Gay Dad Life

Athlete Simon Dunn Asks: As a Gay Man Is Fatherhood in My Future?

Athlete Simon Dunn has always wanted children. But as a gay man, he wonders if his dream will ever become reality.

I've always wanted children. But as a gay man, I long ago realized fatherhood might not ever happen for me.

Let me explain: I've wanted kids since I was no older than 5. One of my first memories is of telling my mother about my future wife and all of the children I planned to have with her. I would have at least 10 children, I told her, of all races, ages, and ethnicities. I wanted a Brad-and-Angelina-type family before Brangelina was ever even a thing.


Future athlete Simon Dunn at age 5

Of course, not having a full understanding of the “birds and bees" at that age, I didn't realize that to have my own biological children of all races, I would have to be a pretty promiscuous husband. Not sure how my make-believe wife would have felt about that.

Fortunately, I never had to find out; among the other things that 5-year-old me didn't know at the time was that I would grow up to be gay.

When I came out to my mum at 17, she still had a 5-year-old version of me in her mind. How could her son, who had always dreamed of having a wife and children, be gay? If she'd really been paying attention she might have noticed that I started dropping the “wife" part out of my fantasy a long time ago.

My mother made it quite clear (in not the most amicable terms) that my sexuality would make it impossible for me to become the family man I'd always dreamed of being. For better or worse, her message stuck. As gay men, many of us learn this lesson all too young: Families are not in our future. Eventually, many of us find peace with the idea and move on.

In my early 20s, I put the idea of becoming a dad out of my mind, and instead began immersing myself in the gay community. It was rare to even hear mention of the word “children." My friends from childhood, meanwhile, began to get married and have kids of their own. Before I knew it, it seemed everyone I'd grown up with had settled down and started a family.

Yet here I was a single gay man, spending more time in bars and clubs than is socially acceptable. I realized I was jealous of my childhood friends. Because of my sexuality, I thought, I would never get the same opportunities.

It wasn't until my late 20s when my friendship circle began to mature that I started noticing gay couples with children. I was 24 when I began playing for the Sydney Convicts in 2012, which is an inclusive rugby team. During games, I started seeing dads and their small children on the sidelines. I began noticing gay families enjoying the weekend together in Sydney's suburbs. These moments gave me hope — perhaps the idea of a gay man having children wasn't so crazy after all.

At the same time, we began seeing amazing progress in the LGBT community. Though Australia, my home country, has unfortunately yet to legalize same-sex marriage, many Western countries have done so. This global progress has brought validity to our relationships and families. We definitely have a long way to go when it comes to the ability for gay men to have children. But I've been humbled watching our community grow and strengthen in the short time since I've begun living my life as an out gay man.

Today, my childhood dream of becoming a father seems like much less of a fantasy than it once did. Of course it's possible for gay men to become dads; once you scratch the surface, there's a multitude of options available. It's simply a matter of deciding which path to parenthood is right for you.

But once instilled, the idea that gay men can't be fathers doesn't just go away; I long ago accepted the fact that I might never have children. Despite all the recent progress, it's something I've already come to terms with. I'll have opportunities to do other things with my life. Maybe I'll travel the world or buy a Ferrari or Harley Davidson during a midlife crisis. I'm already an uncle. Maybe that'll be enough.

Then again, you never know what life will bring.

So if you happen to pass a 50-year-old me playing rugby with some little ones in the park, you'll know my childhood goal was achieved. But should you see me childless and sailing around the French Riviera? Don't feel bad for me.

I've already made peace with either outcome.

>> Read Gays With Kid's post on how Simon Dunn started Gay Uncles Day.

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Gay Dad Life

Gay Dads Featured on Cover of Parents Magazine for First Time

Fitness guru Shaun T. and his husband Scott Blokker are the first gay dads to be featured on the cover of Parents Magazine

I literally never thought I'd see the day. Literally.

Gay fathers on the cover of Parents Magazine! Gay fathers being celebrated in a "main stream" publication about being parents. Gay fathers!

I don't want to get overly dramatic here, but this is a milestone. A massive cultural milestone.

Sure, gay dads have come a long way in being accepted in our popular culture, but to my eye we've never been on the cover of a big popular parenting magazine celebrating our parenting skills. As if we are the norm.

We are now - thanks to Parents Magazine.

This is a particular milestone for me because I have a bit of a history with the magazine and with parenting publications in general. My first job out of grad school was in brand marketing at Johnson's Baby Products where I did indeed run advertising in this particular magazine. Back then though we only featured married, straight couples. There were no other kinds of parents to feature back in the day! And if I'm to be really honest, they were generally white, married, straight couples.

I distinctly remember one photo shoot where I forgot to put a wedding ring on the "husband's" finger and we had to reshoot it. No photoshop back then!

