Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Family Gay (oops - Guy)

When I wrote my last post – Relativity – it was pretty easy: to my mind some non-controversial, incontrovertible truths. Either my writing was not up to snuff or I am missing the forest for the trees. In any event after reading the comments I feel the need to take another stab at this topic, if for no other reason that it represents core aspects of my very existence.

The Gay/Bi Dads group I attend crosses my mind – okay more than crosses: charges right at me. I have attended twice, both times around twenty-five men in the proverbial circle of folding chairs. I gather the group has been around for decades now with an ever shifting cast of characters. Some have children who are mere toddlers and the range continues to those whose kids are now adults. There is one thing in common in that one room: a love of and devotion to our varied children. This is neither a hook-up group – a number of men show up with their partners – nor a gripe session. It is twenty-five serious men grappling with how to be the best dads they can be under varied circumstances.

To be blunt, these gay (and a few bi) men have not abandoned their families, are not uninvolved with their children; in some cases they still live with their wives and in many other cases maintain close friendships with their now ex-spouses. If you were to meet them on the street walking with their children unless you have advanced gaydar, you would assume the vast majority of them to be straight.

Now if I am going to let this post continue to write itself I have to step back and share a little more of who I am than I really want to. I have already been divorced once and have children from that marriage. It is hard for me to type seventeen years later but my divorce occurred when those kids were extremely young – one and three. There is a shame in this that is mine alone to bear. But the real shame is not in the divorce or their ages: it is in the fact that I was not nearly as good a dad, not nearly as involved, not nearly as caring as I should have been. And I was straight back then.

Whatever happens with this marriage, those mistakes will never be repeated: never. I have grown and in some ways starting to address issues of my own sexuality is a big part of that growth. Whether I stay in the basement or get an apartment down the road, whether I become gay celibate or have a full blown slut phase, it is all irrelevant to how I choose my priorities in terms of my children.

And as if this venting has not been enough, let’s go down a different path. Carrie also has a seat at this table and Carrie has been plain on her views of being married to a gay man. She does not want to maintain the marriage as it once was. She does not want to share her bed knowing my sexual fantasies center around men. She is happy to share the house and the family, happy for me to explore my gay side responsibly. She is not willing to share a bedroom whether I act on being gay or not.

So when I sense a belief that I am not being a good father, “husband” or provider because I am gay and I am choosing to integrate that into my overall life, I do get a little defensive, both for me and for Carrie. We have no illusions as to the difficulty of our lives and the finesse and devotion that will be required. But if we are both okay and our children are all okay, then I say things will be okay.

Time to start my day: I have a young ‘un having a minor hissie fit, Carrie and I need to go look at some major appliances and this evening I think I have arranged a date. All this and in one day: there are worse lives.


Brad said...

It's a hell of a balancing act, for sure. With enough devotion, I think you can pull it off.

Good for you.

A Troll At Sea said...

"In any event after reading the comments I feel the need to take another stab at this topic..."

What a relief to see that I had not posted a comment on that one!

One can only fit so many feet into one's mouth at a time, I guess.

Hang in there.

woe said...

As a just divorced gay man trying to come to grips with how to still be the best dad I can be, I really do appreciate this post. The very fact that you wrote it speaks volumes about the good dad that you are.

Flip said...

Hi Nate,

As long as the belief you're sensing is not your own then I'd say you're right on track.

Take care,


Nate said...

I really should add that I sincerely appreciate the comments that Grace and Flip left on the last post.

The act of being challenged and being made to defend - mostly to myself - and being forced to examine my positions is where the growth does come from.

anastacia said...
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