Gay Dad Life

Q&A with "The Gay Man’s Guide to Open and Monogamous Marriage" Author

Michael Dale Kimmel is a San Diego-based, California-licensed psychotherapist. His most recent book, "The Gay Man’s Guide to Open and Monogamous Marriage,"  is set to be released June 8, 2017. We had the opportunity to hear from the author and find out a little more about his inspiration for the book, and why he felt it covered an imperative and relatively new topic for our community.


Author: Michael Dale Kimmel

What inspired you to write The Gay Man’s Guide to Open and Monogamous Marriage?

Michael Dale Kimmel: When I was a young gay boy, I dreamed of the prince who would carry me away on his horse, make me happy and take care of me forever. Reality appeared shortly after, and I realized that I was going to have to be that prince if I ever wanted my dream to come true.

I never, as a young gay boy, imagined that I would be able to legally marry that prince someday. And here we are, now, with marriage to that prince not only possible, but very real: what do we want to do with this opportunity, now that we’ve finally got it? That’s the question that motivated this book.

Legal gay marriage is a relatively new phenomenon. What are some of the issues that gay men are facing now that they have the option to marry?

MDK: For centuries, heterosexual people have defined marriage. Now, as two men considering getting married, we don’t have to do it “their” way any longer. This is a cause for rejoicing! So why aren’t we more excited? Because, it’s quite daunting to re-invent a cultural institution like marriage. It’s much easier to just follow what other people have done.

This book is an invitation – a radical invitation – to not settle. Instead, the book asks readers to really examine and investigate the idea and institution of marriage and come up with their own version of what works for them and their partners.

How are gay marriages different from heterosexual marriages? In what ways are they the same?

MDK: In many important ways, marriage between two men is dramatically different from heterosexual marriage. It’s a double testosterone marriage. We will probably not handle sex the same as our heterosexual or lesbian counterparts: we are likely to desire more of it and with a wider variety of partners.

Many of our relationships start off monogamous. However, it is my experience that about half of them – over time – do not remain so. Many gay relationships – married or not – begin to “open up” after the first few years (I call it, “The Three Year Itch”).

Our marriages are probably the same in that we share challenges such as: loving someone as imperfect as we are, weathering financial and emotional storms, challenges of aging, not losing our identity in our relationships and working hard to stay interested in someone that we’ve seen burp, fart, and load the dishwasher in a way that drives us crazy.

Is an open marriage often a good choice for gay married couples, or do you find that monogamy can be a better option? What should couples look for when trying to decide which option to choose?

MDK: An open marriage is a pretty high-maintenance experience. Both partners are inviting new people and personalities into their lives, and jealousy and insecurity often come along for the ride. On the other hand, many gay men in monogamous marriages find that – over time - sexual monogamy doesn’t work well for them. They want to go through life with one man they “love” but need to have other men that they have sex with. And many gay marriages go through both “closed” and “open” periods (this is much more common than many think).

In this book, we follow two married couples: Tomas and Larry, representing a harmonious open marriage, and Ethan and Jake, representing a fulfilling monogamous marriage. Each couple will experience the joys and difficulties of their double testosterone marriage, giving readers a wide range of options and possibilities for their own marriages.

Many gay couples struggle with other issues besides whether to be sexually open or monogamous in their marriage. What are some of the other common issues you see in your practice when working with gay couples?

MDK: Over the years, I have observed that relationships between two men typically have more conflict and competition, in ways that opposite sex and lesbian relationships do not. Is it biological or cultural? As men, we are trained to compete with each other; we are trained to win, to want to be the best. This is how we’ve been socialized, isn’t it?

And yet, more-and-more often, I meet young men who don’t make all those traditional assumptions about what a man “is” and who we “should” be. I wrote a chapter about redefining gender roles, because we have an amazing opportunity to determine who we are, as two men married to each other. How do we divvy up the household tasks? How do we decide who is the more nurturing one? The more aggressive one? The more career-oriented one? The more childcare-oriented one?

Moving from a partnership to being married can often be as difficult for gay men as it is for opposite-sex couples. What advice do you have for those who are finding the transition to marriage difficult?

MDK: Having common goals, good communication skills (being able to talk about almost anything) and some degree of “structure” both partners can fall back on, make the transition easier. Creating a marriage is like designing a house: wouldn’t two partners decide what are the elements/features that each want in their house? What is important to both partners? For some guys, the kitchen may be really important, for others, it may be low on the priority list.

