From Ste

Thoughts

Here is where you will find messages you may find useful and are typical of what can be found of the support mailing list

Will Gay Dads Still Exist in the Future?

doubt we are anywhere near a situation where being openly gay for everyone is an option.

When I look around me at my neighbours I see many that are chav breeders. There is no way they will have brought those kids up to think that being gay is OK, quite the contrary. They would have brought them up to think that anyone different is abnormal and needs to be brought down. That’s exactly the circumstance that created many of today’s gay dads and mums. When a kid is brought up and always taught that a family is a heterosexual thing then that is what they will believe … worse yet, this situation is going to get worse with the current batch of chavs when they do start breeding themselves and raising kids.

It’s more complex than just that though. Because there is little or no education about homosexuality in this country there is no guidance on what to expect. The stock phrase that all kids go through a kind of attraction to the same sex still exists in schools. So, when someone gets to an age when they should be attracted to the opposite sex they maybe believe they are still in this ‘phase’ and just work through it not accepting until maybe years later that the phase is never going to go away, having heterosexual sex was not a ‘cure’. Further to that, there are some kids that have just been brought up with such a strong belief that they will one day have kids of their own they cannot imagine not doing so, it becomes their birthright, again, end result is a gay parent.

Many never come out, not even to themselves. That is part of what they were taught too and religion plays no small part in that. Add into that equation what they will probably lose by coming out and to many it just isn’t worth it.

Some do come out though and find they didn’t lose anything like what they feared but it’s probably a small minority and very few amongst ethnic minorities.

Sadly, it may be true that the images people have of gay parents are all media produced. The dad that visits the local ‘cottage’, the lesbian couple that got some gay guy to donate sperm, the gay couple that bought their kids. That’s unlikely to be the majority who are most likely to be just very ordinary men and women making the most of a bad situation too scared of the unknown and genuinely loving their opposite sex spouse.

(A ‘chav’ is someone brought up in social housing often with parents that do not work but live off the state benefit system/ They wear sports clothes and seem to have little or no respect for anyone. As an important point, there are many good families on benefits and council estates, sadly, it is the ‘chav’ (council house – always violent) that is most prominent.)


With regard to coming out to children:

It’s no surprise that you are asking for advice about your children – they are bound to be a major concern and that’s a good thing.

Last week I saw an article by a feminist writer (I forget who – my excuse this while I was on holiday) on how women can have difficulty in dealing with the range of feelings they experience about their children – from love through anger and up to hate – often in quick succession or even all at once. Her argument was that this range is real and the answer is not to deny such feelings but accepting the ambivalence of parenthood and putting them in the context (hopefully) of an overall love and concern. She also argues this is particular problem for mothers, who are seen as naturally ‘maternal’, irrespective of the individual woman, whereas the same is not expected of men.

Despite the societal perceptions of fatherhood vs. motherhood though, I think that the problems of coping with the range of emotions is true for dads, including therefore gay dads. From seeing the postings on this site for coming up 3 years my perception is that the strongest worries / fears / guilt focus around children, such as around dealing with the impacts of separation, or the coming out question, or indeed ‘normal’ parenting problems.

So – try not to feel guilty about finding the kids difficult at times (easier said than done – guilt comes naturally to me and think to many parents)

As for coming out to your children, a Google search should come up with some articles.

It does seem from this site, and gay dads I’ve met on the scene (there are many of us ‘out there’) that there are many different answers as to how to tell your children, ranging from ‘never’ to ‘almost as soon as I knew I was gay’. There seem to be lots of possible factors, such as:

  • how much the gay dad is out to himself and others

  • how much the gay dad wants to avoid causing upset (short vs. long term?)

  • if there will be a change in living arrangements e.g. one parent moving out / going out a lot alone / staying away
    the relationship with the children’s mother (still together? still talking?)

  • if there is another person (i.e. boyfriend to the father or mother)

  • how old / at what stage in life his children are (noting that if there is an ‘ideal age’ but there are children be at different ages there will be no ‘best time’ to tell them

  • how (it is thought) the children would react

  • is coming out to the kids becoming an issue – for the gay dad of someone else in the family ?

.. and many more I’m sure.

So – what’s right for one family may be wrong for another.

It’s hard to offer much specific advice as inevitably we have limited knowledge of your situation. But it seems separation has not only happened but that things have ‘settled down’ at least to an extent. Furthermore, you are on speaking terms with your ex.

Most of all, you are now asking about coming out to children – and is that prompted by your daughter’s questions?

I may be completely off the mark, but it’s been suggested to me that when children start talking about something, even tangentially (especially so when younger) they may well be feeling some puzzlement or tension over that issue. This is not to say your daughter has ‘worked you out’, but children of all ages are very able to pick up emotions and if ‘gayness’ has been an emotional even if ‘secret’ issue in the family (I guess it was when she was 2-3 years younger) she may have picked up something which she can only now verbalise, and even then not directly.

It may be that you asking us and yourself about preparing the children means you are seriously contemplating telling them, or at least being prepared to think about doing so. It would seem there is no rush, so my advice would be to take time and to discuss this with their mother.

Of course, there is no right way or right age to tell your children you are gay if that is going to be bad news. When I did this, (along with saying I was moving out part time) I was able to talk about it with their mother and although she didn’t like the news I was telling them, agreed how it had to be done. We also decided to tell every adult / organisation the children had a lot of contact with, so neither they not their mother felt they had to keep secrets. We did advise caution in telling people at school (my daughter, then 11, told a number straight away, my son, then 14, more circumspect, but neither have had problems – that of course depends on the other kids) .

Finally (!) there is a book you might find helpful, ‘How It Feels to Have a Gay or Lesbian Parent – A book by Kids for Kids of All Ages’ Judith E Snow, Harrington Park Press ISBN 1-56023-420-2. It is what is says it is: some of the accounts are sad, others more upbeat, all are moving. Of course, it is not comprehensive and probably not representative – most of the children were contacted though COLAGE, (I think) a Californian based group for ‘Children Of Lesbian And Gay Parents Everywhere’ , founded by the author.

In the end, we each have to find our own way – but not alone.

All the best

Steve

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