Gay Dad Life

Together More Than 30 Years, and Barely a Day Apart

A job interview in 1986 placed them in the same room. Dan Clements, 30 years old at the time, was the manager of a supper club in the Hudson area near the St. Croix River that runs between Minnesota and Wisconsin. He was looking for someone to fill an open Chef's position. One of the applicants was 23-year-old Joseph Melton, an out-and-proud gay man, who had known he was gay since he was 10 and had come out to his family at 16. A happy Joseph got the job and Dan was responsible for training him.

At the time, Dan himself had only just come out. He was in the process of divorcing his wife, with whom he had a 4-year-old daughter named Jessie. While Dan’s family accepted his sexuality, his in-laws did not. The divorce became nasty, and Dan wasn’t treated nicely by the courts. During the initial divorce proceedings he was only allowed to see his daughter at his ex-wife’s house.

Joseph (left) and Dan's honeymoon at Myrtle Beach, 1986

From the very beginning, there was an attraction between the two men. They realized their shared interest in Star Wars and so, for their first date, Dan invited Joseph over to watch the fresh-out-on-video “Return of the Jedi,” while he was also watching his daughter. The unusual first date was quite successful: Joseph fell head-over-heels in love with Dan, and took to Jessie immediately. The guys moved into an apartment together within weeks. “The rest,” Joseph says, “is history.”

Dan with Jessie at the Minnesota State Fair, 1987

Once the divorce was finalized, primary placement of Jessie was with Dan's ex-wife. However, the guys wanted to see as much of Jessie as they could. Over time they worked out a custody arrangement to have Jessie half of every week. His ex retained primary placement, the men paid child support and Jessie’s time was split between households. This arrangement continued until Jessie was in her teens, and then she chose to live full-time with her two dads.

Gangster family portrait, 1993

The guys lived in Hudson for several years. Then they bought their first home in River Falls, a college town nearby.  Eventually, the guys purchased 20 acres from Joseph's parents in Spooner, which is where Joseph was raised and most of his family still resides today.

The family of three in Trego, Wisconsin, 1994

They designed and, with the help of Joseph's dad, built their current home in the summer of 2000. The dads share that they love country living: they have a serene wooded lot with an awesome vegetable garden and a beautiful meadow behind the house. Spooner is a small town where Joseph knows most of the locals very well. Now retired from the food service industry, they run a small upholstery shop out of their home.

Dan and Joseph's home in Spooner

Twelve years ago, their daughter gave birth to their grandson Aidan. Jessie was a single mother, so she and Aidan moved in with their fathers / grandfathers for four years. “Aidan was like a son to me, having never had biological children,” says Joseph. Aidan is still very close to the guys, calling them Grandpa Joe and Grandpa Dan. Joseph calls him “Lil’ Man” and Dan refers to Aidan as “my best pal.” Even Aidan's close friends refer to the guys as Grandpa! Jessie and Aidan currently live in Baldwin, about 90 minutes from Spooner, but they still manage to see each other very often.

Joseph and Dan meet their new grandson, Aidan

Dan and Joseph married almost three years ago, on their 28th Anniversary. At the time, same-sex marriage had become legal in nearby Minnesota, though it still was not legal in their home state of Wisconsin. As the men explain, they've been together for so long they've always considered themselves married. Several years prior they had filed for a domestic partnership because that was all Wisconsin had to offer for same-sex couples. “We simply had a discussion over breakfast one morning and decided to take the plunge,” says Joseph.

They are quite an unusual couple. They basically spend all of their time–work, play, vacations, holidays–together. They are rarely apart and they argue even more rarely!


Aidan with his two granddads

Last school year they hosted a foreign exchange student from Madrid, Spain. Reviewing a list of student profiles, they chose a boy named Rafa and started communicating via text soon after. A couple of weeks later they received an information packet about Rafa from World Heritage, the organization behind the exchange program.  This information was provided by Rafa about himself in a series of questions he answered.  The final question asked if Rafa had any other information he thought was pertinent. His answer was "Not that it should matter, but I'm gay."  So, simply by chance, the gay couple had chosen a gay student.

Rafa (far left) with his American family

The men report that Rafa fit in as part of the family immediately. He was 15 years old when he arrived and turned 16 that October. He's a very outgoing, social kid, and was welcomed at the school with open arms. He made friends with just about everyone, and even had members of the football team dancing with him at the Homecoming Ball. A basketball player from another school took him to the prom. He helped several local boys come out and dated one of those boys for a few months before returning to Spain.

