Personal Essays by Gay Dads

What One Gay Dad Learned After Marching in a Pride Parade With His Kids for the First Time

John Hart's son was excited to march in a parade in front of thousands. But what does it mean when he doesn't want his classmates to know?

At the beginning of June, my seven-year-old daughter said her class started learning about the Pride flag. They were going through the colors one by one to learn what each represented. She also brought home a permission form, saying that she wanted to be in the club that was building a float for the Pride parade.

Twice a week she stayed late after school to help work on the float. "I used a sander today!" she said on our way home after her second session. Already she has used a power tool more often than me! Later in the process, "we painted today!" A fact I could tell by the bright flecks on her shirt.


"Daddy, because I'm helping to build the float, can I ride on it too?" she asked. Of course, but because she was young, she'd need a parent to ride with her. I've never been in a Pride parade before, never invited nor have I asked, my shyness too strong. To join my daughter in the parade seemed like the best reason.

My ten-year-old son then asked if he could come too. I was surprised because he has been self-conscious about having two dads recently, mostly due to teasing at school. I thought it was a big step forward for him to march in the parade, and I hoped it would help build his confidence.

Both kids have attended the parade before because I have wanted them to participate in Pride festivities and to feel a part of the community. I think they like to go because of the free crap that gets thrown into the crowds. Each year they come home bedecked in t-shirts, sunglasses, beads, bracelets and fans, and pockets full of flyers, whistles, gum and condoms, all pretty much useless to them the day after. One year I appreciated the teachers' union because they gave out pencils.

Pride Day came wet and soggy – the forecast looked like rain on our parade. Although the morning was a downpour, the weather let up as we arrived at the staging site. Down a tree-lined street was a row of flat-bed trucks. People were glancing at the gray clouds above while pulling tarps off and hurriedly affixing final decorations to their floats. We found the school float and I helped screw on the colorful wooden words my daughter helped create. Soon after, it was time to hop on board. Choir Choir Choir was warming up on the truck in front of us and the Trojan condom hotties had marched up the street to the cheers of adults and hopped aboard their float. On our float, we had boxes of t-shirts and bags of rainbow bracelets at the ready to throw into the crowd (relieved that my children were distributing this year instead of collecting). Luckily we had cases of water too – my daughter needed to stand on one to see over the rails of the float.

The DJ turned on the speakers and started the dance music, our driver started the engine and soon we were off. The staging site for marchers was on a different street, so as we approached, the floats merged with marchers before hitting the parade route itself. We turned the final corner to the route and were met with a sea of people and an incredible cheer. My daughter looked at me in fear. "There's a hundred people in the crowd!" I told her that, in fact, there would be closer to a million.

There was so much joy, love and energy coming from that crowd. We danced, we sang, we waved and we threw our t-shirts and bracelets. When we saw friends along the route, we waved harder and danced more abandonedly. My son decided not to ride on the float, but to walk behind. Partway into the parade, however, I looked back and saw that he was riding in the support car following us, not hiding but standing up through the sunroof. He was throwing his arms into the air, dancing and dabbing, and soaking up the crowd's attention. He couldn't have looked happier. I caught his eye and, ever so cool, he gave me a chin nod, then pointed at someone in the crowd and tossed them a bracelet.

Near the end of the parade, which went by way too quickly, I saw four protesters each holding a tall sign. I caught words like "sin", "crime" and "repent". Bless the people who came prepared and stood in front of them with rainbow umbrellas held high and proud, dancing and waving back at us. Still, the protesters were a good reminder of the hate, intolerance and ignorance out in the world, a reminder of why we still need a parade. There is still more work to do.

I still had so much energy and adrenalin after we hopped off the float. My kids seemed subdued, however. I asked how it was for them, and they answered in monosyllables "fun" (my son) and "fine" (my daughter), though they both want to sign up again for next year.

Taking my son to school the next day, I was met with more monosyllables. Did he have a good time? Yes. Does he feel more proud? Kinda. Will he tell his class about it? No. Why not? Because. How come? "It's ok, dad. Don't worry about it." But it wasn't ok to me. I didn't push it then but brought it back up later that night. He told me that having two dads sometimes makes him uncomfortable, that it makes him different and that people tease him. I told him that that's not right and not fair.

And I feel like my hope failed – that being in the parade didn't give him more joy, more confidence, more connection to a broader community. I also feel like a failure because I haven't worked hard enough to show him that different is ok and that we celebrate what makes us unique. Instead he still fears getting teased. He doesn't mind being seen by a million people in a parade, but he didn't want his classmates to know. There is still more work to do.

I need Pride every year to remind me that I am not alone, that there are others like me and who like me and who will fight alongside me. Despite the protesters, the teasers, and the people who want to bring us down, we need strength to work together for our rights, our dignity, our safety and a chance to be different. There is still more work to do.

