Supporting Gay Marriage, Just Not My Own

Twelve years ago today, I met Drew, and life as I now know it began. A little over a year ago, after much deliberation, we did something else which some people consider kind of a big deal. Life didn’t change much after that. It was already pretty much perfect. So when we had to decide which day we wanted to celebrate, it was no contest. Happy anniversary, Drew.

Here’s the story…

2013. The beginning.

2003. The beginning.

The only type of marriage I ever imagined myself having was a sham one. Two kids, a station wagon and a clueless, frustrated wife in denial about her husband’s sexuality. That’s the best image my teenage self could conjure up, so it’s no wonder I never had a romantic view of this staid legal institution. Once I came out of the closet, I never had to think about marriage again. This was the late 20th Century, when gay people were more miffed over Eminem’s lyrics than the fact that we couldn’t file taxes jointly.

Sure, there were gay people who got “married,” but always in quotation marks. It was easy enough to opt out of. When someone would ask a gay couple, “When are you going to get married?”, they could respond with nothing more than a chuckle and an eyeroll.

My straight friends were jealous. The lucky ones got to go through the endless Hell of wedding planning – picking out China, battling with in-laws and swimming in bills. The rest only dreamed of such a fate. Finally, a societal benefit to being gay.

When I fell in love, it was simple. We bought a condo, picked our sides of the bed and opened a joint checking account. I was a freelance writer, and Drew had a steady corporate job, so he put me on his health insurance. Without the grim specter of matrimony looming, we were free to define our relationship exactly as we wished – and to make our own choices about how we wanted things to progress.

When the California Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that same-sex couples had the right to marry, we didn’t rush to City Hall like so many of our neighbors. Nor did we sweat when Proposition 8 undid that ruling a few months later. Let the homophobes play the role of Grinch, thinking they can steal Christmas by absconding with some presents and roast beast. That was our attitude. Drew and I knew we’d still be singing just as happily, because they could never take from us the actual source of our joy.

We had other priorities anyway, like becoming dads. With the help of a surrogate, we became the parents of twins. I quit my job to be a stay-home father. We moved to New York to be closer to our siblings and their kids. We adjusted to every life change together, like committed couples do, only without the official commitment. It’s not that we never talked about marriage. It’s just that when the topic did come up, we always agreed that it wasn’t for us.

I cringed when I saw a viral video of a guy proposing to his boyfriend at Home Depot. Dozens of their friends and family members popped up from behind piles of lumber to perform a choreographed dance routine to the couple’s favorite song. Meanwhile, regular shoppers looked on, bemused or perhaps annoyed at the flash mob blocking access to the 2x4s. It seemed like everyone we knew shared the video and commented on how sweet it was. I responded with a blog post titled, “Why That Home Depot Marriage Proposal Video Makes Me Want to Hurl.”

Some of my friends called me a sourpuss, but Drew agreed with every word. Couldn’t those guys have found some way to celebrate their love without requiring all their friends to buy solid-color tank tops and strut around like morons in a Paula Abdul dance phalanx? Drew and I knew our love was every bit as strong as theirs. We just didn’t think our romance should require a location scout.

Never was our relationship more in the spotlight than at Drew’s brother’s wedding. It was a wonderful day, full of love and jubilation, and as relatives like to do, people speculated who might be next to walk down the aisle. We attempted to deflect attention with the usual chuckle and eyeroll, but laughing off the notion was no longer quite so easy.

“You live in New York! It’s legal there!” people prodded. As we looked around the reception, though, Drew and I knew nothing had changed. This was beautiful, but it wasn’t for us.

That was it. Case closed. Or so I thought.

Months went by, then one day, the phone rang. “Hey, yeah, so…,” Drew stammered. This was the smoothest-talking man I’d ever known. I had no idea what could have him so flustered, but surely it was something huge. Aliens making contact with Earth? He got a girl pregnant? Turns out he had an even bigger shock in store. “You wanna get married?”

“I don’t know,” I replied, suspicious. “Do I?”

It may not have mattered to Drew and me that we lived in a marriage equality state, but as it turned out, it mattered to Drew’s company. They had just informed him that they would no longer accept our joint checking account as sufficient evidence of a lifelong commitment. Unless we got hitched, I’d be kicked off Drew’s health plan.

We agreed to tie the knot, but with no more fanfare than we felt the occasion deserved. We made an appointment at City Hall at 4:15 on a Friday afternoon, because Drew’s company had given us a deadline of 5pm that day to fax them the signed marriage certificate. We hardly told anyone it was happening. In the ultimate modern day non-acknowledgment, we even declined to Facebook it.

Our only guests would be our kids, who were now four years old. Our daughter was ecstatic about being a flower girl. We had to explain that there wouldn’t be any actual flower petals for her to spread delicately across the aisle. There probably wouldn’t even be an aisle. Our son wanted to know if there would be a party where he could dance to One Direction songs. No and no.

