Gay Dad Life

Hoping to Become a Father, but Afraid to Have a Boy

Even as a young child, I knew I wanted to be a father. But I also knew I was gay. So while fatherhood has always been a dream of mine, I lived with the fear that gay men just didn't have children, so I'd never be a dad.

I loved kids so much that I spent much of my time babysitting: my younger siblings, my cousins, the neighbourhood kids. Starting at the age of 15 and continuing through my 24th year, I spent each summer as a camp counselor, always working with the youngest kids. I hoped that somehow, one day, I would become a dad.

I came out to my mother when I was 19. (It wasn't on purpose, but that's the subject of a whole other blog post!) I waited five more years to tell my dad because I was scared of what he might say or do. When I finally did tell him, I was surprised by his reaction. Instead of disowning me, he told me, “I love you no matter what, but I am sad because you will never get to be a father.”

This statement resonated with me for a very long time and made me see my dad differently. Times were different back then, the AIDS epidemic was going strong and it was still seen as a gay disease; gay issues and same-sex families were not as accepted in mainstream media or by society for that matter as they are now.

“Was he right?” I asked myself. “Because I am gay, would this dream of mine ever become a reality?”

The cast of Knots Landing, an American prime-time soap opera on CBS

The Gay Father in L.A.


Lucky for me, I did have one inspiration! I had befriended my father’s first cousin, who lived in L.A. in the early eighties when I was just 13. We had never met before but I had heard the rumors that he was gay and he was a director in L.A. working on shows like Remington Steele and Knots Landing, so of course I wanted to meet him. After all, I was obsessed with Donna Mills and Nicollette Sheridan!

I first met him when I was 13 and on a bus trip that took me across the United States. It was the start of a lifelong friendship. When I was in my early 20s he had twin girls with the help of a surrogate. This was the early 90s and it was definitely not the norm yet. He was a huge role model to me, living my dream of creating a family, something I had always hoped for. He was gay, he was single, and he had two daughters! I knew then that if he could do it, so could I! The only thing standing in my way now was money.

BJ, Frankie and Milo fresh from the delivery room

Becoming a Father Myself

Let’s fast forward more than twenty years. Here I am married to BJ, the most wonderful, loving, supportive husband anyone could ask for. We started our surrogacy journey to have children and are now almost 4 months pregnant. We drive to Kingston, Ontario to attend the ultrasound appointment to find out the gender of our baby. The nurse announces, “I see something that looks like a penis!” We are so happy and excited that we are having a boy, but I start to question myself. Will I be a good father to my son? Will I be able to play sports with my son? Will I be the father that my son deserves?

BJ and I talked a lot about how our lives would be with a son or a daughter, or for that fact we could have had twins and one of each! BJ and I both grew up having better relationships with the women in our lives than with the men. I have to be honest, I was a bit scared to have a little boy.

Growing up I just didn’t have as close of a relationship with my dad or brother as I would have liked. I was a sensitive kid, and I was not really into sports. On the other hand, my father and brother love sports. All sports! My father played on many sports teams: baseball, basketball and curling; he also coached soccer and baseball. In fact, he was my coach for softball and soccer, which I played for only a year. (Most of the games I spent picking flowers in the soccer field and being afraid of the softball.) I don’t ever remember my dad pushing me to play after I expressed a lack of interest. I remember him asking me, “What do you want to do?” He always supported my choice of hobbies growing up.

Ticket for Madonna – The Re-Invention Tour

Madonna: My Dallas Cowboys

Every year my dad goes with my brother to watch the Dallas Cowboys play. This has been my brother’s favorite team since he was a child and this was something they did together. One year my dad accompanied me to the Madonna Re-Invention Tour concert. To me, Madonna is my Dallas Cowboys and her tour is my Superbowl! My dad was out of his element there, but he came with me because it was important to me. That was the kind of man he was, and that is the kind of man I want to be for my child. Even though I might not have been as close to my dad growing up as I would have liked, he is always there for all of us now. He makes sure to take the time out of his day to spend with all his grandchildren, and gets down to play with them even when he is tired and in pain. He is a great role model to BJ and me. We hope to have as much energy as he has when we become grandparents one day!