Joseph and Dan shared that "we became very attached to Rafa, and love him as if he were our own son. We miss him greatly, and have stayed in touch weekly since his return. We plan to visit him in Spain, and he plans to visit here next summer before he starts college.”

From left to right: Aidan, Joseph, Rafa, Dan and Jessie

Rafa, an extremely smart kid and math wiz, has been contacted by several Ivy League universities in the United States, and he hopes to attend Harvard. Joseph and Dan understood the significant impact they had on Rafa serving as gay role models. “ I think for Rafa it was good to see that gay men can have longevity as a couple, raise kids, and have families."



With a 30-year track record of sharing their lives, the two men have gained some insight into what makes a relationship work. “Always remember what drew you together in the beginning. Trust and love each other, and maintain physical and spiritual intimacy. Work together as a couple for a common goal, and appreciate what you have in each other.”

They know they've been especially fortunate to have family and friends accept them as gay men and as a couple throughout their years together. "Our daughter and grandson have always known us as gay, so it’s never been an issue. Our parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, daughter and grandson all love and respect our marriage. This is how they have always known us, so to them it's not any different than anyone else's relationship. Better even than some they have experienced.”

For those whose families are not so accepting, they advise, "try and surround yourself with people who do love and support you. Hopefully over time, your family will come around."

If there was one thing they could say to their younger gay selves, it would be this: "Never be afraid or ashamed of who or what you are. Love and respect yourself.”

If you and your partner/spouse are dads and have been together ten years or longer, we invite you to share your #GWKThenAndNow story on Gays With Kids. Email

Show Comments ()
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.

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Life

'NolaPapa' Launches YouTube Channel: Story of a Gay Dad

Check out Erik Alexander's new YouTune Channel: Story of a Gay Dad

When we first found out that our second daughter was African American I froze. Not because of her race, but because I knew NOTHING about African American hair. So I frantically tried to learn as much as I could while she was a newborn so I was ready to style it when she was a little older.

I decided to launch our YouTube channel Nolapapa: Story of a Gay Dad to focus on this very topic! Episodes 1-5 will solely be dedicated to learning how to wash, care for and styling African American hair. Afterwards, the content will shift towards personal & family situations, adoption, gay parenting questions and other great content! I'd love your support and become part of our little village as we launch this new project!

Sending Nola love to each of ya!

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Life

Encouraged by His Son, Single Dad Richard Started Dating Again — and Just Got Married!

After his 14 year relationship ended, Richard got a gentle push into the dating pool from an unexpected source — his son!

In 2014, Richard Rothman's relationship of 15 years ended, leaving him understandably reluctant to jump back into the world of dating as a single gay dad. But after spending one too many Friday nights at home, he got a gentle nudge from somebody unexpected —his teenaged son, Jonathan.

"Dad," Jonathan said. "Would you just get out of the house and go on a date already?" (You may remember wise-beyond-his-years Jonathan from this post that went viral of a tattoo he got commemorating his adoption day.)

On his son's encouragement, Richard started dipping a tentative toe back into the dating pool. In 2015, he met Kevin thanks to mutual friends that introduced them via social media. It took four months before Richard introduced Kevin to his son, who was a Sophomore in high school at the time.

On New Year's Eve in 2017, Kevin proposed while the couple was vacationing in Palm Springs. The city has an outdoor festival every year, he explained, which the couple attended. The band Plain White T's happened to be performing their hit "Hey There Delilah" as Kevin got down on one knee and proposed. "Now whenever I hear that song it brings back memories of that night," Richard said.

Richard and Kevin married on March 30, 2019 back at the scene of the crime — in Palm Springs, at the Frederick Loewe Estate. Jonathan was Richard's best man, and also walked him down the aisle (awwww.....). Kevin's brother Bobby served as his best man.

"As so many wonderful moments continue to happen for us in Palm Springs, we now own a home there in addition to our primary residence in Bentonville, Arkansas," said Richard.

Check out video from the couple's special day below!

And Jonathan is now an E4 Master-at-Arms in the US Navy.

Coming Out

My Gay Shame Is Officially Cancelled

After years of feeling ashamed of being gay, David Blacker has finally overcome it. And his son had a lot to do with it.

Scrolling through my social media feeds, reading all the posts about National Coming Out Day reminds me just how valuable it is for us to share our stories and be as open, vulnerable and authentic as possible. Warning: this article is about to get real AF, so now might be a good time to switch back to the Face-Aging app that gives Russia all your personal data.

Oh good, you stayed. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Keep reading... Show less

Today is National Coming Out Day, and as we celebrate, we're sharing six coming out stories from dads in our community. Their personal stories are heartwarming, relatable, and empowering. Happy Coming Out Day, and remember, live your truth!

Keep reading... Show less
Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Growing a Thicker Skin

Experiencing hateful and hurtful comments, Erik Alexander had to learn an important lesson: how to ignore the trolls.

Photo credit: BSA Photography

Twenty years ago when I came out, it was unbearably hard. As I have written before, I am from the Deep South. Anyone who dared to deviate from social norms was sure to be ostracized. It's not that these people were born hateful or mean; rather, it probably had more to do with them not being subjected to other lifestyles. Anything different from their own experiences sparked fear and confusion. Homosexuality, interracial relationships, religious differences – these were all unfamiliar territories to the average person I grew up around. Thus, growing up was particularly difficult.

I remember lying in bed at night when I was a little boy. I would pray and beg God to not let me be gay. Every single night I would end my prayers with "... and God, please don't let me have nightmares and please don't let me be gay." I remember crying myself to sleep many nights. I was embarrassed and ashamed. And I wanted God to cure me.

Keep reading... Show less
Change the World

10 Inspiring Coming Out Stories From Gay Dads

Happy National Coming Out Day! To celebrate, we've rounded up some of our recent stories about gay men with kids coming out to live their most authentic lives.

Happy National Coming Out Day! To celebrate, we've rounded up some of our best articles of gay dads coming out to live their authentic lives.

#1. Former NFL Player Jeff Rohrer, and Father of Two, Comes Out as Gay and Marries Longterm Partner

Jeff Rohrer, a father of two teenage boys via a previous relationship with a woman, is the first NFL player to marry another man. Read the article here.

#2. Coming Out to His Wife Was Painful, Says This Salt Lake-Based Dad of Four. But it Started Him on a Path of Authenticity

After Kyle came out to his wife, with whom he has four children, "she listened, she mourned and she loved," he said. Read the article here.

#3. Gay Dads Share Their Coming Out Stories for National Coming Out Day

We asked several gay dads to share their coming out stories in honor of National Coming Out Day, whose stories are heartwarming, instructive, and everything in between. Read the article here.

#4. Gay Muslim Single Dad Writes Op Ed on His Path to Self Acceptance

Maivon Wahid writes about the challenges of reconciling three separate, but equally important, identities in an opinion piece for Gay Star News. Read the article here.

#5. One Gay Dad's Path Towards Realizing Being Gay and Christian are Not Mutually Exclusive

Gay dads Matt and David Clark-Sally talk about coming out, parenting as gay men, and reconciling faith and sexuality. Read the article here.

#6. Republican Utah Lawmaker, and Dad of Two, Comes Out as Gay in Moving Video

Nathan Ivie has many important identities he's proud of: Mormon, Republican, Utahn, father of two... and gay. Read the article here.

#7. How Coming Out Helped This Gay Man Find the Strength to Be a Dad

Steven Kerr shares the moment he came out to his ex-girlfriend. "From that moment on," he writes, "my strength and purpose have grown." Read the article here.

#8. Ed Smart, Father of Kidnapping Victim Elizabeth Smart, Comes Out as Gay

In coming his coming out letter, Ed Smart, a Mormon, condemned the church for their "ridicule, shunning, rejection and outright humiliation" of LGBTQ individuals. Read the article here.

#9. The Best Part of Coming Out, Says This Gay Dad, Is Being an Out and Proud Role Model for His Daughter

"I couldn't face myself in the mirror and think that I could be a good dad and role model for my child when I was lying to myself every moment of every day," said Nate Wormington of his decision to come out. Read the article here.

#10. These Gay Dads Via Previous Marriages Have Adopted a Motto Since Coming Out and Finding Each Other: "United We Stand"

Vincent and Richard both had children in previous marriages with women; together, with their ex-wives, they are helping raise seven beautiful kids. Read the article here.

Fatherhood, the gay way

Get the latest from Gays With Kids delivered to your inbox!

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse