By Frank Lowe
Originally published on Advocate.com April 22 2014 6:00 AM ET
Before I dive into what the title of this story means, let me just say, I am a proud gay man. I actually love being gay, and if I had the ability to change things, I would not. This does not mean that I love being a gay stereotype (I’m not), but rather that I love being a man who is intimate with another man. Wouldn’t give it up for the world.
However, I don’t shove my sexuality down anyone’s throat. I don’t think it’s right, and I don’t consider myself as someone who uses “gay” as my identity. I started my Twitter account “@GayAtHomeDad” to mock the whole damn thing. Most people don’t realize that, but I’m actually a gay guy making fun of gay guys. Not exactly original, but it’s what I do best. Honey, if we can’t laugh at ourselves, how the hell are we gonna laugh at someone else? Can I get an amen?
Now that I’m a dad, I hear and read about other gay parents who revolve their entire lives around being gay. Still. Even after having kids, they have to eat, breathe, and sleep gay. Everything has to be a gay issue to them, and they have to make it known to the world that they are gay gay gay gay gay. Normally I would ignore this type (or have fun blasting the hell out of them on Twitter), but they have kids. Those poor kids are growing up with parents who will exclude them from activities they don’t deem “gay-friendly,” and that’s complete bullshit. There are probably hundreds of destinations they will never see because their parents don’t like the politics. A specific example comes to mind of one of my gay dad “friends” (a frenemy, rather) who refuses to take his kids to Disney World because he thinks Florida is antigay. Well, I have news for him: It is for the most part, but we’ve been several times and didn’t get stoned to death when we got off the plane. In fact, we didn’t really notice people treating us any differently.
I’m not saying travel anywhere in the world, because there are some places that are obviously unsafe for gay people, therefore unsafe for gay families. I’m saying relax about the whole thing. It creates an unnecessary stress that will become palpable to their children, especially as they get older, and could induce some paranoia. Simply speaking, the more hung up a person is about being gay, the more uncomfortable it makes any situation. And while this statement will piss off a lot of gay activists, truthfully, there isn’t a difference between a gay parent and a straight parent. What we do in bed has nothing to do with how we’re raising our kid. That doesn’t mean I want to be straight or emulate straight people, it just means that I don’t let my sexuality rule my life. Or worse, my kid’s life.
I can tell you from experience, the issues we have with our kid are identical to the issues that our straight friends have with their kids. Sure, we might have a few of the problems figured out differently — they are all amazed at how clutter-free I am able to keep my house. That isn’t a “gay” thing, though; that’s a “me” thing. Hell, by that logic, we know one straight family who are technically more stereotypically gay than we are. Does that make them “gay parents”? It’s important to educate children on diverse families, and obviously that will include exposing them to gay families. That exposure should be nonchalant and matter-of-fact. Just as there are single parents who don’t go around introducing themselves with “Hi, nice to meet you, I’m a single mom.”
We are at the very beginning of the gay parenting revolution. With same-sex marriage now legal in 17 states (and D.C.), it is only natural that gay youth can consider starting a family as an option. This is a monumental, wonderful thing. I have this fantasy in my head that in a hundred years, people won’t be so fixated on ethnicity, sexuality, or gender identity. This won’t happen, though, if we minorities continue to be fixated on ourselves. Just like Idina Menzel sings in the movie Frozen, we have to let it go. I’m not saying don’t stand up for yourself; I’m saying don’t walk into a room assuming everyone hates you for being you. Live and let live. I’m a gay parent, but more importantly, I’m a parent.
FRANK LOWE is The Advocate’s parenting writer. Follow Frank on Twitter @GayAtHomeDad and on Instagram at gayathomedad.