Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Thoughts and Prayers Aren't Working:​ One Father's Plea for Gun Reform

One gay dad's plea to our leaders to enact sensible gun control

My articles on GaysWithKids aspire to be lighthearted, helpful and humorous. This one won't be any of those things. Because I'm feeling heavyhearted, helpless and sad. Last week I woke up to news of yet another mass shooting. This time at a family-friendly Garlic Festival in northern California. I don't know if it's because this one hit so close to home, or if it's because the headline included a picture of the innocent 6-year old who was among those killed, but I am overcome with emotion. But mostly I am angry. And I don't know what to do with my anger.

Then, just a few days later came two additional horrific mass shootings that stole the lives of at least 32 more innocent people, many of them children. And then there's the "everyday" gun violence that plagues American cities like Chicago, where guns injured another 46 people this past weekend alone… creating so much turmoil, a hospital had to briefly stop taking patients.

How does one verbalize the collective sadness felt around the world? One can't. And that's why I am asking everyone reading this article to commit to getting involved in some way, to help end this epidemic once and for all. Even though the solution is so obvious, we can't allow ourselves to become numb to mass shootings. Because becoming numb isn't going to save anyone.


In the United States, there have been more shootings in 2019 than days in the year. And this is exclusively an American problem. Car accidents. Cancer. Addiction. There are so many devastating ways to lose a child that are out of our control. But the one thing that is within our control is the one we do nothing about. Here's a sobering fact: Guns kill more children in the U.S. than Cancer. Let that sink in.

I promise you my intention here isn't to come off preachy or to politicize these horrific events, but I disagree when people say this is a non-partisan issue. It's very much a partisan issue. Democrats in congress desperately want and try to put policies in place that will help keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn't have them. The current administration blame everything but guns and keep blocking this gun legislation in the Senate. The no-brainer legislation that Democrats in Congress keep fighting for would expand background checks, enlist "red-flag" laws and ban assault weapons. Bill Clinton banned assault weapons in 1994 and mass shootings dropped 43%. Then, in 2004, the GOP let the ban expire and mass shootings went up over 230%.

Why won't Republicans do something that will clearly reduce this US-based form of terrorism? Because of money. Lawmakers in congress receive copious amounts of money from far-right backers like the NRA. And the NRA has spent 1.6 million dollars lobbying against background check expansion laws in the months leading up to the latest mass shootings.

I have a question for the people who have blocked sensible gun measures — fathers like Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and John Boehner…

How many dollars is your child worth?

Shame on these individuals, and on all the selfish assholes out there who keep screaming about their rights to personal arsenals while innocent people get gunned down. To think of so many parents losing so many children to something fundamentally preventable is shattering in its weight. And these cowards are to blame. But we all bare some of the responsibility. Gun reform doesn't happen because Americans don't want it enough. If we did, we wouldn't just accept it — we would do something about it. Until we all vote with the same unwavering intensity of the money-hungry sellout Republicans in congress, or until Democrats have total control of government, the base for unregulated gun access will always be more powerful than the constituency for gun control. That's why we ALL must do our part.

I'm going to say something else that might piss off certain people, but I don't care, it needs to be said. Any American that doesn't support advanced background checks is the very person we don't want owning guns. If you are a law-bidding citizen with a registered gun, no prior record and you are in good mental condition, you should have no problem supporting gun reform. YOU are not the problem... but doing nothing to help makes you complicit, and therefore, part of the problem.

No single legislation will solve this entire crisis, but even if stricter gun reform measures prevent just one innocent child's death, won't it all be worth it? If that child is yours, the answer is yes. Well, we have to act like all these deaths are ours. We have to treat all these murders as if they are happening to our family, in our community.

This isn't just happening to other people. It's happening to all of us. We are all El Paso. We are all Dayton. We are all Parkland. We are all Thousand Oaks. We are all Orlando. We are all Aurora. We are all Sandy Hook.

We have to feel the pain that these broken families feel. Because if we all collectively take on their hurt, anger, frustration and desperation, maybe we'll finally be heard… and get courageous Republican politicians to finally stand up and do the right thing.

It's literally worth a shot.

I am tired of feeling "lucky" to have made it home from a trip to Target alive… or a concert… or a Farmer's Market... or a movie theater. I am tired of worrying that the next one is going to affect my immediate family. I don't want my 8-year old son growing up in this version of America. A country where kids at elementary schools have active shooter drills. Is this what they mean when they say: make America great again?

