Let's Be Frank: The Diary of a Divorced Gay Dad
When something significant ends, where does one even begin? All of you readers are my shrink and I’m about to emotionally vomit on you. So grab a leopard-print Snuggie, sit back, and get inside me for just a moment. Welcome to the memoirs of myself, Frank Lowe – a recently divorced thirtysomething gay dad. I’ve acquired some Internet fame over the past few years, under the guise of an acerbic persona (see: @GayAtHomeDad), but I’ll assume you don’t have a clue who I am. With that in mind, let me take you back. Let me take you way, way back.
Picture it: Sicily, 1922. A recently-turned 21-year old gay boy named Francesco was working at a tanning salon, sporting an unnaturally orange glow (even for an Italian). At this location is where a golden blond German prince would enter and fall in love at first sight with him. These were the paltry beginnings of what would be a substantial 17-year homosexual relationship. Okay, so maybe it was actually St. Louis in the late 1990s, and maybe those two really met at a seedy video bar, but those details aren’t important anymore. What matters is that they stayed monogamous, moved across the country, grew together, and eventually grew apart.
They shared many adventures over the years, and after settling in rural Connecticut, they decided that two should become three. After acclimating to the Stepford lifestyle, the pair landed themselves on the coveted adoption list. Two months later, they became dads to a precious infant boy. Everything was picture perfect – it was heteronormative to the extreme, and they didn’t even realize how wonderful it was. Then, like a child’s toy, it slowly began to fall apart. Piece by piece and part by part, it disintegrated – until the battery acid leaked out and it no longer worked. They had to make the toughest decision in their lives, but also the most necessary one.
Here I am now. Divorced, depressed, but still fabulous as f**k. After being a gay-at-home dad for the past several years, my life is a jumbled box of puzzle pieces with no picture for reference (and maybe a couple missing). My 6-year old son is the highlight of my life, but I only get to see him half of the week. While joint custody is ideal for him, it is extremely challenging for me. I feel like I am gradually starting to put the puzzle together. It has taken every ounce of my mental strength to get myself to this point, and some days I am able to relish that pride. Unfortunately those are rare, and usually I’m forced to wear a new persona – much tougher than my fake, bitchy online one. I have to pretend to be happy.
Re-entering the workforce and the dating world has been a real blast, let me tell you. I’m not seeking sympathy, but keep in mind that this is not the life I planned for, and I’m scrambling now to figure out what’s next. I have a gaggle of new gay friends that I hang out with and adore, while the married moms I used to lunch with don’t understand me anymore. I’m making a million mistakes right and left, but don’t have time to account for all of them, much less atone for them. I should get the words “I’M SO SORRY” tattooed across my forehead because seriously everybody, I’m so sorry.
Before you flee, let me explain that this column will not be a weekly Debbie Downer digest. In between my days of weeping and self-pity, I have managed to catch a glimpse of what fabulousness is around the corner. I’m starting to experience personal growth at exponential rates. I’m hitting the gym like guys half my age. I’m growing even closer to my son than I thought possible. I’m tan all the time now. I’ve simplified the hell out of what was a complicated life. I go to sleep when I want. I’m “getting my groove back.” And most importantly? I finally get to see what Grindr is all about.
I wanted this article to be purposefully vague because my life is vague right now. As I’m piecing together the puzzle, the emotional rollercoaster never stops to let me off. One week I could be discussing the pros/cons of being a single gay dad (like, hello, everyone helps me all the time now), and the next I could talk about sex. Lots of sex. Well, hopefully, right? All I can assure you is that you will be entertained, and certainly informed. My life is an open book, and I’m willing to share each page with you, be it tawdry or touching. However, I will never look back, and will only stay future-focused. The past is the past, what’s done is done, and what matters is now. So please stay tuned – you’re in for a hardcore ride.