Clockwise from top left: Baby Frankie, Frankie with his dad and younger brother, and Frankie skating

Being a Father to a Son

Even before Milo was born, all my straight male friends and family started telling me all the things we had to do with our son to make sure he would fit in. First and foremost, they told me he needed to learn how to skate so he could play hockey, and this must start by age of 3. BJ and I were told on more than one occasion that he would hate us for life if we didn’t teach him how to skate. “If he ever decides to play hockey, he will have the skills needed.” This all seemed a bit foreign to BJ and me, as neither of us knows how to skate or play hockey. We were thinking of putting him into dance, karate, swimming and gymnastics. Do all (Canadian) boys really play hockey? So many things to think about. We were already ruining his life and he wasn’t even born!

I will say the moment I held Milo for the first time, in that picture that has been seen millions of times the world over, all my fears of having a little boy went out the window. I realized that my past relationships and my own insecurities will only make me a better dad. As I reflect on my past, I realize the things that held me back growing up and I am determined to not let those same things get in the way of my son’s development.

 

The Future

If Milo chooses to play hockey, or any sport for the matter, we will be at every game cheering him on, like my father did for my brother growing up. I could never understand why anyone wanted to sit through all those baseball, soccer and hockey games – yes, my brother played all of them – but I am starting to see now that it is different when it is your kid out there playing. I have watched my sister become a hockey mom to her boys over the past ten years, something she swore would never happen to her. Zaida (grandfather) still loves to go to the games as well; he rarely misses one of his grandchildren’s games. I hope Milo will be lucky enough to have Zaida cheering him on one day soon. As much as BJ and I don’t love sports, we love our son, and will be there by his side no matter what he chooses to do in his spare time.

We have already introduced him to swimming, gymnastics and sportball and soon he will tell us what he wants to do. He is a loving, smart and affectionate little boy. We couldn’t have asked for more. We love him unconditionally and we are so happy to have been blessed with this little man. Having Milo has given me a chance to look at my own life and reflect on my own relationships. Some relationships have definitely gotten stronger and others have not. I think having a child really opens your eyes and make you see the world differently. We will be his biggest supporters, and be there for him 100 percent of the way. We will try to be the best dads we can be.

Watch BJ and Frankie's video: Visiting a Gay Dad Family.

Visit BJ and Frankie's website Family Is About Love

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Gay Uncles

Gay Uncles are an Essential Part of This Gay Dad Family's Village

It takes a village to raise a child, and this village includes many gay uncles

In November last year, Ottawa-based husbands Matt Ottaviani and Rej Gareau (whose story we shared in July) became first-time dads through surrogacy. They were overjoyed to welcome their daughter Andy and become a family of three.

But as many of us know, raising a child isn't always just about the nuclear family. The African proverb "it takes a village to raise a child" is a commonly repeated phrase, and rings very true for many families. Matt and Rej are no different, and when they shared their story last month, one thing jumped out to us: the important role Andy's guncles play in her and her dads' lives.

In honor of Gay Uncles Day today, we reached out to Andy's many guncles to learn first-hand how their relationship with the family affects their lives. Here's what they had to say.

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Gay Dad Life

Need a Sitter for Your Kids? Gays With Kids Reviews UrbanSitter

Back-to-school is already here for some of us, and if you're looking for a sitter to help out with school runs, after-school pick-ups, and the occasional date night, check out our review of UrbanSitter.

Instagram @davidcblacker

We moved from New York to Boston the summer of 2017. Along with the Manhattan skyline, our beloved Broadway, and late-night cookie deliveries, we also left behind our sitters — two sisters who had become more like family.

After settling for several months into our new home and neighborhood, we realized we hadn't had a dads' night out since our move. Our kids were still too young to leave alone at night, so I began what I presumed would be the tedious task of finding a sitter.

The first thing I did was to leave a post on our local parents' Facebook group. The dad of one of our daughters' classmates told me about UrbanSitter, a website and mobile app that he'd had success using to find last-minute sitters a few times. He also mentioned that within the app, I could see see babysitters and nannies recommended by parents at our kids' school in addition to local parenting groups.

While I appreciated the tip, I let him know that I was really hoping for a direct referral. But when none others came from the — other than a couple of middle schoolers looking for their first sitting jobs — I decided to give it a try.

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Move over Modern Family, there are some new gay dads taking over the small screen! Big Bad Boo Studios is bringing their animated series The Bravest Knight to Hulu. The series is based upon a children's book called "The Bravest Knight Who Ever Lived" by Daniel Errico, and it follows the life of Sir Cedric - now grown and married to Prince Andrew - as he regales their adopted daughter Nia with tales of his knighthood journey as she trains to become a knight herself.

"We are so excited about The Bravest Knight, its values and our partnership with Hulu," said Shabnam Rezaei, the director of the series and co-founder of Big Bad Boo Studios. "They understand how to push the envelope with authentic storytelling."

"I immediately fell in love with the idea of a girl wanting to work hard and make something of herself," Rezaei continued. "I also have a nephew who has two dads, so it's a very personal issue for me. I want him to have role models when he's watching TV. I want him to feel like having two dads is completely normal. That's what this show is going to do for him."

Errico's book was first realized as an animation when Hulu created a short film based upon his writing and were interested in exploring the concept of a full series. "I watched the eight minutes on Hulu and at the end the prince and the knight get married and I was in tears," says Rezaei. Rezaei then stepped in to create all new art work including new character design by Tim Linklater and backgrounds by Sarita Kolhatra. Together, they created a kickass bible and pitched the series to Hulu and were successful.

Diversity and inclusivity is celebrated throughout The Bravest Knight, reflected by its casting choices. Nia is played by Storm Reid, from "A Wrinkle in Time," and her dads Sir Cedric and Prince Andrew are voiced by T.R. Knight and Wilson Cruz respectively. The star studded cast also includes Wanda Sykes, Bobby Moynihan, RuPaul, Steven Weber, Teri Polo, AJ McLean, Jazz Jennings, Maz Jobrani and Christine Baranski as the formidable Red Dragon.

"With so many wonderful stories yet to be told, we hope that The Bravest Knight stands as an example of the undeniable strength in inclusivity, and the inherent joy in all forms of love and identity," said Errico, the author of the original book.

The first 5 episodes were released on June 21, and there are 8 more planned for release before the end of the year. Be sure to tune in!

This is the Main Title Song for Big Bad Boo's Hulu Original Series "The Bravest Knight". The song is performed by Justin Tranter and composed by Michael Plow...

Entertainment

Single Gay Dad Featured on Season Three of GLOW

Actor Kevin Cahoon joins the Gorgeous Ladies of Wresting in Vegas as a single gay dad — and drag queen — on Season Three of the hit Netflix show

For a couple of years now, Hollywood has been obsessed with gay dad characters (and who can blame them?) But the latest show to get hip to a story line featuring gay man raising kids is Netflix's GLOW, which explores a female wresting troop in the late 1980s.

But GLOW is helping represent a gay character that rarely gets time in the limelight:the single gay dad. In Season three of the hit comedy — which stars Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, and Marc Maron — actor Kevin Cahoon joins the case as Bobby Barnes, a single gay father who plays a female impersonator. (80s divas only, of course — Joan Collins and Babs among them)


"I've never done female impersonation," the openly gay actor told OutSmart Magazine, "so I tried to learn really quick. You will know them all; I was very familiar with all of them. There were plenty of talk shows and performances on YouTube to study. I learned that their breathing was very informative."

A single gay dad AND drag queen on television? It's about damn time if you ask us.

Read the full interview with Cahoon here.

Politics

Utah Court Rules Gay Couples Can't Be Excluded From Surrogacy Contracts

The Utah Supreme Court found in favor of a gay couple attempting to enter into a surrogacy contract.

DRAKE BUSATH/ UTCOURTS.GOV

Earlier this month, the Utah Supreme Court ruled that a same-sex couples can't be excluded from entering into enforceable surrogacy contracts, and sent a case concerning a gay male couple back to trial court to approve their petition for a surrogacy arrangement.

As reported in Gay City News, the case concerns Utah's 2005 law on surrogacy, which was enacted prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state. As a result, the content of the law is gendered, saying that surrogacy contracts should only be enforceable if the "intended mother" is unable to bear a child. When a gay couple approached District Judge Jeffrey C. Wilcox to enter into a surrogacy arrangement, he denied them, arguing that the state's law only concerned opposite sex couples.

"This opinion is an important contribution to the growing body of cases adopting a broad construction of the precedent created by Obergefell v. Hodges and the Supreme Court's subsequent decision in Pavan v. Smith," according to GCN. "It's also worth noting that same-sex couples in Utah now enjoy a right denied them here in New York, where compensated gestational surrogacy contracts remain illegal for all couples."

Read the full article here.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Thoughts and Prayers Aren't Working:​ One Father's Plea for Gun Reform

One gay dad's plea to our leaders to enact sensible gun control

My articles on GaysWithKids aspire to be lighthearted, helpful and humorous. This one won't be any of those things. Because I'm feeling heavyhearted, helpless and sad. Last week I woke up to news of yet another mass shooting. This time at a family-friendly Garlic Festival in northern California. I don't know if it's because this one hit so close to home, or if it's because the headline included a picture of the innocent 6-year old who was among those killed, but I am overcome with emotion. But mostly I am angry. And I don't know what to do with my anger.

Then, just a few days later came two additional horrific mass shootings that stole the lives of at least 32 more innocent people, many of them children. And then there's the "everyday" gun violence that plagues American cities like Chicago, where guns injured another 46 people this past weekend alone… creating so much turmoil, a hospital had to briefly stop taking patients.

How does one verbalize the collective sadness felt around the world? One can't. And that's why I am asking everyone reading this article to commit to getting involved in some way, to help end this epidemic once and for all. Even though the solution is so obvious, we can't allow ourselves to become numb to mass shootings. Because becoming numb isn't going to save anyone.

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Politics

Gay Russian Dads Forced to Flee Moscow

Fearing the Russian government might take their adopted kids into custody because of their sexual orientation, Andrei Vaganov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev fled Moscow

A married couple in Russia, with two adopted children, were just forced the flee their home in Moscow for fear that the authorities would take their children away, according to German news site Deutsche Welle.

Trouble started last month after investigators in Russia opened a criminal inquiry into the proceedings that had allowed the gay couple, Andrei Vaganov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev, to legally adopt the two boys —adoption by LGBTQ people in Russia has typically not been recognized. The government became aware of the adoption proceedings after the gay couple brought their 12-year-old son to the hospital, who was complaining of a stomachache. The boy was fine, but after he mentioned offhand that he was adopted and lived with two fathers, the doctor called the police.

Andrei and Yevgeny granted an interview with Deutsche Welle after escaping Moscow, but on the advice of their lawyers have yet to disclose where they are currently located. Here is a quick recap of that conversation:

"In connection with the 'propaganda of non-traditional values,' the state representatives are accused of having neglected their duty of supervision," Andrei said, when asked to explain on what basis the Russian government might take his children into custody. "This means that lesbian couples could even have their biological children taken away because, through their lifestyle choices, they propagate "certain values."

Yevgeny also explained the events that led to the couple's harrowing escape "I was alone in Moscow at that time. A week after Andrei and the children had left the country, there was a knock on my door, but nobody called 'police, open up.' After half an hour the violent knocking stopped. My parents' home was searched. They were looking for the children and our Danish marriage certificate because we got married in Denmark in 2016. My friends then got me out of the country."

Read the full interview here.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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