Book Soup Tomorrow!

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LA, we’re here! The kids are back for the first time since we moved, we skillfully avoided any Gay Pride-related gridlock on the way to the hotel, and we’re gearing up for tomorrow night’s reading.

Come join me, Angelenos! It’s going to be a wild night, and there should be some very special guests you may have read about in the book. Yes, I mean Drew, but other people, too.

Book Soup
8818 Sunset Blvd.
West Hollywood
7pm, Monday, June 9

Wild revelry to follow at State Social House across the street. Share, retweet, reblog, but most of all, come!

5 Myths About Gay Parents I’d Like to Wipe Out Forever

FamilySelfieIf there’s one point I’ve tried to make over and over on this blog, it’s that being a gay dad is awesome. People are almost uniformly nice and welcoming. Our kids feel like rock stars. Life is great.

Every once in a while, though, I hear someone make an offhand remark about LGBTQ parents that makes me cringe. And it’s not always the usual culprits. Sometimes, we’re our own worst enemies, and it’s gay people themselves (usually childless ones) who make unfair generalizations about those of us who do have kids.

So, in honor of Mombian’s 9th annual Blogging for LGBTQ Families Day (you can see my post from last year here), I want to address some sentiments I’ve encountered as a gay dad, from both gay and straight people, which I find incredibly wrong-headed and which I’d like to dispel once and for all.

2014familyday403MYTH #1: Gay parenting is just some hip new trend.

I’ve heard this remark a few times, often from older gay men rolling their eyes in disdain. “Suddenly, everyone’s having kids! It’s like you can’t be seen in Park Slope without one!”

Well, maybe the reason so many gay people are having kids these days isn’t that it’s trendy. It’s that for pretty much the first time ever, we can. As I say in my book, “Mommy Man”, I never thought when I was growing up that I’d be able to have kids at all. So when I realized I could, you’re damn right I made it happen, and clearly, I’m not alone.

It’s only in the last few years that the legal, social, biological and financial barriers keeping LGBTQ people from having kids have begun to come down. At the same time, the legalization of same-sex marriage has made more LGBTQ people comfortable with the thought of having families, because we know our kids will be protected and our families will be recognized for what they are.

So sure, Park Slope might be crawling with gaybies, but if you’re thinking this will blow over and all the gay parents are someday going to trade their kids in for pet rocks or whatever the next hot fad is, you’re missing the point.

MYTH #2: There’s something weird about the way gay people have kids.

As someone whose kids were born through surrogacy, I’m especially used to hearing this misconception, because in vitro fertilization and surrogacy are things many people still don’t quite understand. You’re free to make your own choices as to how you want to have kids, of course, but as for what went into making my kids, all you really need to know is that the #1 ingredient was love.

My husband and I conceived with the help of his sister, who generously donated her eggs for us. It seems like every time I say this, somebody brings up the issue of incest. Weren’t we worried that mixing genetic material from a brother and sister would create some kind of demonic freakbaby?

Well, yes we were worried about that, which is why WE NEVER EVEN CONSIDERED IT. It seems so obvious to me, but I’m starting to wonder whether I should change the title of my book to “We Used My Sperm” just to make sure there’s no confusion on anyone’s part.

What’s really startling about this, though, is that anyone believes for even a moment that we would’ve broken the ultimate genetic taboo just to have kids. As if, because we didn’t do things the “traditional way”, all sense of propriety and safety went out the window.

Sure, LGBTQ people have kids through a variety of methods, but when you break them down, they’re all pretty much the same. Egg, sperm, uterus. It’s just a matter of who those parts belong to that varies. When we have kids, there are no guarantees, and there’s often heartbreak. But nature is pretty consistent and the goal is always the same, that one day a kid will go home with a parent or two who loves them.

Does Prada make one of these?

Does Prada make one of these?

MYTH #3: Gay parents treat children as accessories.

I would never believe anyone thought this if I hadn’t heard actual people say it. But I have. There are people who think gays only want kids because they make good “accessories”.

I don’t know what gay parents these people know, but the ones I’ve encountered are every bit as loving, nurturing and dedicated as any other parents. They have to be, or they never would’ve become parents in the first place.

Having a family when you’re LGBTQ is hard. No matter what path you choose – adoption, surrogacy, fostering — it takes an enormous amount of time, expense and every ounce of emotion you have to get to the point where there’s a child in your care. I can’t imagine anyone actually becoming a gay parent if they’re not in it for the right reasons.

