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 Most people think being introverted just means being shy and withdrawn.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

Thoughts and Prayers Aren't Working:​ One Father's Plea for Gun Reform

One gay dad's plea to our leaders to enact sensible gun control

My articles on GaysWithKids aspire to be lighthearted, helpful and humorous. This one won't be any of those things. Because I'm feeling heavyhearted, helpless and sad. Last week I woke up to news of yet another mass shooting. This time at a family-friendly Garlic Festival in northern California. I don't know if it's because this one hit so close to home, or if it's because the headline included a picture of the innocent 6-year old who was among those killed, but I am overcome with emotion. But mostly I am angry. And I don't know what to do with my anger.

Then, just a few days later came two additional horrific mass shootings that stole the lives of at least 32 more innocent people, many of them children. And then there's the "everyday" gun violence that plagues American cities like Chicago, where guns injured another 46 people this past weekend alone… creating so much turmoil, a hospital had to briefly stop taking patients.

How does one verbalize the collective sadness felt around the world? One can't. And that's why I am asking everyone reading this article to commit to getting involved in some way, to help end this epidemic once and for all. Even though the solution is so obvious, we can't allow ourselves to become numb to mass shootings. Because becoming numb isn't going to save anyone.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

A "Village of Women" Helped These Gay Men Become Dads

Elliot Dougherty's mother-in-law served as a gestational carrier, and his sister donated eggs, so that he and his husband could become dads

All good love stories start hot. Ours just so happened to, literally. The summer I turned 23, during the sweltering heat, I stood at an invisible crossroads. I felt a momentum pulling at me, but I couldn't tell from which direction. I had been putting myself out there as a hairstylist and building my portfolio by working with local photographers and designers. At the beginning of July, I received a Facebook message from a young man named Matthew Eledge. He sent me the script to a short film he was directing, hoping I might be interested. We met a few days later on a humid summer day at a quaint French cafe in the Old Market of downtown Omaha. Drinking wine, we discussed our inspirations for hours.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

A Gay Dad's Letter to His Sons Before Their First Day of Summer Camp

A gay dad pens a heartfelt letter to his sons before their first day of sleep-away camp

My dearest Phoenix and Sebastian,

Whether I let you leave this year or next or hold you in our nest for the next ten years, at some point I actually have to face my own fears. The past seven years have been both the most rewarding and yet also the toughest I have lived. And as any good parent tells you, it gets tougher and tougher. But through this year, I have witnessed your growths, and more so your wants and needs. With that said, it's time for you to take independence head on. Yes, you will fall and yes, you will make mistakes, but that's normal for any human. It's what you do when this occurs that makes you a gentleman. Learn from your mistakes, don't repeat them. Own them and build on them to make you a better member of society.

Why I am writing this? Well, you guys are off to sleep away camp in four weeks and every day it gets closer and closer to me losing control. So much so that I won't have any control left. And that, kids, scares me. Yes, this is the camp I went to in my teens and yes, the staff and owners are friends from the past. But seven weeks is a long time and I am losing not only my two sons for this period, but also my friends. I am now forced to actually talk to Papa (partially kidding) or probably more likely live in a quieter-than-usual house. It's funny how you yearn for peace and quiet until you have it and then you realize how deafening it is.


Now, camp was such an instrumental part of my life, shaping everything I have accomplished to date and it's such a gift to be able to provide you both the same experience. We should all feel humbled and grateful. The emotions, the friendships, and the love of the fresh air will be unsurmountable. The key is to keep your head up and your eyes wide open. Listen to what people are asking of you. If you're unsure, use your voice. Be kind every step of the way. Take risks with caution. You both are so great with making friends, both young and old. But being in a community with many walks of life, 24 hours a day, is not easy—it can be quite challenging. So, what do you do? Turn this into a positive, allowing yourself to simply work on you being you. This "you" needs to be a productive citizen within this microcosm. Look for guidance. Find counselors and kids that not only challenge you, but also help you along the way. We all need assistance, every day of our lives, and it's imperative for you to be able to vocalize this in a manner that will provide the fruit you desire.

On the other hand, there are so many things that I can't teach you. These things you must learn on your own and I do believe this environment in which you will live in is the right place for you to experience all these things. Phoenix—make right choices. You are the sweetest and kindest person I know. Open your heart to everyone. You are so good at that. But also follow instructions. Not too aggressive, my young knight. Don't deviate too much from the path, my friend. And look out for your brother. Help him when he needs it. Sebastian—we worry about you. Make the right choices. And get dressed faster! You're too slow. Also, be flexible. Life is not a race and one has to be able to separate competition and sportsmanship. If you don't get your way, you will be fine. Sometimes that's how the cookie crumbles.

But just as you are working on what I mentioned above, I will be working on not only my own inner being, but also repairing and reinvigorating daddy and papa's relationship. Although you both have and will continue to be of utmost importance in our lives, our connection has taken a back seat to your progress. And selfishly, it is time for Andy and I to just be, as we started 13 years ago. Life is funny and it's only as you age that you develop some element of some wisdom to actually see some of it. But it's the foundations of situations, like sleep-away camp, that truly build the LEGO pieces to your future.

Now, over the last 30 days, I have asked you both random questions to truly understand if you are prepared to go to sleep-away camp this summer. And to my surprise, your answers do indeed show your readiness. Some examples that have made me smile are below. The last being my favorite.

