Why I became a gay dad
April 10, 2012
by Shawn Bean
Mornings are filled with decisions. First there’s breakfast. Luckily, Tanner opts for the same thing every day (waffle with peanut butter, chocolate chips and honey). Jackson is more unpredictable: He anxiously scans the row of breakfast cereals like they are the blinking squares on Press Your Luck. (“No whammies no whammies Life!”) For me, there are other decisions: To unload or not the dishwasher before dropping them off at the bus, and what to do with my hair (up, down, or none).
But earlier today, I made a more serious decision: I decided to become a gay father. As you’ve surely heard, a lot of people look at being gay as a choice. So I chose to be gay shortly after getting coffee from the office kitchenette. My co-workers didn’t seem to notice.
Let me be clear: I’m in love with my wife. She’s beautiful and smells like a wildflower meadow. She’s my everything always now. I also read Playboy for the articles, and for the naked pictures of female pro wrestlers and 80s pop stars. But there were other factors. For starters, considering that I burned Tanner’s waffle, forgot to pack his water bottle, and got visibly frustrated when Jackson sang the same line over and over and over about hot dog toppings on the ride to the bus stop, being a straight dad was not working out for me today.
But something else happened that inspired me to become a gay dad. That something was A Note to My Kid.
On A Note to My Kid, there are no games, apps, polls, giveaways or viral videos. It’s just parents and children sharing letters with their LGBT family members. On his 21st birthday, Justin’s mom wrote, “It is the right spiritual and political choice for me [to love and support you] and if not for you, Justin, I might not have the courage or the inclination to care enough to have chosen a side. They say all it takes for evil to exist is for good people to do nothing. I won't do nothing.”
“My Christian upbringing caused me to be instantly concerned for your soul,” reads a note to Michael, written by his mother. “My experiences in life made me fearful for your future… For three days I took to my knees praying for strength and wisdom. I kept hearing, ‘Just love him.’”
“You’ve never been told that there’s anything wrong with having two moms, and it breaks my heart to think about the day that will happen,” Hillary writes to her two-year-old daughter, Piper. “I want to protect you forever from the ignorance and hate that exists in the world, but I know that won’t allow you to mature into the bright, self-confident young woman that I know you will become.”
These are the kind of deeply personal, deeply affecting letters people send to siblings fighting in a war zone; to children living far away beyond the reach of a quick call or text; to old friends who have become estranged or withdrawn. They are the kind of letters borne of separation. In America, being gay doesn't just make you different. It makes you separate. It require another name for marriage, another name for military service, another name for the "relation to patient" field on the hospital paperwork.
But make no mistake: These letters are not meek “feel better soon” cards. They are declarations of independence. Words like save, protect, preserve, honor, and endure are used frequently. The authors are father, mothers, sons and daughters who promise to fight—even die—for their family. It seems like these families must be that much stronger. Does it make them love people that much more?
That’s why I’ve chosen to be a gay dad. It might just make me a better parent. Justin’s mom wrote this to her son. It’s hard not to envy: “Because of you I am more.”