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Op-ed: My Gay Suburbia Sucks

Op-ed: My Gay Suburbia Sucks


Rural Connecticut has turned out to be Stepford for this gay dad.

My spouse and I have been together for almost 17 years. Up until 6 1/2 years ago, we resided in cities -- first St. Louis for a couple of years, then Chicago for the majority. During our last few months in Chicago, we had readied ourselves to add to our family -- we got onto the adoption list and were mulling over which Chicago suburb to move to. Then he got a job offer in Connecticut that we couldn't refuse. It was a game-changer and we felt Connecticut would be a beautiful place to raise a child. Boy, were we dead fucking wrong.

We moved to rural northern Connecticut in January 2008, and there I began my time as a "suburban gay." I fell in love with the on-the-surface charm of Connecticut -- the serene landscapes and the quaint little towns straight out of the movie Beetlejuice -- and the people seemed nice ("seemed" being the operative word). Connecticut has always been a blue state, and I never considered that the blue portion was the more populated region closer to New York City, and we had chosen a place smack in the middle of redville. We purchased a nice home and I bought every single one of Martha Stewart's books. I was hell-bent on making this work and trying to become as "Connecticut" as possible.

Our child came along via adoption a year and a half after we moved. By this time, we hadn't made any real friends, so we were still flying solo. We still felt like the Boo Radleys on our street. Fortunately, our out-of-town families came to visit, so we were able to share in our baby joy with them. By a fluke, our financial adviser set me up with a client of hers who had recently had a baby; she had moved here from D.C. and also seemed like a fish out of water. We hit it off immediately, and luckily she had a group of friends who welcomed me with open arms. I felt like I was doing the right thing -- I made friends who had babies and was keeping my baby as active and social as possible. All the while, the reality of my surroundings was eating me up like acid inside.

Seeing a gay couple or another set of gay parents is like finding a mirage in the desert -- a sight that seems so unreal, it doesn't even register as possible. Where we live in Connecticut has almost no diversity, and this is something I took for granted in the past. I slowly realized that if you don't fit into the mold here, you simply don't fit in here. I think my son was around 3 when I realized that trying to live here was the equivalent of fitting a square peg into a round hole. From time to time, I would escape to New York City for a day or two and felt so liberated, so free. I traded my typical Connecticut uniform for my "city duds" and actually felt comfortable. But at the end of the trip I had to return to this awful fake place -- Stepford incarnate. The people here all have to put up a front. Everyone's life is "perfect." No one has any dirty laundry, and if they do, heaven forbid they air it out.

We've now been here for 6 1/2 years and I'm noticing the negative effects on my son. I am working literally every day to find a positive solution to this, but I wrote this article as a warning to any LGBTQ family who may think a move is just a move. I've stated before that the gay advantage of having children is that we get to choose when. We can position ourselves exactly as we want before we get the process rolling. My advice is to make sure you know and love your surroundings before adding to your family. Do not try to do what we did, which is to pick up and start over. The consequences are too great. I am teaching my son to be open and honest the way I was raised and not to hide feelings. Eventually this will make him stick out more than he already does in Connecticut (for having two dads), so at some point, we'll have to split.

I can't imagine that every suburb is like this. In fact, I feel as though we have stumbled into a bizarre Twilight Zone that hopefully we can look back on one day and laugh about. Until then, it's a daily struggle to fit in, and it takes a lot of positive energy to outweigh the negativity. I am working to find a solution but can never truly say the move was a mistake because then we wouldn't have met and adopted our son. Now it's time to make smart choices about the future so our family can blossom.

FRANK LOWE is The Advocate'sparenting writer. Follow Frank on Twitter @GayAtHomeDad and on Instagram at gayathomedad.

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