It was the first time I’d really thought about how this looked through our kids’ eyes. Drew and I had been perfectly satisfied, even pleased, with the relaxed nature of the proceedings, but what message was it sending to our son and daughter? That two men can get married… but they don’t get to make a big deal out of it?

Getting married would solve our problems. I’d be back on the insurance plan. Our friends would stop pestering us. But for the first time, it felt like maybe we deserved more.

During our brief engagement period, Drew had to take a trip to Los Angeles for work. I decided to tag along so I could see some friends. It was the first time we’d gone back together to the city where we’d met since we moved East two years earlier. We drove past our old condo building and stopped outside the restaurant where we had our first date.

“Come on,” Drew said. “Let’s go in.” He wanted to take a picture at the table where we met, something to show the kids. Unfortunately, someone was sitting there, and they didn’t look friendly.

He told me instead to take a seat on the bench in the waiting area.

“That isn’t a good spot for a picture,” I protested. “You can’t even tell where we are.”

“Just do it,” he insisted.

As I sat down, Drew reached into his coat pocket and got down on one knee. “I thought I should do this right,” he said. He flipped open a jewelry box and showed me a ring, then said the most romantic thing I’d never wanted to hear from him. “Will you marry me?”

It was so traditional, so not what the two of us were all about. And yet… so sweet. We were just a few feet from where we’d first laid eyes on each other, and in that moment, it felt like we were back at the beginning… of something.

Drew slipped the ring on my finger and walked me to the restaurant’s private room. As he peeled back a curtain, I saw the faces of twenty of our closest friends, champagne in their hands, ready to toast. There was a cake that said, “Congratulations Jerry & Drew!” A dozen iPhone cameras flashed at once.

There were people from every stage of our relationship, friends from before we’d met up through fellow parents from our kids’ gym class. I was overwhelmed to see them all together, and so grateful that they weren’t dancing in unison.

“Well,” one of them asked, nervously. “Did you say yes?”

“I don’t think I did,” I answered. “But yes!” It was all I could do not to chuckle and roll my eyes.

“I mean, duh.”

2014. The new beginning.

2014. The new beginning.

Our Disney Visit, in Pictures

FamilySelfieThe response to my Disney post has really blown me away. I’ve heard from so many cast members, many of whom have shared my post and all of whom have been astonishingly nice and complimentary. There have even been a few who remember my family from our trip! It’s never fun to come back from vacation, but all of you helped keep the magic going for a few more days, so thanks.

To everyone who read the post, I want to say a couple of things. One, many people wanted to make sure I know that Disney treats everyone as well as they treated my family. It’s their goal to make us all feel special. That couldn’t make me happier. I’d love to think that everyone who goes to Disney World has as wonderful a vacation as we did.

Two, the Fairy Godmother I wrote about is apparently well-known for being extra awesome. That makes me happy, too, because she definitely deserves the recognition. If you go to Orlando, make sure you pay her a visit.

Since people seemed to connect so well with that post, I figured I’d share a few more photos and anecdotes from our trip. Some of them have already appeared on my Facebook page, but I think they’re worth reposting here. Continue reading


Just a Couple of Gay Dads at Disney World

snowwhite2Last week, I did something I never thought I’d do. I went to Disney World as a dad.

The last time I’d been there, I was pretty much still a kid myself — 20 years old and just coming to terms with being gay. Everywhere I looked in Orlando, I saw dads. They were buckling their kids into the Dumbo ride and hoisting them onto their shoulders to watch the Main Street Electrical Parade. They all had big smiles on their faces, and they all had wives.

With that visit, Disney World became Exhibit A of what I was sacrificing by coming out of the closet.

Or so I thought.

I’ve written a whole book about how I got from that point to fatherhood, and I’m happy to say that twenty years in the future, life looks a lot better than I ever expected it would. As soon as Drew and I felt the kids were old enough to appreciate a Disney vacation, we booked our trip.

I had just a tinge of nerves as the four of us headed for the airport. We’re never more visible as a family than when we travel. Nothing says “We file taxes jointly” as clearly as sharing a Lion King suite in a Disney hotel. And I doubt any place in America draws such a cross-section of Americans as Orlando. I was sure we’d bump into some people who wouldn’t find our family… let’s say, family-friendly.

We’d barely stepped through the front door of our hotel when an eager employee — er, I mean cast member — strolled up to us and asked if we needed to check in.

“Well, I was told I’d get a text when our room was ready, and it hasn’t come yet,” I told him.

“Hmmm, let me see,” he said. He took down my name and disappeared behind the check-in desk.

A minute later, he was back. “You haven’t been assigned a room yet, but I’m going to talk to my manager and get that taken care of right away! Just sit tight!”

We watched him approach his manager, and Drew whispered to me. “I think we’re getting the family treatment, if you know what I mean.”

Of course I knew what he meant. The cast member who was helping us was gay (“family”) himself, so he was being extra nice to us. Moments later, we were upstairs in a fantastic room on the top floor.

Though I’d planned all our meal reservations months in advance (which you have to do if you want to eat at the good spots), I needed to make a change to one. I was not optimistic I’d be able to get what I wanted, but I picked up our hotel phone and dialed the reservation line.

“So this is for you and… Andrew?” the man on the other end asked, reading my information off his computer.


“And are you celebrating anything today?”

“Well, it’s our anniversary, actually.” (We hadn’t specifically planned to be at Disney World for the occasion, but a lot of big life events seem to end up happening on the same day Drew and I met 11 years ago.)

“Aw!” he said. I realized that once again, we were getting the family treatment. He fixed my reservation and waived the change fee.

It’s then that I realized something that would become even clearer to me throughout our vacation: a LOT of gay people work at Disney World. And as I’ve already learned, gay people love to see gay parents. Thanks to them and all the other wonderful people who work at the Magic Kingdom, I felt completely safe at Disney and never had any second thoughts about whether my family belonged there.

mulansuccessWe spent our vacation like pretty much everyone else. We dined with everyone from Donald Duck to Tigger to Stitch to Sleeping Beauty. We stalked Mulan through Epcot’s China pavilion so the kids could get her autograph, camping out on a tip that she was going to make a surprise appearance. (Success!) We spent roughly half our kids’ college funds on Disney merchandise.

It was awesome.

Instead of feeling self-conscious about our family, we felt… well, special.

As we stood on Main Street waiting for a lunch reservation one day, a cast member approached us in character and said, “You have a beautiful family! The four of you, I love this.” She pointed at each of us, just so we knew for sure that she understood exactly what kind of family we had.

fairygodmotherOur kids felt like celebrities, because everyone from the White Rabbit to Princess Tiana treated them rock stars. They got picked to take part in shows, Mike Wazowski read Bennett’s joke during the Monsters, Inc. show, and the characters at Disney restaurants didn’t want to leave our table. No one was more awesome than Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother. We stood in line one day to get her autograph, and the next day, she spotted us during the park’s opening ceremony. “I remember you guys!” she called out to us. “Come see me later!”

Of course, we did, and she greeted us like old friends. This was a woman who probably spoke to hundreds of families a day, but precisely because we were a little bit different, she remembered us. It made me realize once again that it’s better to stand out than to blend in.

Any fears I had about people reacting negatively to our family were unfounded. As I’ve noted in other posts, the nice people we come into contact with tend to be extra-nice to us, and the homophobes are at least polite enough to stay out of our way.

There’s no way to say this without sounding cheesy or like some Disney shill (which I’m not — no one has paid me for this post!), but the best word I can think of to describe our trip was “magical.”

Becoming a dad was a major life victory for me, but it was hardly the last one. It’s been followed by innumerable others, the most recent of which came last week, when I took my family to Disney World, just like anyone else.

And it was even better than I’d imagined.

* * * * *

If you’re a regular reader, you may already know to skip the part after the asterisks, because you’ve probably already subscribed to my blog and followed me everywhere else, too — and geez, when’s he going to stop asking? Those of you who are still reading — what are you waiting for? Subscribe, like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter — and hey, as long as I’m shamelessly groveling, why not mark my book as “to read” on GoodReads? That’d be swell.

(l-r) Awesome, Cool, Hilarious Daddy; Daddy

My Two Daddies… The Awesome, Cool, Hilarious Daddy, and the Other One

(l-r) Awesome, Cool, Hilarious Daddy; Daddy

(l-r) Awesome, Cool, Hilarious Daddy; Daddy

There was nothing I wanted to inherit from my father more than the name “Dad.” I loved my dad, and in my mind, he was indelibly tied to that particular sobriquet. “Dad” was a term of love and respect for me, a part of all my memories of childhood and a crucial element of how I defined my family. The problem, when I actually became a dad, was that my partner Drew wanted to be called “Dad,” too — or, in the early years, “Daddy.”

“You can’t both be Dad,” a million people warned us. “That’ll be so confusing for your kids.”

They suggested we go by “Daddy” and “Papa,” which seem to be the go-to designations for gay dads these days. No matter how much we considered it, though, “Papa” felt like the consolation prize, and neither of us would agree to settle for it. We both grew up with dads whom we loved very much, so that’s what we wanted to be. Finally, we found someone who gave us the answer we were looking for.

“We’ve never had a problem,” a business associate of Drew’s told us one day. He and his partner had an eight-year-old son who called them both “Dad.”

“Is it ever confusing?”

He shrugged. “When it is, he finds ways to differentiate.”