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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.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

A "Village of Women" Helped These Gay Men Become Dads

Elliot Dougherty's mother-in-law served as a gestational carrier, and his sister donated eggs, so that he and his husband could become dads

All good love stories start hot. Ours just so happened to, literally. The summer I turned 23, during the sweltering heat, I stood at an invisible crossroads. I felt a momentum pulling at me, but I couldn't tell from which direction. I had been putting myself out there as a hairstylist and building my portfolio by working with local photographers and designers. At the beginning of July, I received a Facebook message from a young man named Matthew Eledge. He sent me the script to a short film he was directing, hoping I might be interested. We met a few days later on a humid summer day at a quaint French cafe in the Old Market of downtown Omaha. Drinking wine, we discussed our inspirations for hours.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

A Gay Dad's Letter to His Sons Before Their First Day of Summer Camp

A gay dad pens a heartfelt letter to his sons before their first day of sleep-away camp

My dearest Phoenix and Sebastian,

Whether I let you leave this year or next or hold you in our nest for the next ten years, at some point I actually have to face my own fears. The past seven years have been both the most rewarding and yet also the toughest I have lived. And as any good parent tells you, it gets tougher and tougher. But through this year, I have witnessed your growths, and more so your wants and needs. With that said, it's time for you to take independence head on. Yes, you will fall and yes, you will make mistakes, but that's normal for any human. It's what you do when this occurs that makes you a gentleman. Learn from your mistakes, don't repeat them. Own them and build on them to make you a better member of society.

Why I am writing this? Well, you guys are off to sleep away camp in four weeks and every day it gets closer and closer to me losing control. So much so that I won't have any control left. And that, kids, scares me. Yes, this is the camp I went to in my teens and yes, the staff and owners are friends from the past. But seven weeks is a long time and I am losing not only my two sons for this period, but also my friends. I am now forced to actually talk to Papa (partially kidding) or probably more likely live in a quieter-than-usual house. It's funny how you yearn for peace and quiet until you have it and then you realize how deafening it is.


Now, camp was such an instrumental part of my life, shaping everything I have accomplished to date and it's such a gift to be able to provide you both the same experience. We should all feel humbled and grateful. The emotions, the friendships, and the love of the fresh air will be unsurmountable. The key is to keep your head up and your eyes wide open. Listen to what people are asking of you. If you're unsure, use your voice. Be kind every step of the way. Take risks with caution. You both are so great with making friends, both young and old. But being in a community with many walks of life, 24 hours a day, is not easy—it can be quite challenging. So, what do you do? Turn this into a positive, allowing yourself to simply work on you being you. This "you" needs to be a productive citizen within this microcosm. Look for guidance. Find counselors and kids that not only challenge you, but also help you along the way. We all need assistance, every day of our lives, and it's imperative for you to be able to vocalize this in a manner that will provide the fruit you desire.

On the other hand, there are so many things that I can't teach you. These things you must learn on your own and I do believe this environment in which you will live in is the right place for you to experience all these things. Phoenix—make right choices. You are the sweetest and kindest person I know. Open your heart to everyone. You are so good at that. But also follow instructions. Not too aggressive, my young knight. Don't deviate too much from the path, my friend. And look out for your brother. Help him when he needs it. Sebastian—we worry about you. Make the right choices. And get dressed faster! You're too slow. Also, be flexible. Life is not a race and one has to be able to separate competition and sportsmanship. If you don't get your way, you will be fine. Sometimes that's how the cookie crumbles.

But just as you are working on what I mentioned above, I will be working on not only my own inner being, but also repairing and reinvigorating daddy and papa's relationship. Although you both have and will continue to be of utmost importance in our lives, our connection has taken a back seat to your progress. And selfishly, it is time for Andy and I to just be, as we started 13 years ago. Life is funny and it's only as you age that you develop some element of some wisdom to actually see some of it. But it's the foundations of situations, like sleep-away camp, that truly build the LEGO pieces to your future.

Now, over the last 30 days, I have asked you both random questions to truly understand if you are prepared to go to sleep-away camp this summer. And to my surprise, your answers do indeed show your readiness. Some examples that have made me smile are below. The last being my favorite.

  1. What happens when you wipe your tushy and there's poop on the toilet paper? Seb - put the dirty toilet paper in the toilet bowl.
  2. If you feel a bug on your face attempting to bite you, what would you do? Phx - quickly grab it, catch it in my hand, and gently place it back on the ground, alive.
  3. What happens if you don't know how to do something? Seb - ask a counselor. Seb then asks - what happens if the counselor doesn't know the answer? Can they ask Siri?

So, no, Siri won't be at camp, but the resources for you are abundant and I can't wait to see, to hear, and to watch your progresses, and more so see your independence that will shape the rest of your life. So, with that, yes, I will be crying when the bus departs, but just know it's out of happiness. I know it's the best for all of us and I wish you well, my boys. Enjoy the world. Life is too short not to. And please make sure you wipe your ass clean. Daddy's a well-known proctologist. 😂

Love,

Daddy

Change the World

Hungarian Company Raising Money for LGBTQ+ Organization with a LEGO® Heart

Startup WE LOVE WHAT YOU BUILD is helping combat misinformation and prejudice in Central and Eastern Europe

Guest Post from WE LOVE WHAT YOU BUILD

WE LOVE WHAT YOU BUILD is an innovative startup venture that sells LEGO® parts and unique creations. The core values of our company include social equality regardless of gender identity or origin. As LEGO® is a variety of colors and shapes, so are the people.

