I was recently asked by a reader why I always refer to myself as a gay dad or to my husband and I as gay fathers rather than just fathers. Now I happen to know this gentleman runs a page for fathers and he is heterosexual and his page certainly revolves around religion.
He is the type that wraps his questions in a cloak of empathy. He uses phrases like, I was just wondering, or not to be offensive but, when all along I know he is waiting for the opportunity to battle. Even if just with words and semantics and opinions, it is still a battle he wants, one that I refuse to give him.
I have met too many men and women like him in my lifetime and quite frankly I no longer have the desire or the energy to rid the world of their thoughts. They are what they are. I have also come to realize that they are actually necessary in our world in order to see things more clearly. His views are like the night to my day, the rain to my sun,
the black to my white. All very relevant and crucial in this big world we live in and obviously a formidable way to create contrast and dialogue.
His question did however get me thinking. Why is it that I preface father with the term gay? Okay so the obvious: I am the founder of Dadsquared, a community and resource site for gay dads, or gay dads to be or just people that want to look in and root us on. I got it, that’s the easy answer.
But lets really take a look at that question. To begin with, I would challenge my friend to share with me just one time when during the course of his life as a father, he had to explain himself, or respond to the types of questions that fly towards families like mine daily. Ironically not unlike the very question of his that prompted this piece. Just once please tell me when someone found a way to question your existence as a dad? Just once tell me when you were turned away from an establishment or made to feel unwelcome as a parent, or as a family? Come on now, tell me, just once?
I know that he will not be able to and that is because he himself, his core beliefs, his soul, his heart, his identity have never been questions, threatened or turned away. He never worried as a young man whether identifying as gay, out loud, to any other being aside from the one he was seeing in the mirror, would cause him pain, cause him to be exiled from his home, him family, his everything. He has never faced that, but we have.
We have had to paint our faces everyday for months, for years or forever with the paint of warriors. We have had to take deep breaths and hold our heads high as we entered our schools, as we passed groups of not so understanding peers in the hall, as we tried to survive and stay alive and all the while still try to be strong and loving and authentic in a world that would have had us lie. He never had to do that, never, not once.
So we grew and we became resilient, if we made it, and we sought out others and we found our own tribes and communities and groups and lovers and anything that would add to the fabric of the astonishing people that we are. And then, one day, if we made it, we ended up looking at that face in the mirror and we began to wipe off the paint and we started to realize that the face looking back at us was perfect and Godlike and unique and gay..yes gay.
Years passed and life passed and we found ourselves in new places, new territories, if we made it. We found ourselves joining the ranks of fathers in a world that still doesn’t know if we belong, how we belong.We once again find ourselves taking deep breathes as we enter schools, only this time our children’s, to drop off a forgotten lunch, or to meet with a teacher.
We once again find ourselves passing groups of not so understanding peers in the halls, only this time they look like you Sir, they are grown and more powerful and sometimes more ignorant and more dangerous since their true intentions are often in disguise. Only now we too are grown. We finally fit into our skins.
We have passed your foolish tests and questions with flying colors. If we made it and we are here and we have children that call us dads then we have leaped over hurdles never imagined. We, like all other groups that have suffered at the hands of another, have risen above it. We have taken ownership of who and what we are. We have come to identify with what we are. We have come to be proud of what we are. So you ask, why do I call my self a Gay dad?
Well because I made it and that is what I am.
Does that answer your question?
Henry Amador is the author of the DADsquared blog, where he writes about his experiences as a Gay Dad. Along with his husband, Joel, he also runs the DADsquared Facebook page, where they are devoted to building a community of loving fathers: gay, straight, black, white, and everything in between.