Gay Dad Life

Queens and the F-Word: The Secret Language of a Gay Dad Family

On Friday night, as we were watching “Pitch Perfect" on the Family Channel, my 9-year-old Aidan complained, “Why does Zane get to be the Remote Queen? How come I never get to be the Remote Queen?”

He was lodging a complaint about his 11-year-old brother’s control of the television volume. My husband, whom the boys call Papa, is usually the Remote Queen in the house, but for reasons I do not quite understand, he ceded control of the device to Zane, thus starting a Friday night round of sibling rivalry.

Two things:


  • This pronunciation represents progress for Aidan and his speech therapy, because prior to this past Friday, he always referred to that electronic device as a “commote.” He also called the city in which we live “Fran Sancisco” and as charming as that is, he has now reached the point in word comprehension where he actually pays attention to the order of syllables.
  • This one phrase, "Remote Queen,” speaks volumes about the difference between straight men and gay men raising children. The parent who operates the car is the Driving Queen. The parent who decides whether we can afford the Lego toy at Target is the Money Queen. The fact that both Zane and Aidan think of the person in charge of something as the Queen gives me hope that they will grow up free of patriarchal models.
  • Word choices truly are the "tell.” I began to think about this five years ago when the kindergarten aide said, “Your sons are the only two boys I have ever known who knew all the words to ‘I Will Survive.’”

    English is a language with both universal meaning and private meaning, where definitions evolve in a place so small as our home in the Crocker Amazon. There are words that the Fisher-Paulsons use in our home that in no other home have quite the same connotation. Take Mr. Fluffy. None of our dogs are named Mr. Fluffy. (For the record, they are Krypto, Qp, Buddy and Bandit) But Mr. Fluffy evolved into the collective noun signifying all of the rescue dogs who live in the blue bungalow. If you hear “Mr. Fluffy needs to go on the lawn,” you know that you had better grab whatever hound is closest at hand and walk out the door, or you are likely to be stepping in a puddle inside.

    True, I have never explained the difference between a zone defense and a man-to-man defense to them, but that is one of the other joys of gay parenting: letting the boys learn to ask questions of their straight uncles.

    There is a downside to having our own language. Zane and Aidan speak a language that other middle school boys do not. And yet, they have never gotten in trouble for calling the assistant principal a Control Queen.

    But sadly, Zane learned the true power of language choices, not for Gaybonics, but for a much more prosaic term. One of the mothers of his fellow sixth graders circulated a petition to get him expelled. It turns out that her son was at a sleepover and another mother heard him say, “Shut the F-word up.” Now this was the granola mother, the one who taught yoga, the one who smiled benevolently as she said “namaste” and she campaigned to get my son thrown out, because he was the only one who could possibly have taught her son that word?

    I am not here to defend the casual use of the F-word, but really? This was the sixth grade in the 21st century, and this mother thinks the boy had never heard the F-word before? And her compassion extends to getting an 11-year-old boy thrown out of school?

    Neither Papa nor I had taught Zane the F- word. He had picked it up in elementary school, and the first time that he used it at home, we sat down at the kitchen table and explained that the word meant intercourse, but that it was also used for emphasis as well as intimidation. We did not forbid him to use the word, but we did suggest that it was best left unused until he actually understood what intercourse was.

    The school year is not over, and we do not know whether Zane will be invited back. But we are family. Zane asked me once why I chose to be a writer, and I told him that it was because words are so powerful, that they are the force that can create or destroy an idea. And just as the indiscriminate use of the F-word may have actually spelled D-O-O-M for Zane’s parochial school career, so also do words bind us together. Remote Queen and Fran Sancisco and Mr. Fluffy are among those terms that are spoken only in the argot of the Fisher-Paulsons, that only four humans and four canines in the whole world know.

    And when we speak that secret language, we invoke the magic that binds us together.

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    Change the World

    This Gay Dad's Life Changed "Unexpectedly" Thanks to His Son's Love of Sports

    Bradley Jacobs Sigesmund writes how trading "Broadway for baseball" helped him form straight male friendships in an essay for Shondaland

    Bradley Jacobs Sigesmund, a gay dad of a 7-year-old son with his husband Jack, recently contributed a thoughtful essay for Shondaland that explores the unintended, but positive, consequence of his son's love of sports: straight male friends.

    He writes, "One night in late May, seven dads stood in a bar singing "Happy Birthday" to me. Each of them were straight. How did this happen?"

    As gay dads, many of us who have spent a lifetime avoiding anything that even remotely looked like an athletic league thanks to our experiences with homophobia in the world of team sports growing up. As dads, though, we're often forced back into these spaces to be supportive of our kids. (We've brought you similar essays in the past, most notably John Hart's funny piece about his sudden turn into a hockey dad).

