Personal Essays by Gay Dads

This Gay Dad's Son Only Wanted Girls at His Birthday Party. Does it Matter?

When Frankie asked his son, Milo, who he wanted to invite to his fourth birthday party, he replied, "I only want girls." Does it mean anything?

Growing up most of my friends were girls, and this is still true today. My best friend, Debbie, is a girl I befriended over 35 years ago at summer camp and we have been inseparable ever since. For whatever reason I feel safe and more at ease around women than I do around men.


Me with my best friend Debbie

Unfortunately, as a very young kid I was taught that being friends with girls was bad. I was often told that only gay boys or "faygalas", as my mother called them, play with girls. My mom gave me a hard time about all these "girlfriends" that I had. Obviously, this caused me a lot of stress as a kid. Why can't I just be friends with whomever I want? And why was this a bad thing? For as long as I can remember, I used to ask my friends that were girls to pretend to be my "girlfriends". Partly to keep my family and my friends from suspecting that I was gay, and secondly it was just easier. This was tough on me already struggling with so many questions about my sexuality, and not always feeling good about myself..

My first "girlfriend" Lori (on the right)

Being gay in the 1970's, when I grew up, was not easy, neither were the decades before it, for that matter. I grew up at the very beginning of gay rights movement, in between the Stonewall Riots of 1969 and the Toronto Bathhouse Raid in 1981. Not to mention the AIDS epidemic among gay men in the late 80's. This was not a great time to be gay, but it was a hopeful time I remember. There were no gay rights, gay marriage, no "gaybies" etc. There were very few "out" people back then, at least who I knew, and a gay "lifestyle" was unacceptable. My mother tried her best to make me straight, but having more male friends doesn't make you straight. My mother did the best she could with the information she had. She was and still is an amazing role model for me, and the person I turn to most when I need advice. I now know she was not trying to hurt me, but rather to protect. This is why the following story really threw me for a loop.

When we started planning Milo's 4th Birthday Party, we asked him who he wants at his party and the first thing out of his mouth was "I only want girls!" Now we know most of his friends at daycare are girls, but I was still a bit surprised by this. Then out of my mouth came these words "You can't only have girls at your birthday party!" Why would I say this? How did I become my mother in that moment? I had spent years being upset with her for not just letting me be friends with whom I wanted, and here I am telling my son he has to invite boys to his party. I pressed him for a bit to find out why he only wanted girls and not boys. I genuinely wanted to know: why did he like girls more than the boys? I also wanted to know if the boys were bullying him, or leaving him out. I needed an explanation. I wanted more information. But I got none. He was only three after all, and he told me quite simply that "the girls were his best friends". That is all that should matter.

Milo's 4th Birthday party with his "girlfriends" and Batman and Robin

This conversation should have ended there, and it did for Milo but not for me. I mean Milo could just be emulating his Daddy and Papa, after all we have lots of women in our lives. But I needed more answers and I spent many hours thinking about why it bothered me so much that Milo was only friends with the girls, especially after all those years of feeling bad about it myself. Was it that my mother had drilled the ideas so far in my head that she somehow brainwashed me? I don't think so. It must have been something else. Could it be that I was worried that this was a sign that he was gay? Maybe that was it! But that is a scary thought for a gay man! Even scarier to say out loud. Do I want my kid to be gay?

This is not easy to answer. I spent the last 30 years fighting for gay rights, and trying to love myself for being gay. I also struggled with addiction for over 10 years and had, and probably still have, some internalized homophobia that rears its ugly head every now and again. But times have changed! I mean I am married to a wonderful man, have a baby through surrogacy, accepted by family and friends and have a website that speaks to the fact that Family Is About Love. So why do I care if Milo only has girl friends or if he is gay? Well I still want the best life for my child, as every parent does. I can't help but reflect on my troubled past and wonder why I would want this for Milo. I know his life will be so different from mine, but I can't help but worry sometimes. Until every country in the world allows gay marriage and gives everyone equal rights, I will always be scared.

What Milo does have though is his Daddy and Papa; two open-minded and very supportive parents. I remembered the first thing I said to Milo when he was born, wiping the tears away from my eyes after holding him next to my heart I said "I will always love you no matter what, and no matter who you are!"

I need to remember just because life is "easier" it is not always better. I am so happy that I didn't go the easy route, and though it took me a bit longer than others to accept myself I am happier for it. I want Milo to be happy no matter what, and whether he is gay or straight or somewhere in between, I will always be here to love him, whether his friends are girls or boys!

A previous version of this post was published on Family Is About Love. Follow Family Is About Love on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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What to Buy

"The Boy with the Rainbow Heart" Is Being Turned Into a 5-Book Series

Will Mason has launched a kickstarter to turn his children's book "The Boy with the Rainbow Heart" into a 5-book series

Guest post written by Will Mason, author of "The Boy with the Rainbow Heart," which he wrote in honor of his lesbian sister, her children, and all children who find themselves feeling different in some way.

I, Will Mason, kindly ask you to support my Kickstarter, to help launch the latest book in the LGBTQ Rainbow Heart children's series, "The Invasion of Big Angry Red." 5% of sales will go to GLSEN, in honor of Jamel Myles, the 9-year-old student who took his life this past August after he was bullied for being gay.

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Gay Dad Life

Gay Dad Settles Discrimination Suit Against LA-Based School

A single gay dad claims an LA-based school did not adequately protect his two daughters who were reportedly bullied on account of his sexual orientation.

According to MyNewsLA, a single gay dad settled his suit against an LA-based school, Pressman Academy of Temple Beth Am. The man, who is unidentified, alleged that his two daughters were discriminated against in the school on account of his sexual orientation.

Identified only as "John Doe" in the complaint, the single gay dad reportedly grew up in Israel and chose Pressman Academy for his daughters "because it is supposed to be the best school that would instill those same values in his children." The school apparently took issue, however, with John Doe's sexuality.

According to the suit, teachers and other staff members at the school repeatedly asked the sisters to bring a "woman figure" to the school's Mother's Day celebration, for instance. School staff also did not intervene to prevent bullying of the daughters, one of whom was reportedly called an "orphan" because she lacked a mother, and teased to the point of telling a school therapist that she was contemplating suicide.

The terms of the settlement were not made public but the girls, thankfully, now attend another school.

Change the World

How One Gay Dad Reacted When his Kid was Bullied at School

When his son was told that "boys marrying boys" was weird, the first thing Brandon did was open the Gays With Kids Instagram account.

On April 21, we received a message from gay dad named Brandon via Instagram. Brandon shared with us that his youngest son had been bullied at school for having two dads. The fact that our kids encounter this type of bullying (or any!) breaks our heart but these circumstances also provide us dads with some teachable moments. And how Brandon dealt with the situation was not only impressive, but it also warmed our hearts.

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Change the World

Judge's Decision in NY 'Compassionate Surrogacy' Case Involving Gay Dad Overturned

Though compensated surrogacy remains illegal in New York State, "compassionate surrogacy" arrangements are remain legal

Last week, an unanimous four-judge panel, part of the New York Appellate Division in Brooklyn, New York, revived a gay dad's petition to adopt his son born via surrogacy. The dad, identified as "Joseph P." in court documents, had earlier been denied his petition to adopt by a Queens County Family Court Judge, John M. Hunt. The Queens judge denied the petition because compensated surrogacy contracts are illegal in New York. However, the child born to Joseph was born via "compassionate surrogacy," meaning his gestational surrogate was not compensated.

The Appellate court's decision, written by Justice Alan D. Scheinkmanm called Hunt's decision "clearly erroneous," and held that a new Family Court judge should re-hear the case.

Judge Hunt's decision is all the more confusing since Joseph had actually already become a father via surrogacy in New York—three times over. In each instance, he used donor eggs and a friend serving, voluntarily, as the gestational surrogate. He had his first child in 2012, and then twins the following year. In all three instances, a Family Court judge granted Joseph's adoption petition, given that each child was conceived via "compassionate surrogacy," meaning no money changes hands in the course of a surrogacy journey between carrier an intended parent. This type of surrogacy arrangement is not illegal under to New York law. The social worker in Joseph's latest attempt to adopt, Gay City News noted, also gave him a favorable review, calling him "a mature, stable, and caring person who intentionally created a family of himself, the twins, and John."