  1. What happens when you wipe your tushy and there's poop on the toilet paper? Seb - put the dirty toilet paper in the toilet bowl.
  2. If you feel a bug on your face attempting to bite you, what would you do? Phx - quickly grab it, catch it in my hand, and gently place it back on the ground, alive.
  3. What happens if you don't know how to do something? Seb - ask a counselor. Seb then asks - what happens if the counselor doesn't know the answer? Can they ask Siri?

So, no, Siri won't be at camp, but the resources for you are abundant and I can't wait to see, to hear, and to watch your progresses, and more so see your independence that will shape the rest of your life. So, with that, yes, I will be crying when the bus departs, but just know it's out of happiness. I know it's the best for all of us and I wish you well, my boys. Enjoy the world. Life is too short not to. And please make sure you wipe your ass clean. Daddy's a well-known proctologist. 😂

Love,

Daddy

Fun

Gay Dad Penguins Strike Again! This Time in Berlin Zoo

The latest male penguins to care for an egg together are Skipper and Ping in the Berlin Zoo.

First, there was Roy and Silo — the two male penguins in the Central Park Zoo that served as inspiration for the famous children's book And Tango Makes Three. Then Magin Sphen got together in Sydney, where aquarium keepers gave the cocks (Calm down, that's what a male penguin is called!) a foster egg to care for.

And now, please welcome Skipper and Ping in Berlin to the latest list of gay dad penguins! As soon as the two emperor penguins arrived at the city's zoo, they set about trying to start a family, said Berlin Zoo spokesman Maximilian Jaege to DPA news.

"They kept trying to hatch fish and stones," Jaeger said.

So the zookeepers loaned the penguins an egg from a female penguin, who is apparently uninterested in hatching eggs on her own, according to the BBC.

Unsurprisingly, the gay penguins are killing it as parents. "The two male penguins are acting like exemplary parents, taking turns to warm the egg," Jaeger said,

Read the whole article on DPA here.

Change the World

Hungarian Company Raising Money for LGBTQ+ Organization with a LEGO® Heart

Startup WE LOVE WHAT YOU BUILD is helping combat misinformation and prejudice in Central and Eastern Europe

Guest Post from WE LOVE WHAT YOU BUILD

WE LOVE WHAT YOU BUILD is an innovative startup venture that sells LEGO® parts and unique creations. The core values of our company include social equality regardless of gender identity or origin. As LEGO® is a variety of colors and shapes, so are the people.

We all know that LEGO® is a brand that nearly everyone knows and likes between the age of 3 and 99 so this gives a great opportunity to connect unique LEGO® creations and Pride. We started a fundraising campaign for a Hungarian LGBTQ+ organization who's aim is to bring people closer to the LGBTQ+ community, they help to combat misinformation and prejudice regarding LGBTQ+ issues in Central- Eastern Europe since 2000.

You might know that gender equality and the circumstances of LGBTQ+ people is not the easiest in the former communist Eastern European countries like Hungary so this program is in a real need for help. For example a couple of month ago a member of the government said that homosexual people are not equal part of our society.

The essence of the campaign is when one buys a Pride Heart, a custom creation made of brand new and genuine LEGO® bricks the organization gets $10.00 donation so they can continue their important work. This Pride Heart is a nice necklace, a decoration in your home, and a cool gift to the one you love.

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Entertainment

Single Gay Dad Featured on Season Three of GLOW

Actor Kevin Cahoon joins the Gorgeous Ladies of Wresting in Vegas as a single gay dad — and drag queen — on Season Three of the hit Netflix show

For a couple of years now, Hollywood has been obsessed with gay dad characters (and who can blame them?) But the latest show to get hip to a story line featuring gay man raising kids is Netflix's GLOW, which explores a female wresting troop in the late 1980s.

But GLOW is helping represent a gay character that rarely gets time in the limelight:the single gay dad. In Season three of the hit comedy — which stars Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, and Marc Maron — actor Kevin Cahoon joins the case as Bobby Barnes, a single gay father who plays a female impersonator. (80s divas only, of course — Joan Collins and Babs among them)


"I've never done female impersonation," the openly gay actor told OutSmart Magazine, "so I tried to learn really quick. You will know them all; I was very familiar with all of them. There were plenty of talk shows and performances on YouTube to study. I learned that their breathing was very informative."

A single gay dad AND drag queen on television? It's about damn time if you ask us.

Read the full interview with Cahoon here.

Politics

Utah Court Rules Gay Couples Can't Be Excluded From Surrogacy Contracts

The Utah Supreme Court found in favor of a gay couple attempting to enter into a surrogacy contract.

DRAKE BUSATH/ UTCOURTS.GOV

Earlier this month, the Utah Supreme Court ruled that a same-sex couples can't be excluded from entering into enforceable surrogacy contracts, and sent a case concerning a gay male couple back to trial court to approve their petition for a surrogacy arrangement.

As reported in Gay City News, the case concerns Utah's 2005 law on surrogacy, which was enacted prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state. As a result, the content of the law is gendered, saying that surrogacy contracts should only be enforceable if the "intended mother" is unable to bear a child. When a gay couple approached District Judge Jeffrey C. Wilcox to enter into a surrogacy arrangement, he denied them, arguing that the state's law only concerned opposite sex couples.

"This opinion is an important contribution to the growing body of cases adopting a broad construction of the precedent created by Obergefell v. Hodges and the Supreme Court's subsequent decision in Pavan v. Smith," according to GCN. "It's also worth noting that same-sex couples in Utah now enjoy a right denied them here in New York, where compensated gestational surrogacy contracts remain illegal for all couples."

Read the full article here.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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