I tend to look at my personal history in broad categories: B.C.E. and C.E.
Before the Children’s Era is that now-mythical time of life before kids. I lived in the epicenter of Boston’s gay life, the South End. I have memories of a summer spent serving sex on the beach (that’s a drink) at über-gay Club Café. Sunday brunch at Tremont Ice Cream and then Metropolis. Rushing to get the steeply discounted $299 annual membership at Mike’s Gym, where I met my husband Brian.
Muscle-shirted bartending at Buzz on Saturday nights. The hills were alive frequently at the Front Porch, the venerable piano bar in Ogunquit, Maine. We went to see Ryan Landry in P’town. Got bi-weekly haircuts. Friday night manscaping. Glamour shots in Mykonos.
After the inevitable move to New York (every gay Bostonian did it), we first lived among fellow gay boys in Chelsea for a few years, then decamped to Hell’s Kitchen.
Our calendar was punctuated by over-the-top trips to South Beach, San Francisco, Chicago, Montreal. Dance parties lasting from dawn until dawn I-don’t-know-how-many days later. Lesley Mandel showing a potential Fire Island summer house. White Party. Black Party. After Party. After After Party. Bendix Diner. Manatus. The Dish. Food Bar. Elmo.
Lots of theater: Broadway Bares, Spring Awakening, Wicked, Altar Boyz, and anything with Audra McDonald.
Sip ‘n’ Twirl. Pavilion. Invasion. Junior. Low tea. High Tea. Folsom. Folsom East. Twilo. Alegria. Beige. G.
Somewhere along the road we became foodies and wine lovers.
Five years ago the Children’s Era commenced when our son Levi was born. A year and a half later, we had three.
When strolling with our three little ones, we often caused small traffic jams from all the onlookers.
Last year I was the only male member of the parent council at my son’s school. I was surprised at how often I brought up “my husband Brian” during meetings. (He’s got a fundraising background.)
Brian and I often drop off or pick up our kids from camp, school or daycare together. We talk with counselors, teachers, principals, and volunteers. In the afternoons, we watch them playing in the schoolyard or playground while talking with other parents, most often moms.
We take our kids to birthday parties, the farm, the zoo, the greenmarket, and restaurants. We host and travel to play dates. We accompany them to taekwondo, ballet, gymnastics and swimming classes; we help keep them calm during doctor, dentist, hygienist, and haircut appointments.
We explain our family make-up to receptionists, assistants, secretaries, and store clerks. To neighbors, other children, instructors, and passersby. To nurses, flight attendants, hosts, and waiters. I came out in 1983, but since becoming a father, I feel like I’m coming out again and again.
On weekend nights, we have dinner with friends, some gay, mostly straight. A few nights ago we had neighbors over for dinner in our backyard, who asked us why we moved to Toronto in 2009. (We had to leave the U.S., because foreign partners of gay Americans didn’t qualify for green cards.)
Before the Children’s Era? Pretty gay. No, super gay.
And all the things done in the wondrous Children’s Era are completely ordinary; some would say completely straight. Now, wherever we go with the kids, whatever we do as a family, we’re the gay dads. Publicly, unapologetically, unavoidably, in-your-face gay.
Raising kids makes me the gayest I’ve ever been. But there’s nothing I’d rather be than a gay dad.
Gays with Kids is an online resource helping gay dads navigate fatherhood. Visit them online at gayswithkids.com.