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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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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I don't know if my daughter is transgender or not. I don't know if she's a lesbian or not. She's seven -- if she knows these identities, or feels different in any way, she hasn't told me. But already at seven she's experiencing pressure to conform – she's being bullied.

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Each year on the second Wednesday of April, Canadians and others across the globe observe the International Day of Pink in our schools to celebrate diversity and raise awareness to stop homophobia, transphobia, and all forms of bullying.

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In a First, Two Male Mice Make Offspring Without Female DNA

Thanks to advances in gene editing and stem cells, scientists in China helped two male mice create offspring together, without any female DNA.

Thanks to advances in gene editing and stem cells, scientists in China helped two male mice create offspring together, without any female DNA. The feat had already been accomplished with two female mice, but this latest advancement marks the first time two male mice have created offspring that were carried to full term.

This marks a major advancement, but it's not time to start lining up at your local fertility clinic just yet, guys: while the mice pups born from two females were healthy, and were even able to conceive their own offspring, those born to two male pups died shortly after their birth.

A recent article in National Geographic helps explain why the feat is more difficult with makes. One of the main barriers is due to a process called "imprinting," during the development of sperm and eggs, when "tags" attach to our chromosomes. In mammals, these tags vary by sex.

"For female mouse pairs, they had to delete three locations to get healthy young," according to the article. "For male mouse pairs, they had to snip seven regions."

For the female pups, snipping just these three regions allowed the pups to grow at a normal rate. Snipping the seven regions in males allows the babies to develop to full term, but it is not enough, yet, to allow the offspring to live much past birth.

An additional barrier: to make an individual, you have to have an egg. "Males don't have eggs," a developmental biologist helpfully points out in the piece.

Read the full article here.

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Australian Politician Gives Impassioned Defense of Gay Men's Access to Altruistic Surrogacy

A new bill passed by the Western Australian Legislative Assembly aims to make it legal for gay men and couples to use "altruistic" surrogacy to start their families.

This month, the Western Australian Legislative Assembly passed a bill to allow single men and gay couples to access "altruistic surrogacy" to start their families. Previously, only single women, lesbian couples and heterosexual couples were allowed to pursue surrogacy arrangements. (Read more about different types of surrogacy arrangements.)

The legislation passed after a long and at times heated debate, during which John Carey, one of three out gay members of the parliament, made an impassioned defense of gay men's ability to access altruistic surrogacy as a means to start their families.

"I came into politics to believe in the best of people, to appeal to the best our our humanity, to show greater kindness, to understand that despite our differences there is much that brings us together," Carey said at the beginning of the debate, according to Out in Perth, which reported on the proceedings. "This is why I proudly stand here today as a member of parliament, and to support progressive change, to support that humanity in our community.

Carey stressed that children being raised by LGBTQ people, "are loved. They are respected. They are supported in their aspirations and their dreams. They go to school, they visit school, they to to playgroups and they mix with they peers, and they are all raised by same-sex parents, and many of them male couples."

Allowing gay men to access altruistic surrogacy was a substantive win for the local LGBTQ community, which also recently saw gay marriage legalized. But it is also, as Carey noted in his speech, a symbolic one. "Every bit of reform which tackles discrimination, which removes those barriers is critically important," he said. "It's not just for those same-sex couples who want to have a child, but also for all those young generations who will see another part of discrimination dismantled from our legislation."

Read Carey's full defense of the bill, which will next be read and debated in the Legislative Council, here.

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Finding No Children's Books in Brazil That Represented His Family, This Gay Dad Decided to Write His Own

Alexandre de Souza Amorim wrote "The Knight and the Werewolf - A Story of Courage" to provide his daughter with a children's story that reflected her family

Guest post by Alexandre de Souza Amorim.

My name is Alexandre de Souza Amorim. In 2016, my husband and I became parents of a beautiful baby princess. The following year, our story was posted here in "Gays With Kids".

Today we return to tell a second part of this story. Sara, our daughter, has always loved books or "booklets" as she calls them. And since she arrived, we started looking for children's books that represented our family, our love and LGBTQI characters. In Brazil there is a very small number of these publications.

"Facing our greatest fears, we may come across great surprises." - Alexandre de Souza Amorim

One day I was talking to another gay couple, who are also parents, and they complained about the lack of books with LGBTQI characters in Brazil.

I am a father and also a psychologist, and I know that the representativeness of our families and our love in the following of culture (cinema, books, theater, music, etc.) are important weapons in the fight against homophobia and violence of all kinds. I have already written chapters of books and articles on psychology, and I soon thought: Can I write a children's fairy tale? I wish my daughter would grow up in a world with fewer differences and more love. And from this desire was born my first children's book: "The Knight and the Werewolf - A Story of Courage"

"Every parent should remember that with their support their children can find the path of their happiness faster." - Alexandre de Souza Amorim

But that dream has only become possible because I have met people who also believe that we need more representation. Lea Carvalho, publisher at Metanoia Publishing House agreed to publish the book as soon as she read it. And Bruno Guimarães Reis, from Studio Bonnie & Clyde, is the illustrator who gave life to my characters.

The official launch of the book will be on November 1, 2018, but it can already be purchased on the publisher's website.

"Some adventures can be full of great surprises." - Alexandre de Souza Amorim

The book tells the story of young Kevin, who dreams of becoming a knight of his kingdom. When that dream comes true, Kevin is named the bravest knight in his kingdom. But being brave does not mean that you are not afraid of anything, but that you can face even your greatest fears. And it is facing his fear of Werewolves that Kevin meets Prince Noah. Friendship soon becomes love. It is a book about courage, love and with a great sensitivity to teach children that there are many possibilities to exist and to love.

I'm really glad this dream came true. And I am happier to know that my daughter and other children may have a book that shows that the knight can fall in love with the prince and that there is no problem in that. Love is love. And love is a beautiful thing.

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Live in Massachusetts? Vote 'YES' on Ballot Question #3 to Protect Trans Rights

Massachusetts Ballot question #3 would remove "gender identity" from public accommodation non-discrimination law, opening to the door to trans individuals being targeted in public

This November 6th, ballot question #3 in Massachusetts puts transgender individuals at risk of losing their civil rights. In 2016, the state passed a landmark non-discrimination law that prohibits discrimination against trans people in public spaces, including hotels, restaurants, retail stores, gyms, parks, bathrooms, locker rooms and more. But an anti-LGBT group collected enough signatures to put a repeal effort on this ballot this year that, if approved by voters, will remove these protections from public accommodation non-discrimination law.

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