I encourage gay couples to look at their marriages in the same way: what elements of the marriage are most important to each? In the book I call this “designing your marriage” and, ironically, very few couples – gay or straight – are ever encouraged to do this. It’s a great way for gay couples to communicate about what matters to each of person in the relationship, while the partners - mutually - create a structure/framework for a happy, fulfilling marriage.

What happens in a gay marriage when the partners can’t agree about whether or not they want children? How do you recommend they resolve their different attitudes about the possibility of becoming parents?

MDK: Remember the story from the Bible, where wise old King Solomon had to decide to which of two mothers a baby belonged? Remember how, in order to find out who the real mother was, he recommended that the baby be divided in half, so that each woman could receive half? That’s how he found out who the real mother was.

Whether or not either or both gay partners want children reminds me of that situation. Gay or straight, it’s a tough decision that demands a lot of wisdom and patience. As a psychotherapist, it is my job to help couples work through their difficulties and come up with a solution (or solutions) they both agree on.

When I meet with gay couples who can’t agree on whether or not to have children, I encourage them to talk it out. I ask both men questions like: What is it about being a father you’d like? Not like? What about it scares you? What was your father like? What kind of father do you think you’d be? What kind of dad would your (future) husband be?

These kinds of questions bring our subconscious fears and concerns to conscious awareness, where they can be discussed rationally and openly. We all have old unresolved stuff from our family of origin that will continue to haunt us and run our lives unless we recognize it and address it.

Becoming fathers brings up a tremendous amount of old emotions; by talking about them and hearing each other out, we can learn a lot about our husband, who he is, and where he came from. Often, this kind of discussion is enough to help the couple come to a mutually-agreed upon decision.

What are some of the issues that parents face when they learn that their gay children plan to marry? What advice do you have for both the parents and kids in these situations?

MDK: In my experience of counseling parents of gay children, here are the most common questions parents ask when their gay sons want to marry:

  • What should I do if I don’t approve of gay marriage?
  • What do I tell my friends, relatives, co-workers?
  • What if my church doesn’t condone gay marriage?
  • What if I don’t like my future (gay) son-in-law?
  • What if my other children disapprove of -or- want to distance themselves from my gay son and his fiancé?
  • What if the marriage will not be monogamous?
  • What if the married couple plan to have kids?
  • If my child has children from a prior relationship, how do I talk with my grandchildren about that?

My advice for parents depends on their relationship with their children: if the relationship is good, and they have a history of being able to talk about difficult topics, then, they should be able to respectfully bring up any of the above questions. The parents should try to stay neutral. If they have a lot of emotion, then they may want to wait before speaking with their child. Parents should talk it out with their spouses or a friend first, so they can get to a more neutral space. Most kids turn off to their parents when they feel judged, so parents should try not to go there, if possible.

If the parents’ relationship with their children isn’t so great, the parents may not be able to bring up these topics in a way that works for both themselves and their gay children. In that case, parents should talk with their spouses, friends, or a good psychotherapist to work through any emotional reactions. Ultimately, no parent has control over what his or her adult child chooses to do. If a parent can’t talk about issues calmly, then talking with anger, disappointment and hurt feelings could easily make things worse (I’ve seen it).

The adult (gay) child should try to remember that his life is his own, and who he chooses to marry is his own choice, as well. But, if a gay adult is close to his parents and they don’t approve of his partner or marriage decision, getting married may be tough for all individuals involved. Gay adult children should take the same advice I give to parents (see above): if they can talk with their parents calmly and respectfully, then, they should go for it. If not, then they don’t want to make the situation worse. I encourage some clients to tell their parents: “I don’t think it’s a good idea for us to talk about this stuff now. I think it’s too difficult, so let’s table it for later.”

Of course, any family member is free to bring anger and pain into a conversation and make a big old mess, but, I am assuming that most individuals, deep down, don’t want to do that.

 

The Gay Man's Guide to Open and Monogamous Marriage by Michael Dale Kimmel

Hard Cover: 978-1-4422-6801-2

Ebook: 978-1-4422-6802-9

Rowman & Littlefield (June 8, 2017)

$35.99 ebook/$36.00 print

www.lifebeyondtherapy.com

www.rowman.com

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Gay Dad Life

How Canada's 'Gay Dollar' Helped This Gay Man Reflect on His Biggest Regret—Not Having Kids

Canada unveiled a 'gay dollar' coin earlier this year, helping Gregory Walters reflect on the progress the LGBTQ community has made—and his decision to forgo having children children

Earlier this year, Canada unveiled a rainbow-stripped coin dollar to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the country's decision to decriminalize homosexuality. With the coins now firmly in circulation, Gregory Walters, who lives in Vancouver, wrote a moving essay for the Globe and Mail, expressing joy for how far Canada has come on the issue of gay rights, but how the coin is also a symbolic representation of the "greatest regret" of his life—his decision not to adopt children.

