Being a Gay Father

February 11, 2015 in inQueery

father & sonAs I watch my son unwrap his christmas gift by peeling away the last of the Justin Bieber wrapping paper I grinned at him and said “one of the little joys of having a gay dad?” He laughed as he revealed a black paisley Bugatchi shirt. He said “and here is another…fabulous designer clothes.”

My son is 14 years old and has been raised his whole life with two moms and two dads (well three if you count my ex). It amazes me that he is being raised in a time when he can choose not to be ashamed and to actually take pride in his family. I know how unique this is because at his age I was struggling with how to manage life as a 14 year old with a Lesbian mother. In the early 80’s it was a conversation stopper to mention your parents were gay. Responses were usually either bewildered or hostile and the comments were rarely positive.

Today as people encounter our family it is the reverse. Most people don’t seem to take note of it, and if they do it is usually with an odd kind of joyful excitement…perhaps at what some perceive to be the uniqueness of it.

At my son’s age I had to weigh carefully with whom to be friends and often times I defaulted to having none. Part of that was dealing with my own emerging identity. The other part was just wanting to avoid the issues around not being “normal.”

When he was just a baby and his papa and I would carry him about the suburbs where we live I saw hostility in every eye and fear around every corner. I was seeing everything from the eyes of a child of the 70’s and 80’s. When he was five years old an old man and his wife walked up to us at a park where we spent a lot of time and he stopped me and said; “excuse me, I have been watching you guys with your son for a while now … and I just wanted to let you know you are doing a wonderful job raising him, you are good dads.” With that one encounter with a man I never saw again everything changed and shifted and I could see that the reality is most people don’t really care about the details of our private life. Most people can see how vibrant his life is and how much he is loved and that is what matters. I am thankful this is his world.

I remember one holiday as a teenager when my mom was fired right before christmas for being gay. Her boss told her on the phone with all of us in the room that this was the reason. Because in the late 70’s it was perfectly acceptable to fire a valued employee because she was gay. I remember being told by teachers that my mother was shameful and how unfair it was to me that she “choose to be gay.” The condemnation was high and the laughter was rare in those times.

Today, we get to laugh at how my love of musicals is as annoying to my son as his love of rap is to me. Every once in a while I catch him humming a tune from Oliver and yes occasionally he might find me reciting lyrics from Eminem.

He is blessed with parents who share with him a love of writing, movies, literature and art (his dads) and with basketball, tools, carpentry, hiking and camping (his moms). I am not naive enough to think it is always easy. But I feel that little bit of concern and worry over what it must be like for him melt away a little bit more every time he introduces us to his friends as his dad and papa, and his mothers as “the moms” … the other boys are all jocks and they don’t even skip a beat as they rush off to play basketball and plan their social lives around sports, girls, school and video games.

I can’t help but think about how far we’ve come as he opens my last and favorite gift: a Justin Bieber singing tooth brush.

Carter Serret is a Guest Contributor at InQueery.