Gay Dad Life

This Gay Dad Felt Invincible. Then, He Turned 40

"I feel like the day I turned 40," said gay dad David Blacker, "my body suddenly started falling apart."

I passed the mirror as I was about to take a shower this morning. And I saw something shiny. What in the world is that… a kernel of silver glitter from Max's art project? I got closer to the mirror to investigate.

OMG.

IT. WAS. NOT. GLITTER.

It was my first gray hair.

No, not the first gray hair on my head — that happened years ago.

It was worse. Must worse.

It was my first gray hair… down there.

I know. I was as shocked as you are.


When I turned 40 a few weeks ago people asked, "do you feel any different?" And I'd smile it off with a joke about 40 being the new 30, but the truth is, I do feel different. And not in the way I expected.

I thought 40 would mean I could slow down a bit and be less obsessed with my career and more focused on my role as Dad. I fantasized about my 40s being my best decade yet. Where I'm wiser…. more established and somewhat more financially sound. You know, settled, content, and more comfortable in my own skin. But my body didn't get the memo.

I feel like the day I turned 40, my body suddenly started falling apart.

I now hear all kinds of weird cracks when I get on the floor to play Hot Wheels with Max. And when I read him books at bedtime I now have to hold small print at arm's length to be able to see the words. Hair is starting to grow in weird places. Eating one hamburger makes me look like I'm four months pregnant (apparently my metabolism is slower than the Special Counsel's investigation). The bags under my eyes have become way more pronounced — I'm starting to look like Michael Cohen. And then there's the unending upper back pain from years of bad posture. It never bothered me before, but damn, it bothers me now. What is happening to me? And is it normal?

I read online that after puberty, 40s is the time you see the most changes in your body." I barely recovered from puberty, and now I have to deal with this? I feel like being picked last in gym class all over again, only this time, instead of Mike Fishman making fun of me it's my family doctor. "No more red meat. No more ice cream. No more pasta." No more reason to go on! So if you need me, I'll be up in the tree pecking on birdseed.

Even Max has picked up on my insta-aging. "Dada, you're fat." "Dada your hair is silver." "Dada, can I have 18 more Oreos?" Why does he get to eat whatever he wants and stay a size 8? Life's not fair!

And then there's my arch nemesis at Max's elementary school drop off. Another Dad who's literally the most fit and fabulous-looking man alive. Every morning, he's there to remind me what good genes — not to mention, good jeans — are supposed to look like. He's my age. But he doesn't seem to be suffering the same fate. Not an ounce of body fat. Perfectly chiseled body and face. And hair that does exactly what he wants it to, without looking like he's done anything at all. Worst of all — he's impossibly nice, witty and warm. Fuck him, with his perfectness. P.S. We have a play date scheduled for this weekend. Price check on Spanx, aisle one.

So what's the point of this article? What does all this mean? Is it just a forum for me to angrily vent? No. It's a warning to myself. Because if I write it down and release it to the public, it'll feel more real. If I want to grow old and healthy with my husband and son, now's the time for me to rethink my priorities. For starters, turning 40 means being more of a disciplined and health-conscious eater now than I was when I was younger (you, know 39).

It means being more grateful. I have to work on becoming more aware of all the good that's in my life… and less envious of others (I'm talking to you, kid-drop-off-dad). I've got to learn to appreciate all that I have, because there are a lot of people that would switch places with me in a heartbeat. Speaking of, how fantastic would it be to switch lives, just for one day, with that super hot Queer Eye chef. I mean, wow. I digress.

And lastly, I have to learn not to ignore my body's warning signs. I had gotten to the point where I thought I was invincible. And that proved to be untrue when I had my recent physical. The #1 killer of men in their 40s is heart disease. My doctor literally said to me, "just because you're a size 32 on the outside doesn't mean things are looking good on the inside." #buzzkill

Here's the thing, turning 40 doesn't mean the fun stuff has to stop, but it does mean paying attention, seeing a doctor for nagging or unusual symptoms and taking advantage of important health screenings. Cholesterol, blood sugar and pressure, are the most important ones for guys our age. A low-fat diet along with regular exercise — 30 to 40 minutes three to five times a week — goes a long way toward keeping these problems at bay. And if not, I seriously give up.

I leave you with a few words of wisdom from Brad Pitt. "I loved turning 40. Your face kind of goes, and your body's not quite the same, but you've earned it. You've earned things falling apart."

Bitch, please. Brad has no idea what it's like to be average and 40.

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Matthew and Brian say they used to feel like "unicorns" as gay foster dads. They're happy to see more LGBTQ couples take the plunge into the foster system.

Matthew Hamparian and his husband Brian Lawrence have been together for over 18 years and live in Columbus, Ohio. "We had talked about children for a long time," shared Matthew. They were inspired by the show "The Fosters," and watched it regularly as one of the staffers of the show was a friend of Brian's. In one of the episodes, Matthew remembers a conversation between a foster child and the biological child of his foster parents. The foster child asks if he was okay with the fact that he had to share his home with foster siblings. He responds that he is okay with it, because he and his family have enough of everything.

