Personal Essays by Gay Dads

A Gay Dad Discovers: Being a Single Parent is Hard AF

With his husband in New York working on an exciting new TV show, this LA-based dad gains a new appreciation for single parents.

When my husband Alex tells me he's going to be home super late, I have my go-to routine. I give our son a bath; we read bedtime stories; I tuck him in and then I go downstairs to raid the freezer for some dinner (Ben & Jerry's). Then I go down a vintage Whitney Houston rabbit hole on Youtube. Then I might check out a few other *ahem* websites, before finally falling asleep.

But what happens when Alex tells me he's going to be home in a couple of months? Now that's a very different story… with more Ben & Jerry's involved than I care to admit.


Earlier this Fall we received the exciting news that the TV show Alex is producing was picked up to series. This was an amazing accomplishment — something he worked so hard and so long for. However, the show was set to be filmed in New York and we live in Los Angeles. That meant that I would have to take on full-time parenting responsibilities for long stretches of time while Alex was on set 3,000 miles.

First off, I'm incredibly proud of Alex for getting his first TV show produced (It's called Dickinson and stars Hailee Steinfeld and Jane Krakowski — it'll appear on the new Apple network sometime in 2019). He's so committed to his craft and he totally deserves this huge opportunity. That said… I knew all this time away was going to be challenging for me. No, not because we're co-dependent (which we are) and not because I can't live without him (which I can't) – but because I have my own high-pressure, full-time job that requires my attention 24/7. As a Creative Director in the world of advertising I am always on call for my clients. Try explaining that to a seven-year old who wants to play every second of every day.

Both of us have certainly traveled for work before — leaving the other to fend for the family — however, never for months at a time. This was something new that was going to need some getting used to. In other words, this was going to be hard AF.

Here's a little background. Alex and I have been 50/50 parents from day one. We are both extremely hands-on dads. We each put in roughly the same amount of work and time when it comes to our family. That was something we promised each other before Maxwell came into our lives to avoid potential feelings of resentment down the line. And for the most part, this is the first time that arrangement has been tested.

As Al's shooting dates neared, we made a list of all the additional things I would be taking on. New for me would be getting up at 5:45 when Max wakes up (Al's always been a morning person). I'd also be responsible for making him breakfast, making his lunch for school and making sure he's prepared for all his afternoon activities (tennis, Lego club, Karate, etc). Typically Al would do Max's morning routine while I take on the evening routine. But now, I would be doing both. I totally got this, right? Wrong.

Evenings would prove most challenging. I had to have a talk with my boss about leaving the office by 6:00 p.m. every night so I could get home in time to relieve our nanny by 7pm… with the promise that I'd continue working from home after Max goes to bed. Fortunately my office acquiesced (not that they had much of a choice).

Then there were the weekends. We over scheduled ourselves and stayed really active, because when Max is inactive — a.k.a. bored — he tends to act out. So there were several weekends in a row of me and my little guy… with no breaks in-between. 90% of me loved every second of it, but damn, that other 10%... I found myself offering friends hundreds of dollars to watch Max for a few minutes so I could poop/scream/shower/sob in peace.

During those four weeks we stayed very busy, had lots of fun, lots of laughs, lots of time-outs, lots of cuddles... and not lots of sleep. But through it all, we some how managed to become even closer. But I learned firsthand just how challenging it is for single parents… especially parents with more than one child. I have so much more respect for them, knowing what they go through every single day. They should all be wearing an S on their chest, because, in my opinion, single parents are superheroes.

This time apart from Al has made me appreciate him even more for everything he brings to the table. We could never do it without him and we're so lucky to have him in our lives. It sounds corny, but it's true — I love the guy so freaking much.

Also, I want to give major props to Max, who has handled this transition like a big boy. Because this is just as hard for him as it is for me. He doesn't have the other dad to run to when this dad disciplines him (and by discipline, I mean two Oreos instead of five). Plus, he has to deal with my wavering patience and limited time to play cops and robbers. His behavior has really impressed me. In fact, he's down to biting me just twice a day. Baby steps.

Oh, and Al, if you're reading this — and what kind of husband would you be if you weren't — you so owe me big time for holding it down! And I will collect. Some how. Some way. I will collect.

In the meantime, I've got a few more weeks of solo Daddy duty.

Pray for me.

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Gay Dad Life

Encouraged by His Son, Single Dad Richard Started Dating Again — and Just Got Married!

After his 14 year relationship ended, Richard got a gentle push into the dating pool from an unexpected source — his son!

In 2014, Richard Rothman's relationship of 15 years ended, leaving him understandably reluctant to jump back into the world of dating as a single gay dad. But after spending one too many Friday nights at home, he got a gentle nudge from somebody unexpected —his teenaged son, Jonathan.

"Dad," Jonathan said. "Would you just get out of the house and go on a date already?" (You may remember wise-beyond-his-years Jonathan from this post that went viral of a tattoo he got commemorating his adoption day.)

On his son's encouragement, Richard started dipping a tentative toe back into the dating pool. In 2015, he met Kevin thanks to mutual friends that introduced them via social media. It took four months before Richard introduced Kevin to his son, who was a Sophomore in high school at the time.

On New Year's Eve in 2017, Kevin proposed while the couple was vacationing in Palm Springs. The city has an outdoor festival every year, he explained, which the couple attended. The band Plain White T's happened to be performing their hit "Hey There Delilah" as Kevin got down on one knee and proposed. "Now whenever I hear that song it brings back memories of that night," Richard said.

Richard and Kevin married on March 30, 2019 back at the scene of the crime — in Palm Springs, at the Frederick Loewe Estate. Jonathan was Richard's best man, and also walked him down the aisle (awwww.....). Kevin's brother Bobby served as his best man.

"As so many wonderful moments continue to happen for us in Palm Springs, we now own a home there in addition to our primary residence in Bentonville, Arkansas," said Richard.

Check out video from the couple's special day below!


And Jonathan is now an E4 Master-at-Arms in the US Navy.

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

Gay Muslim Single Dad Writes Op Ed on His Path to Self Acceptance

Maivon Wahid writes about the challenges of reconciling three separate, but equally important, identities in an opinion piece for Gay Star News

Maivon Wahid, a gay Muslim single dad living in Fiji, wrote an opinion piece for Gay Star News about the challenges he's faced on his road to self acceptance.

"I feel pressure on how I am supposed to behave and how I am perceived," he wrote oh how these competing identities play out for him, day to day.

Maivon described himself as an "odd" kid, who never quite fit in--something he still relates to today as an adult. "When I enter the masjid (mosque), I am always judged and questioned," he wrote. "Sometimes it's curiosity, but sometimes it's borderline bullying." He said he found a way to be both gay and Muslim, three years ago, when he met an openly gay Imam at a conference in Australia. "It was through him I was able to first appreciate who I was, then love who I had become and celebrate it."

Being gay in Fiji, he says also makes him feel the need to hide certain parts of himself. "In Fiji, I find the need to hide so many aspects of my authentic being," he wrote.

He also wrote of complications familiar to many single gay men who became dads from previous straight relationships. He writes: "As a single parent to the most beautiful son – I was married to my ex-wife for nine years – learning to become and celebrate the person you want to be is about more than just me; it's a legacy I want to leave for him and the next generation. Although it's hard to meet like-minded people (my dating life is non-existent!), in being myself, I believe I can show others it's OK to be you, and to love whoever you want to love."

Ultimately, despite the challenges he's faced, Maivon says he has found a way to reconcile these three identities into one. "Whether you're gay, Muslim or a single parent – or all three – there is a place and space for everyone," he wrote. "I have found my place in Islam, and am comfortable being the best version of gay I can be. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise."

Read the whole article here.


Announcements

'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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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

We Gained a Son Through Foster Care — He Didn't Lose his Family

Foster-adopt expert Trey Rabun writes a moving essay about his own experiences as a parent in the foster care system.

My husband, Phil, and I talked about having children since out first date over 11 years ago. Like many other gay dads, we waited to start the journey to become parents until we felt secure with our careers, finances, and home life. This meant we didn't start the partnering journey until 2016 when we were eight years into our relationship.

When we first met, I was completing my graduate studies in social work and subsequently started a career working in foster care and adoption. This made our decision to pursue foster care-adoption as our path to parenthood a fairly easy one. In fact, I can't recall us discussing other avenues to parenthood, but I'm sure we briefly discussed them before solidifying our decision to become foster parents.

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Change the World

In the Philly Area? Attend 'Family Pride' On October 5th!

Philadelphia Family Pride is hosting their 10th Annual "Family Matters" Conference on October 5th for LGBTQ parents, prospective parents, and their kids!

Guest post by Stephanie Haynes, the executive director of Philadelphia Family Pride

On Saturday, October 5, 2019, Philadelphia Family Pride will hold their 10th Annual Family Matters Conference from 9am to 3:30pm for LGBTQ parents, prospective parents and their kids of all ages at the University of the Sciences in West Philadelphia. The theme this year is "Telling Our Stories." Registration is now open!

In an interactive keynote, Anndee Hochman, author of the Philadelphia Inquirer's weekly "Parent Trip" column, will share highlights from her work as a journalist and memoirist. She'll invite conversation about the stories that shape us—what tales do we share? who does the telling? who is left out?—and how those stories, added up, are changing the world. Read her bio.

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Gay Adoption

5 Things to Keep in Mind When Preparing for Your Home Study

Molly Rampe Thomas of Choice Network lists the 5 things gay men should keep in mind when preparing for your home study

The homestudy is the first step in the adoption process. In every state the homestudy is done a little differently, but all of them have the some combo of paperwork, trainings, and interviews. The homestudy can take anywhere from 2 months to 6 months to complete. Without it, you cannot adopt.

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