And to all the Republicans who say "Guns don't kill people; people kill people"— stop. It's a stupid argument and you know it. Obviously, it starts with intent and that comes from the sick person's mind, but readily available and accessible guns make it a lot easier for mentally ill people to kill other people in great numbers. How many times do we hear about mass-stabbings? Seriously, stop saying it. It just makes you look simple.

How much more half-hearted talk will we have to sit through – and how many more precious lives will be lost in the meantime – before Congress finally acts? We must come together and turn our collective anger into vocal activism… to make congress wake up and stop ignoring this national emergency. We can't let more families be ripped apart by gun violence.

Now, please join me in the fight. All of our lives depend on it.

Here are 5 simple things we can all do right now to help make a difference:

DONATE TO A GUN REFORM GROUP:

https://everytown.org

http://momsdemandaction.org

https://www.bradyunited.org

https://ceasefireusa.org

https://www.csgv.org

https://marchforourlives.com

CALL YOUR MEMBER OF CONGRESS

One quick phone call can be very effective. Visit this website to see who represents you in the U.S. Congress. https://whoismyrepresentative.com Once you call, let them know that you are a constituent, that you vote for candidates that make gun reform a priority and that you expect to see them take strong action on common sense gun reforms like Universal Background Checks.

WRITE A LETTER TO YOUR LOCAL PAPER

It is easy. Find your local paper, learn how to send a "letter to the editor", and then send it. Click here for sample letters. https://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/advocacy/direct-action/letters-to-editor/main

FACEBOOK YOUR REPRESENTATIVES

Find your representative on facebook and send them a message. It's easy.

For example: Dear Representative, I am your constituent and I vote. I am horrified about the gun violence epidemic in America and want action now. Specifically, I want to see legislation supporting Universal Background Checks on all gun sales.

REGISTER TO VOTE AND THEN VOTE

The NRA has 5 million members and when the NRA tells them who to vote for guess who the members for vote? NRA sponsored and NRA rated candidates. The NRA has the power to go to politicians and give them what they want. 1) Money and 2) votes. So you've got to make sure you register to vote! Do it here, now. https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote

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News

Indiana Court Says Couples Using Sperm Donors​ Can Both Be Listed on Birth Certificate — But Ruling Excludes Male Couples

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in the case, a major victory for LGBTQ parents — but the Attorney General may appeal to the Supreme Court.

On Friday, a US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling from a lower court that said that both parents in a same-sex relationship are entitled to be listed on the birth certificate — previously, the state of Indiana had required the non-biological parent within a same-sex relationship using assisted reproductive technologies to adopt their child after the birth in order to get her or his name listed on the birth certificate, a lengthy and expensive process not required of straight couples in the same situation.

It's a double standard LGBTQ parents have long been subjected to in many states across the country. So this represent a major win. As reported by CNN, this ruling "takes a lot of weight off" the shoulders of LGBTQ parents, said Karen Celestino-Horseman, a lawyer representing one of the couples in the case. "They've been living as families and wondering if this was going to tear them apart."

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals deliberated the case, according to CNN, for more than two and a half years, which is one of the longest in the court's history.

However, because all the plaintiffs in the case involved female same-sex couples using sperm donors, the ruling left open the similar question of parenting rights with respect to male couples. Indiana's Attorney General, moreover, may also appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

We'll be following the case closely and be sure to keep you up to date. For more on this recent decision, read CNN's article here.

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"Dadvocates" Gather in D.C. to Demand Paid Family Leave for ALL Parents

"Dadvocate" and new gay dad Rudy Segovia joined others in D.C. recently to educate lawmakers on the need for paid family leave for ALL parents

On Tuesday October 22, Dove Men+Care and PL+US (Paid Leave for the United States) led the Dads' Day of Action on Capitol Hill. A group of over 40 dads and "dadvocates" from across the states lobbied key member of Congress on the issue of paid paternity leave for *ALL* dads. They shared stories of their struggles to take time off when welcoming new family members and the challenges dads face with no paid paternity leave.

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News

Michigan Judge Allows Faith-Based Discrimination Against LGBTQ Adoptive Parents to Continue

Discrimination against LGBTQ parents can continue in Michigan, says judge

Last month, U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker ruled in a motion that faith-based adoption agencies are allowed to discriminate against prospective LGBTQ parents on the basis of religious belief. The state's Attorney General, Dana Nessel, asked the judge for a stay while she appealed the decision to a higher court. Last week, the judge denied the motion, effectively allowing adopting agencies to discriminate immediately.

The case involves St. Vincent Catholic Charities, who sued the state of Michigan, contending the adoption agency should be exempt from the state's anti-discrimination laws on the grounds that LGBTQ parenthood violets the church's religious beliefs.

This decision "turns the status quo on its head rather than maintaining it," Attorney General Nessel said in her motion. She wrote further that such a move "presents significant, potential injury" to children who need homes, and limits "the number of applicable families for children in a foster care system who desperately need families."

The judge, in turn wrote that "Under the attorney general's current interpretation of Michigan law and the parties' contracts, St. Vincent must choose between its traditional religious belief, and the privilege of continuing to place children with foster and adoptive parents of all types."

We'll be following this case as Attorney General Nessel's office appeals this decision. Read more about the case here.

Change the World

Miami Tourism Board Releases Vacation Guide for LGBTQ Families

Miami isn't just about circuit parties! The LGBTQ Family-Friendly Miami Vacation Guide showcases many options for queer parents, too.

As gay people, it can be difficult to find vacation spots that are LGBTQ-friendly out of the normal travel "fruit loop" — New York, Mykonos, San Francisco; repeat. For those of us with kids, the Venn diagram of destinations that are both queer and kid friendly can seem practically non-existent.

Fortunately, that's starting to change as the tourism industry realizes that LGBTQ families are a growing segment of vacationers. One city to quickly pick up on this trend is Miami. While the gays have long flocked to Miami for party weekends, the city has also recently noticed an uptick in the number of LGBTQ visitors who are parents. In response, Miami's tourism board release a guide, LGBTQ Family-Friendly Miami Vacation Guide, that includes loads of options for queer parents and their kids. Amid Miami's legendary circuit parties, it turns out, are tons of family friendly things to do — like the Museum of Science, an eco-adventure theme park, and other kid-focused events all year long.

Who knew?

"When I came onboard as Director of LGBTQ Marketing a little over a year ago, I found that our LGBTQ messaging was centered around our annual events," said Dan Rios, who works with the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau. Massive parties like the White Party and Aqua Girl are a central part of the city's LGBTQ offerings, he said, but he was also worried the city was "developing a reputation solely as a party destination. "I want to diversify that message to highlight everything else that Greater Miami has to offer."

Hence the city's family-friendly guide that includes offerings within "art and culture, dining, beaches, fitness," Dan said. "We have unique and amazing family attractions that we had been promoting to our general audiences for decades. I saw this as an opportunity; an opportunity to introduce our attractions to LGBTQ families, and an opportunity to further promote our attractions -- it was a win-win."

Dan said the Bureau is also in the midst of a campaign that will prominently feature LGBTQ parents within different travel destinations throughout the city, which will be featured throughout both LGBTQ and mainstream websites, publications and advertising.

We applaud the effort to reach out to LGBTQ families, and hope more cities follow Miami's lead! Be sure to check out the guide here.

Gay Dad Life

Gong Hei Fat Choy! Happy Chinese New Year!

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Today we're celebrating, alongside our families, the Chinese New Year! As we usher in the year of rat, we asked some of our dads how they honor this special time, what they do to celebrate, and how they're instilling these traditions in their kids. Here are some of their responses.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

As a Gay Dad, What's the Impact of Letting My Son Perform Drag?

Michael Duncan was excited when his 10-year-old son asked if he could perform in drag for charity — but he also felt fear and anxiety.

As LGBT parents, we have all lived through some sort of trauma in our lives. For many it is the rejection of our family, being bullied, or abuse. We learn to be vigilant of our surroundings and often are very cautious of who we trust. As adults, we start to become watchful of how much we share and we look for "red flags" around every corner.

So, what effect does this have on our children? Does it unintentionally cause us to be more jaded with our interactions involving others? For some the answer may be a resounding "no." But as we look deeper into the situation, we often find that through survival our interactions with others have changed and we may not even realize exactly how much we are projecting on those around us.

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Fear is an interesting thing. It motivates when it shouldn't, shows at inconvenient times, and is the author of stories that do nothing but hold us back. I would argue though, too, that fear has some good qualities. I believe it helps us to feel. And I think it can be a great teacher as we learn to recognize and face it.

For years fear prevented me from embracing my truth and accepting a large part of who I am. I know I am not alone in that regard. But for so long my fear convinced me that I was. Fear is what kept me from ever telling my parents or anyone growing up that I am gay. Fear mingled with strong religious teachings, embraced at a young age, which led me to believe that I could cure myself of my attractions to the same gender. And fear is a part of what kept me in my marriage to a woman for over ten years.

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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