I used to hang out with gay people; before I was married I used to drink in gay bars, and then I got sober in gay 12 step meetings. I went to gay discos, and gay dances. I lived in the Chelsea section of NYC, which was so gay back then, that when I moved into my old building a man asked if my father and I were dating!
I moved in on a Friday night and then the next morning my dad came in and built a platform for me to put a mattress on, that was to be my bed. We went around the corner to buy a mattress, and as we carried it into the building one of the residents of the building said, “What apartment are you guys moving into?” I was shocked and my father was not happy. I have been dying to tell that story on the blog for years!
After I met my “love” we went out occasionally but then spent most of our time working towards our goal of adopting a child. He went to law school, I was working 2 jobs, etc., blah, blah, blah. We either went out to dinner or visited family, the gay dancing disco life was starting to fade.
We did join a gay parenting support group. Wannabe Dads and Moms at the Gay Community Center. We dd not really socialize with the folks from there, but we were in the group for 2 years. Thanks to Facebook, we are friends with some of the folks from that group who also became parents.
Then the baby arrived. Our life quickly became very busy trying to juggle having a newborn and keeping our jobs. Our son went into a neighborhood day care which turned into a pre-K. From there he joined the local public school. And that was the end of any contact we had with the gay world!
We did meet another same sex couple the first week of Kindergarten, and that was fantastic: my son and their son became fast friends. Of course they moved away to become gay pioneers in Westchester, and they were never replaced! We did help a couple adopt a child the year after we did and they are living happily ever after in Staten Island, but we have yet to formally socialize with them.
Since he was old enough to run around the playground at about 1 1/2, we have only hung out with the parents of the other children in his class! After daycare pick-up we would all go to the playground for a few hours. Those wonderful folks, again thanks to my favorite social media tool, Facebook, are still our friends today.
And that’s it. We had the best Kindergarten class ever (except that the teacher was a horror show), we bonded with amazing parents that are still our close friends today! 6 years later the kids are also still friends.
That is our life, hanging out at the playground with the parents of other similarly aged children. And family on the weekend. I married an Italian who comes from a large family, we visit almost every Sunday.
We did not grow up in gay society, and we do not see the need for our son to either. He may need more of a support group someday, he may need to talk to other kids with same sex parents down the road, but for now we are very happy with the community we live in. Everyone is supportive to the point of defensiveness if they think their children say anything unsupportive of our family. Example: my son and another boy were arguing about my son not having a mom. Of course I got very defensive. Turned out the boy told my son that he had to have a mom, meaning that is the only way to be born. Of course that is true and we call that woman the birth mom. But when 2 boys start an argument it quickly gets out of control. The mom got very defensive in support of our family and said she is very careful to teach her children about inclusiveness, etc. I was thrilled to hear it stated out loud, but the truth is that is how we feel from everyone in our neighborhood.
Because our neighborhood is very mixed, I think this is the best place to raise our son. Racially every group is represented. There are also several families created by either single mom adoption, or moms getting inseminated and raising a kid on her own. And of course many families where the parents are already divorced, something I started to see in the Kindergarten class which I found surprising. Oh yeah, and we did meet another gay family in school, but the kids are younger!
I started the blog to talk about our life as a family where the parents were of the same sex. Not a gay family, just a family that is different than the “norm” that many people in America may be familiar with. I write parenting pieces on this blog for folks to read about our life, to see that our home is not a 24 hour gay disco with different sex partners all the time, but rather 2 men, together for almost 22 years and monogamous, raising a son who has to do homework on a daily basis: that seems to be the rule in either a gay or straight household!
Yes, I scold my son constantly to try to get him to do his homework, just like a straight guy! He writes essays on American history like the one he presented in class a few weeks ago about John Adams. He does not write about gay history!
And I often get messages that I am achieving my goal. When my friend from the blog world stated that while listening to her clergy talk negatively about gay people and gay marriage, she knew in her heart, from having seen our lives, that he was wrong. I often get support from you guys on my parenting issues, which are mostly the same as yours. Because above all else, the thing we wanted more than anything in the world, was to be parents. Not gay parents, just parents. We spend a lot of time with family and relatives who experience our lives as they intersect with theirs and they see we are “regular” people. That is what I strive for, to participate in the full society so folks can see we have far more in common with them than they may have realized. In fact, we are probably almost the same!
And, our job is easier these days because families are no longer formed in what used to be the “conventional” way. We know many single parent, by choice families. Women who have adopted a child by themselves, or had a child with a sperm donation. A boy in my son’s Hebrew School class is being raised by his gay dad who had him by surrogacy. “We are all the same because we are all different” is one of my favorite mottoes!
So, that’s it. I wish we were more fabulous, leading an exotic gay, fun life (not really). Instead our life is centered around our child, his needs and wants, the people he interacts with, and this makes our lives complete.