Editor’s Note: Father’s Day is only one notable day in June. The entire 30 days makes up Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month. NYC Dads Group member Marty Forth discusses what the converging of these two occasions mean to him as a gay father.
One of two things that I know, unequivocally, is that I am a good dad. Some days I am a very good dad, even the “greatest daddy in the whole wide world.”
My 3-year-old son tells me these things and he does not lie. And what 3-year-old would embellish the truth?
The other thing I absolutely know is that I am gay. A gay father, to be exact.
With Father’s Day upon us, I think often about what these two facts mean together. I think especially of the pioneering men and women who fought before me to be allowed – permitted – to be parents and openly gay.
Can a straight man or woman in America today ever imagine they would require the sanctioning of the government to become parents? Gay parents don’t have such a cavalier belief because for them to be a parent has been regarded as a privilege, not a right.
This realization is a painful one for many people before they come out. It often leads to an internal grieving over the idea of never having the idealized, traditional family – specifically, over never being a mother or father. Being a parent is an idea many gay people think of as a pipe dream.
Being a gay father brings challenges
One of the most challenging aspects of coming out is the confusion about what your life will look like later on. When, at age 24, I told my mother, she cried. Not because I was gay, but because the future she had envisioned for me was going to be different.
My mother had to take a little time and, as she put it, pull out all the maps in her head and rethink what my life’s path would look like. In a very short time, she decided she liked what she saw.
For middle-age gay people we, as a community, have only recently seen a true route open for the lifelong journey of parenthood. In a country and culture that has for many, many years not embraced gay-parent families, or any unique family designs, a family with same gender parents may still be somewhat unique but it is not unheard of or unmentionable in public. Just like stay-at-home dads, single-parent families and every other of family design that does not fit the historical cookie cutter, we continue to make ourselves known and understood. Thankfully, it is becoming more common place every day, and slowly laws and policies are following the clear social change that is happening in cities, big and small.
After meeting my husband and getting legally married in Canada, we decided being parents was very important to us. We did a domestic adoption with a New York City-based nonprofit and have been the proud and happy parents of an amazing and inspiring young man for just over three years. I truly believe that raising him is my greatest accomplishment and my biggest responsibility in the world. Like any other parent, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, my life’s mission is to teach my child, to protect him, to make him feel safe and loved, to ensure that he is challenged and supported, all so he can grow to be a strong part of his community and be happy. I want to be an amazing father to my son and any other children we may have (oy vey – that is a whole other blog post).
That Father’s Day falls during Gay Pride Month is not lost. I am gay and I am a great dad — one that my son will be proud of all the time. I eagerly and proudly accept the chance to earn his praise as the “greatest daddy in the whole wide world” every single day.
Marty Forth is a Canadian living on the Upper West Side with his husband, Patrick, and their 3-year-old son, Grayson. He is a licensed social worker who specializes in youth, teens and families and has worked for the YMCA for more than 15 years.