Gay Dad Life

How Do I Talk to My Son About Drugs and My Past?

This year has been filled with so many amazing memories and celebrations. My mother turned 70, my parents are celebrating 50 years of marriage (which is incredibly amazing!), my son turned 3, and my husband BJ and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary together. There was another huge milestone I celebrated this year; ten years ago I checked myself into rehab for the third and final time and gave up a bad drug habit knowing that if I didn't do it at that point, I was going to die. I chose to live.


I remember telling my parents that this was going to be the time. Third time's a charm right? I think they kind of rolled their eyes at me when I told them that--they had heard it many times before. Our trust had been broken, but for me, this time was different. I knew I was going to die if I kept going the way I was. When you are on drugs you are not really living. I rarely left my house, except to go out to get more drugs, and I had pushed away anyone who had ever loved me. I mean if you hate yourself it is pretty hard to let others love you.

I am often asked what led to my addiction? That is not an easy thing to answer, though one would think after all that group therapy I would have some clear ideas as to what my triggers were. Was it the internalized homophobia I felt growing up? Was it the fear of fitting in with my peers? Was it the severe anxiety I had about coming out to friends and family? Was it all the rejection I felt when I finally did came out? Was it the "gay-scene" itself with its rampant drug use? Or was it the fact I would never have the family and the white picket fence I had always dreamed of? It was definitely a combination of all the above. A deadly concoction for sure. I used drugs to numb all those feelings—they were too much for my sensitive soul to handle. I didn't feel loved or worthy of love and that was killing me inside. These are all things I am still working on, and probably will be for the rest of my life, but I have found other ways to deal with those feelings now.

This all seems like a lifetime ago. It's amazing just how much my life has changed in the past ten years. I could have never imagined such a life for myself. I was living hour by hour back then on social assistance just trying to make it through a day. Now look at me, married with a child, and because of a viral photo our family is now part of an iconic image that has helped change people's ideas of what it means to be same-sex parents. Can you believe it? A former addict. It's amazing how we can reinvent ourselves. Life is short and you need to live it to the fullest.

I wondered recently why I didn't make more fanfare around this milestone this year. Why didn't I have a party to celebrate (and I do love a good party!)? Why didn't I acknowledge it with my friends and family? I am a teacher and a father now which means I am a role model for my students and my son. Sometimes I feel these two things are at odds with one another. I mean, how can a former addict be a good role model? Or can I? In fact, I can understand what many of my students are going through. I empathize with mental health issues, having struggled myself over the years, and I use strategies learned through counselling and rehab to help my students succeed at tasks that might seem too hard to achieve. If I can kick drugs, I can definitely help others achieve their goals. But I rarely get to talk about my past and share my story anymore. To be honest, I am not even sure all my family members know about my past. I used to volunteer at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) here in Toronto and talk to my peers that were new in rehab about how I finally achieved success. But life happens and that has fallen by the wayside I am afraid. Having a child can do that.

Frank volunteer CAMH.jpg

Frank volunteering at CAMH

Recently, I have been thinking a lot about how I can best use my past experience to educate my son and my students as to the dangers of some drugs out there. I know I do not want to sound anything like Nancy Reagan, as I don't think a "Just Say No" stance really works. I worry that if I were to share my past with my son, that this could open up a can of worms and give him the opportunity to use the old "like father like child" excuse. We have seen many celebrity offspring following in their parents troubled past. Though people like Kelly Osbourne grew up with her father doing drugs around her all the time, that is not the case for Milo. I could also get it thrown back in my face, but I guess those are the risks I have to take. I know my parents' generation would just have me sweep it all under the rug and pretend it never happened. But I believe information is education, and I should use my experiences, both successes and failures, to help both my son and students to navigate their futures.

I don't know how or when I will share this with my son. He is only 3 so I figure I have a few years to think about it. But I know I don't want my son to grow up with lies. The truth will always set you free. I found that out when I finally came out and I have tried to live an authentic life ever since. I would love to hear from others who have had a similar experience to mine.

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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!

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"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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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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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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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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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.

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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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