Gay Dad Life

How a Gay Dad Unexpectedly Became a Hockey Dad

Could I Really be a Hockey Dad?


Hockey. My son wanted to play hockey. He asked repeatedly but my partner and I deflected. We distracted – but the ballet lessons we put him in weren’t satisfying him, apparently. He was adamant about hockey.

Off to the neighborhood arena we went. The first time I walked in, it felt like a different world. Sure, I’d been in plenty of predominantly male spaces before, but this seemed like a foreign country. Here was a culture and a language I didn’t know. All I saw were other men who did the typical male nod of the chin, the small motion that conveyed so much. I assume they were expressing things like “Hey!”; “How ya doin’?”; “Registration is over here”; “The first practice starts next week at 8”; and “See that guy who has no clue what he’s doing?” It was all a code I had never learned.

Our First Day

I managed, awkwardly, to get my son registered. Then the taciturn guy looked over my son and turned to me to ask, “Equipment?” I looked back blankly. The guy shrugged and told us what gear we’d need. I couldn’t then admit not knowing what to put on first or how, so I looked out of the corners of my eyes to watch the other kids in the changeroom get geared up. I was so proud seeing my little guy skate onto the ice for his first practice, until I watched as the coach had to retie my son’s laces. It felt like a dad failure on my part.

I’m a morning person, so I don’t mind the early game times. But how would I fit in with the other dads? They stand at the boards, drink their morning coffee, talk about sports and yell encouragement and admonishments at their kids. I don’t drink coffee. I don’t know last night’s scores. And what advice could I yell at my kid?

The Hockey Code

One day I overheard two of the dads talking. One of them said, “That number 11 is fast but too bad he’s always offside.” Number 11 – my guy. But I didn’t admit that it was my son, nor that I didn’t know what “offside” meant. Instead I went home to Google it. The next week, while lacing up my son’s skates, I said to the coach, “We’ve been working on the offside thing.” That day, I had to go home and Google “icing.” I figured I could learn a hockey term a week. (“Icing: an illegal act by an ice hockey player of shooting a puck from within the defensive zone or defensive half of the rink beyond the opponents’ goal line but not into the goal.”)

Now I stand rinkside two or three times a week, happy because my son is happy. I can tie skates properly. I yell out “offside” when one of our players needs reminding. I hang out with the dads and chat about parenting, schools, weather, vacations, families – and a bit about hockey. I watch NHL games on TV with my son, so I’m picking up names of players and know who lost or won the night before. And I’m beginning to appreciate the strategy, speed and intensity of the game. The code isn’t a secret – it is simply a new language.

The Maple Leafs Game

For my son’s birthday this year, I bought two of the cheapest tickets to a Maple Leafs game when the Penguins were coming to town. Wearing the jersey of his hero, Sydney Crosby, my son opened the gift, threw his arms up and cheered. The tickets turned out to be standing room, behind the last row in the arena, the farthest away from the ice that one could possibly get. And yet when we arrived, my son said, sincerely and not charitably, “These are great seats!” He took it all in – the game, the atmosphere, the crowd. He focused intently on the game, knew when to cheer, when to groan, when to encourage the players and when to dispute the refs. He also knew to ask me for an overpriced hot dog, an oversized pop and an over-everything popcorn.

My Dad, My Role Model

It made me think of my dad who used to take me to games to try to get me interested in sports. He had to feed me to keep me occupied, before giving up on taking me altogether. My dad, who passed away 12 years ago, would have relished opportunities to take a grandkid to live games or watch sports with him on TV, all the things that I never liked to do. Instead my dad attended all the plays I wrote, directed or acted in. I didn’t follow my dad into a business career or have his zeal for sports, but I could still use him as a role model.

Tears came to my eyes. Standing with my son for his first NHL game, out of my comfort zone, I was learning and experiencing new things right along my son. There, not because of the game, but happy because my son was happy. (Bonus: the Leafs won in overtime!) I will cheer him on and cheer with him, as long as I get to spend time with him doing what he loves.

