Sunday, June 18, 2017

What Father's Day Means for a Gay Dad

Parenting was never a goal or dream I set out for.   I don't think it was because I was gay or anything, I just didn't really feel any desire to procreate or extend the species. Being the middle son of three battling boys, I didn't feel the need to replicate the general emotional and property damage propagated by kids.  However, fate had a different idea and 21 years ago gave me a wonderful single dad who in turn gave me the opportunity of fatherhood.

So today I'd like to thank that man who gave me the opportunity to raise his son as my own. I still remember the romantic date where he dropped the bomb about being a father....a single one at that....and that choice I had to make about dating a someone who was already a parent, and by extension possibly making me one too.  I was young at the time, already working in a field with kids, so I blithely accepted the opportunity to be one of the men who would raise his six year old son.

So being with a father and by extension being trained to be one was interesting and exciting and somehow natural. Earning "parent" status from father and son was one of those roles that you both take and earn.  Just like the evolution from boyfriend to life partner and finally husband, little by little you wake up and realize you're "Dad" and no matter what happens, you know it's your title forever. 

As I learned to be a father, I learned to fight for my role, because or myself or others who are so quick to deny status to a "step parent" or "co-parent". My own reticence to explain who I was in scheme of things. Like being at the pediatrician and saying I was an "uncle" because I didn't want to explain the awkward "no I'm a gay dad" and having been chastised by my eight year old son to say "Why didn't you tell him you were my Dad!!!!"  After that, I said unequivocally to anyone who asked who I was, I'd say: "I'm his father" and I was secure and certain in that role. It was that certainty that made me understand that at last I was an adult and for a long time this boy became the center of my life, to the exclusion of many of my own wants or desires. 

From the gay man's perspective, raising a son made me chafe at the female chauvinism that "only a mother can raise a child", which is just as damaging to the kid who doesn't get to chose his parents, to the parent who is doing the best they can with cards they are dealt.  Secondly, it made me angry at "allies" who still to this day refer to gay men as "boys" because  of  their childless lifestyles. Kids are not in the cards for everyone and it is not a comment on their maturity because children are amazingly expensive for childless couples regardless of sexual identity. 

So to my son, thank you for letting me your dad, you have made me proud beyond measure and my life without you would have been poorer for not having you in it.  To my husband, you taught me to be the father and man I am today. I am so lucky to have these two wonderful men in my life who make me so proud of them and how they helped me be a better person and even a better Gay.  Happy Fathers Day!