Now admittedly this was before I was a dad and before I was out, but as the years went by and I embraced my own journey as a gay dad, there were no role models or pop culture markers to say that I (and other gay dads) were accepted. There were no Andy Cohens publicly making baby announcements. We were alone on our parenting.

It was hard. There was a constant barrage of straight parenting norms that constantly reminded us that we were different.
Not any more! Being a gay dad, or any dad, is now simply being a parent. A good parent. A loving parent. And we have Parents Magazine to thank for the reminder and endorsement, with hopefully more to come.

And I can't help but think, and actually know, that this kind of normalization will inspire the next generation of gay dads who will simply accept, without hesitation, that fatherhood as a gay man is a real, accepted, and normal option.

Bravo!

Gay Dad Family Stories

9-Year-Old Girl Starts Successful Jewelry Line With Help of Gay Dads

Riley Petersen is 9 (!) and already a Creative Director, with the help of her gay dads

Riley Kinnane-Petersen is 9 years old, enjoys playing tennis, being with friends, has a pet cat, and lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her two dads, John Petersen and William Kinnane. She's also the official Creative Director of a successful jewelry line she founded with the help of her dads. Two years ago, John even quit his day job to assist in the day-to-day operations of the jewelry company.

What began as a long road to adoption for William and John, has become a thriving creative business, and more importantly a family.

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Gay Dad Life

New Children's Book Explores a Different Kind of Gay Fatherhood: Doggy Dads

Pickles + Ocho is a real life story about two French bulldogs in a family with their two gay dads.

Guest post written by Dan Wellik

Pickles + Ocho is a real life story about two French bulldogs in a family with their two gay dads. It tells the story of how Pickles' life changes once his new "baby brother" Ocho joins his family. The themes in this story are important ones – families come in all shapes and sizes, all families look a little different than the next and diversity and inclusion should be celebrated. I have always felt strongly that children need more exposure to LGBT families and wanted to add my voice to this very important conversation.

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Change the World

Study Finds Two-Thirds of Gay Dads Experienced Stigma in Last Year

The study also found that over half of gay dads have avoided certain social situations in the last year for fear of experiencing stigma.

According to new research by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the vast majority of gay men and their children experience some form of stigma. The findings are based on a survey of 732 gay father across 47 states in the United States.

More gay men are becoming fathers each year, and have more options for doing so than ever before: including adoption, foster care, and surrogacy. However as the study's authors write: "Despite legal, medical, and social advances, gay fathers and their children continue to experience stigma and avoid situations because of fear of stigma. Increasing evidence reveals that stigma is associated with reduced well-being of children and adults, including psychiatric symptoms and suicidality"

Almost two-thirds of respondents, or 63.5%, reported experiencing stigma based on being a gay father within the last year. Over half, or 51.2%, said they have avoided situations for fear of stigma, in the past year. Importantly, the study found that fathers living in states with more legal protections for LGBTQ people and families experienced fewer barriers and stigma. Most experiences of stigma (almost 35%) occurred, unsurprisingly, in a religious environment. But another quarter of gay dads said they experienced stigma from a wide variety of other sources, including: family members, neighbors, waiters, service providers, and salespeople

Surprisingly (or perhaps not?) another source of stigma cited by the study originates from other gay men. "Gay men report suspicion and criticism for their decision to be parents from gay friends who have not chosen parenthood." The study also says gay dads often feel "isolation in their parental role."

The study concludes, "Despite growing acceptance of parenting by same-gender adults, barriers and stigma persist. States' legal and social protections for lesbian and gay individuals and families appear to be effective in reducing experiences of stigma for gay fathers."

Read the whole study here.

Gay Dad Photo Essays

5 Pics of Ricky Martin In Newborn Baby Bliss

He may be a superstar most of the year, but with a new baby girl at home, Ricky Martin is just a regular ol' dad deep in the throes of newborn baby bliss.

On January 1st, 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.

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Sponsored

Broadway Husbands Talk Eggs, Embryos and Exciting News

The husbands explain what is considered a good egg retrieval.

In their previous video, Broadway Husbands Bret Shuford and Stephen Hanna shared that they found their egg donor. In this video, the dads-to-be discuss their embryo creation process. And - spoiler alert - there are now frozen Hanna-Shuford embryos, and the husbands are ready for their next step: finding a gestational carrier.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

Adoption for These Dads Was Like a "Rollercoaster" But Well Worth the Ride

After multiple scam attempts, bizarre leads, and a birth mom's change of heart, Jason and Alex finally became dads.

Photo credit: Dale Stine

Every gay man who pursues fatherhood fights for their right to become a dad. They've had to keep going even when at times it's seemed hopeless. Jason Hunt-Suarez and Alex Suarez's story is no different. They had their hearts set on adoption; overcame multiple scams, some very bizarre leads, a birth mother's change of heart at the 11th hour, their adoption agency going bankrupt, and tens of thousands of dollars lost along the way. But after a long, turbulent, and heart-wrenching three-year-long journey, it was all worth it.

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