World

Apply for a Paid Internship at Gays With Kids!

Are you a student who is passionate about journalism, new media, and supporting the LGBTQ community? Apply for a (paid!) internship with Gays With Kids and join the largest community for gay, bit and trans dads and dads to be!

We are excited to announce that Gays With Kids will be hiring two student interns to help support our rapidly expanding work as the largest online magazine and resource for gay, bi and trans dads and dads to be! At the moment, we have two paid positions available.

  • Our Journalism and Editorial Intern should be interested in journalism, editing, and the daily process of running and maintaining a major website. This is a New York-based position, who will work closely with our Editor in Chief, David Dodge.

  • Our Social and Community Intern should be interested in supporting and expanding our vibrate online community across multiple social media channels and will work closely with Rosalind Lonsdale, our Social and Community Manager.

Please see below for more information and how to apply!

Journalism and Editorial Intern — New York, NY 

Paid $15 p/h || 15-20 hours per week || Immediate start || New York City, NY


Gays With Kids is seeking an energetic, organized, and socially conscious Journalism and Editorial intern with an immediate start date. This is a paid position and the intern will be expected to work 15-20 hours a week. Position is ongoing but possible end dates will be discussed in the interview process.

About us: Gays With Kids is the world's premier website and social network dedicated exclusively to helping gay, bi and trans men become dads, and to helping queer dads navigate fatherhood.

We launched in 2015 and we're very excited to refresh our website in the next couple of months with a stronger and more clear focus on the different paths to fatherhood available to our community. We currently have close to 250,000 followers on social media, and our community is extremely engaged. You should be proud to be part of a small, but passionate and dedicated team that's making a meaningful impact nationally and globally.

Check us out: https://www.facebook.com/GaysWithKids/ / https://www.instagram.com/gays_with_kids/ / https://www.youtube.com/user/GaysWithKids

Much of this work can be undertaken at the intern's own residence but, at least initially, you will be required to meet and work closely with our Executive Editor, located in New York City.

Learning opportunities include:

  • Write blog posts, articles, and other pieces of content for the website as needed.
  • Identify and interview experts within various paths to parenthood for gay, bi and trans men, including: surrogacy, adoption, foster care, co-parenting partnerships and more.
  • Refresh and reimagine current content on the Gays With Kids website.
  • Support engaging and dynamic social media content across external channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest)
  • Assist with migration of current website to a new platform


Requirements:

  • Interest in journalism, particularly as it relates to the LGBTQ+ community
  • Interest and activism in equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community
  • Crucial skills: highly organized, good at multitasking, a strong problem solver, and a willingness to learn new skills and abilities.
  • Experience managing social media platforms, specifically Instagram and Facebook
  • Knowledge of Google Docs, iMovie, Canva, Trello, are a plus
    Proficient in MS Office Suite with excellent writing / communication skills
  • Interest in learning digital communications including social media management platforms and SEO skills

To apply, pleas send a resume and two writing samples to David Dodge, Executive Editor, at David.Dodge@gayswithkids.com

Social and Community Intern

Paid $15 p/h || 15-20 hours per week || Immediate start || Philadelphia, PA


Gays With Kids is seeking an energetic, organized, and socially conscious Social and Community intern with an immediate start date. This is a paid position and the intern will be expected to work 15-20 hours a week. Position is ongoing but possible end dates will be discussed in the interview process.

About us: Gays With Kids is the world's premier website and social network dedicated exclusively to helping gay, bi and trans men become dads, and to helping queer dads navigate fatherhood.

We launched in 2015 and we're very excited to refresh our website in the next couple of months with a stronger and more clear focus on the different paths to fatherhood available to our community. We currently have close to 250,000 followers on social media, and our community is extremely engaged…especially on Instagram. You should be proud to be part of a small, but passionate and dedicated team that's making a meaningful impact nationally and globally. As our social and community intern, you will have plenty of opportunity to engage with our community.

Check us out: https://www.facebook.com/GaysWithKids/ / https://www.instagram.com/gays_with_kids/ / https://www.youtube.com/user/GaysWithKids

Much of this work can be undertaken at the intern's own residence but, at least initially, you will be required to meet and work closely with our Social and Community manager, located in Philadelphia.

Learning opportunities include:

  • Support engaging and dynamic social media content across external channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest)
  • Write blog posts, articles, and other content for the website
  • Assist with migration of current website to a new platform


Requirements:

  • Interest and activism in equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community
  • Crucial skills: highly organized, good at multitasking, a strong problem solver, and a willingness to learn new skills and abilities.
  • Experience managing social media platforms, specifically Instagram and Facebook
  • Knowledge of Google Docs, iMovie, Canva, Trello, are a plus
  • Proficient in MS Office Suite with excellent writing / communication skills
  • Interest in learning digital communications including social media management platforms and SEO skills

All inquiries should be addressed to Rosalind Lonsdale, Social and Community Manager, rosalind@gayswithkids.com

Change the World

Miami Tourism Board Releases Vacation Guide for LGBTQ Families

Miami isn't just about circuit parties! The LGBTQ Family-Friendly Miami Vacation Guide showcases many options for queer parents, too.

As gay people, it can be difficult to find vacation spots that are LGBTQ-friendly out of the normal travel "fruit loop" — New York, Mykonos, San Francisco; repeat. For those of us with kids, the Venn diagram of destinations that are both queer and kid friendly can seem practically non-existent.

Fortunately, that's starting to change as the tourism industry realizes that LGBTQ families are a growing segment of vacationers. One city to quickly pick up on this trend is Miami. While the gays have long flocked to Miami for party weekends, the city has also recently noticed an uptick in the number of LGBTQ visitors who are parents. In response, Miami's tourism board release a guide, LGBTQ Family-Friendly Miami Vacation Guide, that includes loads of options for queer parents and their kids. Amid Miami's legendary circuit parties, it turns out, are tons of family friendly things to do — like the Museum of Science, an eco-adventure theme park, and other kid-focused events all year long.

Who knew?

"When I came onboard as Director of LGBTQ Marketing a little over a year ago, I found that our LGBTQ messaging was centered around our annual events," said Dan Rios, who works with the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau. Massive parties like the White Party and Aqua Girl are a central part of the city's LGBTQ offerings, he said, but he was also worried the city was "developing a reputation solely as a party destination. "I want to diversify that message to highlight everything else that Greater Miami has to offer."

Hence the city's family-friendly guide that includes offerings within "art and culture, dining, beaches, fitness," Dan said. "We have unique and amazing family attractions that we had been promoting to our general audiences for decades. I saw this as an opportunity; an opportunity to introduce our attractions to LGBTQ families, and an opportunity to further promote our attractions -- it was a win-win."

Dan said the Bureau is also in the midst of a campaign that will prominently feature LGBTQ parents within different travel destinations throughout the city, which will be featured throughout both LGBTQ and mainstream websites, publications and advertising.

We applaud the effort to reach out to LGBTQ families, and hope more cities follow Miami's lead! Be sure to check out the guide here.

Gay Dad Life

Gong Hei Fat Choy! Happy Chinese New Year!

As we usher in the year of rat, we asked some of our dads how they honor this special time.

Today we're celebrating, alongside our families, the Chinese New Year! As we usher in the year of rat, we asked some of our dads how they honor this special time, what they do to celebrate, and how they're instilling these traditions in their kids. Here are some of their responses.

Keep reading...
News

Indiana Court Says Couples Using Sperm Donors​ Can Both Be Listed on Birth Certificate — But Ruling Excludes Male Couples

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in the case, a major victory for LGBTQ parents — but the Attorney General may appeal to the Supreme Court.

On Friday, a US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling from a lower court that said that both parents in a same-sex relationship are entitled to be listed on the birth certificate — previously, the state of Indiana had required the non-biological parent within a same-sex relationship using assisted reproductive technologies to adopt their child after the birth in order to get her or his name listed on the birth certificate, a lengthy and expensive process not required of straight couples in the same situation.

It's a double standard LGBTQ parents have long been subjected to in many states across the country. So this represent a major win. As reported by CNN, this ruling "takes a lot of weight off" the shoulders of LGBTQ parents, said Karen Celestino-Horseman, a lawyer representing one of the couples in the case. "They've been living as families and wondering if this was going to tear them apart."

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals deliberated the case, according to CNN, for more than two and a half years, which is one of the longest in the court's history.

However, because all the plaintiffs in the case involved female same-sex couples using sperm donors, the ruling left open the similar question of parenting rights with respect to male couples. Indiana's Attorney General, moreover, may also appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

We'll be following the case closely and be sure to keep you up to date. For more on this recent decision, read CNN's article here.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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