Fish Out of Water

Let’s Be Frank: The Diary of a Divorced Gay Dad


This is the article I never want my son to read, because I don’t want him to feel blamed for this. But truth be told, I am geographically fu*ked, and there’s nothing I can do about it. For at least the next 12 years, I am stuck – right in the middle of Nowhere, Connecticut. It’s a very strange, nuanced state, full of cold people who are scared to emote. Yes, I’m generalizing an entire state, which is wrong, but this is an overall feeling that is quite present for me. My friends, of course, (especially my mom friends) are nothing like this, but it has taken me a long time to find them. I was raised in the Midwest and have completely different virtues and values, and it sucks because here they are all wasted. I don’t understand anybody around me, and they don’t get me.

The reason my ex-husband and I moved here was to start a family in the suburbs. He received an incredible job offer that was impossible to turn down, so we left our jobs in Chicago and we relocated to Connecticut. At first, I was in love with the charm and the beauty – there is no question it is a gorgeous state. Slowly, I surmised that I was trying to make something work that wasn’t going to work. It didn’t matter how many of Martha Stewart’s books I purchased – nothing was going to make me accept that life. I have missed the city almost every day I lived here, but had we not moved, we may have never had our son. At least not our actual son, and I can’t imagine him with any other parents, or life any other way.

Fortunately, I have an amazing gay friend who also recently went through a divorce. He has a vibrant personality like me, and though he is Connecticut-born, we get along fabulously. Sometimes he thinks I’m nuts, and vice versa, but honestly that’s probably validated. I discuss this “fish out of water” scenario with him all the time, and his advice is that I need to make it work for me. My argument is that I don’t want to change who I am in order to please everyone around me. I don’t want to suddenly withdraw and keep my mouth shut when it’s inappropriate – I want to be me. I want people to be genuine with me, which seems an impossible task. He usually just laughs at me and tells me I’m being dramatic, which (let’s face it) I probably am.

Even broader, I feel displaced within the actual gay community. At one point, I felt kinship with fellow gay dads as we talked about raising our children. Now I’m the outcast, the black sheep, the Boo Radley. For whatever reason, the divorce makes me feel like I’m wearing a big scarlet “D” on my shirt that instantly stigmatizes me. I so don’t want that to be the case. I am the same person I was before, just stumbling through life now, instead of creating a perfect Norman Rockwell portrait. I will regain my footing, and hopefully find my place again within the community, any community.

My town is smack dab between New York and Boston – it’s about a two-hour drive to each. It’s like having two giant carrots being dangled at the end of a stick. Sure, I can spend expensive weekends in either of those cities in pursuit of friends and a new social life, but that will add up quickly. My friend’s advice to make it work is exactly what I’ll have to do. As far as how to do that, I’m still working on it. In reality, I really want to make it work here because I have to make it work.

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