Coming Out

Gay Dads Share Their Coming Out Stories for National Coming Out Day

We asked several gay dads to share their coming out stories in honor of National Coming Out Day, whose stories are heartwarming, instructive, and everything in between

As we celebrate National Coming Out Day, we look at some of the coming out stories of dads in our community. Their stories are as heartwarming as they are instructive for anyone looking for some advice on navigating the difficult, but empowering, coming out process.


#1. "Confide in someone who's been through it" -David Blacker

David Blacker (left) with his husband Alex Goldstone and their son, Maxwell

"I came out to my parents around the age of 26 when they visited me in California, where I had been living for a couple of years. My goal all week was to tell them, but no matter how many times I tried to bring it up, the conversation veered off to other topics. At one point I tried telling them while I was driving us to the beach; and I was so stressed out that I wasn't paying attention to how fast I was going, and ended up getting a speeding ticket (side note: the officer was super hot).

Finally, the last evening before they left, I made reservations at a nice restaurant in Venice beach and I was determined to tell them (I picked a noisy restaurant incase there were lots of tears). I kept trying to bring it up throughout dinner, but there was no good opening.

At last, I wrote a few words on a napkin and covertly passed it to my mom. It said: Ask me if I'm gay. And that was the ice-breaker.

It was stressful and uncomfortable, but I was and am fortunate to have my family's full support. I felt relieved afterwards, though it took some time for my family to believe that I really was gay (apparently my teenage Whitney obsession wasn't enough of a giveaway).

My advice to others who are still in the closet… before you tell the people most important to you, confide in someone who has been through it. Hearing other people's success stories will give you the confidence you need to come out, when the time is right. Just don't wait too long, because not being your authentic self is exhausting."

#2. "Take baby steps" -Clayton Shelvin

Clayton Shelvin (left) with his husband Andy Forester and their daughter

"At the age of 20, I was engaged to a woman. I was in college and at the time really was trying to convince myself that I was straight. During that time I met a friend who was gay. He began having conversations with me about his own coming out story and it unlocked a part of me that I hid for so long. It was that next year when the engagement was called off and I met a group of gay men who took me in and really introduced me to gay bars, dinner parties, my first PRIDE and true friendship.

The following year on New Year's Eve, I begin to feel that if I didn't share this big secret with my family, that I would explode. I have always been close to my family, especially my mother, and hiding this felt wrong. At midnight I called my sister and simply said the words...."I'm gay".

The next day I got a call from my mom asking me to come over for dinner. I arrived and she immediately took me into her arms and told me, "You're going to be okay, and I'm always going to love and I'm always going to support you."

I'd waited to hear those words forever. It gave me permission to live my truth and to allow myself to be happy. Different members of my family had different feelings about it and I lost a lot of friends, but I had to go through that to really find the people who would support me and who would always accept me.

My advice to anyone struggling to come out is to take baby steps. Find those people in your life who you know are going to lift you up and love you no matter what. Surround yourself early on with people like you and don't let fear or what others may think block you from finding your own happiness. The other side of the rainbow is filled with amazing memories, love and endless possibilities."

#3. "Love and accept yourself"  -Ryan Sirois Heller 

Ryan Sirois Heller with his two kids

"Well I can't say it was necessarily a shock to anyone when I came out. I think there were neon signs from an early age. That said, my sexuality was no longer a secret when I was 16 years old, which was in 2000.

I wish it were a more polished story, but truth be told at that age I was not only experimenting sexually quite a bit, but also with drugs. The two went hand in hand as I was dealing with a lot at that time, so I found comfort in rebellion.

My sophomore year of high school I had a party at the house while my parents were out of town. My cousin was at the party and saw me making out with a guy. The next morning when my parents realized the house was trashed, they pressed my cousin for information and he told them everything — about the drugs, about my sexuality.

So needless to say my parents took a huge blow and found out a lot of things about me all at once. My "coming out" was stained with drugs, sex and lies.

In regards to my sexuality, my mom took it best — especially because she already knew for quite some time upon her own suspicions.

My family in general was also OK. My father had a harder time and I remember distinctly him sitting across from me saying that he accepts me as his son but not my "lifestyle". Meaning my sexuality. He and I had a very rocky few years, but have an amazing relationship now.

After I came out, I became more promiscuous and fell into drug addiction. Although I was out, I never accepted my sexuality myself. I wanted everyone else to accept me but I was filled with so much shame about it that I didn't accept myself.

So for many years I struggled with addiction, sexuality, relationships. It took a long time to realize that it was me who didn't love and accept me. But today, with years of recovery and spiritual work, I've come to a much more forgiving and accepting place of myself and others. But it takes work and coming out is no one size fits all. And in my experience it's not a one time admission — it was a journey of acceptance. One that i still walk and am happy to share with others."

Ryan has written about growing up gay, coming out, addiction and recovery/acceptance in his book "King of Stars." Available on his website: RyanSirois.com

#4. "Living a life of lies is not living life at all" -Jeremy

Jeremy (right) and Josh with their two kids

I came out to my parents when I was 15 years old. It was one of the hardest things I did. I remember the tremble in my voice, the tears running down my face and the tightness in my chest.

My parents listened and asked questions like how long I've had these feelings and if I've acted on these feelings before. At the time I hadn't but I knew I was not attracted to women.

Immediately after telling them I felt a calm feeling come over me. I was at peace and finally truthful to myself.

Now, living in Utah, the Mormon church is very prominent, so my parents wanted to put me into counseling to make sure I was making the right choice. I went to a few sessions and I was told I could learn to suppress my feelings and become a normal person in society. They wanted me to pretend to be someone I'm not. I fought with my inner thoughts about this and ultimately decided to be true to myself.

The advice I'd have for others is always be true to yourself and don't let society pick who you can or can't be. Living a life of lies to fit in is not living life at all.

So much has changed in just the past 5 years when it comes to gay rights. Stand up, be honest with yourself, and be proud of who you are!"

#5. "Be ready for any outcome," -Jason

Jason (left) and Zack with their son

"It was Thanksgiving and I was a Junior in college. I was home for the holidays and I had already come out to my friends at school but felt ashamed / couldn't be myself in my own home.

My dad had passed away a few years earlier, so I was afraid to lose my other parent in the process of coming out.

Eventually, my mom could see how sad and depressed I was and kept pushing the topic of what was wrong. Eventually, I told her my secret, we cried and she asked a lot of questions. It obviously took her some time to get use to the idea of having a gay son, but she's never looked back and is my biggest supporter.

My advice to others looking to come out- you have to be ready for any outcome. It may take you a long time or a short time to come out... there is no time limit. But, it is important for you to live your authentic truth and be proud of who you are.

I never thought in a million years that I would be able to marry and have a kid...but being authentic has given me so much more in life."

#6. "I felt pressure to hide who I was..." -Richard

Richard Kocher with his daughter

"I was lucky to grow up in a very welcoming household and liberal area (San Francisco Bay). I was out to my family and my friends by the time I was 13. Everyone from my water polo team to my close friends to my high school classmates were very supportive.

When I joined the military in college, because of Don't Ask Don't Tell – I felt pressure to hide who I was again. Although I loved my job, I always kept a distance from my fellow service members fearing I could be kicked out. I left active duty a couple years later and gradually came out again.

Today, I'm married and have a 3 year old daughter. Post Don't Ask Don't Tell, I'm still a reservist and just finished serving at a navy expeditionary combat command that has been very supportive of me and my family. I was just selected for Commander and I'm happy to still be serving my country."

#7. "I was missing out on so much in life" -Michael

Michael Bellavia with his son

"I was a nerd and a goody two shoes growing up. That provided good cover to my sexuality all through junior high and high school even though I knew who I was. I basically used academics as my closet.

That lasted well into my mid twenties until I finally decided I was missing out on so much in life and I should start exploring. Soon after, I came out.

I remember that my sister basically pushed me out. She was upstairs in her room, my mom was downstairs in the living room, and I was on the landing of the staircase between floors. My sister was yelling down to her that I didn't want to go on dates with girls because I'm gay and my mom yelling up to her that that couldn't be true. A few minutes of this closet case yelling ping pong match went by and I fessed up to my mom. And I haven't looked back since.

Thankfully my family was very embracing and it was a safe environment to be myself."

#8. "I'm lucky to be who I am..." -Michael

Jeff and Michael (right) with their daughter

"1995 was a big year. It started out with me living and working at my brother-in-law's upstate NY garden center after I dropped out of college. I was extremely depressed. I had left all of my friends behind who I thought wouldn't accept the secret truth of who I was, but had no idea how to meet new friends who would.

I had a choice. I could stay in this prison and wither, or I could somehow find the strength to survive. And luckily I did. In February I cut off my hair (except for one braid, I'll blame it on the 90s) and I chose to live. I shared my truth with some new friends I had made, then my sister and brother-in-law who were very supportive. The weight of the world was lifted.