Gregory writes that he had hoped to adopt a child ever since his early career working with persons with developmental disabilities. "Several children I worked with were wards of the State of Texas," he wrote. "Their parents having relinquished all rights either owing to egregious acts of abuse or a lack of desire to raise someone with so many needs. There were days when I felt, 'If I could just take you home and raise you.' I knew there was a need for adopting persons with special needs but my own internalized homophobia got in the way yet again. Despite what is probably my own gift in working with children, I never felt worthy enough to be a parent. I always felt that if I were a gay dad it would create more of a liability for the child."

Gregory decision to forgo having children, he says, is his "greatest regret." While he takes responsibility for some of this decision, he also adds: "society's view of homosexuals and its opinions regarding gay adoptions also played a major part."

To critics of Canada's coin, some of who have said its a cheap political pander to the LGBTQ community, Gregory concludes with this thought:

"I don't care if the indulged majority who never had to question marriage or raising children or being secure in a job may feel the coin is frivolous. The coin isn't for them in the first place. It's an acknowledgment for those of us who repressed our true selves and felt oppressed. It is for gays who never lived to see rights and protections enshrined in law. It is for younger LGBTQ people to learn more about how far we've come and to gain a deeper sense of gay pride. For these reasons, the coin has value so much greater than any monetary designation. The coin represents both empowerment and normalization."

Read Gregory's full essay here.

Gay Dad Life

8 Pics of Ricky Martin Being an Adorable Dad Because Why Not?

Here's some pics of Ricky Martin being an adorable dad because we've ALL had a long week and deserve this don't we??

Earlier this year, in January 2019, superstar Ricky Martin and his husband Jwan Yosef shared a post via Instagram announcing that they'd welcomed a baby girl named Lucia into their family. With twin 9-year-old sons in the house as well, Ricky and Jwan now have a very full casa. Fortunately, the dads are giving us a little glimpse into their chaotic but fun-filled home lives via Instagram. We rounded up 8 of our fav recent parenting pics by the popstar because we've all had long weeks and we deserve this don't we??

Enjoy!

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Gay Dad Life

17 T.V. Shows Featuring Gay Dad Characters

Gay dads are all the rage on the small screen these days... here are 17 shows that prominently feature gay dad characters!

The 2019-2020 TV season will soon be upon us! In recent years, gay dad characters have been all the rage... will we see more representation this fall? We sure hope so! But in the meantime, we'll be content reviewing this list of 17 shows that have (somewhat) prominently featured gay dad characters!

Also we KNOW we're missing some, so drop us a line in the comments to tell us what we should add!

1. Grace & Frankie

In this Netflix original series, Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston play gay dads who come out to their wives and children well past their primes. Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda play the ex-wives, rounding out the star-studded cast. Now in its fourth season, the show has been well received and sheds an interesting light on the complications involved with fathers who come out later in life.

Change the World

Judge's Decision in NY 'Compassionate Surrogacy' Case Involving Gay Dad Overturned

Though compensated surrogacy remains illegal in New York State, "compassionate surrogacy" arrangements are remain legal

Last week, an unanimous four-judge panel, part of the New York Appellate Division in Brooklyn, New York, revived a gay dad's petition to adopt his son born via surrogacy. The dad, identified as "Joseph P." in court documents, had earlier been denied his petition to adopt by a Queens County Family Court Judge, John M. Hunt. The Queens judge denied the petition because compensated surrogacy contracts are illegal in New York. However, the child born to Joseph was born via "compassionate surrogacy," meaning his gestational surrogate was not compensated.

The Appellate court's decision, written by Justice Alan D. Scheinkmanm called Hunt's decision "clearly erroneous," and held that a new Family Court judge should re-hear the case.

Judge Hunt's decision is all the more confusing since Joseph had actually already become a father via surrogacy in New York—three times over. In each instance, he used donor eggs and a friend serving, voluntarily, as the gestational surrogate. He had his first child in 2012, and then twins the following year. In all three instances, a Family Court judge granted Joseph's adoption petition, given that each child was conceived via "compassionate surrogacy," meaning no money changes hands in the course of a surrogacy journey between carrier an intended parent. This type of surrogacy arrangement is not illegal under to New York law. The social worker in Joseph's latest attempt to adopt, Gay City News noted, also gave him a favorable review, calling him "a mature, stable, and caring person who intentionally created a family of himself, the twins, and John."