So we went for it. Before they could even understand speech, our twins heard the word “Daddy” thousands of times. To them, “Daddy” came to mean two different men and one common function. They called for Daddy to kiss their boo-boos and to break up their disputes, not knowing for sure whether the tall guy or the short guy would walk through the door. When they didn’t get the Daddy they were hoping for, they made their displeasure known.

My kids will turn 4 this summer, and already, they’re pros at differentiating between their two dads. Their favorite way is to use modifiers like “Silly Daddy” or “Funny Daddy”, and in those cases, we all know instantly who they mean — not me. When they take the extra effort to throw in a compliment like that, they’re always talking about Drew. I’m just plain old “Daddy.” Some days, Papa doesn’t sound so bad to me anymore.

I want to plead my case: “Remember when I sang Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’, but I changed every word to ‘poop’? Didn’t we have a lot of laughs then?” But I don’t want to end up as “Desperate Daddy,” so I keep my hurt feelings to myself.

I’m the stay-home parent, so while the kids and I do have fun together, I’m also the guy who enforces naptime and who makes them take off their dress-up clothes while they eat their healthy dinners. At night, when Silly Daddy is at his most uproarious, I’m groaning and trying to rush them to bed, because I’m exhausted from all the unfunny things I do all day.

… which brings me to the one distinction that hurts more than Silly Daddy vs. Just Daddy. At some point, my kids started calling my partner “The Daddy Who Goes To Work” and I became “The Daddy Who Stays Home”. Was that how they saw things? Drew was defined by his job, but I was defined by my location, by the fact that you could usually find me within 20 feet of the bed where I slept last night?

These kids didn’t know me before I was Daddy. I used to have a career, too, one that I enjoyed, and that allowed me to live a lot more comfortably than I do now. I took vacations. I saved for my retirement. I saw movies in the theater.

I thought I was trading that in for something better, a more interesting and adventurous life path. I was going to be a dad — a professional dad — and a gay dad at that. Take that, status quo!

Instead, I’ve ended up like most stay-home parents, the clichéd unappreciated house-spouse. I’ll find myself cracking privately to friends, “You know what they should be calling me? The Daddy Who Gave Up His Life for Us!”

It turns out that deciding who I would be to my kids wasn’t as simple as choosing what they would call me. I still love being referred to as “Daddy,” but I’ve come to accept that that term doesn’t mean the same to them as it did to me when I was growing up. For my kids, “Daddy” is an ever-evolving designation, one that requires adjustment at times, complete overhaul at others.

Recently, they decided that “The Daddy Who Stays Home” wasn’t quite working for them anymore. Without notice, they gave it a subtle twist, one that probably seemed minor to them but which brought me instantly out of my funk. It materialized as my daughter drew pictures of two men’s faces, which looked very similar except that one had spiky purple hair and one had a red crew cut. “This is the Daddy Who Goes to Work,” she said, pointing to the first one.

“And this,” she said, holding up the other picture proudly, “is the Daddy Who Takes Care of Us.”

"The Daddy Who Takes Care of Us"

“The Daddy Who Takes Care of Us”


OK, you saw the asterisks. You know what that means. This is the part of the post where I shamelessly ask you to share this post (or my blog in general) on your social networks. Facebook me, tweet me, surprise me. If you like something I wrote here, help me out by spreading the word. If you hate it, then you can still share it, because hey, traffic is traffic, and your friends might have better taste than you. Also, follow me on Facebook, Twitter and wherever else you can find me. I’m not the type of guy who plays hard to find.


How to Talk to Kids About the Supreme Court Decisions on Same-Sex Marriage?


Yes, that’s a question mark at the end of that post title. Anyone have any ideas?

When news broke that the Supreme Court struck down DOMA and Prop 8, I’m sure a lot of straight parents were stumped about how to discuss the subject with their kids. In the past, I’ve had a lot of sympathy for straight parents who wanted to explain gay parents like me and my partner to their kids. Well, this is one instance in which I say to straight parents, you’ve got it easy. For you, it’s as simple as, “They decided everyone should be treated equally. Hooray!”

As a gay dad, though, I need to have the exact opposite conversation. Before I can tell my kids how great it is that we’re now considered equal, I first have to explain why we weren’t equal to begin with. Our kids have always known that couples come in all varieties of gender combinations — woman/woman, man/man, man/woman, lady/tramp. What they don’t know — and gratefully, are still too young to understand — is that not all of those groups feel comfortable sharing plates of spaghetti in public.

ImageI wrote in a Lifetime Moms post how I don’t want to tell my daughter she can do anything boys can do, because, y’know, duh. Since I wrote that post, there have been a couple of times she’s heard from other people that girls can’t do something, and I’ve had to let her know that those people are horribly wrong, and also just plain horrible. As a result, my extremely girly little girl swears she’s going to be a construction worker when she grows up. Success.

I’ve always felt pretty much the same way about homophobia that I did about sexism: I’ll wait for the kids to encounter it, and then it’ll seem as bizarre and unfounded to them as it should.

Luckily, that plan has served me well so far, because my kids have yet to experience any direct homophobia. All of my fears about parents refusing to set up playdates with us, schools turning us away or landlords refusing to rent to us have been, so far, unfounded. There are the occasional moments we get some extra attention because we have two dads in our family, so my kids briefly get to feel like celebrities. But no one’s thrown any rocks through our windows or given us any negative attention. For the most part, we get treated exactly the way I want to be treated.

It’s not that I don’t want my kids to know about homophobia. It’s just that I’m not sure they’d believe me.

SupremeCourtJusticesThat may be the best part about being a gay parent, that my kids are the only people I’ve ever known who I didn’t have to come out to, who didn’t know about or assume the shame and fear I grew up with. To them, I’m just “Dad”, and the fact that I love “Other Dad” isn’t just natural and wonderful, it’s a fundamental part of their world view.

So, sure, I want to tell my kids about the Supreme Court’s ruling. I want them to see all the people celebrating and all the couples like their dads who are now getting married. There’s just no way they’d appreciate what a big deal it is and no way to do it without exposing them, just a tiny bit, to exactly the thing I’ve been trying to protect them from. I don’t want my kids to feel like victims, and I don’t want them to think they have to be fighters, either. I just want them to be themselves, and so far, they’re doing an awesome job of that.

This is undoubtedly an historical moment, but I’ve decided this is one bit of history they can wait to learn about until their high school history class, because the world the Supreme Court just brought us one step closer to, is one my kids already live in.


If you made it this far, why not go further… like by leaving me a comment? Or maybe sharing this post on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, Digg or Glakk (c’mon, you know there’s gotta be a Glakk). And you can make me even happier by subscribing to the blog in the box on the upper-right hand corner of the page, liking me on Facebook and/or following me on Twitter. [End of shameless self-promotion. Now seriously, how do I invest in Glakk?]

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the M-Word

specialauntsdayThere’s a dirty word among gay dads. The M-word. I’ve written about it before, and I’ve done everything I can to avoid saying it around my kids. Back when Drew and I first decided to pursue surrogacy, the head of the surrogacy agency himself told us to write it out of our vocabularies. An egg donor is an egg donor, not a “biological mom.” And a surrogate is just a surrogate, not a surrogate m-word.

It makes sense, in a way. If we’re going to have a non-traditional family, we should embrace who we are, both with our kids and with the world. Nope, no Mommy here. Try the next family. It might be hard on our kids at times, but it’s better for them to appreciate what’s different about our family than try to force ourselves into some rigid ideal of what families are supposed to be, which will never really fit us.

So we’ve been very clear. We have two dads and two kids, and that’s our family. We also have two very special aunts, our surrogate and our egg donor. (Sure, we’ve broadened the definition of the term “aunt” so it doesn’t just mean daddy’s sister, but let’s not be nitpicky.)

It’s been very easy to explain to the kids, because, of course, they’ve had no idea what the hell we’re talking about. Sure, they picked up pretty quickly on the fact that most families have a mommy and we don’t. But “surrogate” and “egg donor” have always been pretty empty terms to them, since they’re way too young to understand what those things mean.

They’re starting to, though.

We’ve made a point of celebrating Special Aunts Day (a/k/a Surrogate and Egg Donor Day, or Other’s Day) the day before Mother’s Day. It’s a way to remind the kids of where they came from, to show them how proud we are of our family and to honor two incredible women whom we love dearly. Plus, this way, the kids don’t feel as left out when all the other kids at school are making Mother’s Day crafts.

We’d lost touch with our surrogate a bit since we moved away from California. Drew and I still felt incredibly close to her, but our 3 1/2 year olds hadn’t seen her for nearly half their lives. We don’t want them to forget her,  so we decided to fly her and her son out this year to spend Special Aunts Day with us and the kids.

(Selfishly, I’ll admit I had an ulterior motive, which was to have her take publicity photos for my upcoming book — coming Spring 2014! It just so happens Aunt Tiffany is an amazing professional photographer.)

We also invited Aunt Susie and her daughter to make our Surrogate and Egg Donor Day complete. We decided to make a long weekend of it. It would be great to spend the extra time with them, but that left a troubling prospect looming over our heads.

Our surrogate and egg donor, who are arguably m-word adjacent, wouldn’t just be spending Surrogate and Egg Donor Day with us. They’d be here for Mother’s Day as well.

We started prepping the kids for the upcoming visitors months ago. “You know two daddies alone can’t make a baby, right?” we’d say. “So Aunt Susie donated her eggs and Aunt Tiffany carried you in her belly, and they helped us make you.”

babybookWe read them a photo book we’d made about their conception and birth. We wanted to make sure they knew the role their special aunts had in making our family — what it was, and what it wasn’t.