In April I met my first boyfriend while out one night at a local college (with the help of some liquid courage) and fell madly in love. In May I came out to my parents in an empty, too-quiet Chinese restaurant. Then after my own version of a "Call Me By Your Name" summer I followed my boyfriend who was moving to NYC and got my heart broken soon after I got there.

But it got me there. And I wouldn't be where I am today without any of it. I am incredibly grateful for my journey and wouldn't change a thing. I'm lucky to be who I am and so lucky for all I have. And it really does get so much better. Happy #NationalComingOutDay. #LiveYourTruth"

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Gay Dad Life

Son of Gay Dad Pens Article in Vice About Accidentally Finding Out About His Father's Sexuality

Julien cried when his father first came out, a moment he's always regretted. But he's found multiple opportunities to show his support since.

In an article for Vice Netherlands, Julien Goyet speaks about the experience of learning about his father's sexuality by accident, when his younger brother heard him repeatedly saying the word "gay" on the phone. When his dad confirmed it was true, Julian says he burst into tears. Though he was just a young boy at the time, it's a moment he's nonetheless always regretted.

"Through the years, I've often asked myself why I did that – why I couldn't have been more understanding. Maybe it was because I realised then and there that it would mean my parents were never getting back together."

Julien continues by saying he's thankful for the multiple opportunities he's had since to make up for that moment.

"Thankfully, four years after he came out to us, he told us about a secret boyfriend he'd had for a while, and we were nothing but happy for him," he wrote. "I can remember the moment he showed me a picture of his partner. It was a Saturday afternoon and he'd called me up to his office in the attic. I went upstairs and found my father behind his computer. On the screen appeared a picture of a handsome man, sitting in a cafe. "That's him," he said, with what I'm pretty sure was pride in his voice. It was weird to see the man my father had fallen in love with – he was handsome and cool, and, thankfully, I didn't feel the urge to cry this time. My father, now more comfortable in his sexuality, asked if I wanted to meet his partner."

With his mother remarried to another man and his father happily partnered, Julien concludes by saying, "now, I have two stepdads. We all celebrate Christmas together. Now and again my father and I have dinner at a restaurant in Amsterdam where burgers are named after drag queens, and he sometimes sends me selfies when he's partying at the Pride parade. I once tagged along with him to his favourite gay bar, where I met all the friends he's made there over the years. It's a place he comes often, and I had no idea it existed all that time. I'm happy that's changed."

Read the full moving essay here.







Above all, I wondered what it would be like to see my father kissing another man. That's happened a couple of times now and it actually feels just the same as when you see your own parents kiss in public – incredibly awkward but also kind of sweet. I'm happy he feels free to do so in his own home now. It's like he's been liberated. Now I wish he had done all this a lot sooner. But he told us he didn't want to confuse us, and he would have gone about it the same way if he had had a new girlfriend. "A divorce, a new stepdad, your father coming out – it all seemed a bit much for you kids," he said.

Now, I have two stepdads. We all celebrate Christmas together. Now and again my father and I have dinner at a restaurant in Amsterdam where burgers are named after drag queens, and he sometimes sends me selfies when he's partying at the Pride parade. I once tagged along with him to his favourite gay bar, where I met all the friends he's made there over the years. It's a place he comes often, and I had no idea it existed all that time. I'm happy that's changed.

Gay Dad Life

Former NFL Player Jeff Rohrer, and Father of Two, Comes Out as Gay and Marries Longterm Partner

Jeff Rohrer, a father of two teenage boys via a previous relationship with a woman, is the first NFL player to marry another man.

Allen Zatki

Retired NFL linebacker Jeff Rohrer, who played for the Dallas Cowboys from 1982 to 1989, recently came out as gay and married his longterm boyfriend last month. In an interview with the New York Times, Rohrer discussed his sexuality publicly for the first time.

"If I had told the Dallas Cowboys in the 1980s that I was gay, I would have been cut immediately," Mr. Rohrer said. "It was a different world back then, people didn't want to hear that."

Rohrer was previously married to a woman, with whom he had two teenager children, 15-year-old Isabella Rohrer and 14-year-old Dondillon Rohrer. His son is currently following in his dad's footsteps by playing on his high school football team.

"I'm sure there's going to be some people out there who have a negative reaction to this," Rohrer told the outlet, adding, "and I'm fine with it."

Mostly, though, he says the reaction to his coming out as been positive. In an interview with CNN, he said, "I have two teenage kids, everybody is extremely supportive."

Rohrer met his now husband, Joshua Ross, back in 2015 while he was still in the closet. "And if not for Josh," he said in his Times interview, "I'd still be in there."

