Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Why This Gay Dad Always Dreaded Parent-Teacher Conferences

With his kids well into their twenties, Jim Joseph gets nostalgic watching friends post back-to-school images of pics of their kids trick-or-treating. One thing he doesn't miss though? The dreaded parent-teacher conference.

I know that social media has gotten a lot of flak in the last couple of years, mostly because of its political tendencies and political, shall we say, drama. Sure, I'm acutely aware of that. But there's a part of social media that is still exceedingly fun and rewarding, and I've been enjoying it a lot lately.

It's been so much fun seeing all of my friends and colleagues with their families during this year's back-to-school and Halloween festivities. School uniforms, backpacks, bake sales, fundraisers, and, of course, Halloween costumes.

I'm getting the chance to relive the years when I did all of that when my kids were young (they are now well into their '20's now!). I miss it. A lot.


But I will say that there's one thing that I don't miss: Parent/Teacher Conferences. I've been seeing a lot of commentary about those too, and I have to be honest and say that those memories aren't nearly as pleasant.

At least not for me, not by a long shot.

You have to understand that I was a divorced, single, gay father back at a time when none of those things were acknowledged, accepted, or embraced. Today we have Facebook and Instagram to shine a festive light on all of our families during these universal moments, but back in my day I was completely in the dark. Not in the closet, but in the dark. All by myself. Cue the Celine Dion song.

So you can imagine, every new school year I would have to face a new teacher and, in some cases, a new batch of parents. I'd have to explain who I was and who we were, often multiple times with looks of disbelief all along the way.

I always made it a matter of course to let the teachers know the situation…I always assumed that if they "knew" me then they'd accept me, and they'd accept and protect my children. For the most part, I'm happy to say that it was true. It's harder to hate and ridicule someone when you really know them. I tried my best to make sure that the parents, administrators, and teachers "knew me." That way they'd accept and include my kids.

But I have to say it was hard. I'm not ashamed to say that it was hard. The hardest thing I've ever had to do…any day at work is a piece of cake compared to that. It's really hard when you're one of a kind, especially in that environment. Perhaps any environment, but when it's your kids' happiness (and emotional safety) at stake then the stakes get really high.

Every school year, without fail, the shocking truth would always come out at the dreaded Parent/Teacher Conference. Every single year. Ugh. That's when I'd have to address "it." Address me. Address our family. Yes, I'm divorced. Yes, I'm an active father. Yes, I'm gay. Yes, I know that's usual. Yes, all of the above. I get it. And every single year I still had to do it.

The kids were generally well-behaved and good students, so that wasn't a worry. Their social acceptance because of me was my worry. Imagine having to deal with that? I'm sure you can.

And many still do. Every single year, every single day. It hasn't ended, it's just that there are more of us around so that we don't quite feel in the dark so much anymore. We don't feel quite so alone anymore. And there are more of us around to share our stories and serve as role models. We can thank social media for that. We can thank Gays with Kids for that!

I wish I had that back in the day. I'm so glad that you all with small kids have that now. Good luck this school year!

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Diary of a Newly Out Gay Dad

A Gay Chiropractor Explains Why He Came Out to His Patients

After Cameron Call, a chiropractor, came out to his family this past year, he knew he had one more step to take — he had to come out to his patients

Fear is an interesting thing. It motivates when it shouldn't, shows at inconvenient times, and is the author of stories that do nothing but hold us back. I would argue though, too, that fear has some good qualities. I believe it helps us to feel. And I think it can be a great teacher as we learn to recognize and face it.

For years fear prevented me from embracing my truth and accepting a large part of who I am. I know I am not alone in that regard. But for so long my fear convinced me that I was. Fear is what kept me from ever telling my parents or anyone growing up that I am gay. Fear mingled with strong religious teachings, embraced at a young age, which led me to believe that I could cure myself of my attractions to the same gender. And fear is a part of what kept me in my marriage to a woman for over ten years.

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Diary of a Newly Out Gay Dad

Coming Out to My Kids Was the Most Raw and Tender Moment

Cameron Call, a newly out gay dad, wonders how to come out to young kids who can only understand so much.

Cameron Call, who came out in summer 2019, has generously agreed to chronicle his coming out journey for Gays With Kids over the next several months — the highs, lows and everything in between. Read his previous articles here.

I always wanted to be a father. I am so glad that as messy as my journey might have been it got me three beautiful kids. I can't imagine my life without them. No matter how dark some days are as I navigate coming out and getting divorced I can always remind myself that my journey got me my kids. And I am so grateful for that.

When their mom and I decided to get a divorce I still hadn't told our kids that I'm gay. But once it was decided the best decision for us was to end our marriage, I knew it was time to tell them the biggest reason why. And I was terrified. Even though my twin boys are only seven and their sister is five I was scared to death to be so honest with them.

Some could argue that my kids didn't need to know but I feel strongly that they deserved to. They deserve to know their dad fully. And they deserve to know one of the reasons their parents decided to get a divorce.