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Gay Dad Life

Karamo Brown Co-Writes Children's Book with Son, Jason

The 'Queer Eye' star and his son named the story on a family mantra: You are Perfectly Designed

When his sons, Jason and Chris, were young, "Queer Eye" Star Karamo Brown repeated the same saying to them: "You are perfectly designed."

That mantra is now a Children's Book, cowritten by Karamo and his 22-year-old son, Jason, who used to come how and "say things like, 'I don't want to be me, I wish I was someone else, I wish I had a different life." As a parent, that "broke my heart," Karamo told Yahoo! Lifestyle. "I would say to him, 'You are blessed and you are perfect just the way you are,' as a reminder that you have been given so much and you should be appreciative and know that you're enough — I know that the world will try to tear you down, but if you can say to yourself, 'I am perfectly designed,' maybe it can quiet out some of those negative messages."

The illustrations, by Anoosha Syed, also make a point of displaying families of a variety of races and sexual orientations throughout the book.

Read more about Karamo's fascinating path to becoming a gay dad here, and then check out the video below that delves deeper into the inspiration behind "You Are Perfectly Designed," available on Amazon.



Gay Dad Life

The Suburban Gay Dad

Are you intimidated by the suburbs? This gay dad was — but then he moved there.

In a recent article for Yahoo! Lifestyle, Steve Jacobs says the thought of living in the suburbs as a gay dad "intimidated" him. But when he started fantasizing about garages, he began to question that notion. Any apprehension he had soon evaporated, he said, one winter morning while trying to navigate the snowy streets of New York City with a stroller.

While "pushing the stroller through snow banks and pools of slush with snowflakes stinging our faces," he wrote, "a vision came to me: I pictured us walking into a garage, hopping into a car, and arriving at a diner with 10 times less drama. This image planted the seed of moving to the 'burbs that I couldn't shake."

Soon, the family of four found a house in a town a half hour outside the city. "It had grass and a beautiful yard for our spirited kiddos. The schools were good. There were even good restaurants. The only red flag: Census data estimated only 0.1 percent of the population was gay male."

There were some "growing pains" while trying to make friends in this environment. "When we attended our first dinner party, within minutes the hostess went to the kitchen and the other wives followed her, while the husbands settled into the living room. Ira and I froze, looking at each other. In the city, our straight friends hadn't separated out like this for the evening. Should we stay with the dudes, exert our masculinity, and blow off the mom we liked? Or does one of us go with the wives and accept the personal branding that comes with that? We did a quick rock paper scissors in the foyer. Ira went with the wives."

But ultimately, "being a parent defined me more than I ever imagined it would," he wrote, and he settled in nicely to his new suburban life.

Have you had a similar adjustment, from city life to the suburbs? Tell us about it at dads@gayswithkids.com for an upcoming piece!

Gay Dad Life

"Fridays with Fitz": A New Kid's Book Based Upon the Son of These Two Dads

Tracey Wimperly, author of the new children's book, said she hopes to give a more honest portrayal of the role grandparents play in the lives of children.

Guest post Tracey Wimperly

I've recently written a children's picture book (aimed at 2-4 year olds) called "Fridays with Fitz: Fitz Goes to the Pool." Every Friday - when his two dads go to work - Fitz and his grandparents (my husband, Steve and I) head off on an adventure. Through the eyes of a curious and energetic 3 year old, even ordinary adventures, like riding the bus or foraging for fungus in the forest can be fun and magical.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Raising Grounded Kids in Crazy Manhattan

When it comes to raising kids in Manhattan, Dr. Evan Goldstein lives by this lesson — less is more.