It had been almost three years since we were all together, but there’s only one way to describe how it felt to have them with us again. It felt like family.

The kids are currently at that awkward age, roughly between 2 and 27, when they get shy around people they don’t know very well. We feared that might happen with Aunt Tiffany, who has yet to figure out how to use Skype. Apparently, though, all the preparation made a big difference. Despite the fact that they hadn’t seen her in years, the kids welcomed her instantly with big hugs.

specialauntsday-1We spent Surrogate and Egg Donor Day at Legoland. (Good thing we’ve forgiven Legoland.) Bennett gave it his usual review of “Best day ever!”, and I concur.

Still, I was afraid of how the next day would go. We couldn’t ignore it. Aunt Susie and Aunt Tiffany were both moms themselves, and they’d brought their kids with them. They deserved to be honored for their role in their own families.

So we did it all over again. We spent Sunday in Times Square, where we rode the Toys R Us ferris wheel and I got testy with some of the costumed creeps, (“Hey, Spiderman, go away! You’re scaring my kids.”). We didn’t shy away from the M-word, because that’s what the day was all about. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever said the M-word more in one day.

“Isn’t Aunt Tiffany a great mommy to Gavin?” we’d say. “Isn’t Grace lucky to have her mommy?” “Let’s give a toast to two great mommies!”

Just that quickly, the M-word was back. It’s a beautiful word, and my kids deserve to hear it, see it and respect it. Despite what I always feared, I think it will only make them appreciate our family more.

timessqelmoI know my kids are still young, and I know there will be times in the future they’ll be sad that they don’t have a mom. Maybe when they hear it in certain contexts, it might sting a bit.

But for now, this year, things were just perfect. Sure, it helped that the weekend was a non-stop funfest. It’s hard for a three-year-old to be sad about anything when he or she is meeting Elmo live, in the fur.

But if I had any doubt about how my kids felt toward their special aunts, it was erased every time I saw Sutton hug one of them. She wrapped her arms around them, smiled a smile that was somehow twice as wide as her face and squealed a very special message just for them.

“Thank you for making us!” she said.

5 Ways to Celebrate Mother’s Day… Minus the Mom

othersdaymugI had a great chat with my kids’ teacher yesterday about how to handle Mother’s Day. (She actually raised the topic with me, so she gets an A+ in my book.) I told her in our family, we celebrate Special Aunts Day, so she’ll be directing our kids’ craft projects toward their surrogate and egg donor and letting the other kids know that there are many different types of families. Have I mentioned how much I love my kids’ school?

Like I said, though, there are many different types of families, so what we’ve chosen to do isn’t going to work for everyone. Therefore, I wrote a new Lifetime Moms post with a few different suggestions for people whose family may not fit the Mother’s Day (or Father’s Day) mold but who want some ideas for how they can join in the celebration. I hope it’s helpful.

You can check out the Lifetime Moms post here, and if you have any suggestions of your own, please leave a comment.

My Son is Special

bennettmonalisaI had originally planned to call this post, “Shameless Boasts of a Superdad: My Kids Are Freaking Geniuses,” because any parent knows that their #1 responsibility in raising their children is to brag about them, even when privately the kids are driving them close to a nervous breakdown. Not my kids, of course. Other people’s. So I’ve heard.

My kids really are geniuses, and I was going to lay out all the evidence in this post so you could decide for yourself if I had a couple of Stephen Hawkings on my hands or merely Einsteins. I was going to lead the whole thing off with this picture:


That’s Bennett completing a puzzle of the solar system, for the first time, by himself, without looking at the box. Um, yeah. And he was 3 years, 4 months old when this was taken. Did I mention he had no idea what the solar system even was? (He does now. He’s learned a lot in the last 4 months.)

As I started composing the post in my head, though, I had an “Uh-oh” moment. “Uh-oh,” I thought. “Some people might see this a little differently.”

See, a few months ago, I put up a post that showed Bennett doing one of his favorite activities, lining up whatever objects he has handy and imagining them as trains. I thought it showed a pretty creative mind, or at the very least, a snapshot of a little boy who really liked trains.

Most people did see it that way, but there was a minority that wrote with concern. It turns out a nagging attention to detail and repetitive behavior can be red flags in kids this age.

It wasn’t the first time I’d had those fears myself. Who doesn’t? We all know there’s an epidemic, and early intervention is key, so any half-aware parent is going to take note of their kid’s unusual behavior.

The problem is, everything about my kid is unusual.

eyerollWhen Bennett was a baby, he started doing this thing where he would roll his eyes back in his head. It could’ve been a neurological tic, but I swear it seemed more like a sarcastic eye-roll. His timing with deploying it was impeccable. It really seemed like he was mocking me, which I loved. But he was way too young for that… wasn’t he?