    But while many of us find the world of children's sports much more tolerable today, given the (reasonably) secure adult men that we've grown into, Bradley seems to have done the unthinkable: make friends with other (straight) dads involved in his son's athletic leagues.

    "With Lucas regularly playing soccer, basketball, and baseball, sports now make up a large part of my weekly routine," Bradley writes. "And as it's turned out, a host of heterosexual dad comrades have been with me every goal, basket, and home run of the way." One dad educates Bradley on the existence of something called "turf shoes." Another on whether his son was better suited to be a midfielder or defender.

    "If I ever worried I'd be alienated in the world of sideline-dads," Bradley concludes, "those feelings have long lapsed."

    Read the great essay in full here.




    Change the World

    Don't F*ck With This F*g

    After a homophobic encounter on the subway, BJ questions what the right response is, in an era of increasing vocal rightwing activists

    On February 1, 2019, Frank and I went out on a date night, something we haven't done in a while. Our son was sleeping over at his grandparents for the night and we made plans with our friends to meet them for dinner downtown. We decided to save some money and take the subway into town instead of taking a taxi.

    We boarded the subway and sat down opposite a couple, a man and woman. I noticed they looked at us as we boarded the train and began whispering to each other. Frank and I were talking to each other when I heard the man uttering under his breath, "F*$%ing faggots."

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    Change the World

    Gay Dad's Family Car Vandalized with Homophobic Slur in Tennessee

    "Sometimes people do things to try and make you sad," Michael told his sons following the incident. "But we have to be better than that."

    Michael Quinton, a gay man living in Dandridge, Tennessee, had just arrived at home on July 6th when he noticed the damage done to his car. His tires were slashed, the car seats sliced up, and the radio rendered useless by a sharp object.

    "My first reaction was a flood of every emotion," he said. "Angry, mad, sad, disheartened. As I took a look at the vehicle I saw more and more damage."

    The physical vandalism, however, was nothing compared to the emotional damage inflicted by this next part of the crime: the word "fagot" had been etched into the side of his car.

    Though Michael was clearly the intended target of the crime, he was particularly worried about how the incident might affect his two sons, Blake and Clayton, whom he had adopted with his ex-husband.

    "I called my mom who lives a few minutes away to come sit with the boys as an officer was coming out," Michael told Gays With Kids. "At that moment I didn't want them to see the vehicle or the words carved into it.

    Michael called the experience "eye-opening," adding, "Come what may I have to ensure [my sons] are taken care of. I have to show them that love wins and without a doubt there is nothing wrong with the way you love. One day they very well could help change the climate in this country."

    As far as the perpetrator, Michael has his suspicions of who might behind the damage, and has shared them along with some potential evidence with the detective involved. The incident is being investigated as a hate crime. Michael has spent most of life in east Tennessee and says this was the first time he had ever experienced an act of hate. From sharing this horrible experience, a lot of people have reached out to Michael and his family to send words of support and kind messages. But Michael is still worried.

    "In the end, the tone of this country has done a 180," he said. "I honestly feel worried that things will continue to happen to families like mine or anyone viewed different in others' eyes."

    New data has shown that hate crimes have risen 12% in the past year, and that is only those that are reported. The African American community has been the most targeted, followed by LGBTQ people.

    Michael with his kids

    The damage to Michael's vehicle has also been a blow to family, symbolically, he says. Michael is recently divorced from the boys' second dad, and is now raising them full-time. The car, a bright blue Kia, came to represent so much more than a vehicle; it meant a new beginning for Michael and his boys after the separation.

    "So many memories have been made in that vehicle over the last 18 months," shared Michael. His youngest son, Blake, "processes things a little different than your average 7 year old," Michael says. "You take away routine, structure, consistency, security and he doesn't do too well."

    Since the incident, the family has been comforting each other by sleeping together on the couch every night. Michael has always kept an open conversation with his kids, whether it be about their adoption (Blake originally came to Michael through kinship guardianship, and Clayton is Blake's biological older brother whom Michael later adopted as well), divorce, and now this.

    "I told them that sometimes people do things to try and make you sad," said Michael. "But we have to be better than that and know that we can't stop loving and that we have each other and I wouldn't allow them to be hurt. We also have to be able to forgive in order to find peace."

    The car, sadly, is beyond repair. Fortunately, Michael has a vehicle supplied by work he can use for family drop offs, baseball practice and medical appointments. But eventually, he'll need to get his own car again. As a single-income father, Michael has set up a GoFundMe page to help with the insurance deductible and/or possible replacement of the car.

    Despite the gravity of the situation, Michael didn't miss an opportunity to through some well-deserved shade back at the perpetrator of this heinous act. "Who spells faggot..... fagot?" he wrote on a post he published to Facebook shortly after the incident. "Doesn't most everyone have access to spell check with their phone? I mean come on!!!"

    Today is National Coming Out Day, and as we celebrate, we're sharing six coming out stories from dads in our community. Their personal stories are heartwarming, relatable, and empowering. Happy Coming Out Day, and remember, live your truth!

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    Personal Essays by Gay Dads

    Growing a Thicker Skin

    Experiencing hateful and hurtful comments, Erik Alexander had to learn an important lesson: how to ignore the trolls.

    Photo credit: BSA Photography

    Twenty years ago when I came out, it was unbearably hard. As I have written before, I am from the Deep South. Anyone who dared to deviate from social norms was sure to be ostracized. It's not that these people were born hateful or mean; rather, it probably had more to do with them not being subjected to other lifestyles. Anything different from their own experiences sparked fear and confusion. Homosexuality, interracial relationships, religious differences – these were all unfamiliar territories to the average person I grew up around. Thus, growing up was particularly difficult.

    I remember lying in bed at night when I was a little boy. I would pray and beg God to not let me be gay. Every single night I would end my prayers with "... and God, please don't let me have nightmares and please don't let me be gay." I remember crying myself to sleep many nights. I was embarrassed and ashamed. And I wanted God to cure me.

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    Change the World

    10 Inspiring Coming Out Stories From Gay Dads

    Happy National Coming Out Day! To celebrate, we've rounded up some of our recent stories about gay men with kids coming out to live their most authentic lives.

    Happy National Coming Out Day! To celebrate, we've rounded up some of our best articles of gay dads coming out to live their authentic lives.

    #1. Former NFL Player Jeff Rohrer, and Father of Two, Comes Out as Gay and Marries Longterm Partner


    Jeff Rohrer, a father of two teenage boys via a previous relationship with a woman, is the first NFL player to marry another man. Read the article here.

    #2. Coming Out to His Wife Was Painful, Says This Salt Lake-Based Dad of Four. But it Started Him on a Path of Authenticity

    After Kyle came out to his wife, with whom he has four children, "she listened, she mourned and she loved," he said. Read the article here.

    #3. Gay Dads Share Their Coming Out Stories for National Coming Out Day

    We asked several gay dads to share their coming out stories in honor of National Coming Out Day, whose stories are heartwarming, instructive, and everything in between. Read the article here.

    #4. Gay Muslim Single Dad Writes Op Ed on His Path to Self Acceptance

    Maivon Wahid writes about the challenges of reconciling three separate, but equally important, identities in an opinion piece for Gay Star News. Read the article here.

    #5. One Gay Dad's Path Towards Realizing Being Gay and Christian are Not Mutually Exclusive

    Gay dads Matt and David Clark-Sally talk about coming out, parenting as gay men, and reconciling faith and sexuality. Read the article here.

    #6. Republican Utah Lawmaker, and Dad of Two, Comes Out as Gay in Moving Video

    Nathan Ivie has many important identities he's proud of: Mormon, Republican, Utahn, father of two... and gay. Read the article here.

    #7. How Coming Out Helped This Gay Man Find the Strength to Be a Dad

    Steven Kerr shares the moment he came out to his ex-girlfriend. "From that moment on," he writes, "my strength and purpose have grown." Read the article here.

    #8. Ed Smart, Father of Kidnapping Victim Elizabeth Smart, Comes Out as Gay

    In coming his coming out letter, Ed Smart, a Mormon, condemned the church for their "ridicule, shunning, rejection and outright humiliation" of LGBTQ individuals. Read the article here.

    #9. The Best Part of Coming Out, Says This Gay Dad, Is Being an Out and Proud Role Model for His Daughter

    "I couldn't face myself in the mirror and think that I could be a good dad and role model for my child when I was lying to myself every moment of every day," said Nate Wormington of his decision to come out. Read the article here.

    #10. These Gay Dads Via Previous Marriages Have Adopted a Motto Since Coming Out and Finding Each Other: "United We Stand"

    Vincent and Richard both had children in previous marriages with women; together, with their ex-wives, they are helping raise seven beautiful kids. Read the article here.

    Gay Dad Life

    8 Ways for Dads to Find Work/Life Balance

    Finding work/life balance is hard enough... but can be even harder for gay dads.

    Having kids is an amazing part of life, and it should be fun. Life does tend to get in the way sometimes, and one huge aspect of that is work. Striking that balance between work and home life is tough. If you both work it's even harder.

    And if you're a gay couple, it can have it's own set of problems above and beyond the standard work-life issues that people face. Recently, the Harvard Business Review conducted a study that focused specifically on the experiences of same-sex couples who wanted to make moves towards a work/life balance.

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    Fatherhood, the gay way

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