Without much preparation or planning, we sat down on our couch as a family one Sunday afternoon and their mom let me speak. I trembled as I attempted to formulate words into sentences. How do you come out to young kids who can only understand so much? I stumbled for several minutes as we discussed the previous year. I asked the kids about their thoughts and feelings as they had witnessed countless arguments between me and their mom, heard several doors slam, and seen a lot of tears. They each expressed how scared and sad seeing their mom and I fighting so frequently had made them.

I explained that after a lot of conversation and prayer we decided we weren't going to be married anymore. But that wasn't enough. I could tell they were still confused and I felt uneasy. And then it hit me. I knew what more I had to say.

I looked at my oldest son and said "You know how God made you with handsome bright blue eyes?" Then I looked at his twin brother and asked "And how He made you with a cute face full of freckles?" Then I looked at my daughter and said "And you know how God made you with the most contagious belly laugh that fills the room?"

They all nodded and in their own way replied, "Yeah."

"Well," I said. "God made me to like boys more than girls. And that is part of the reason why your mom and I aren't going to be married anymore."

And I left it at that. They asked a few questions and I attempted to explain to them that their mom deserved to be with a man who loved her in a way I couldn't. And I told them that I wanted to love a man in a way I couldn't love their mom. I said again, "We aren't going to be married anymore." And that's when reality started to sink in a little bit.

My two boys immediately started crying. They both just wanted to be held. I was squeezed so hard as I hugged my son while he cried in my shoulder for several minutes. I couldn't hold back tears either. It was one of the most raw and tender moments I've ever experienced as a dad. It was a new type of pain I had never felt before. But it was also very healing. My daughter was kind of clueless as to what was going on and she didn't understand. As a five-year-old there's only so much she can grasp. She didn't even cry or ask a single question that day. But I knew we were laying the foundation for the growth that was to come as we navigated this new journey. And we've come a long way.

After holding our sons for a few minutes the conversation continued and I knew I had done right when my son said "A happy mom and dad is better than a sad mom and dad." I was blown away at his wisdom and understanding at such a young age.

As hard as coming out to my kids was, I am so glad that wasn't the end of the conversation. We continue on almost a daily or weekly basis to circle back to their thoughts and questions surrounding having a gay dad. And there continues to be highs and lows. But I'm grateful we are talking about it. I'm grateful they aren't afraid to share their feelings, fears, and thoughts.

While I cannot control or protect my kids from everything, I can control what I say and teach them, especially in regards to the gay experience. And I hope that I am up for the challenge.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Dating a Single Gay Dad Is a 'Package Deal'

When you date a man with kids, you get the "whole package," says Kyle Ashworth

I am a package deal.

That is a phrase I have continued to tell myself since entering the dating scene. I say it because it's true. You see, I was previously married to a woman for ten years. From that relationship came four wonderful children who are the lights and loves of our lives. Seven years into our marriage I made some hard decisions. The most monumental of them all was coming out to my wife. Everything about being gay and living a life of authenticity felt like a fantasy to me. I didn't know what to expect, what to believe, or where to begin. I just knew I wasn't straight and living in that closeted space was destroying my life.

People often ask me what the hardest part of the journey out of the closet has been. That is a difficult question to answer. Coming out was hard because you'll never get a chance to go back in the closet—once you are out, you're out. Divorcing my wife was hard, because it meant that everything comfortable and "normal" in our lives would be disrupted. Losing friends and family members to bigotry and ignorance was difficult.

So why do we come out? What compels us to turn our whole world upside down?

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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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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

A Gay Dad Gains Clarity After a Health Scare

A recent health scare helped give Erik Alexander clarity.

Sometimes fear can cripple the mind and hinder ones judgement. Having children of my own, I have come to grips with accepting the things I cannot change and learned to take action when there is no other choice. When it comes to my own personal health, the future and well being of my family gives me all the clarity I need to make the right decision about any kind of health scare.

This episode is dedicated to all the parents out there that are going through or have gone through similar situations.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

This European Couple Became Dads Through a U.K.-Based Surrogacy Program

Janno, from Estonia, and Matthias, from Belgium, were accepted into the "Childlessness Overcome Through Surrogacy" Program.

Janno Talu, an accountant, and Matthias Nijs, an art gallery director, were born in different parts of Europe. Janno, 39, is from Estonia, and Matthias, 28, is from Belgium. Their paths crossed when the two moved to London, each from their different corners of the European Union.

Janno relocated to London earlier than Matthias, when he was 24, and his main reason for the move was his sexuality. "Although Estonia is considered one of the more progressive countries in Eastern Europe, when it comes to gay rights, it is still decades behind Western society in terms of tolerance," said Janno. "And things are not moving in the right direction." In 2016, same-sex civil union became legal, but the junior party in the current coalition government is seeking to repeal the same-sex partnership bill. "In addition," Janno continued, "they wish to include the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman in the country's constitution. Even today, there are people in Estonia who liken homosexuality to pedophilia, which is why I decided to start a new life in the UK, where I could finally be myself."

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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