Check out this popular meme that has been floating around for quite a while:
I know memes are supposed to be ridiculous and usually don’t let them get to me, but this one is especially close to home. I feel as though this is the perception the gay community has about gay parents. There seems to be this huge invisible divide between “those who party” and “those who want a family.” But what if you want both? Why is that considered so taboo? Why are gay men who want to start a family held up to this impossible ideal?
In the meme, the party scene is supposed to be a rave or a circuit party or a hot night out at a club — who knows. Honestly, it looks like a fucking blast. It looks just like a recent night out I had in New York City. And the next day, I drove my hungover ass back to Connecticut and picked my kid up from school and made dinner and packed him a lunch for the next day. And everything was totally OK. It’s not something I do all the time, but if I want to get out and party it up, I will. But what the meme is saying is deeper. It’s basically saying the two scenes are mutually exclusive. Why is that? Like, I would never bring my child to an adult place such as what is depicted, but why am I suddenly unable to go since I’m a daddy? Does being a dad mean I have to also be perfect?
I’m here to tell you, you can h
ave it all, you just have to be smart about it. If anyone tells you differently, it’s their
personal problem. I have a feeling the person who made this meme was very bitter and maybe never socially accepted. Perhaps they felt really awkward at a club, so they gained some sense of entitlement from having a child. That is ridiculous. Having a child does not “elevate” one above someone without a child within the gay community. In my case, I simply wanted a kid, met a man who also did, and we had one. Big fucking deal. I wasn’t instantly made into a representative for the gay community, I was just instantly made into a dad.
Perhaps this meme was meant to be seen by straight people, so they can see gay people as something besides partiers. Again, I ask why? Some of my straight friends (with kids) party harder than all of my gay friends combined, so why can’t gay people party? I’m not going to pop Molly at all hours of the night and then come back home to my kid dazed and confused, but then again, I didn’t do that before having him. The bottom line: Don’t make me your ideal. I don’t accept. I have tons of flaws and am the same person I was before having a kid; the only difference is that instead of putting the needs of myself and my husband first, I put my son’s needs first now. If I am going to have a fun night out, I make sure to cover a million bases to ensure that he will be OK. It’s really not rocket science.
I created my Twitter account @GayAtHomeDad
to shatter some of these perceived stereotypes about gay parents, and I will continue to do so. Gays, we do not have to be afraid to be ourselves once we have kids. The world isn’t going to come take your kid back because you went out to a club and had a good time one night. Gay parents are not automatically in the upper echelon of the gay community because they decided to have kids. We still have the same struggles as before and still occasionally fuck things up. Don’t think that having a child means not having a life, it’s quite the opposite in reality. For me, my life began once we had our son, and I still love to party.
FRANK LOWE is The Advocate’s parenting writer. Follow Frank on Twitter @GayAtHomeDad and on Instagram at GayAtHomeDad.