Gay Dad Life

The Game of the Name: How Gay Dads Are Changing Naming Traditions

In his July 5 piece “Re-Thinking the Gay Father Name Game,” our blogger Ian Colvin shared the story of how he and his husband arrived at their naming decision. Ian took his husband’s last name; in return, they agreed that the kids would call Ian “daddy.” (Rather than, say, papa.) Names have power. And for Ian, the desire to be called daddy was more powerful than the desire to retain his own last name.

Plenty of couples arrive at similar organic solutions. Their preferences are clear and happen to align. Maybe they agree that it feels more natural to choose one last name. Perhaps they like the symbolism that hyphenated surnames suggest two united halves. And they might see no need to decide on two different “dad” terms. (If we hear the word, we’ll both turn!)

In other cases, it’s not so easy. Our readers chimed in with social media comments on Ian’s story, sharing their own methods for making certain “name game” decisions. And some of their ideas were so clever and thoughtful that we simply had to share. Here are some of the best we received from readers – though we won’t name any names!

START FRESH. Rather than choose one or add a hyphen, some couples decided to create an entirely new last name to share. They combined elements of both last names to create a portmanteau, or picked something similarly meaningful. (Say, a name associated with a first date.) Others looked to their child for inspiration – literally. If adopting a child, the parents changed their name to match his or hers.

CONSIDER THE END POINT. No one likes to be last in line. (Just ask your kid.) If you have one or more heterosexual brothers, each has the potential to pass along the clan’s last name. But if your partner is an only child or has no straight bros – well, this might be the only chance he has to keep that family name alive. Consider giving that gift. If nothing else, you’ll earn some serious in-law points.

BE THE MIDDLEMAN. Not to sound superficial, but some first-last name combos just flow better together. If you can’t help admitting that your partner’s last name is a bit more ear pleasing, give your child your middle name. Don’t hyphenate, so your child has the option to take it out just when it seems to fit the occasion. You know, like your pair of skinny jeans.

LET YOUR CHILD CHOOSE. Father is a title. “Dad,” “daddy,” “pop” and the rest? They’re nicknames, really. And when you think about it, giving yourself a nickname is always mildly embarrassing. (Remember your college date with “Big Will”? Enough said.) Just call each other dad. It might get confusing at first, but your child will hear the other variations all around them – and eventually, they’ll organically assign you the terms of endearment you’ve earned.

LOOK TO DEAR OLD(ER) DAD. What do you call your father? (Occasional four-letter words aside.) Does your partner call his something different? If you use “dad” and he uses “pop,” have your kids follow suit with you two. Let’s face it: we all turn into our parents at some point, anyway. This can be an especially easy solution if one side of the family prefers more culturally aligned terms of endearment, like Spanish “papi” or Scandinavian “pappa.”

KEEP IT CLOSE. Last names don’t just help you fill out paperwork. They’re about forming bonds. Whose side of the family lives nearby? Which “last name” do you see more often? Sure, you love your last name – but if your kin lives across the country while your partner’s live down the street, with which crew is their greatest potential for your child to form a strong, inclusive bond? Exactly. Remember, this is about your child feeling part of a family – not you feeling like you won.

GO FIRST. Does one of you have a family name that can double as a first name? “Casey,” “Barry,” and “Bryant,” all sound just as well coming first as second. If your partner’s surname isn’t as, ahem, versatile, let it continue to play its position.

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Gay Dad Life

The Suburban Gay Dad

Are you intimidated by the suburbs? This gay dad was — but then he moved there.

In a recent article for Yahoo! Lifestyle, Steve Jacobs says the thought of living in the suburbs as a gay dad "intimidated" him. But when he started fantasizing about garages, he began to question that notion. Any apprehension he had soon evaporated, he said, one winter morning while trying to navigate the snowy streets of New York City with a stroller.

While "pushing the stroller through snow banks and pools of slush with snowflakes stinging our faces," he wrote, "a vision came to me: I pictured us walking into a garage, hopping into a car, and arriving at a diner with 10 times less drama. This image planted the seed of moving to the 'burbs that I couldn't shake."

Soon, the family of four found a house in a town a half hour outside the city. "It had grass and a beautiful yard for our spirited kiddos. The schools were good. There were even good restaurants. The only red flag: Census data estimated only 0.1 percent of the population was gay male."

There were some "growing pains" while trying to make friends in this environment. "When we attended our first dinner party, within minutes the hostess went to the kitchen and the other wives followed her, while the husbands settled into the living room. Ira and I froze, looking at each other. In the city, our straight friends hadn't separated out like this for the evening. Should we stay with the dudes, exert our masculinity, and blow off the mom we liked? Or does one of us go with the wives and accept the personal branding that comes with that? We did a quick rock paper scissors in the foyer. Ira went with the wives."

But ultimately, "being a parent defined me more than I ever imagined it would," he wrote, and he settled in nicely to his new suburban life.

Have you had a similar adjustment, from city life to the suburbs? Tell us about it at for an upcoming piece!

Gay Dad Life

"Fridays with Fitz": A New Kid's Book Based Upon the Son of These Two Dads

Tracey Wimperly, author of the new children's book, said she hopes to give a more honest portrayal of the role grandparents play in the lives of children.

