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

'A Gay Man's Wife': One Couple's Co-Parenting Journey

The podcast 'A Gay Man's Wife,' explores how one woman makes her marriage to a gay man work for her — and their family.

Guest post written by Michael and Tawyne, hosts of A Gay Man's Wife

Michael: Growing up, I always knew I was different. I knew that what my family perceived as normal wasn't who I was. Only when I hit a certain maturity in my teenage years did I understand that I was gay. Still, I didn't know what that meant for me at the time. When I was 16 I met Tawyne (15) and immediately felt something that I didn't quite understand. She was wild like a tornado and captivated me. Throughout the first year of our friendship we fell in love.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Sorry — I'm Too Tired to Discuss Parenting Philosophies with You

Is Grant a helicopter dad? Or a tiger father? Or an attachment parent? Or just... exhausted?

I legitimately have no parenting philosophy. I don't have time for it. I'm too tired to think about it.

The oversaturation of books and articles about parenting styles leaves me feeling like a hamster stuck on a wheel. I'm already busy worrying about "that rash" and whether or not he's sleeping enough. I don't have the energy to take an online quiz that will tell me which animal best represents my parenting style. Plus, I think I already know: a sloth. One of the really gay ones.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

As a Gay Dad, What's the Impact of Letting My Son Perform Drag?

Michael Duncan was excited when his 10-year-old son asked if he could perform in drag for charity — but he also felt fear and anxiety.

As LGBT parents, we have all lived through some sort of trauma in our lives. For many it is the rejection of our family, being bullied, or abuse. We learn to be vigilant of our surroundings and often are very cautious of who we trust. As adults, we start to become watchful of how much we share and we look for "red flags" around every corner.

So, what effect does this have on our children? Does it unintentionally cause us to be more jaded with our interactions involving others? For some the answer may be a resounding "no." But as we look deeper into the situation, we often find that through survival our interactions with others have changed and we may not even realize exactly how much we are projecting on those around us.

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Politics

Supreme Court to Hear Major Case Concerning LGBTQ Foster Care Parents

The Supreme Court agreed to decide whether cities are allowed to exclude tax-funded adoption agencies from foster care systems if they refuse to work with gay couples.

In 2018, city officials in Philadelphia decided to exclude Catholic Social Services, which refuses to work with LGBTQ couples, from participating in its foster-care system. The agency sued, claiming religious discrimination, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit unanimously ruled against the agency, citing the need to comply with nondiscrimination policies.

The case, Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, follows a 2018 Supreme Court decision regarding a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. In that case, the court narrowly ruled that the baker bad been discriminated against, on religious grounds, by the state's civil rights commission. It did not decide the broader issue: whether an entity can be exempt from local non-discrimination ordinances on the basis of religious freedom.

The court — whose ideological center has shifted to the right since the addition of Justice Brett Kavanaugh in fall 2018 — may choose to do so now. Advocates quickly called on the court to consider the potential impact on the more than 400,000 children currently in the foster care system:

"We already have a severe shortage of foster families willing and able to open their hearts and homes to these children," said Leslie Cooper, deputy director of the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project. "Allowing foster care agencies to exclude qualified families based on religious requirements that have nothing to do with the ability to care for a child such as their sexual orientation or faith would make it even worse. We can't afford to have loving families turned away or deterred by the risk of discrimination."

"It is unconscionable to turn away prospective foster and adoptive families because they are LGBTQ, religious minorities, or for any other reason unrelated to their capacity to love and care for children," said HRC President Alphonso David. "We reject the suggestion that taxpayer-funded child welfare services should be allowed to put discrimination over a child's best interest. This case could also have implications for religious refusals that go far beyond child welfare. The Supreme Court must make it clear that freedom of religion does not include using taxpayer funds to further marginalize vulnerable communities."

The court may choose to override a 1990 decision, Employment Division v. Smith, which created the current standard for carving out religious exemptions. In that case, the court ruled that laws that target a specific faith, or express hostility towards certain beliefs, are unconstitutional — but this standard has long been abhorred by religious conservatives, who think it doesn't offer enough protections for religions. If the court does overrule Smith, it could have far-ranging consequences. " As noted on Slate, "it would allow anyone to demand a carve-out from laws that go against their religion, unless those laws are 'narrowly tailored' to serve a 'compelling government interest.'"

The four members of the court's conservative wing — Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh —have all signaled an openness to reconsider Smith. The ruling's fate, then, likely rests in the hands of the court's new swing vote, Chief Justice Roberts.

For more, read the full article on Slate.

Gay Dad Life

Dads Tell Us Their 'Gayest Moment Ever' as Parents

We may be dads — but we're still gay, dammit! And these "gayest moments ever," sent to us from our Instagram community, prove it.

Did your child know all the lyrics to Madonna songs by age 3? Do your kids critique all the red carpet lewks from the Tony Awards? Do you often have baby food, diapers, sparkling white wine, gourmet appetizer, and fresh cut flowers in your shopping cart — all in one trip? If you answered 'yes' to any of the above, you just might be... a gay dad.

We asked the dads in our Instagram community to share their gayest moments as a dad, ever, and their responses were just as hilarious as they were relatable.

Here's a great way to start the week...

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News

What's it Like to Be a Child of the 'Gayby Boom'?

Tosca Langbert, who grew up with two dads, writes a piece for the Harvard Business Review about what it's like being among the first children of the "Gayby Boom" to come of age.

We've previously written about the pressure on LGBTQ parents to appear perfect, given that so many in the United States still feel out families shouldn't exist in the first place. And we know this pressure trickles down to our kids. But In an article for the Harvard Business Review titled 'The Gayby Boom Is Here to Stay," author Tosca Langbert eloquently writes, from her perspective, about the experience of beingone of the first children to come of age during an era when LGBTQ parenthood is far more commonplace. She and her two siblings, she notes, "were raised in a family that was an impossibility only decades ago."

In the article, Langbert said she knew from a young age that her family was different from those of most of her peers, who had one a father and a mother. But otherwise, she writes, she didn't feel like her family differed much. "Like any other parents, Dad sat in the carpool lane after school and taught us how to ride our bikes," she writes, "while Papa took us to the movies on the weekends and separated the whites from the colors."

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Politics

Utah Bill Would Allow Gay Men to Enter Surrogacy Contracts

Rep. Patrice Arent of Utah is sponsoring a bill that will remove a provision that currently prohibits gay men from entering into commercial surrogacy contracts in the state.

Though Utah is not one of the three states that currently prohibit commercial surrogacy contracts, the state's current policy does specifically exclude gay men from doing so. That may soon changed, however, thanks to a bill in the state's legislature that was unanimously voted out of a House Committee that would remove that restriction.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, a Democrat, was created in response to a ruling by the Utah Supreme Court this past August that found the ban on gay men unconstitutional.

Gay men have been excluded from legally entering surrogacy contracts due to a provision in the current law that requires medical evidence "that the intended mother is unable to bear a child or is unable to do so without unreasonable risk to her physical or mental health or to the unborn child," Rep. Arent told the Salt Lake Tribune — a requirement that clearly excludes gay male couples.

The state's original surrogacy law dates back to 2005, before same-sex marriage was legalized in the state, which accounts for the gendered language. Though the state's Supreme Court already ruled the provision unconstitutional, Rep Arent further told the Tribute that, "People do not look to Supreme Court opinions to figure out the law, they look to the code and the code should be constitutional."

Fatherhood, the gay way

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