In his interview with the Times, Ross said that several friends had questioned him on how he felt taking on the "extra baggage" of being a stepfather to Rohrer's two children.

"Baggage? What baggage?" Ross said, adding "We are adding two beautiful children to our wonderful modern family.

Congrats to the newlywed dads! Read the entire New York Times interview with Rohrer here.

Single Parenting

Coming Out to His Wife Was Painful, Says This Salt Lake-Based Dad of Four. But it Started Him on a Path of Authenticity

After Kyle came out to his wife, with whom he has four children, "she listened, she mourned and she loved," he said.

Kyle Ashworth has four kids from a previous straight relationship. After ten years of marriage, he came out to his wife. "It was the most painful and wrenching experience of my life," said Kyle. "In the cold morning hours that coming-out-day in March, I began a journey of authenticity and honesty." Today, Kyle is 36 years old and ready to live his next chapter. But before we get to that, we need to look back at what led him to where he is now: an out and proud single gay dad.

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Change the World

Breaking with Older Generations,  Most LGBTQ Millenials Say They Want Kids

According to new research by the Family Equality Council, the number of LGBTQ parents is expected to rise dramatically in the coming years

According to the LGBTQ Family Building Survey, recently released by the Family Equality Council, the majority of young LGBTQ say they are interested in becoming parent. This marks a dramatic shift when compared with the attitudes of older generations.

Among the survey's findings:

  • 63% of LGBTQ Millennials (aged 18-35) are considering expanding their families, either becoming parents for the first time, or by having more children
  • 48% of LGBTQ Millennials are actively planning to grow their families, compared to 55% of non-LGBTQ Millennials, a gap that has narrowed significantly in comparison to older generations
  • 63% of LGBTQ people planning families expect to use assisted reproductive technology, foster care, or adoption to become parents, a significant shift away from older generations of LGBTQ parents for whom the majority of children were conceived through intercourse.

Despite the expected increase in LGBTQ parents, most providers, they note, "do not typically receive training about the unique needs of the LGBTQ community; forms and computer systems are not developed with LGBTQ families in mind; insurance policies are rarely created to meet the needs of LGBTQ family building; and discrimination against LGBTQ prospective parents by agencies and providers remains widespread."

The Family Equality Council goes on to recommend that family building providers "from reproductive endocrinologists and obstetricians to neonatal social workers, family law practitioners, and child welfare workers" begin preparing now to welcome future LGBTQ parents.

Read the full report here.

Change the World

Gay Dads More 'Equitable' in Parenting Roles Than Straight Dads, Says New Study

Unmoored by gender roles, gay dads take equal parts in being "playmates, caregivers, protectors, role models, morality guides,

A new study conducted by Éric Feugé from the Université du Québec à Montréal observed 46 families, made up of 92 gay dads and their 46 children over a period of seven years.

The study, which Feugé says is the first of its kind, analyzed the roles gay dads take in raising their kids and found the way they parent is 'very equitable'.

'We learned that gay fathers' sharing of tasks is very equitable,' the researcher told the Montreal Gazette, who added there was a "high degree of engagement" by both gay dads in all types of parental roles. "What's really interesting is that they don't conform to roles of conventional fathers. They were able to redefine and propose new models of cultural notions of paternity and masculinity."

Unmoored by gender roles, gay dads take equal parts in being "playmates, caregivers, protectors, role models, morality guides,' the author said.

Read the full review of the research here.

Change the World

Don't F*ck With This F*g

After a homophobic encounter on the subway, BJ questions what the right response is, in an era of increasing vocal rightwing activists

On February 1, 2019, Frank and I went out on a date night, something we haven't done in a while. Our son was sleeping over at his grandparents for the night and we made plans with our friends to meet them for dinner downtown. We decided to save some money and take the subway into town instead of taking a taxi.

We boarded the subway and sat down opposite a couple, a man and woman. I noticed they looked at us as we boarded the train and began whispering to each other. Frank and I were talking to each other when I heard the man uttering under his breath, "F*$%ing faggots."

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Gay Dad Life

14 Gay Dad Families Show Their Love This Valentine's Day

These pics of gay dads smooching will warm the hearts of even the biggest V-Day skeptics

You might quietly (or loudly) oppose the commercialism and celebration of Valentine's Day, but let's just take a moment and rejoice in these beautiful signs of affection, shared between 14 awesome two-dad families. Cynicism gone? Good.

Happy Valentine's Day, dads! We hope you have a lovely day with your kids, your significant other, and / or friends. Because who doesn't love love!?!

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