We all know that LEGO® is a brand that nearly everyone knows and likes between the age of 3 and 99 so this gives a great opportunity to connect unique LEGO® creations and Pride. We started a fundraising campaign for a Hungarian LGBTQ+ organization who's aim is to bring people closer to the LGBTQ+ community, they help to combat misinformation and prejudice regarding LGBTQ+ issues in Central- Eastern Europe since 2000.

You might know that gender equality and the circumstances of LGBTQ+ people is not the easiest in the former communist Eastern European countries like Hungary so this program is in a real need for help. For example a couple of month ago a member of the government said that homosexual people are not equal part of our society.

The essence of the campaign is when one buys a Pride Heart, a custom creation made of brand new and genuine LEGO® bricks the organization gets $10.00 donation so they can continue their important work. This Pride Heart is a nice necklace, a decoration in your home, and a cool gift to the one you love.

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Entertainment

Single Gay Dad Featured on Season Three of GLOW

Actor Kevin Cahoon joins the Gorgeous Ladies of Wresting in Vegas as a single gay dad — and drag queen — on Season Three of the hit Netflix show

For a couple of years now, Hollywood has been obsessed with gay dad characters (and who can blame them?) But the latest show to get hip to a story line featuring gay man raising kids is Netflix's GLOW, which explores a female wresting troop in the late 1980s.

But GLOW is helping represent a gay character that rarely gets time in the limelight:the single gay dad. In Season three of the hit comedy — which stars Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, and Marc Maron — actor Kevin Cahoon joins the case as Bobby Barnes, a single gay father who plays a female impersonator. (80s divas only, of course — Joan Collins and Babs among them)


"I've never done female impersonation," the openly gay actor told OutSmart Magazine, "so I tried to learn really quick. You will know them all; I was very familiar with all of them. There were plenty of talk shows and performances on YouTube to study. I learned that their breathing was very informative."

A single gay dad AND drag queen on television? It's about damn time if you ask us.

Read the full interview with Cahoon here.

Politics

Utah Court Rules Gay Couples Can't Be Excluded From Surrogacy Contracts

The Utah Supreme Court found in favor of a gay couple attempting to enter into a surrogacy contract.

DRAKE BUSATH/ UTCOURTS.GOV

Earlier this month, the Utah Supreme Court ruled that a same-sex couples can't be excluded from entering into enforceable surrogacy contracts, and sent a case concerning a gay male couple back to trial court to approve their petition for a surrogacy arrangement.

As reported in Gay City News, the case concerns Utah's 2005 law on surrogacy, which was enacted prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state. As a result, the content of the law is gendered, saying that surrogacy contracts should only be enforceable if the "intended mother" is unable to bear a child. When a gay couple approached District Judge Jeffrey C. Wilcox to enter into a surrogacy arrangement, he denied them, arguing that the state's law only concerned opposite sex couples.

"This opinion is an important contribution to the growing body of cases adopting a broad construction of the precedent created by Obergefell v. Hodges and the Supreme Court's subsequent decision in Pavan v. Smith," according to GCN. "It's also worth noting that same-sex couples in Utah now enjoy a right denied them here in New York, where compensated gestational surrogacy contracts remain illegal for all couples."

Read the full article here.

Politics

Gay Russian Dads Forced to Flee Moscow

Fearing the Russian government might take their adopted kids into custody because of their sexual orientation, Andrei Vaganov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev fled Moscow

A married couple in Russia, with two adopted children, were just forced the flee their home in Moscow for fear that the authorities would take their children away, according to German news site Deutsche Welle.

Trouble started last month after investigators in Russia opened a criminal inquiry into the proceedings that had allowed the gay couple, Andrei Vaganov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev, to legally adopt the two boys —adoption by LGBTQ people in Russia has typically not been recognized. The government became aware of the adoption proceedings after the gay couple brought their 12-year-old son to the hospital, who was complaining of a stomachache. The boy was fine, but after he mentioned offhand that he was adopted and lived with two fathers, the doctor called the police.

Andrei and Yevgeny granted an interview with Deutsche Welle after escaping Moscow, but on the advice of their lawyers have yet to disclose where they are currently located. Here is a quick recap of that conversation:

"In connection with the 'propaganda of non-traditional values,' the state representatives are accused of having neglected their duty of supervision," Andrei said, when asked to explain on what basis the Russian government might take his children into custody. "This means that lesbian couples could even have their biological children taken away because, through their lifestyle choices, they propagate "certain values."

Yevgeny also explained the events that led to the couple's harrowing escape "I was alone in Moscow at that time. A week after Andrei and the children had left the country, there was a knock on my door, but nobody called 'police, open up.' After half an hour the violent knocking stopped. My parents' home was searched. They were looking for the children and our Danish marriage certificate because we got married in Denmark in 2016. My friends then got me out of the country."

Read the full interview here.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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