Bennett also has a very mechanical mind. He loves toys that turn when you move a crank. He loves to check out all their moving parts. One day, Drew was running on the treadmill, and Bennett got down on the floor to inspect it. “It goes around!” he said, in a eureka moment. “You’re not moving!” At 3, he understands that a constantly rotating belt is what makes a treadmill work. Personally, if you’d asked me, my first guess would’ve been “magic”.

Bennett also likes to wear his sister’s dresses. He was planning to be Thomas the Train for Halloween, but at the last minute, he changed his mind and went as Sleeping Beauty. He’s told me that when he grows up, he plans to marry a boy. Other times, he says he’s going to marry his sister or one of his daddies. (And yes, it stings when he picks the other daddy over me. “Why, Bennett? Don’t you think I can provide for you?”) On a side note, it’s nice living at a time and in a state where my son can tell me he wants to marry a boy someday, and I can respond with a simple, “Okay!”

Again, some people want to put labels on these behaviors, but he’s 3 years old. Do I think he’s confused about his gender? Probably not. He’s always been very clear in labeling himself a boy. I just think in a family with two dads, you have to work extra hard to be subversive. Maybe he senses our family is different than most, and he wears it as a badge of honor. Plus, dresses are fun to twirl around in.

notcornholioBennett’s laugh is the single greatest sound in the world, a high-pitched titter that conveys nothing but pure joy. There’s a smile that goes with it that I won’t even try to describe. You just have to see it, and if you spend five seconds with him, you will. His favorite meal is a grilled cheese sandwich, followed closely by two peanut butter half-sandwiches. His third favorite meal is walking away from the table to play with his trains.

He has a couple of catch phrases. One is, “That can’t be right!” He says it whenever something unexpected happens. While watching Beauty & the Beast, he might say, “A talking candlestick? That can’t be right!” He also says it when he thinks you’re trying to fool him, even if you aren’t. “You mix yellow and blue to make green? That can’t be right!”

His other catch phrase is, “I gotta tell you something.” He says this every single time he begins a conversation, even if he’s not sure what he wants to talk about yet.


“Yeah, pal?”

“I gotta tell you something.”

“OK. What?”

(pause) “Hi.”

Speaking of trains, he knows every single friend Thomas the Tank Engine has. All their smushy faces look exactly the same to me, but one quick glance is all he needs to say, “That’s Gordon” or “That’s Skarloey”. He can play trains quietly by himself for half an hour. That may not sound like long, but at this age, it’s an ETERNITY. He can get 7 different engines going at once on the same track. He spaces them out perfectly so they won’t crash into each other. When we got him a kiddie mp3 player, he wanted us to load it up with nothing but Thomas the Tank Engine songs. (There are more than you’d imagine, and some of them aren’t half bad.)

He’s a better athlete than I ever was. A better dancer, too. He loves to invent games with names like “Run With a Balloon” or “Run Around the Trampoline,” or my favorite, which is simply called “Run!”

bennettclimbsHe’s off-the-charts skinny, literally below the first percentile in weight. He’s the only kid I’ve ever known who’ll stop eating dessert when he feels he’s had enough. Seriously, the kid can take two nibbles of an Oreo, shrug and say, “I’m done” and then just walk away. (That’s when his sister and I rush in and fight over the part he left behind.)

One of his favorite pastimes is to walk around with his eyes closed. At first we warned him he was going to get hurt, but then we realized stumbling into things was part of the fun for him. Maybe he just likes experimenting, seeing the world in a different way. He has gotten hurt, of course, but right after that, he’ll close his eyes and stumble into something else.

There are a million things about this kid that some people might see as odd, but whenever that voice in my head says, “Something’s wrong,” it gets shouted down by an even louder voice that tells me, “He’s perfect.” Not one of those million unique things about my kid is bad. So he’s good at math? Great. He has a silly sense of humor? Awesome. He likes machines? Swell.

What matters more to me than anything is that Bennett is the happiest kid I’ve ever known. One of the things he says the most is, “This is the best ____ ever!” You can insert virtually any word into that blank. “day,” “episode of ‘Dora’,” “peanut butter sandwich.” I’ve heard them all.

Quirkiness is a gift. So many people struggle to develop it in their teens and 20s, and my kid was lucky enough to born with it, in spades. Maybe it was growing up gay that made me realize not every idiosyncrasy is a problem to be solved. As a teenager, I always felt the need to hide from who I was. It took me half a lifetime to accept that there was nothing wrong with me. When it comes to my kids, I want to teach them that from the very start.

Sometimes, things Bennett does stand out to me, or to other people. But I’m not concerned. If there’s a technical term for whatever’s made him the way it is, it still won’t bother me, because what he is, is perfect.

