One Single Gay Dad's Reflections on Father's Day
Father's Day can be a tough for single gay dads. Salim's answer to any patches of loneliness? Remembering his role as father.
When I began writing this piece about Father's Day, I had a think about what my experience as a dad had involved up until now. There's all the usual stuff – love, happiness, purpose in life, all of which is a given. But there's one subject people always ask me about in regards to being a father - MEN.
The questions vary from "do you still go on dates?" to "do you have time for sex?" and so on. The answer is usually "no" on both counts, which is met with a sad face or just a look that says 'bless your heart'. This is where I want to click my fingers and say in my sassiest voice "Gurl, I don't need a man."
But who am I kidding? Gay men (and straight women) are obsessed with finding a man. It's hot wired into us to see it as something that validates us. I did it myself – only ever drinking in gay bars and going on gay vacations, all in order to put myself in the path of my dream man. I had all the fantasies – holdings hands, cuddling on the sofa and doing everything together. Well, there's one thing I've always wanted to do alone – be a father.
Most people don't understand it, and I get that. It must be awesome to have a child with another person and watch it grow. But the cynic in me knows that relationships break down.
Besides, I have a theory. When gay men obsess about meeting a man and go on lots of dates and shag around etc., it's all in the hope of achieving one thing – intimacy. Humans are tribal creatures that seek out a sense of belonging even without realising it. When I had my son, I noticed a lot of those feelings disappeared. I stopped feeling so (I hate to say it) desperate. This is because the intimacy had been satisfied.
Forget what you know about intimacy – it doesn't only mean sex and candlelit dinners. You can be intimate with friends and family! When I come home from work and Felix (my son) runs into my arms it's out of this world. When we hold hands walking down the street, when he pats the sofa signaling me to sit next to him, when he's at the other end of a room and I see him looking around frantically to check I'm still close by – all of this is the kind of intimacy that satisfies that mysterious, unnamed longing I had before.
That said, I am only human... As the years go by, the realization sets in that there is no time - no time to fall in love because there's no time to get to know anyone, no time to get to know anyone because there's no time for a date, and no time for a date because, when push comes to shove, there's only one boy I want to share my free time with (and he's waiting at home). I think that's the key to getting through these patches of loneliness for us single dads – remembering our role as fathers. The same goes for couples, too, for who the romance died long ago and sex is probably a distant memory. What we get in return is immeasurably better. Always remember one thing – no one, and I mean no one, will love you like your baby does.
So to all you dads out there – throw a dirty diaper in the face of loneliness! Be proud of your role! Own it!
Happy Fathers' Day!