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"Get off Grindr and start being a dad," said one follower who appeared to think single parents must take a vow of celibacy the minute they start changing diapers. "You're sad, that kid has no chance," said another.

Well, suffice it to say that this judgment from people who are presumably not single gay dads of Andy Cohen certainly struck a nerve with our gay dad audience! We received well over 100 comments on this post on Facebook, the vast majority of them coming to Cohen's defense. We caught up with two fellow single gay dads to find out why the story struck a nerve.

"We don't have to live like monks!"

One of the most liked comments on our piece came from Owen Lonzar, who wrote the following:

"I have always been a good single father to my biological son who came to live with me when he was 7 years old. He is now 25 years old and we are very close. I used Grindr and dated while he lived with me. I never had anyone sleep over and he certainly never saw some man he didn't know hanging around my home. Single parents have to date responsibly and with sensitivity to their child but that doesn't mean they have to live like monks!"

We asked Cohen to elaborate a bit more on why the backlash against Cohen bothered him. He had the sense, he said, that much of the criticism against LGBTQ parents comes from gay men without children. "Gay men without kids have a lot to say," he said. "And all of it is ignorant, because they have no idea what it means to actually be a father." He said he was particularly disappointed in gay critics, given our shared history of discrimination. "You would think with all the prejudice we have faced that gay men would be less judgmental themselves," he said.

"Are we supposed to be celibate?"

Another commenter, Josue Sebastian Dones-Figueroa, who is a divorced father of five, questioned what Cohen's critics would prefer him do. "So what, parents are supposed to become celibate because they have kids?" he asked.

We followed up with Josue to ask him to elaborate a bit more: "The idea that just because he is a dad that he would need to stop being a man," he said, questioning why Cohen should have to put his life hold and stop dating, or having sex, just because he's now a father. "If the child is cared for loved and not neglected what is the problem? Life goes on right?"


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Internet Conflicted About Advice Given to Closeted Gay Dad in the Guardian

Ok fellow gay dads: if you were the advice columnist at the Guardian, what would you have said?

Recently, in a post titled "I met my girlfriend's parents – and realized I once slept with her father," a man wrote into the advice column at the Guardian with the following predicament:

"Five years ago, I went through a bi phase and used to sleep around with pretty much everyone that came along, including other men. This changed when I fell in love with my new partner, who is everything to me. I recently met her parents and halfway through lunch realised that I had slept with her father. I was going to propose, but when my partner and her mother were away, he told me to end it with his daughter. I'm obviously in love – shall I just ignore him, or tell my partner?"

Pamela Stephenson, the Guardian's columnist, responded as follows:

"I am not sure you could ever have a comfortable future with your new partner. To tell the truth would be to court disaster: a probable break-up, plus the risk of a permanent rift between father and daughter and father and wife. Hiding the truth would lead to toxic secret-keeping that could be equally destructive in the long run. If this whole family was as open-minded and sexually open as you, it might be possible for you to become part of it. However, the father – your former lover – has made it clear that you will not be welcome. Walk away now, and avoid the massive pain that would otherwise be inflicted on your partner, her family and yourself."

Not all commenters agreed with Stephenson's advice.

"Assuming your girlfriend knows that you were bi until falling in love with her and that you slept with everybody in your path [which she deserved to know up front anyway] then you can give HER the option what to do with this bond, rather than leaving the choice to her dad," said one commenter.

Another said, "Walking away without explaining why would be callous and also allow the father to escape the possible consequences of his actions."

It's worth noting that none of these commenters, nor the columnist, are or will ever be gay dads, whose perspective on this bizarre situation may be uniquely valuable. Many gay dads have become fathers while still in the closet. And even those who became dads after coming out can still sympathize with the detrimental impacts of the closet on our lives and those of our families.

So what say you, gay dads, about this man's predicament?

Terrell and Jarius need your help. Earlier this week they were made aware of an act of discrimination against a male transgender student at Johnson High School in Gainesville, Georgia

"Dex Frier was elected by the student body to run for prom king but is now facing backlash from the school's administration," shared the dads via their Instagram. "The school's Superintendent is forcing Dex to either run as prom queen or not run at all. This is very unjust and does NOT reflect the opinion of the parents nor the students."

Watch their video below:

Dex, 17, who came out identifying as male in his sophomore year, spoke with Gainsville Times about being nominated by the student body. "Frier said he kept his emotions in check while at school, but 'the moment I got home, I immediately started crying. I've never been shown so much support before,' Frier added."

He was later informed by school officials that his name had been withdrawn and he could only run in the prom queen ballot.

Sadly, there have been rival petitions started in support of Dex's nomination being withdrawn, and he's received backlash from those who believe he shouldn't be able to run.

Although Terrell and Jarius do not know Dex personally, they were made aware of what was happening through Jarius co-worker who is a parent at the school. "He's such a brave kid and is standing firm in his beliefs, and we should support him," said Jarius.

These dads are asking all of us to take a minute and sign this petition and share with friends and family, or anyone you think could help.

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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