Some of the most common questions I get on my Twitter account, @GayAtHomeDad, are from gay youth asking about the struggles of being a gay parent. The following is an excerpt from an email I received from Slim Ali, who is @SLIMINAJ on Twitter:
I'm 17 -- obviously a long way from being a dad, but I'm already stressing about it. I do want a family eventually, but when I do adopt a child, what separates me from all the other gay dads out there? What if my kid doesn't like me? How can I keep from interfering with my son's sexual preference and what he thinks is "right and wrong" when it comes to sexuality? Also, I kinda idolize you. You're what I want to be as a father (from what I see on social media). Your family is precious.
This is my answer, and is really to all younger gays and lesbians who hope to someday become a parent.
First of all, I think it's really amazing you are 17 and are already considering these kinds of things. When I was 17, children were the last thing on my mind, and it shows me that the times are definitely changing. Parenting is now a viable option for the LGBTQ community, and that puts an instant smile on my face.
Second, without intending to be condescending, I can tell you all of those things you are concerned with will change. There is no reason to be thinking about what will separate you from all the other gay dads, because your child will idolize and love you the moment they are in your care. The bond between a parent and their child is indescribable. One of the best things I feel I have instilled in my son is that he says to me, out of the blue and quite often, "I love you!" I reply with "I love you too, more than anything else in the world, do you know that?" He says back to me with almost an eye-roll "yesssss." Your child will love you unconditionally.
Finally, your child's sexuality is your child's sexuality. There's nothing you can do to change it, as you are well aware from yourself, and you will accept it. You are dealing with these things in your life now, so they are important to you. By the time you are ready for a child, it will be part of your history and something just to reflect back on. Things such as sexuality don't really enter into the picture for a long time, so believe me, this is nothing to worry about.
I want to close this by saying that parenting is something I didn't know I could consider when I was younger. Society's rules are evolving at a rapid pace, and it is now very much a reality. Don't ever think for a minute that you can't or shouldn't have kids just because someone tells that to you. Dream big and have fun now, because the moment you're a parent, it's all over (not really, I just think it's funny to say that).
FRANK LOWE is The Advocate'sparenting writer. Follow Frank on Twitter @GayAtHomeDad and on Instagram at gayathomedad.