There are several lessons that we all learn as we continue to age on this wacky place called earth. But I learned one of life's most important nuggets my first year of medical school, and it has never left me. I remember this one night in particular—it was late, and I had been studying when I realized I forgot an important book in the stacks of the library. Thankfully, a janitor opened the locked door and allowed me to retrieve my belongings. I remember it took him a while to open the locked section that I needed to enter, as he had so many dangling keys on his keychain. He responded to me gazing at the lock by saying, "Son, I may only be a janitor without any education beyond high school, but I have seen medical student after student enter this school for the past 25 years. Can I give you some advice?" "Of course," I said. "Do you see all these keys on this keychain?" he said. "Every single one holds a new responsibility. Less keys, less responsibility. Less is more! Remember that my friend." And with that, he was gone.

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Change the World

11 Family Stories That Show the Depth of the Adoption Experience for Gay Men

November is National Adoption Awareness Month! To celebrate, we've curated some adoption stories that show the true depth and breath of the adoption experience for gay men.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month! And few people are more aware of the importance of lifting up and celebrating adoption in this country than the LGBTQ community. According to the Williams Institute, 21% of same-sex couples are raising adopted children compared to just 3% of different-sex couples. Despite the fact that we are a crucial part of the support system for children needing loving homes, we are currently facing an administration that is trying to make it legal for foster care and adoption agencies to discriminate against us on the basis of religion.

To help celebrate National Adoption Awareness Month, and demonstrate that religious beliefs should in never trump the ability for a loving LGBTQ family to welcome children into their home, we've rounded up several family stories that show the true depth and breath of the adoption experience — men who never planned to become dads, and woke up one day to find themselves responsible for little ones. Men who always wanted to become dads, and suffered through years of failed placements before finally making their dreams come true. Single men, who realized they were strong enough to adopt on their own. And men who adopted older children through the foster care system.

These are just a few of the inspiring stories of gay, bi and trans adoptive dads — we are literally sitting on a treasure trove of them. And, no doubt, there are countless more headed your way in the months to come.

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"We're Dads, the Greatest Thing We've Ever Been": Congrats to Gay Men Whose Families Recently Grew!

Wishing all of these gay dads whose families expanded a lifetime of happiness! Congrats to everyone in our community on their recent births and adoptions!

Gay men go through a lot of ups and downs on the path to parenthood. It can be one of the most emotionally draining times in our lives. But as each of these families who are celebrating births and adoptions this month agree: it's worth every hardship.

Congrats to the dads whose families grew this month!

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News

United Nations Calls on Cambodia to End Criminalization of Surrogates

Cambodia's 2016 law criminalizes surrogacy — and requires women who work as surrogate to raise the children they conceived for intended parents as their own.

Last Friday, the United Nations Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) reiterated its support to end the harassment and criminalization of surrogates in Cambodia, according to Voice of America.

The report issued by CEDAW recognized growing international criticism of the unregulated practice of surrogacy around the world, which often leads to the exploitation of women who work as surrogates. However, since surrogacy became illegal in Cambodia, over 60 women working as surrogates — the very people put in danger of exploitation — have been arrested and subjected to criminal proceedings. The women were only released according to VOA, under the condition of raising the surrogate children until they are 18.

"The Committee is particularly concerned that such an obligation creates an additional financial and emotional burden on women who are in precarious situations, which led them to act as surrogates in the first place," the report reads, "and that they face discrimination and stigma from their families and communities for having acted as surrogates."

CEDAW called on the Cambodian government to repeal the October 2016 law — particularly the requirement of raising the children they conceived for other intended parents as their own. This punishment is particularly onerous given that many of these women entered surrogacy arrangement against their will, said Chak Sopheap, Executive Director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, speaking to VOA.

"Surrogate women in Cambodia are likely to be at the sharp end of various economic and political hardships that caused them to make the decision to become a surrogate," she told VOA in an email. "We have seen, over the past year, women surrogates raided, charged with human trafficking, and detained, with no transparency from the authorities as to their wellbeing or that of the children they have given birth to."

Read more about this story here.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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