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

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.

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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.

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.

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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