Gay Dad Life

What Nobody Told Me: The Most Important Thing About Fatherhood

Before my son arrived every parent I knew — and many I didn’t know — felt it was their civil duty to offer me unsolicited advice on parenting.


To say I felt well informed was putting it mildly. I knew exactly what I was in for. I expected to be up late ... a lot. I expected to be tired all the time. I expected my dog-loving friends to naively compare having a newborn to having a puppy. (Yeah, it’s exactly the same thing.) I expected that my new white sofa would soon be replaced by a more durable dark leather model. I expected to grow apart from some of my non-parent friends. I expected to eat most of my meals standing up. I expected my libido to dip and my belly to grow.

But there was one thing I didn’t expect — I didn’t expect to lose a large part of myself to fatherhood. And I’m not talking about the extra dad-bod weight.

No one told me I’d no longer have the time or energy to do the things that made me me. No one told me I’d lose the passion for my creativity, the desire to write my stories and the drive for my success.

See, before our son Max arrived, driven was the word most people used to describe me. I was driven at work, a total ladder-climber. That competitive adman whose career was defined by awards and job titles. I was always focusing on what’s next. How can I get to the next level? How can I be better? How can I top myself? And even when I wasn’t working, I’d still be writing. All the time. Anything and everything. Screenplays, pilots, articles, short stories, status updates … you name it. Everything I wrote was an opportunity to reach people.

I was the same way in my personal life. My social life and home was my justification for all the years of hard work: a visualization of how I wanted my life to reflect to others. My husband and I bought our dream house in the hills, a space made for entertaining. And we did lots of it. Dinner parties. Pool parties. Oscar parties (well, obvi). We loved being social. We loved laughing with old friends and connecting with new ones.

Then Max came into our life, and almost instantly, those aspects of my life disappeared. The guy who could finish a feature script in a matter of weeks. The guy who read books and studied and invested time in others. The guy people came to see if they wanted to laugh, talk and figure sh*t out. That guy was gone. Completely AWOL.

As I dove head-first into the day-to-day of raising a child, many of the interests and activities that used to be so central to my life got pushed to the sidelines. I didn’t see it coming, but man, did I feel it.

Once I became a father, it felt like the price of all that drive and ambition was too high, because it required too much time away from my son. It’s not that I stopped aspiring to be creative and social, it simply came down to a matter of time. But what starts as a loss of time can gradually lead to a loss of identity. I used to be so many things. But now I’ve only got time to be one thing. Dad.

David Blacker with his son Max

Could I be a dad and still be me?

Four and a half years later, I’m able to look back and I realize I didn’t lose myself to fatherhood, I found myself in fatherhood.

Max has singlehandedly redefined my priorities, my relationships and my sense of self. Sure, I lost many freedoms but in doing so, I’ve gained the most important ones: the freedom to cut myself some slack. Freedom to think less about myself. Freedom to give all of myself to Max. And that’s okay. Because I love him more than I love myself, so it’s only natural to put him first. He is more important than I am, and fueling his growth and development is what drives me now.

I am still passionate about the same things. They are just more focused now. My passion is to foster his creativity, my desire to write our stories, and my drive is to help encourage his success.

Over time, I was able to accept what I had lost and embrace what I had gained. Fatherhood has taught me a deeper capacity for love and self-sacrifice, more sympathy for others, and has given me a fearlessness, confidence and inner peace I’d never known before. And regarding work, I’ve never been more productive and focused because fatherhood has also taught me the importance and necessity of time management.

I have come to believe that sometimes the point of parenthood is to lose yourself. Your self is so much larger, more resilient and powerful than you think. And certain identities have to be shed along the way in order to make room for a bigger life. A better life. And that’s what fatherhood has brought me.

No one told me about it. I didn’t expect it. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

David Blacker with his son Max

 

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Gay Dad Life

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The Supreme Court agreed to decide whether cities are allowed to exclude tax-funded adoption agencies from foster care systems if they refuse to work with gay couples.

In 2018, city officials in Philadelphia decided to exclude Catholic Social Services, which refuses to work with LGBTQ couples, from participating in its foster-care system. The agency sued, claiming religious discrimination, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit unanimously ruled against the agency, citing the need to comply with nondiscrimination policies.

The case, Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, follows a 2018 Supreme Court decision regarding a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. In that case, the court narrowly ruled that the baker bad been discriminated against, on religious grounds, by the state's civil rights commission. It did not decide the broader issue: whether an entity can be exempt from local non-discrimination ordinances on the basis of religious freedom.

The court — whose ideological center has shifted to the right since the addition of Justice Brett Kavanaugh in fall 2018 — may choose to do so now. Advocates quickly called on the court to consider the potential impact on the more than 400,000 children currently in the foster care system:

"We already have a severe shortage of foster families willing and able to open their hearts and homes to these children," said Leslie Cooper, deputy director of the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project. "Allowing foster care agencies to exclude qualified families based on religious requirements that have nothing to do with the ability to care for a child such as their sexual orientation or faith would make it even worse. We can't afford to have loving families turned away or deterred by the risk of discrimination."

"It is unconscionable to turn away prospective foster and adoptive families because they are LGBTQ, religious minorities, or for any other reason unrelated to their capacity to love and care for children," said HRC President Alphonso David. "We reject the suggestion that taxpayer-funded child welfare services should be allowed to put discrimination over a child's best interest. This case could also have implications for religious refusals that go far beyond child welfare. The Supreme Court must make it clear that freedom of religion does not include using taxpayer funds to further marginalize vulnerable communities."

The court may choose to override a 1990 decision, Employment Division v. Smith, which created the current standard for carving out religious exemptions. In that case, the court ruled that laws that target a specific faith, or express hostility towards certain beliefs, are unconstitutional — but this standard has long been abhorred by religious conservatives, who think it doesn't offer enough protections for religions. If the court does overrule Smith, it could have far-ranging consequences. " As noted on Slate, "it would allow anyone to demand a carve-out from laws that go against their religion, unless those laws are 'narrowly tailored' to serve a 'compelling government interest.'"

The four members of the court's conservative wing — Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh —have all signaled an openness to reconsider Smith. The ruling's fate, then, likely rests in the hands of the court's new swing vote, Chief Justice Roberts.

For more, read the full article on Slate.

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The bill, sponsored by Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, a Democrat, was created in response to a ruling by the Utah Supreme Court this past August that found the ban on gay men unconstitutional.

Gay men have been excluded from legally entering surrogacy contracts due to a provision in the current law that requires medical evidence "that the intended mother is unable to bear a child or is unable to do so without unreasonable risk to her physical or mental health or to the unborn child," Rep. Arent told the Salt Lake Tribune — a requirement that clearly excludes gay male couples.

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If enacted, the bill would have enforced "state law that marriage is between one man and one woman" and restrict "adoption of children by spouses in a marriage ... that consist of one man and one woman."

The bill, which had little chance of success, particularly in Colorado which has trended more progressive over the past several election cycles, was mostly symbolic, according to Sanridrge. "We all know this bill isn't gonna pass in this current left-wing environment," he told Colorado Public Radio. "It's to remind everyone, this is the ultimate way to conceive a child."

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Though the bill had little chance of passage, LGBTQ advocacy groups in the state are taking the threats seriously nonetheless. Daniel Ramos, director of the LGBTQ group One Colorado, told LGBTQ Nation that the bills were an attempt to return Colorado to its "hate status" of the 1990s, adding the aggressiveness of the measures were "a bit surprising."

Fatherhood, the gay way

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