Parenting Spotlight: Talon and Tigger Travel the World
Not all gay parents fit into the perfect little stereotype that is portrayed on shows like Modern Family and The New Normal. Just as in the straight world, we come in all shapes, sizes, and configurations. I was recently introduced to a blogger and fellow gay parent, Talon Windwalker, who is feeding his wanderlust by traveling the world with his now-12-year-old son, Tigger. When you visit his blog, aptly named 1Dad1Kid.com, you are greeted with a home page that showcases posts from around the world and an update on the side that tells you where they are at the moment (England). They have currently been nomads for 1,062 days and counting, and have visited every continent save Antarctica.
The blog is very polished, easy to navigate, and inspirational to say the least. I was full of questions and had the opportunity to ask him some of the things that came to mind:
Frank: How did you become a single parent?
Talon: I was in my late 30s and wanted to be a parent. I decided rather than waiting around for Mr. Right to make an appearance into my life, I would adopt and do the parenting thing solo. I was still debating when the right moment was going to be as I wanted to travel and do some other things. While sitting in a restaurant in the Eiffel Tower enjoying one of the best meals of my life, it hit me that I was ready, and it was time. I came home from Paris and called the foster care department and started the process.
How do you afford this?
I've done various things, including scuba instruction. Currently, most of my income comes from selling advertising on my blog. I also get a very small (as in tiny) income from a couple of books I've written.
Do you face any challenges being gay in certain countries where it is taboo?
So far I haven't experiencing anything major. I have been more careful in countries like Morocco, Malaysia, and Indonesia, though. I kind of went back and forth while in Romania. There is a lot of homophobia in the country, although it generally isn't expressed violently.
What are the essential items you travel with?
My laptop, camera, and medications. Obviously clothing is a bit important, but I'm no fashionista so my wardrobe is quite plain and boring.
You mention on the blog that you "world school" your son. Can you expand on this a little more, please?
Rather than educating him via a set, formal curriculum, we use real world experiences. We practice math while grocery shopping, doing currency conversions, etc. We discuss history while visiting ruins, explore political science before going to places like Cuba, discussing war while in Vietnam, macroeconomics while we travel, etc. It's all practical stuff which he retains more readily because he's living it rather than doing a worksheet.
What are destinations you haven't been to yet that are must-visits?
Antarctica is probably the top one right now. There is more of Asia and South America I'd like to visit as well.
Do you ever feel homesick? Does your son?
Not really. We've redefined what home means for us. As long as we're together, we're home. Technology has been a serious help. He Skypes with friends all over the world, and they play games together online. Most of my really good friends are on Facebook, so it's easy to stay connected and in touch. We did have a bit of a rough moment when one of my best friends was dying from cancer. I really felt the distance during that time.
How do you approach areas where they don’t speak much English?
We always try to learn at least a little bit of the language before we go. However, in most places we've found either enough English speakers or were able to use a bit of pantomiming, etc., to communicate. It's been rather surprising just how many people in the world speak English, though. I also use the Google Translate app on my phone which has been a big help on some occasions.
Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Ahem. Sorry about that. I would describe my love life as nonexistent, unfortunately. It's hard to date when you travel all the time. Plus, it's rather foreign for people to know a gay man who has a child. In many countries it just isn't possible for them to adopt, so I become more of a curiosity than a romantic potential. It's also a bit harder because I'm not really into bars and clubs, and in many countries that's the only way you can get connected with the LGBT community. As we slow our travels down more, I'll probably just have to grin and bear it and start going to some of the clubs or something so I can improve my prospects.
How did you talk to your son about the fact that you are gay, and what was his response?
I think it came up once shortly after he had moved in with me. He had asked me if he was going to have a mom, which was a good segue. I simply explained that some men like women that way, some men like men, some women like women, and some men and women like both. In my case, I like men. I explained that it wasn't something that people chose but was more like how he was born with blond hair and blue eyes and I was born with dark hair and brown eyes. It's just how we're wired, and neither way is better than any other. We value people based not on their skin color, who they want to kiss, or what their religion is but by how they treat us and others.
So please tune into his blog, at 1Dad1Kid.com and you can follow along on their amazing race around the world!