My Suitcase of Wrong

Let’s Be Frank: The Diary of a Divorced Gay Dad


Plan, pack, move, repeat. Plan, pack, move, repeat. Plan, pack, move, repeat. It’s December of 2014, and I’m sitting in a small apartment with white painted brick walls, asking myself how I got here. I channel my inner Martha Stewart to give the place some character because I know this is the beginning of a six month stay. To start, I examine that long white wall and decide it’s the ideal place to display my WiFi password, for all the world to see. I dive into a bottle of Grey Goose, get online, and order an 18-foot long bright gold decal of exactly that. When it arrives, I anxiously open the package to reveal a monstrosity of numbers and letters. I am overwhelmed with my own cleverness and slowly start to apply it to the wall, making sure each symbol is pressed to perfection. My mind is racing with pride, and I feel as profound as those street artists like Banksy. I reach the end of the strip, only to find that I ordered a “7” instead of a “2.” I throw myself to the ground in a dramatic fury and pitch a temper tantrum that would rival my 6-year-old’s. I can’t get anything right anymore, and this is a tangible reminder staring me right in the face. In bright gold.

Photograph of Actual Epic WiFi Password Decal Snafu

Before I reached that point of absurdity, my ex-husband and I had a discussion when we were separated but still living in the same house. We both realized we weren’t able to live with each other anymore, and had to be proactive about it. We had always been very copacetic, but toxicity was growing and becoming more evident. We decided to try something called “nesting,” which meant that we rented an apartment and split the time there. One of us was always with our son at our home, which is an oversized suburban McMansion. The other was alone across town – in a sad, small space with a fu*ked up WiFi password on the wall. We would do the switch twice a week. I typically took Friday to Tuesday at the apartment, and he did vice versa. It was an exercise in patience beyond all measure. People describe their world as being “upside-down” when they start the divorce process, but my world was in a food processor.

Since the nesting began in the winter months, it exponentially increased the depression factor. Time would be at a standstill on those long weekends, as I was technically still unemployed and didn’t have anything to do besides Netflix and chill. I know – poor me, right? Sounds terrible. Keep in mind, this wasn’t the life I signed up for. This wasn’t the life that I invested 17 years in. Prior to this, I was with my son every day of his life. But this was now my life – resulting from a detour into a place called reality. My ex and I both knew that it would be very challenging for us, however it was ideal for our son.

It didn’t take long for me to feel the need for a private suitcase that I could keep on me at all points in time. This suitcase contained everything intimate that I was formerly comfortable keeping around my ex, but now wanted to keep to myself. I am admittedly an adventurous guy, but this is not an Us Weekly ”What’s In My Bag?” article, so you can use your imagination about its contents. I will tell you that I referred to it as the “Suitcase of Wrong,” because like everything else in my life, I turned something painful into a joke. Oddly enough, the suitcase became a metaphor for my life. It was a traveling object with a hard exterior, but had secrets and shame on the inside – exactly like myself.

Over and over we repeated that insane cycle. I lugged the Suitcase of Wrong through the rain, mud, and snow. It was a constant reminder that my marriage was failing and that I was beginning a new chapter in my life. It also became heavier, almost bursting at its seams at one point. I was desperate to have a space to call my own. When the nesting period ceased, I moved into my own house for the first time in my life. The first thing I unpacked was that suitcase. It was extremely cathartic to find permanent places for my most personal of items. Now the suitcase sits empty in the back of my closet. My hope is that the next time I use it, it will be on a fabulous vacation – with my son or even some lucky new boyfriend. I will be able to fill it with pride now, and carry it with a smile on my face. It will have gone through its own transition, to the “Suitcase of Right.”

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Politics

Gestational Surrogacy Legalized in New York State

The Child-Parent Security Act, which legalizes commercial surrogacy in New York State, was included in the 2020 New York State Budget signed by Governor Cuomo

Yesterday, a years-long battle about the state of compensated gestational surrogacy came to an end in New York when the Governor signed into a law the Child-Parent Security Act in the 2020 as part of the state budget.

The effort stalled last year after opponents, including several Democrats, successfully argued that the bill didn't go far enough to protect women who serve as surrogates — even though it included a surrogate "bill of rights," the first of its kind in the country, aimed at ensuring protections.

"Millions of New Yorkers need assistance building their families — people struggling with infertility, cancer survivors impacted by treatment, and members of the LGBTQ+ community," the Family Equality Council said in a statement about the victory. "For many, surrogacy is a critically important option. For others, it is the only option. Passage of the Child-Parent Security Act is a massive step forward in providing paths to parenthood for New Yorkers who use reproductive technology, and creates a 'surrogate's bill of rights' that will set a new standard for protecting surrogates nationwide."

Opponents, led by Senator Liz Krueger, had once again attempted to torpedo legalization efforts this year by introducing a second bill that would legalize surrogacy in New York, but also make it the most restrictive state in the country to do so. "A bill that complicates the legal proceedings for the parents and potentially allows them to lose their genetic child is truly unfortunate," said Sam Hyde, President of Circle Surrogacy, referencing to the bill's 8-day waiting period. He also took issue with the bills underlying assumptions about why women decide to serve as a surrogate. The added restrictions imply that "they're entering into these arrangements without full forethought and consideration of the intended parents that they're partnering with," he said.

The bill was sponsored by State Senator Brad Hoylman, an out gay man who became a father via surrogacy, and Assemblymember Amy Paulin, who has been public with her experiences with infertility.

"My husband and I had our two daughters through surrogacy," Holyman told Gay City News. "But we had to travel 3,000 miles away to California in order to do it. As a gay dad, I'm thrilled parents like us and people struggling with infertility will finally have the chance to create their own families through surrogacy here in New York."

"This law will [give intended parents] the opportunity to have a family in New York and not travel around the country, incurring exorbitant costs simply because they want to be parents," Paulin said for her part. It will "bring New York law in line with the needs of modern families."


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