When we asked 30-year-old Nick from Fort Worth, Texas, about his path to fatherhood, he told us it was a long story and to get ready. Nick became a dad through a previous straight relationship and only came out a few years ago, but a lot has happened since then.
Growing up, Nick was raised with the belief that he should, one day, become a dad and have a family. He was brought up Catholic, and was taught that his only option to have a family was with a woman.
At first, he didn't question this belief, but he distinctly remembers the first moment when he realized he was attracted to men.
"At around age 14, I remember getting in trouble in class and was sent to sit in the hallway and this guy came walking down the hallway and I thought, 'Oh, he's cute.'" After pondering that thought for a while, Nick began to look at other guys and soon realized that he was attracted to guys. "I never asked my parents, or any religious figures from church, about these thoughts that were rapidly swimming around my head—even when I was supposed to confess my sins in confession at church. I was terrified that the Father of the church would tell my parents and I'd be exiled or forced into being straight."
Instead, he did the only thing he could think of at the time - "bury my thoughts deep down."
Several years later, Nick went on a date with a close female friend. "We hit it off and before we knew it, we were married," he said. "Of course in hindsight, I feel like I rushed it with her because I finally found someone who wanted a marriage and I truly did love her." But Nick couldn't shake the small and nagging voice inside his head telling him that everything he was doing was wrong.
As he continued to ignore his internal struggle, he tried to cover it with living a "normal" life. But, in 2014, he reached a point where he could no longer keep it up. "I could no longer live with the lie that I had been sustaining for what seemed like an eternity. So my solution, or so I thought, was to have a kid. I thought that having a kid would help distract me from thinking I was attracted to men and help get my 'normal' life on track."
In 2015, his wife gave birth to their beautiful daughter. And for a while, she was a wonderful distraction. But it didn't last.
"The first four months of 2017 were perhaps the worst months of my life. Around February, I could no longer sustain the life I was living," Nick shared. "It got to the point where I wouldn't eat, couldn't emote, cared very little about my job, and wasn't the partner my wife deserved. One night, I started talking to this guy from the website Reddit. It was an innocent conversation, but for some reason, I was able to tell him everything. With his help, I had finally found the courage to accept who I am and tell my now ex-wife the truth."
At the end of April 2017, Nick sat his then-wife down after putting their daughter to bed. "At this point in time, she knew there was something weighing me down. After all, she was the person who knew me best. As we were sitting in our bedroom, I tried to say the words 'I'm gay' but kept stammering. I just couldn't do it. I couldn't look her in the eyes. My mouth became abnormally dry. I would start to say 'I'm' but even that wouldn't escape my mouth. As I was stammering, she began to guess everything that could be wrong. She went from gambling problems to losing my job. Finally she asked if I was gay. When she said those words, my eyes met hers and I nodded. l looked into her eyes in that moment and said softly, 'I'm gay.'"
Those two little words changed everything.
"She looked at me and tears began to flow. And even though she had every reason to be mad or angry, she remained calm and just talked."
After Nick came out, he and his now ex-wife went through a rough patch that, in hindsight says Nick, was very much expected. As finances were stretched thin, Nick stayed in the spare bedroom of their shared family home. He also started dating quite quickly after their separation, and has since regretted moving on so quickly. (The relationship was short-lived as the man didn't show much interest in Nick's daughter despite spending time as a family. "This was a wake-up call for me. After ending my relationship with him, I decided that the next time I was not going to sugarcoat what I wanted in a relationship.")
In May of 2019, Nick met Tyler, 29, on the dating app OKCupid and the two immediately hit off and were both upfront and honest about what they wanted from the relationship. "Tyler, is an amazing partner," said Nick. "In the short time we've been together, he has shown time and time again that he will be an amazing father and an amazing husband. He's the person I've been waiting for my whole life. I'm excited to see him be a father to my daughter! And I've already seen how well she takes to him!"
On October 5 this year, while the couple were in New York City for Tyler's work for a few days, Nick surprised Tyler by proposing to him on top of the Rockefeller Center. In Nick's own words, here's his proposal story:
"New York City happens to be Tyler's favorite city," began Nick. "As soon as I found out, I immediately started coordinating with one of his good friends, who happened to work for the same company. After much discussion and hesitation, the plan was made the Friday before the proposal! On the morning of 5th, I was a nervous wreck! I couldn't focus on anything and was taking my time getting ready. I apparently didn't do a good job hiding my stress because he knew something wrong. When he asked, I panicked and immediately blamed it on the outfit I was wearing—he knows I take pride in my outfit so I thought it to be a safe answer! Thankfully the walk to Rockefeller Center was short from our hotel but the wait to get to get Top was agonizing! Once we got to the Top, I hurried to find a spot that was empty from all the other tourists—one thing to note is the the Top of the Rock is a big touristy place, you can see the entire city from up there! Luckily, one spot became available and it happened to be in front of the Empire State Building! After looking at the view in awe, Tyler walked away. I asked him to come back because I wanted to "look" at it a bit longer. He came in close, put his arm around me, and asked me if I wanted to move here one day. I turned to face him and said "yes, but I'd like to this first" and proceeded to get down on one knee. I will never forget the shock of surprise on his face! He thought it was a joke until I pulled out the ring box. I still can't remember what I said to him but I know everything I said was from the heart! Once I asked him "will you marry me?" He said yes but I had to ask him again to confirm because I was still in shock myself! The coolest part of the proposal was we had an audience around us while it was happening! After I stood up, slipped the ring on his finger, and kissed, the roar of cheers and applause was so prominent! It was such a magical moment! Everything about the proposal went off without a hitch!"
When Nick and Tyler returned from their trip, Nick told his daughter about his and Tyler's engagement. Although she didn't quite grasp the concept of marriage, she did light up when told that she'd be seeing more of Tyler. "So she's definitely happy about that!"
No definite plans for the big day as of yet, but if Nick and Tyler decide upon a family and friends wedding, Nick would love to involve his daughter as she could play the role of ring bearer.
Today, Nick and his ex-wife co-parent their four-year-old daughter and they have an understanding and respect for how they want to raise their daughter together. "My daughter is everything to me and I want her to be raised in a household where there is no prejudice and there is an all around mutual respect between everyone." Nick shared that those extra few minutes a day spent with his daughter, reading to her, answering her difficult questions, and most of all, showing her a ton of affection and love, are what makes his world go round.
When asked where Nick sees himself in five to 10 years, he had this to say: "I see my husband, ex-wife, her spouse, and myself all co-parenting like crazy for our daughter. I see my daughter being raised in such a loving home. She'll understand equality and love. And I hope I will instill those qualities in her so that she spreads it to others."