Guest post Tracey Wimperly

I've recently written a children's picture book (aimed at 2-4 year olds) called "Fridays with Fitz: Fitz Goes to the Pool." Every Friday - when his two dads go to work - Fitz and his grandparents (my husband, Steve and I) head off on an adventure. Through the eyes of a curious and energetic 3 year old, even ordinary adventures, like riding the bus or foraging for fungus in the forest can be fun and magical.

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Gay Dad Life

8 Ways for Dads to Find Work/Life Balance

Finding work/life balance is hard enough... but can be even harder for gay dads.

Having kids is an amazing part of life, and it should be fun. Life does tend to get in the way sometimes, and one huge aspect of that is work. Striking that balance between work and home life is tough. If you both work it's even harder.

And if you're a gay couple, it can have it's own set of problems above and beyond the standard work-life issues that people face. Recently, the Harvard Business Review conducted a study that focused specifically on the experiences of same-sex couples who wanted to make moves towards a work/life balance.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

David and Ben Met on the Dance Floor — and Are Now Grooving Their Way Through Fatherhood

David and Ben, who became fathers with the help of Northwest Surrogacy Center, live in Melbourne with their daughter, Maia.

In 2003, while both studying at Reading University in the UK, Ben Suter and David Cocks met after locking eyes on the dance floor and then being introduced by a mutual friend. Ben, a meteorologist and Operations Manager, and David, an Assistant Principal, have been together ever since. They moved to Australia together in 2010, seeking a different life, and an overall better work-life balance. The chose Cairns in Queensland as their new home, between the Great Barrier Reef and the tropical rainforest, "taking life a bit easier," said David. The couple were also married in June 2016, back home in England.

While David always wanted kids, Ben took a little convincing. So they started their parenting journey with a dog, Titan, who quickly became like their first born. From there, Ben came around rather quickly.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Single Gay Dad and the City

When Kyle decided to take his four kids, ages 6-11, to New York City on vacation, his friends thought he was crazy.

"You're crazy, Kyle."

"You can't be serious? A single dad taking four kids to the Big Apple? Think again."

"That's bold. There's no way I'd do that."

Those were a few of the responses I heard from my friends as I told them I was thinking of booking a trip to New York City with four kids, ages 11-6. My children's fall vacation from school was approaching and I wanted to get out of the house and explore. Was the Big Apple too much of an adventure?

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National's Pitcher Cites Wife's Two Moms as Reason for Declining White House Invite

"I think that's an important part of allyship," Doolittle said of his wife's two moms.

Sean Doolittle, pitcher for the Washington Nationals, declined an invitation to the White House after his team won the World Series this year. In an interview with the Washington Post, he listed his numerous reasons for staying home — and a main consideration, he revealed, was his wife's two moms.

"I want to show support for them. I think that's an important part of allyship, and I don't want to turn my back on them," Doolittle said during the interview.

Trump's treatment of a minority groups, generally, factored into his decision as well. "I have a brother-in-law who has autism, and [Trump] is a guy that mocked a disabled reporter. How would I explain that to him that I hung out with somebody who mocked the way that he talked or the way that he moves his hands? I can't get past that stuff."

Doolitttle clarified that his decision had little to do with policy disagreements with the White House. "There's a lot of things, policies that I disagree with, but at the end of the day, it has more to do with the divisive rhetoric and the enabling of conspiracy theories and widening the divide in this country. My wife and I stand for inclusion and acceptance, and we've done work with refugees, people that come from, you know, the 'shithole countries.'"

He concluded by saying he respected his teammates decision to attend the White house ceremony. "I want people to know that I put thought into this, and at the end of the day, I just can't go."

Read more of the Washington Post interview here.


New York Will Fight 'Repugnant' Trump Rule on Adoption, Says Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York promises legal action of the Trump administration moves ahead with plans to allow discrimination against LGBTQ adoptive and foster parents

Last week, the Trump administration announced plans to allow adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate against prospective LGBTQ parents — but he may face a legal fight from (former) hometown. In a tweet, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York said the proposed move "isn't just discriminatory and repugnant to our values,— it's also heartless and dumb as it would deny countless children a loving family and a safe place to call home." If the proposal moves forward, he continued. "we'll take legal action to stop it.

Governor Cuomo's office followed up the tweet with a lengthier statement posted to their website:

Once again the Trump administration is attacking the hard-earned rights and protections of the LGBTQ community, this time proposing a new measure that would give foster care and adoption agencies license to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Trump's proposal isn't just discriminatory and repugnant to our values — it's also heartless and dumb as it would deny countless children a loving family and a safe place to call home. If he moves forward with this rule, we'll take legal action to stop it.

No matter what happens in Washington, New York State is and will continue to be a beacon of equality in this country. Our Human Rights Law and adoption regulations expressly prohibit discrimination against the LGBTQ community, including when it comes to adoption. I encourage any LGBTQ New Yorker who feels they are a victim of this discrimination to contact the State Division of Human Rights for assistance.

Our message to the Trump administration is simple: there is no place for hate in New York or in our nation, and we will not allow this noxious proposal to stop LGBTQ New Yorkers from becoming parents or providing care to children in need.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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