Gay Dad Life

School Dazed: A Gay Dad Clams Up At a Parent-Teacher Conference

I have certain Oh my gosh, I’m a total dad moments. And going to parent-teacher conferences is one of them. My oldest, Keith, is only in pre-K, but I bring it. I dress up, I ask questions, I get into it. The teacher and I sit across from each other in the very same little chairs where Keith and his fellow 4-year-olds sit to paint and draw. It’s like an absurd job interview.

I like Keith’s teacher, and we were having a great time discussing one of my favorite topics: my son. She was talking up the tactic of using picture books without words to get kids into storytelling. She gives each a book and asks the child about the cover, “What do you see? Who do you think that is?” Then they go through each page, discussing what’s happening.

She explained that Keith didn’t seem to enjoy it that much.

She then pulled out the book she gave Keith. “Mama and Baby!” The exclamation point is the author’s, though I did stifle my own wow. The book shows mothers and babies of different species, a new pair on each page. It begins with a kangaroo with a baby in her pouch, and culminates in a mousy mom and her feral child. She looked like a mom who feeds her kid pouches and is always on her phone. Okay, they look like a fine mother-and-child match, but that’s what I saw by the end.

I pictured my sweet, perfect boy, adopted by two guys at birth, paging through this book of moms as his teacher kept asking, “Who is this?”

So I said: “Um … ”

That was my initial, brilliant moment of advocacy for my child. The situation was just so comic and heartbreaking at the same time that I was struck dumb.

“I’m just not sure this is the best book for Keith to use,” I said finally, trying to be diplomatic. “It’s not really what he knows.”

“Well, he said some were daddies,” she said, before adding, “Which is fine.” Fine that he sees men as potential nurturers, or that he didn’t get that these are lady mamas of the wild?

Now, I will say this. Keith’s teacher is a lovely, kind person. But she just wasn’t getting it. And I wasn’t mad at her, I was mad at me.

Here’s the thing. I consider myself a doctoral student in adoption. I have spoken on panels, for Chrissake. I am nuts about the birth families of my two sons, keeping them informed of every wonderful step of my kids’ lives. My husband became an adoption attorney. He literally gives at the office. I am a freaking pro.

And I got lazy. One time I was on a panel — see? Told you I speak on panels — where a guy in the audience with an annoying voice said that every year he goes to his kids’ school and does a whole talk on adoption for the teachers and class. “His poor kids,” I thought, haughtily. First they have a dad with an annoying voice and he insists on making a show of himself talking about his kids. Why single them out as different right away?

Well, I was wrong. Our kids, the kids of gay dads, are different right away. And I was dumb to assume that because mine goes to public school in a cool neighborhood, he would not face the little indignities of heteronormative society.

And let’s face it, I thought I could coast.

“I’m just wondering,” I asked. “Are there any books about same-sex families in the classroom?” I realize the absurdity of asking this in March. I had no idea.

“No,” she said. “But we talk about how there are all kinds of families. We have students where parents are of different races. And those parents brought in books that showed families like theirs.”

“Okay, I’ll bring some in,” I said, feeling like the worst parent in the world.

When I got home, I emailed the office and asked if they had any books about LGBT families in the school library. They did not know, was the swift response. But they would be sure to include LGBT books in the next purchase for the school.

As much as I’m recommitting myself to being a teachable-moment machine, I know I can’t do this forever. The last thing a middle school kid wants is a show and tell on what makes them different. But for now, I need to do a better job. I brought in some books for his classroom.

After the conference, I stopped in to visit Keith’s music teacher, whom I’d never met. She was about my age, with purple hair. She told me how much Keith loves music.

“I’m thinking about teaching them all ‘Rainbow Connection’ to sing at the end-of-school showcase,” she said.

“Oh jeez,” I said. “I’ll be the gay dad crying his eyes out in the front row.”

She looked at me funny.

“I’m gay, I said. “I meant it like ‘gay gay,’ not like ... ” I managed to get myself together. "Keith has two dads.”

She nodded, probably mystified by such an awkward display of pride. I need to get the hang of this by September.

Show Comments ()
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.

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Life

'NolaPapa' Launches YouTube Channel: Story of a Gay Dad

Check out Erik Alexander's new YouTune Channel: Story of a Gay Dad

When we first found out that our second daughter was African American I froze. Not because of her race, but because I knew NOTHING about African American hair. So I frantically tried to learn as much as I could while she was a newborn so I was ready to style it when she was a little older.

I decided to launch our YouTube channel Nolapapa: Story of a Gay Dad to focus on this very topic! Episodes 1-5 will solely be dedicated to learning how to wash, care for and styling African American hair. Afterwards, the content will shift towards personal & family situations, adoption, gay parenting questions and other great content! I'd love your support and become part of our little village as we launch this new project!

Sending Nola love to each of ya!

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Life

Encouraged by His Son, Single Dad Richard Started Dating Again — and Just Got Married!

After his 14 year relationship ended, Richard got a gentle push into the dating pool from an unexpected source — his son!

In 2014, Richard Rothman's relationship of 15 years ended, leaving him understandably reluctant to jump back into the world of dating as a single gay dad. But after spending one too many Friday nights at home, he got a gentle nudge from somebody unexpected —his teenaged son, Jonathan.

"Dad," Jonathan said. "Would you just get out of the house and go on a date already?" (You may remember wise-beyond-his-years Jonathan from this post that went viral of a tattoo he got commemorating his adoption day.)

On his son's encouragement, Richard started dipping a tentative toe back into the dating pool. In 2015, he met Kevin thanks to mutual friends that introduced them via social media. It took four months before Richard introduced Kevin to his son, who was a Sophomore in high school at the time.

On New Year's Eve in 2017, Kevin proposed while the couple was vacationing in Palm Springs. The city has an outdoor festival every year, he explained, which the couple attended. The band Plain White T's happened to be performing their hit "Hey There Delilah" as Kevin got down on one knee and proposed. "Now whenever I hear that song it brings back memories of that night," Richard said.

Richard and Kevin married on March 30, 2019 back at the scene of the crime — in Palm Springs, at the Frederick Loewe Estate. Jonathan was Richard's best man, and also walked him down the aisle (awwww.....). Kevin's brother Bobby served as his best man.

"As so many wonderful moments continue to happen for us in Palm Springs, we now own a home there in addition to our primary residence in Bentonville, Arkansas," said Richard.

Check out video from the couple's special day below!

And Jonathan is now an E4 Master-at-Arms in the US Navy.

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!

Keep reading... Show less
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.

Keep reading... Show less
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 Family Stories

These Adoptive Dads Gained an Extended Family Through Foster Care

Adoptive dads Edward and Andrew have maintained a close relationship with their twins' biological family.

Celebrating gay, bi and trans fatherhood is what we do on Gays With Kids. We rejoice in whatever paths our community took to become parents. But many of those journeys come with heartbreak, sometimes for the intended parents, and sometimes for the biological family from whom the adoption or foster placement occurs. With an open adoption, the adoptive and biological families come to an arrangement which best benefits the child, and that's when something truly beautiful can occur. This isn't always possible in every scenario, but when it does, we're exceedingly thankful. Can a child ever have too many family members loving them? Not likely. This was husbands of five years Edward and Andrew Senn's experience.

Keep reading... Show less

Fatherhood, the gay way

Get the latest from Gays With Kids delivered to your inbox!

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse