Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Navigating Race, Class and Sexuality as an Interracial Family

John Hart, a white gay man, writes about navigating race, class, and sexuality while raising his black 10-year-old son.

"Am I the only black person here?" my son leaned over to ask me quietly. We looked around the hockey arena which was filled mostly with men and boys. And indeed it was pretty white. And I didn't get a single ping off my gaydar.

"Am I the only gay person here?" I asked back.

It was a bonding moment for us, a little inside joke, and we smiled in amusement.


We were in a local hockey arena for a championship celebration. After the Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup in 2018, right winger Tom Wilson brought the trophy to his childhood arena where my son was slated to start playing in the fall. I knew my son, a hockey nut, would want to see the Cup and meet a real NHL player, so I took him along. Everyone there – mostly fathers and sons, and sometimes a mother too – were excited and friendly. Although we didn't feel unwelcome in any way, my son and I were both conscious of our differences in such a homogenous crowd.

Last weekend I again felt like an outsider when I took my son to get his hair cut. My partner and I had taken him to places closer to home but the stylists treated his mixed-race hair like a perm and he always ended up with old lady haircuts. We were overdue to search out a black barbershop that would know his hair better and found one not too far. When we entered, we saw two black barbers and a line-up of black men waiting. We sat and waited for my son's turn. I watched as new customers came in, as they greeted the barbers and other customers with ritual handshakes and shared idioms. I didn't know any of the codes.

I was keenly aware that my differences set me apart – my race was obvious, my class I'm sure was apparent, and my sexuality was fairly obvious too, I bet. I wasn't made to feel unwelcome in any way but I recognized that the space wasn't meant for me. It was a space for my son, however shy he felt going in, to feel included and recognized. And his hair was cut into an awesome fade.

As a gay man, I am constantly aware of my surroundings – am I in a positive space, am I in a safe space? – and how I negotiate the space. I seek out spaces that are predominantly gay or gay friendly when I need that kind of environment. I am also able to negotiate around more neutral spaces and I understand that my race gives me privilege to do so. I try to avoid spaces and situations where I might feel unwelcome or threatened.

The past school year was an occasion when we assumed the space would be positive but the reality proved much more complicated. My partner and I were initially happy that my son's class was made up only of black boys and therefore our son would be with peers. But the school year proved to be worse than terrible. The teacher (a straight, white female) told us our son was struggling with his identity so she was taking it upon herself to "introduce" him to black culture.

It took more than a year after we left the school to find out even more of what was going on as our son has slowly opened up to us. The other boys teased him daily for having two dads, called him a faggot and threatened violence against him and us. Our son was torn everyday – in order to fit in with his peers he had to reject his parents; to stand up for his parents meant he'd risk bullying, violence and being ostracized from his peers. No wonder he was confused about his identity! He was anxious for his safety and ours throughout the school day which affected his behavior and performance. But he wanted to protect us from the homophobia so he didn't tell us any of this until only recently. Ultimately in this instance, his differences set him apart and made him a target. He was made to feel excluded and an outsider when we hoped for the opposite.

Our son feels different in so many ways, including his race, his adoption and his two dads. He longs to fit in — so much so that he wanted to make both his peers and parents happy. Instead he struggled and no one quite knew how to help. And no wonder – with all the complications of intersectional discrimination, how could a 10-year-old boy stand a chance?

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Just Like Dad: Ways My Kids and I Are Alike

Joseph Sadusky recounts the ways he and his adopted sons are cut from the same cloth.

Editor's Note: This is the third in a series of excerpts from Joseph Sadusky's new book, Magic Lessons: Celebratory and Cautionary Tales about Life as a (Single, Gay, Transracially Adoptive) Dad. The book contains many stories about my life as a dad, as well as lessons learned, and we're excited to share several excerpts from the the book over the course of the next few months. Read previous installments here!

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

How to Survive a Midlife Crisis (A Guide for Gay Dads)

Turns out David Blacker is, in fact, experiencing a midlife crisis — according to the very official results of a Buzzfeed quiz

Today I took one of those Buzzfeed-like quizzes to determine whether or not I am having a midlife crisis. I know what you're thinking. How can 29 be considered mid-life? God bless you, but I'm actually 35. Fine, 41. The Buzzfeed results — granted, we're not talking a true clinical assessment here — implied that I am, in fact, showing symptoms of a midlife crisis. But instead of shopping for a new sports car, I'm looking around for something else.

Problem is, I don't quite know what that is yet.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

The Visits: A Gay Dad's First Encounters with his Future son

Joseph Sadusky's second excerpt from his book, Magic Lessons.

Editor's Note: This is the second in a series of excerpts from Joseph Sadusky's new book, Magic Lessons: Celebratory and Cautionary Tales about Life as a (Single, Gay, Transracially Adoptive) Dad. The book contains many stories about my life as a dad, as well as lessons learned, and we're excited to share several excerpts from the the book over the course of the next few months. Read the first installment here!

As you may recall, the binder where I found my kids was the one for my local county. This was great news, because it meant less of a physical transition for them. Or so I thought.

What I found out, after my worker (Heather) connected with theirs (Amy), was that they actually lived in a little town about four hours away from my town. Even though the boys were wards of my county, Amy had, a couple of years earlier, found the best placement with Ms. Reed, a grandmotherly type who was doing foster care in a tiny—like, one-main-street tiny—town way down in the valley. So much for best-laid plans.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

These Dads Had 'Twins' — Just Four Months Apart

Angel and Dan's wanted twins, without the complications of a twin pregnancy — so they worked with two separate surrogates at once.

If you have ever been out late on a Saturday night, you may have high hopes of meeting a handsome stranger, but you probably wouldn't expect to meet your future husband. Angel Mario Martinez Garcia, 45, surely didn't when, five years ago on a very early Saturday morning in Barcelona, he casually approached Dan's Mouquet, 40, and asked him, over many gin and tonics, what he wanted out of life. The nightlife setting notwithstanding, Dan's told Angel he ultimately wanted a quiet life, with a partner and children.

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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."


Expert Advice

4 Tips for Single Gay Dads Raising Daughters

Here are some ways to create a safe space for your daughter to discover who she is, with you by her side.

There's nothing quite like father-daughter relationships, and when it comes to single dads, your little girl likely holds a very special place in your heart. From the moment she's born, it's as if you can see every moment of her life in front of you, from her first steps to walking her down the aisle at her wedding. You'll be the first man she'll know and talk to, and you'll be her biggest example of what a loving man looks like. She'll come to you for advice on how to navigate challenges, be independent, treat others and grow into herself.

Your relationship with your daughter may be shaped by your personal history, whether you've been through a difficult divorce or breakup, you've transitioned out of a straight relationship, or you made the courageous decision to pursue surrogacy on your own. Whatever your situation is, studies have shown that children with involved fathers excel more in school and have fewer behavioral issues in adolescence.

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Change the World

After Suffering a Violent Homophobic Attack, This Gay Dad Turned to Advocacy

After Rene suffered a brutal homophobic attack that left him hospitalized, he and his family have turned to advocacy to heal

Guest post written by Rene and Nejc

We are Rene (35) and Nejc (29) and we come from Slovenia, Europe. I was an avid athlete, a Judoist, but now I am an LGBT activist and Nejc is a writer, who published a gay autobiography called Prepovedano. He was also a participant in a reality show in Slovenia (Bar) and he is an LGBT activist too. Nejc and I met by a mere coincidence on Facebook, and already after the first phone call we realized that we are made for each other. Nejc and I have been together as couple almost one year. We think we have been joined by some energy, as we have both experienced a lot of bad things with previous relationships and now we wish to create and shape our common path.

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