“Now that non-gay dads are addressing some of the issues relating to being a more involved parent, it is newsworthy. That made me mad.”—Gerald Mallon
We conclude our series of posts about fathers with a post is by Gerald Mallon, author of Gay Men Choosing Parenthood.
As Father’s Day is approaching, I have been doing some thinking about men raising children; not just playing with them after work and on weekends, but actually taking an active role in the nitty-gritty aspects of parenting—doing homework, taking off from work to go on doctor’s visits, and leaving work early to pick up a sick kid at day care among other tasks. Media images of fathers still focuses on the former, but gay men who have chosen parenthood, such as the ones I interviewed and wrote about in Gay Men Choosing Parenthood, published by Columbia University Press in 2005, experience a different reality.
This morning while watching a television segment on Modern Fathers I found myself getting annoyed. Gay men who choose to be parents, dealt with many of these same parenting issues 20 years ago—but very few people noticed. Now that non-gay dads are addressing some of the issues relating to being a more involved parent, it is newsworthy. That made me mad. As I sat watching, and fuming a bit as I am wont to do (I have recently been given the appellation and I proudly accept it—the Larry Kramer of LGBTQ child welfare) I kept thinking of all of those Dads whom I interviewed almost a decade ago.
I have kept in touch with many of them. Some who were in couples are now separated from their partners; some are struggling with an older adolescent still living at home. For others, their children are now in college or living on their own and creating their own lives as young adults. The Dads are experiencing empty nest syndrome or loving being grandparents—all lives have been deeply affected but all still delight in the reality that they are Dads.
During an era when it seems that everyone is obsessed with lesbian and gay marriage, and my feeling is if you want to get married, you should be able to, I still believe that there are other critical issues to be explored and discussed. Gay men parenting, although, there is most certainly more discussion about the topic than in the past, is still an issue that is understudied and not explored in the media.
The idea that men, especially, gay men can and do make good parents is probably chief among the areas which the media ignores. The visibility of gay men in parenting roles or as nurturers of children is another area, which is seldom explored. These are just two aspects of gay parents’ lives that need greater exposure, but there are numerous others which could illuminate the experiences of gay men who chose to be fathers.
When I saw that segment on the Today Show, I thought I wish someone did a segment on these Dads—guys who made a courageous decision to parent in a time and place where no one was talking about the role of Dads as nurturers.
Does anyone know someone on the staff of a morning show? I have about 20 great gay Dads who would love to be part of your Modern Father’s discussion.