Coming Out as a Gay Dad
Rather, this act of coming out and my being a gay parent impacts how I often connect with those around me who don’t know I’m one of two dads and not just “babysitting for my wife.”
Every member of the LGBTQ community has their own unique coming out story. Some are incredibly difficult, some are joyous and freeing, and some never happen. The act of coming out never really stops for anyone—even the act of me making a doctor’s appointment for my husband is a sort of coming out act of its own.
For gay parents, this act of coming out happens regularly and often when you least expect it. Sure, the fact that I’m gay doesn’t have a daily impact on my son. Just like other parents, we teach him to be kind and accepting of all those he comes in contact with. Rather, this act of coming out and my being a gay parent impacts how I often connect with those around me who don’t know I’m one of two dads and not just “babysitting for my wife.”
Take, for instance, going to Target, something we do on a weekly basis. Sure, a lot of the staff knows us there now since a charming 2-and-a-half-year-old tends to garner attention. However, there is one cashier who always seems to forget Ander has two dads and has asked on more than one occasion, “Where’s Mommy today?”
Both times, my answer has been largely the same: “We’re having a day with Dada today since Daddy is at work.” These sort of questions, some might call them micro-aggressions, happen regularly for gay people, whether they are parents or not. It’s just now, I see them differently. Rather than it being an instance where I might ignore the question, or change the subject, it’s an opportunity for me to show someone that not all families look the same. Sure, the traditional family might have a mom, dad and 2.5 children, but many do not.
Most of all, it’s not just an opportunity to hopefully open someone’s eyes a little bit, but also to have mine opened, as well. Have I ever interacted like this with someone unknowingly? I’m fairly certain the fact that I’ve asked a newly married couple “So, when are you having kids?” proves I have.
In the end, though the intent behind these types of questions is usually good, they can have a negative impact, so it’s important to take into account really why we’re asking them and taking a moment to think, am I making assumptions by asking this?
Of course, we are all apt to put our foot in our mouth from time to time (lord knows I am), but if we pause before we ask, we might instead learn more about the person than we anticipate. Coming out, after all, whether as a gay parent or as a couple who doesn’t desire children, is personal and we all share our family’s lives on our own terms.