Gay Dad Family Stories

Newly Out Gay Dad is Living His Truth

"All of my relationships in my past were real," says Steven, who began living his authentic life as a gay man in 2015. "My marriage included."

Partners Steven Graffam and John Stivale met commuting to work on the bus in New York City. The two had noticed one another for months. Then one day, they went beyond exchanging looks and exchanged phone numbers too. The two have been together a little under a year.

Steven is a gay dad with one son, via a straight relationship, who came to terms with his sexual orientation in 2015. Now he's in a serious relationship with a man who adores his son and they've begun to talk about their future, one that might include more kids. Here's Steven's story.


Steven didn't realize he was gay till he was 34. He had been with the same woman for 14 years, married for 10, and together they had son in 2007. "Fatherhood wasn't hard at all," said Steven, "I welcomed it with open arms; I finally found the meaning of love."

From left to right: Steven, his son and John

Steven came out to his wife in 2015. Although blind-sided and upset, she handled the revelation very well and has remained supportive of her ex-husband.

Although it took Steven a long time to be true to himself, he dislikes the word closeted. "When I hear that it makes me feel sad and brings me back to a bad place," he explained. "[It] feels untrue and that I deliberately did this … All of my relationships in my past were real, my marriage included." Steven's advice to others in a similar relationship is to live your truth, and everything will fall into place.

Steven waited another 18 months before talking to his son about his sexuality. Both he and his ex-wife decided that with all the upheavals their son was experiencing – parents divorcing, he and his mother relocated to a neighboring state, new co-parenting schedules – they didn't want to give their son something else to comprehend. When Steven did talk to his son, his reaction was very simple. He said "okay" and went on about his day. "We left it as an open conversation," said Steven.

In September 2017, after their flirtatious glances on the bus, Steven began seeing John. Steven's son embraced his dad's boyfriend, even getting them both a Fathers' Day card that read 'Daddy & Dad.' "John is very involved and we spend almost every weekend that I have my son together," explained Steven. "He is always asking where John is and when he's coming home from work … Sometimes I think my son likes John more than me!"

Although the relationship is still relatively new, Steven and John are excited about the future and talk about expanding their family. They're open to either adoption or surrogacy, but the biggest decision at the moment, which they can't agree on, is how many kids! John is in the one camp, while Steven is rooting for two. "If I had it my way I would have twenty more kids," says Steven. "I am sure when the time is right we will see eye-to-eye and have two more children. Wink- Ha!"

If there were one thing Steven could change, it would be waiting to tell his loved ones that he was gay. He wished he'd opened up earlier, as soon as he himself had realized and spoken to his ex-wife. "I lived with not telling them for about two years, and all of that pressure and stress I put myself through – what would they think and how would they react – was a waste of my time." Those close to Steven have embraced him, but he knows he is one of the luckier ones. "It breaks my heart to think in this day and age, there are still people out there that can't love others for who they are, no matter their sexual orientation, color, race or gender."

Although the last three years have meant a completely different life path and trajectory for Steven and his family, they are all much happier. Being a father has helped give him purpose, perspective and be able to prioritize what's really important, including coming out.

"Children change your life in every way," said Steven. "The way you think, feel and react; it is the most rewarding responsibility one will ever have. Have fun with it and enjoy the ride."

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Gay Dad Family Stories

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

Photo credit: Dale Stine

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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.

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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!

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