Gay City News notes: "Justice Scheinkman provided a careful description of the laws governing surrogacy in New York. The Legislature provided that surrogacy contracts are unenforceable and treated as void. However, the only surrogacy contracts actually outlawed are those where the surrogate is compensated. It was clear to the Appellate Division that the Legislature did not mean to outlaw voluntary surrogacy arrangements, merely to make them unenforceable in the courts. Those who enter into a compensated surrogacy agreement face a small monetary fine and people who act as brokers to arrange such agreements are liable for a larger penalty. There is no penalty for voluntary, uncompensated surrogacy arrangements."

Read the full article here.

Entertainment

How Fatherhood Has Impacted Tom Daley's Diving Career for the Better

British diver Tom Daley, and new-ish gay dad, is looking to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in South Korea.

British diver Tom Daley is currently in the running to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in South Korea, his fourth if he competes, at the young age of just 26.

But he also has another concern that most young gay men his age couldn't fathom—fatherhood. He and his husband, filmmaker Dustin Lance Black, recently welcomed Robbie Ray via surrogacy in June 2018.

In an interview with the Independent, Daley explained how fatherhood has changed his routine and training, which he says is often for the better.

"It has changed my life completely in all of the best ways possible," Daley said. "It has changed my perspective, the way I think about things. [My son] is the most important thing in my life, everything I do is for him, everything I think about he is at the forefront of everything."

With respect to his diving career, Daley continued, "if you have a bad day at training, or a good day, you are grounded immediately when you get home through the door because you are having cuddles or you are having to change a dirty nappy. It is the first time that I have been able to leave diving at the diving board and not think about what I need to the next day in the pool."

Whatever the challenges he faces while training, he said, "I can leave it there because you don't have time to think about diving when you are looking after a kid under one."

The strategy seems to be working in Daley's favor. He recently enjoyed his most successful FINA Diving World Series ever this past Spring in Canada, winning 12 medals across five events. And barring any major catastrophe, he is overwhelmingly expected to qualify for South Korea 2020.

And we can't wait to cheer the young dad on!

Change the World

One Gay Dad's Fight Against Hate in Superior, Nebraska

Brian Splater is refusing to let homophobic and transphobic elected officials in his town go unchecked

Millie B. Photography

Guest post written by Brian Splater

No one ever should feel they will have a very lonely and secluded life as a child. But that is something me and many other gay kids believe as they are growing up.

The truth of the matter is there are people who will try everything in their power to have our rights go back in time instead of forward. It is very disheartening when these people are elected officials, or they are people who use their place of employment to spread their disgust and hate.

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Politics

America's First Gay Dad Governor Heads Into the Lion's Den

Colorado Governor Jared Polis recently became the first elected Democrat to speak at the annual Western Conservative Summit in Denver

Last Friday, American's first gay dad Governor, Jared Polis, became the first elected Democrat to speak at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver, where he urged the Republican crowd to help him build a "Colorado for all."

"While we should never gloss over the things that divide us, there is a lot more that unites us," Polis said. "When we close ourselves off from discussion or debate, and we reject the possibility of hearing and understanding other perspectives, it threatens the fabric of our democracy."

If he was hoping for a Kumbaya moment, he didn't exactly get it. As he was called to the stage, he was greeted with a smattering of applause—while others booed and shouted for a "recall" of the Governor.

"It was almost unbearable for me to sit there to listen to his talk," Abby Johnson, one of the event's attendees, told the Denver Post. "And I'm going to tell you why. He kept talking about equality for all persons, yet we live in a society where 60 million innocent human beings have been slaughtered in the name of choice. Where is their justice? Where is their equal rights?"

Polis was also criticized from his left flank for attending the same event that refuses to let the Log Cabin Republicans, a group of gay GOP members, participate—and that featured Donald Trump Jr. as a speaker the same day. "To me it feels like vanity," Katie Farnan, a staffer with progressive group Indivisible, told the Denver Post. "He can go and be a hip Democratic governor who isn't afraid to go into GOP sanctuary. Or maybe it's recall insurance. But unless he was there to hold them accountable for their support for fascist and racist policies, what's the point?"

In response to the criticism from both sides of the political aisle, Polis told the Colorado Sun: "I think it's very important that Coloradans of different ideologies, different races, different geographies, different orientations and gender identities all really celebrate that we're all part of what makes Colorado great."

The event is hosted each year by Colorado Christian University to bring together conservatives from around the state, and the larger West.

What do you think, dads? Was Polis's decision to speak at the event a savvy political move or mere pandering?

Fatherhood, the gay way

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