This is how I became to be a gay father:
In the Summer of 1985 I was in the USA at a Quaker gathering (I am a Quaker- a member of the Religious Society of Friends), when I realised that I was gay. I wrote to a close friend, asking her to pray for me, whilst not telling her of what I was realising about myself. I came back to Britain, came out to her and then within a week we were going out.
This means that as a chat up line “Hello, I’m gay” has worked very well for me on women 😉 . We got married in 1988, and came to a crunch point in 1991, when it was clear that I wasn’t coping with suppressing my gay-self. This was a very difficult time for us both. Fortunately, we found many compassionate Friends who were able to help each of us through some very dark times and helped us to discover what we have in common. We did not want to split up, and can both imagine being old together (Although I am finding this harder to imagine at the moment). We had to re-evaluate our wedding promises. We found this re-evaluation hard going. Yet we were able to see that to be faithful to each other we had to let each other go, by doing this we discovered the depth of our love and friendship for each other.
We released each other to find additional partners if that was what we wanted or needed, and it was important to us that we were both free to be able to do so. We agreed that I could explore my gay side so long as she was as free to find a male lover should she so wish. (She has done so – and has a relationship with someone who had been an “old flame”.)
I went to some gay groups in London in 1991 I found them quite hard going. Many men there were quite clearly surprised or nonplussed by my situation, particularly when I said that we were not planning to separate. Happily no one was hostile.
After a couple of months I was talking to someone at a Quaker event, who upon learning of my situation told me that there was a friend of hers, whom I just HAD to meet. I did, and discovered that he lived just a mile away from me and was in a similar situation, living with his long-term female partner. He and I found that we understood where the other was coming from, hit it off, and started, cautiously at first, to forge a relationship. Just over ten years later we are still together, still living with our respective “other-thirds”, and I am a father.
We recognise that if any of the relationships is under pressure, all of them may suffer.
Unfortunately for me, in the Summer of 1999 my wife found an extra man, and had a relationship with him – which has since finished. This led to many difficulties for me and has really upset the equilibrium that she and I had. This extra relationship showed just how many of our friends when it came to the crunch, were not willing to offer me the support I needed. (None of our mutual friends to whom my wife told her news came up to me to acknowledge that they knew about her extra relationship). I went through a very bad and difficult time in the Autumn of 1999, and had stress pains for just under a year because of this, and even now, two years on I find that I often feel stress pains. I now find that I am much more confident in my sexuality, but find that I distrust many mutual friends in whom I used to confide. I am finding that our relationship is far more tenuous than it used to be, and I am far more likely to become angry – our daughter is suffering because of this.
My wife and I had a daughter in 1993. We three live together, but two months ago my wife and I moved into separate bedrooms – our house is big enough that we both have decent sized bedrooms. I have yet to formally come out to our daughter, although she knows and likes both her parent’s “other-thirds”. She has seen both my wife and I in bed with our partners, so she knows that we sleep with them, it just seems that she hasn’t had the word “gay” put into her mind in respect to me.
There was a plan for me to come out to my daughter in Autumn 1999, but then my father-in-law visited us, and told us that he was going to start living as a women. Rachael took that very well, but we felt that she needed some time getting used to a transgendered grandparent before being given a gay father to get used to too! My parents-in-law separated just before I got to know them, and I have now come out to both of them. Both have been very accepting, although I have not had the courage to come out to my own family.
I have received much support from other Quakers – mainly, but not just, ones who are lesbian, gay or bisexual. Happily unlike some of the other stories I’ve read I have no theological problems with being gay.
There is of course a lot I have not said about myself – such as I have a sense of humour which is shared by some (and despaired of by others), and do normally try to look on the bright side of life: that has been challenged by events over the past two years.