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.

Show Comments ()
Personal Essays by Gay Dads

After He Put Down His Cigarettes and Picked Up a Bike, This Gay Dad Charted a New Course in Life

Erik Alexander celebrates on his 10 year anniversary of going smoke-free, and some of the twists and turns that got him to where he is now.

Photo Credit: BSA photography

You can always count on January to be full of New Year's resolution clichés that make you want to just slam your face in a door.

Well, I hate to add to the torture, but you know I have to chime right on in!

This January marked my 10th year of kicking the nasty habit of smoking cigarettes. It was the second hardest thing I have ever done. Last year I wrote about my personal coming of age story about the wild and crazy life I led when I worked in nightlife on Bourbon Street. It definitely wasn't for the faint of heart. (Check it out if you haven't already.) Ultimately, I would leave that life behind. Unfortunately, my love of cigarettes survived. To allow you to really understand where I am coming from, I will just pick up where the last piece left off.

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

This Gay Dad's Search for Reliable Surrogacy Info in Canada Led Him to Share His Own Story

Grant Minkhorst scoured the Internet for reliable info, relevant to Canada, but found "slim pickings."

When my husband and I decided that we wanted to start a family, we scoured the internet for information and resources about gay parenting. As many of you already know, it was "slim pickings," as Grandma would say. I stumbled from one website to the next with little to show for it. When I wanted to learn more about surrogacy specifically, I would repeatedly end up on surrogacy agency websites. While some included relevant information, I noticed large gaps and a countless inconsistencies. Not only that, but many of the agency websites were based in the United States where the surrogacy process differs from that in Canada. The search for a dependable resource for would-be Canadian gay fathers was frustrating and, seemingly, futile.

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

"Two Daddies" Are Fighting to Make the U.K.'s Surrogacy Laws Modern and Safe

Surrogacy in the U.K. is bound by a law created in 1985.... and it badly in need of a makeover, say "Two Daddies"

We've had a busy old few months. Talulah recently turned 2 in October, and Katie made the big 14. Life in the Johnson-Ellis household has been far from dull.

Rewind to August and we receive an email asking us to give evidence at one of their "surrogacy evidence sessions," in view of the Surrogacy Law Reform. For those that aren't fully up to speed the UK currently is bound by the 1985 Surrogacy Act, which is in desperate need of a make over to say the least. So there's currently a group of people that come from a varied background - they may be surrogates, Intended Parents (IP's), Lawyers, Clinicians and other surrogacy experts from all corners of the globe. All with one one goal; to hopefully help drive forward and allow the UK Government to review the current laws, challenge them with a view to make the UK a more current and modern environment to create families without risk or challenge.

Keep reading... Show less
Change the World

Breaking with Older Generations,  Most LGBTQ Millenials Say They Want Kids

According to new research by the Family Equality Council, the number of LGBTQ parents is expected to rise dramatically in the coming years

According to the LGBTQ Family Building Survey, recently released by the Family Equality Council, the majority of young LGBTQ say they are interested in becoming parent. This marks a dramatic shift when compared with the attitudes of older generations.

Among the survey's findings:

  • 63% of LGBTQ Millennials (aged 18-35) are considering expanding their families, either becoming parents for the first time, or by having more children
  • 48% of LGBTQ Millennials are actively planning to grow their families, compared to 55% of non-LGBTQ Millennials, a gap that has narrowed significantly in comparison to older generations
  • 63% of LGBTQ people planning families expect to use assisted reproductive technology, foster care, or adoption to become parents, a significant shift away from older generations of LGBTQ parents for whom the majority of children were conceived through intercourse.

Despite the expected increase in LGBTQ parents, most providers, they note, "do not typically receive training about the unique needs of the LGBTQ community; forms and computer systems are not developed with LGBTQ families in mind; insurance policies are rarely created to meet the needs of LGBTQ family building; and discrimination against LGBTQ prospective parents by agencies and providers remains widespread."

The Family Equality Council goes on to recommend that family building providers "from reproductive endocrinologists and obstetricians to neonatal social workers, family law practitioners, and child welfare workers" begin preparing now to welcome future LGBTQ parents.

Read the full report here.

Change the World

Gay Dads More 'Equitable' in Parenting Roles Than Straight Dads, Says New Study

Unmoored by gender roles, gay dads take equal parts in being "playmates, caregivers, protectors, role models, morality guides,

A new study conducted by Éric Feugé from the Université du Québec à Montréal observed 46 families, made up of 92 gay dads and their 46 children over a period of seven years.

The study, which Feugé says is the first of its kind, analyzed the roles gay dads take in raising their kids and found the way they parent is 'very equitable'.

'We learned that gay fathers' sharing of tasks is very equitable,' the researcher told the Montreal Gazette, who added there was a "high degree of engagement" by both gay dads in all types of parental roles. "What's really interesting is that they don't conform to roles of conventional fathers. They were able to redefine and propose new models of cultural notions of paternity and masculinity."

Unmoored by gender roles, gay dads take equal parts in being "playmates, caregivers, protectors, role models, morality guides,' the author said.

Read the full review of the research here.

Change the World

Don't F*ck With This F*g

After a homophobic encounter on the subway, BJ questions what the right response is, in an era of increasing vocal rightwing activists

On February 1, 2019, Frank and I went out on a date night, something we haven't done in a while. Our son was sleeping over at his grandparents for the night and we made plans with our friends to meet them for dinner downtown. We decided to save some money and take the subway into town instead of taking a taxi.

We boarded the subway and sat down opposite a couple, a man and woman. I noticed they looked at us as we boarded the train and began whispering to each other. Frank and I were talking to each other when I heard the man uttering under his breath, "F*$%ing faggots."

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Life

14 Gay Dad Families Show Their Love This Valentine's Day

These pics of gay dads smooching will warm the hearts of even the biggest V-Day skeptics

You might quietly (or loudly) oppose the commercialism and celebration of Valentine's Day, but let's just take a moment and rejoice in these beautiful signs of affection, shared between 14 awesome two-dad families. Cynicism gone? Good.

Happy Valentine's Day, dads! We hope you have a lovely day with your kids, your significant other, and / or friends. Because who doesn't love love!?!

Keep reading... Show less

Fatherhood, the gay way

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

FOLLOW OUR FAMILIES

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse