Gay Dad Life

A Gay Dad, Raised Southern Baptist, Finds Happiness in Self-Acceptance

"If God made me in his image," says Hunter Bigham, "then I wasn't a mistake."

"I knew I was attracted to men at an early age, probably around 9 years old," shared Hunter Bigham, dad of three. "The Sears catalogue men's underwear section was the way I knew that. I finally figured out I was gay much later in my 30s."

As a devout Southern Baptist, Hunter did things the "right way." He dated a girl at school (whom he would later marry); they graduated college, moved to a new city, waited 4 years then had 3 kids.


"As a very devout Southern Baptist, I thought I was following a faithful path," said Hunter. "All the while, I was struggling with an internal division and a compartmentalization that wasn't maintainable."

When Hunter was 35, he began to experiment sexually with men. For about 6 months, he had a series of anonymous hook-ups that were facilitated by the anonymity of the Internet. It felt more natural for Hunter to be with men, but still, the anonymity of his experiences, and the fact that he was still married to his wife, left him fraught with stress.

Ultimately, the truth got out and he and his wife went through two painful years of counseling, including a stay for Hunter at a facility for sex addicts. Hunter had persuaded their counselor to send him there rather than the alternative that his wife favored: a religious based change program.

During his stay at the facility, Hunter initially struggled to come to terms with his authentic self, and even at one very low point, contemplating suicide. Thankfully the moment was brief, but terrifying.

Finally, it dawned on Hunter that his son was the same age that he was when he first started to realize he was attracted to men.

"So, two things became evident," explained Hunter. "First, there was no way that he could choose at his age to be attracted to one sex or another. And second, if I really believed that God made me in his image, then I wasn't a mistake. I was on this planet for a reason."

It was like a light went on in a dark room. Pieces began to start falling into place. Hunter and his wife divorced as he could not make the one promise she wanted: not to act on his feelings.

Hunter and his ex-wife co-parented their three kids amiably at first, exchanging keys to each other's homes and sharing the same pew as a family at church. That all changed when she began dating somebody a few months after the divorce; the legal battles began after the ex-wife remarried and tried to remove the children from Hunter's exposure. And living in Mississippi hasn't helped his plight in court.

"Mississippi is a chancery court state, so the judge can make any decisions he wants for the family," explained Hunter. "Therefore, his homophobia is unchecked except by the state Supreme Court. Mothers have all the power where children are involved in any no-fault divorce situation."

Sadly, these battles are still ongoing, but Hunter is as close as ever with his three kids who are almost, if not already, adults themselves at 21, 20 and 16 years of age.

This grew further complicated when Hunter met Johnny. The two men had chatted online for several years, getting to know each other, little by little. In 2013, when Hunter was in LA, where Johnny lived, they decided to meet for lunch.

"And we've never been apart since!" Hunter said. "I am truly blessed. The kids and Johnny get along wonderfully. We worked very hard to incorporate Johnny into a family structure that includes him in a respectful way but that also recognized these relationships need time and work to mature."

It is clear to Hunter's kids that he will always be the parent, and Johnny is his companion and husband. They've managed to strike a great balance for all the family. Johnny and Hunter were married September 18, 2015.

And has his ex-wife's nightmare come true? Has Hunter and his "lifestyle" been a bad influence on the kids?

"Living [with me] as an out gay man has changed their perspective on the world," says Hunter. "They are much more accepting of others' differences than I was at that age."

And although Hunter says he's not one to give advice, he does hope others can learn from his experiences.

"I learned lies are difficult to track, the truth is much more responsible and less hurtful than I thought it would be, and that children are endlessly resilient," said Hunter before adding, "The amount of work and investment is wildly difficult, but the end result is a wonderful combination of relief, love, and bonding."

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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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Gay Dad Life

8 Ways for Dads to Find Work/Life Balance

Finding work/life balance is hard enough... but can be even harder for gay dads.

Having kids is an amazing part of life, and it should be fun. Life does tend to get in the way sometimes, and one huge aspect of that is work. Striking that balance between work and home life is tough. If you both work it's even harder.

And if you're a gay couple, it can have it's own set of problems above and beyond the standard work-life issues that people face. Recently, the Harvard Business Review conducted a study that focused specifically on the experiences of same-sex couples who wanted to make moves towards a work/life balance.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

David and Ben Met on the Dance Floor — and Are Now Grooving Their Way Through Fatherhood

David and Ben, who became fathers with the help of Northwest Surrogacy Center, live in Melbourne with their daughter, Maia.

In 2003, while both studying at Reading University in the UK, Ben Suter and David Cocks met after locking eyes on the dance floor and then being introduced by a mutual friend. Ben, a meteorologist and Operations Manager, and David, an Assistant Principal, have been together ever since. They moved to Australia together in 2010, seeking a different life, and an overall better work-life balance. The chose Cairns in Queensland as their new home, between the Great Barrier Reef and the tropical rainforest, "taking life a bit easier," said David. The couple were also married in June 2016, back home in England.

While David always wanted kids, Ben took a little convincing. So they started their parenting journey with a dog, Titan, who quickly became like their first born. From there, Ben came around rather quickly.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Single Gay Dad and the City

When Kyle decided to take his four kids, ages 6-11, to New York City on vacation, his friends thought he was crazy.

"You're crazy, Kyle."

"You can't be serious? A single dad taking four kids to the Big Apple? Think again."

"That's bold. There's no way I'd do that."

Those were a few of the responses I heard from my friends as I told them I was thinking of booking a trip to New York City with four kids, ages 11-6. My children's fall vacation from school was approaching and I wanted to get out of the house and explore. Was the Big Apple too much of an adventure?

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News

National's Pitcher Cites Wife's Two Moms as Reason for Declining White House Invite

"I think that's an important part of allyship," Doolittle said of his wife's two moms.

Sean Doolittle, pitcher for the Washington Nationals, declined an invitation to the White House after his team won the World Series this year. In an interview with the Washington Post, he listed his numerous reasons for staying home — and a main consideration, he revealed, was his wife's two moms.

"I want to show support for them. I think that's an important part of allyship, and I don't want to turn my back on them," Doolittle said during the interview.

Trump's treatment of a minority groups, generally, factored into his decision as well. "I have a brother-in-law who has autism, and [Trump] is a guy that mocked a disabled reporter. How would I explain that to him that I hung out with somebody who mocked the way that he talked or the way that he moves his hands? I can't get past that stuff."

Doolitttle clarified that his decision had little to do with policy disagreements with the White House. "There's a lot of things, policies that I disagree with, but at the end of the day, it has more to do with the divisive rhetoric and the enabling of conspiracy theories and widening the divide in this country. My wife and I stand for inclusion and acceptance, and we've done work with refugees, people that come from, you know, the 'shithole countries.'"

He concluded by saying he respected his teammates decision to attend the White house ceremony. "I want people to know that I put thought into this, and at the end of the day, I just can't go."

Read more of the Washington Post interview here.

News

New York Will Fight 'Repugnant' Trump Rule on Adoption, Says Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York promises legal action of the Trump administration moves ahead with plans to allow discrimination against LGBTQ adoptive and foster parents

Last week, the Trump administration announced plans to allow adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate against prospective LGBTQ parents — but he may face a legal fight from (former) hometown. In a tweet, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York said the proposed move "isn't just discriminatory and repugnant to our values,— it's also heartless and dumb as it would deny countless children a loving family and a safe place to call home." If the proposal moves forward, he continued. "we'll take legal action to stop it.

Governor Cuomo's office followed up the tweet with a lengthier statement posted to their website:

Once again the Trump administration is attacking the hard-earned rights and protections of the LGBTQ community, this time proposing a new measure that would give foster care and adoption agencies license to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Trump's proposal isn't just discriminatory and repugnant to our values — it's also heartless and dumb as it would deny countless children a loving family and a safe place to call home. If he moves forward with this rule, we'll take legal action to stop it.

No matter what happens in Washington, New York State is and will continue to be a beacon of equality in this country. Our Human Rights Law and adoption regulations expressly prohibit discrimination against the LGBTQ community, including when it comes to adoption. I encourage any LGBTQ New Yorker who feels they are a victim of this discrimination to contact the State Division of Human Rights for assistance.

Our message to the Trump administration is simple: there is no place for hate in New York or in our nation, and we will not allow this noxious proposal to stop LGBTQ New Yorkers from becoming parents or providing care to children in need.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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