Gay City News notes: "Justice Scheinkman provided a careful description of the laws governing surrogacy in New York. The Legislature provided that surrogacy contracts are unenforceable and treated as void. However, the only surrogacy contracts actually outlawed are those where the surrogate is compensated. It was clear to the Appellate Division that the Legislature did not mean to outlaw voluntary surrogacy arrangements, merely to make them unenforceable in the courts. Those who enter into a compensated surrogacy agreement face a small monetary fine and people who act as brokers to arrange such agreements are liable for a larger penalty. There is no penalty for voluntary, uncompensated surrogacy arrangements."

Read the full article here.

Entertainment

How Fatherhood Has Impacted Tom Daley's Diving Career for the Better

British diver Tom Daley, and new-ish gay dad, is looking to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in South Korea.

British diver Tom Daley is currently in the running to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in South Korea, his fourth if he competes, at the young age of just 26.

But he also has another concern that most young gay men his age couldn't fathom—fatherhood. He and his husband, filmmaker Dustin Lance Black, recently welcomed Robbie Ray via surrogacy in June 2018.

In an interview with the Independent, Daley explained how fatherhood has changed his routine and training, which he says is often for the better.

"It has changed my life completely in all of the best ways possible," Daley said. "It has changed my perspective, the way I think about things. [My son] is the most important thing in my life, everything I do is for him, everything I think about he is at the forefront of everything."

With respect to his diving career, Daley continued, "if you have a bad day at training, or a good day, you are grounded immediately when you get home through the door because you are having cuddles or you are having to change a dirty nappy. It is the first time that I have been able to leave diving at the diving board and not think about what I need to the next day in the pool."

Whatever the challenges he faces while training, he said, "I can leave it there because you don't have time to think about diving when you are looking after a kid under one."

The strategy seems to be working in Daley's favor. He recently enjoyed his most successful FINA Diving World Series ever this past Spring in Canada, winning 12 medals across five events. And barring any major catastrophe, he is overwhelmingly expected to qualify for South Korea 2020.

And we can't wait to cheer the young dad on!

Change the World

One Gay Dad's Fight Against Hate in Superior, Nebraska

Brian Splater is refusing to let homophobic and transphobic elected officials in his town go unchecked

Millie B. Photography

Guest post written by Brian Splater

No one ever should feel they will have a very lonely and secluded life as a child. But that is something me and many other gay kids believe as they are growing up.

The truth of the matter is there are people who will try everything in their power to have our rights go back in time instead of forward. It is very disheartening when these people are elected officials, or they are people who use their place of employment to spread their disgust and hate.

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Politics

America's First Gay Dad Governor Heads Into the Lion's Den

Colorado Governor Jared Polis recently became the first elected Democrat to speak at the annual Western Conservative Summit in Denver

Last Friday, American's first gay dad Governor, Jared Polis, became the first elected Democrat to speak at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver, where he urged the Republican crowd to help him build a "Colorado for all."

"While we should never gloss over the things that divide us, there is a lot more that unites us," Polis said. "When we close ourselves off from discussion or debate, and we reject the possibility of hearing and understanding other perspectives, it threatens the fabric of our democracy."

If he was hoping for a Kumbaya moment, he didn't exactly get it. As he was called to the stage, he was greeted with a smattering of applause—while others booed and shouted for a "recall" of the Governor.

"It was almost unbearable for me to sit there to listen to his talk," Abby Johnson, one of the event's attendees, told the Denver Post. "And I'm going to tell you why. He kept talking about equality for all persons, yet we live in a society where 60 million innocent human beings have been slaughtered in the name of choice. Where is their justice? Where is their equal rights?"

Polis was also criticized from his left flank for attending the same event that refuses to let the Log Cabin Republicans, a group of gay GOP members, participate—and that featured Donald Trump Jr. as a speaker the same day. "To me it feels like vanity," Katie Farnan, a staffer with progressive group Indivisible, told the Denver Post. "He can go and be a hip Democratic governor who isn't afraid to go into GOP sanctuary. Or maybe it's recall insurance. But unless he was there to hold them accountable for their support for fascist and racist policies, what's the point?"

In response to the criticism from both sides of the political aisle, Polis told the Colorado Sun: "I think it's very important that Coloradans of different ideologies, different races, different geographies, different orientations and gender identities all really celebrate that we're all part of what makes Colorado great."

The event is hosted each year by Colorado Christian University to bring together conservatives from around the state, and the larger West.

What do you think, dads? Was Polis's decision to speak at the event a savvy political move or mere pandering?

Fatherhood, the gay way

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