GAYS WITH KIDS
How raising kids changed my life
Raising kids makes me the gayest I’ve ever been
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 epicentre 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 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-dayslater. 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 theatre: 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 children, 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 counsellors, teachers, principals and volunteers. In the afternoons, we watch the kids playing in the schoolyard or playground while we talk 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 tae kwon do, ballet, gymnastics and swimming classes; we help keep them calm during doctor, dentist, hygienist and hairdresser appointments.
We explain our family make-up to reception- ists, assistants, secretaries and store clerks. To neighbours, 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 neighbours over for dinner in our backyard, and they asked us why we had 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.