My son is special, and I wouldn’t change a thing about him.

Marriage, As My 3-Year-Olds See It

weddingSutton: “Daddy, did you know girls can marry girls?”

Me: “Yes, I did.”

Sutton: “That’s silly!”

Me: “Well, I don’t think so. If they’re in love, then I think it’s really nice.”

Sutton: “I’m going to marry a boy.”

Me: “Great.”

Bennett: “Me, too!”

Me: “Awesome. You both should marry whoever you fall in love with.”

Sutton: “And I’m going to have a daughter, and I’m going to name her Sutton.”

Me: “That’s very sweet.”

Bennett: “And I’m going to have twenty kids!”

Me: “OK…”

Bennett: “They will all be boys, and they will all be named Bennett.”

Me: “Great.”

Bennett: “And I’m going to marry them all!”

Me: “Um… we’ll talk about that, buddy.”

(We’ve actually had many conversations similar to this one. Sometimes, they say they’re going to marry each other, and sometimes, Bennett announces that his 20 Bennetts will have 20 moms, which is also something I hope he’ll reconsider.)

UPDATE:  In the 5 minutes since I posted this, the subject of marriage came up again. First, Bennett said he was going to marry me, then Sutton said he couldn’t because she was going to marry me. Bennett told her she could marry the other daddy, but I belonged to him. They fought over me for a minute. Then Sutton announced that she was going to marry another girl and ran off shouting, “Hooray!”

My point is, we’re all evolving on the subject of marriage.

Hey, Everyone! It’s the Greatest, Most Thrilling Post Ever With Huge News! Wow!

Where Do Gaybies Come From, bookshelf, great books, literatureI’ve been hoping for a long time I’d get to write this post. I’m so excited about it that I’m actually going to skip over the rambling, often unrelated intro I sometimes give my posts and just get right to the announcement:

My book sold.

Insane cheers, tears of joy, sigh of relief…

It sold.

Let’s be honest. Until now, calling it a book was a bit of a stretch. Until now, it was really just a very big file on my hard drive. In about a year, though, my book will be a book. A book with a list price and an ISBN and my name on the cover. You will be able to read it, download it, buy an illegal copy for a dollar on the streets of Chinatown, borrow it from the library, burn it, give it no stars on Amazon and/or purchase it in whatever bookstores still exist when it gets released. You may even be able to get sworn in on it on The People’s Court. I’ll have to check on that. In short, all the qualities that qualify something to be termed “a book” will apply to something I wrote.

My book.

To those of you who are newer around here, “my book” is a memoir I’ve been writing for the last few years called WHERE DO GAYBIES COME FROM? It’s about how my boyfriend Drew and I became dads. For the short version of our story, you can read the Modern Love I wrote.

The full version comes out in March 2014. More details here.

This book is not a compilation of blog posts or a bunch of stuff you’ve already read. It’s made up of all-new material, except for maybe a joke or two that I used somewhere else and which was just too good to leave out. It’s a story, with a beginning, a middle and (well, since you already know, I’ll just be honest) a happy ending. I guess you could consider it a prequel to this blog, or alternatively, Mommy Man’s origin story.

I have plenty of time to hype it up over the next year, so I won’t go into too much detail, but I will say I am incredibly proud of my book. If you like this blog, then the book should have just the mix of inappropriate humor and shameless sentimentality you’ve come to recognize as constituting “my thing.”

At the risk of this turning into some unwarranted acceptance speech or of spoiling the acknowledgments section of my book (my book!), I want to thank everyone who visits, comments, subscribes, shares, likes, Diggs, Reddits, pins, stumbles upon, reblogs, emails, freshly presses, puts me on television or just wanders in here through a google image search for angry cat pictures. (Still my #1 referral!) I begged you to do all those things, and you did. Then publishers noticed and determined they could likely get a fair number of you to pony up twenty bucks or so to read my book. The system works!

In other words, brace yourself, because now begins Phase 2, wherein I raise the stakes and ask you to actually pay money to read my writing, (i.e., buy my book). I promise not to do too much of that, but you can expect some hard-core pimping for sure amid the usual pee and poo posts I put up here. Also, if you happen to be Oprah’s niece or Stephen King’s gardener and you can help me slip them an advance preview copy, now’s a good time to make yourself known.

Thanks to Drew and the kids for putting up with all the time Daddy spent neglecting his parental duties writing over the last few years.

Finally, I need to point your attention to the greatest agent I could’ve asked for, Laurie Abkemeier of DeFiore and Company, whose advice, wisdom, editing skill and unflagging dedication to me and to this project made this happen. If you have any interest in publishing or just knowing cool people, you should follow her on Twitter, read her Tumblr and download her Agent Obvious app (it’s free!).

Most of all, just thanks.

Also, thanks.

Thank you.