The suggestion that this “accessory” mentality exists comes directly from a stereotype – a viciously homophobic one at that – of gay men as shallow and selfish. What’s more offensive than to suggest that LGBTQ people would consider a human child to be on par with a Gucci handbag? (And by the way, next to the cost of parenthood, those handbags are a steal.)

If all you want is an accessory, you’re better off choosing one that won’t throw up on you or scream-sing “Let It Go” at your feet every time you pick up the goddamn phone for five freaking seconds.

As a gay dad, the only accessory I actually have is called a Diaper Dude, and I don’t wear it over my shoulder everywhere I go because I’m expecting to be hounded by paparazzi outside of Gymboree. I carry it because it contains spare underpants in case my kids shit themselves when we’re away from home.

Glamorous, right?

MYTH #4: Surrogacy is inherently narcissistic.

A lot of people look down on the notion of surrogacy as a needlessly complicated and expensive way to have kids, when there are so many kids out there who need good homes. The implication was that people only choose surrogacy because they want to look into their kid’s eyes and see themselves reflected back.

Well, let me make one thing very clear: as a parent, I spend a lot less time gazing lovingly into my children’s eyes than staring disgustedly at their poopy buttholes. And trust me, when I’m wiping up their feces, I’m not looking for any resemblance.

Yes, for my husband and me, having kids who share some of our genes is nice. We get to play that, “Which one of you do they look like?” game, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting that connection with a child. But outside of that comes the other 99.999% of parenting, which is the same no matter where your kids came from.

Genetics isn’t the only reason to choose surrogacy. I’ve written a post on 6 of the others, but the main one is that legally, no path to parenthood gives gay people nearly as many rights as surrogacy does. Adoptions fall through, and foster kids get taken away, but my kids belonged to my husband and me from the moment of conception. They were ours if something tragic happened or if they ended up with special needs or funny-looking noses. We took the same chances every parent does, and ultimately, they resemble themselves a lot more than they do either of us.

As for all those needy kids, it may sound harsh, but not everyone is equipped to take in a special needs kid or to deal with the legal and emotional complications of fostering. Nobody tells straight people that they shouldn’t be having kids of their own, so it’s best not to judge how people had their family. “Your family is beautiful” is a compliment that works for any family, so go with that instead.

MYTH #5: Children of gay parents are forced into an unfair legal limbo.

Let me be very clear: I would never have had children with a surrogate if I thought my legal rights would be in question. Yet the myth still exists that surrogates can for custody if they feel like it. I even encountered this mistaken belief in my radio interview last week.

It’s not true.

California, where my kids were born, is one of the most progressive states in recognizing gay parental rights. Both my partner and I are listed as parents on their birth certificates, and as I said, we had full legal rights to them from the moment of conception. California recognized the legality of our surrogacy contract, and we had no fears that the surrogate would ever be granted any parenting rights. Had that been a legitimate concern, we would never have taken the risk.

Admittedly, this is one myth I can’t wholly dismiss. Gay parents are all over the country, but statutes concerning surrogacy, adoption and foster parenting vary from state to state. As a result, some gay parents are left to take some uncomfortable chances in having children. In some places, same-sex couples are prohibited from adopting altogether, and in others, gay parents have to endure protracted and expensive second parent adoptions, even when they’re legally married.

If that upsets you, don’t hold it against gay parents, who don’t deserve to be discriminated against just because they happen to live in, say, North Carolina.  Just realize that the government is behind the times and needs to catch up to the realities of our modern family era.

I just wish I were more optimistic that those changes were coming, when some gay people themselves still hold some very backward ideas about gay parents.

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Want to learn more about the realities of gay parents – and specifically, of my family? Then read my book, “Mommy Man: How I Went From Mild-Mannered Geek to Gay Superdad,” which is now available wherever you like to buy books, and which Publisher’s Weekly calls “Uproarious.”

Not convinced? Head over to Amazon or GoodReads to read the reviews, and download the sample chapter to check it out.

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If you want to read one really awesome review of “Mommy Man”, check out this one written by Mombian (a/k/a Dana Rudolph) herself.

My Appearance on the Larry Flick Show

jerrymahoneysirius“Did you guys hear what they said just now? On the radio?”

“They said Jerry Mahoney!”

“Right. And who’s that?”

“That’s you!”

“YES!!!”

For a minute, my kids were impressed. As I was driving them to school, Larry Flick of SiriusXM OutQ announced I’d be in his studio later that morning. I was going there to promote my book, Mommy Man, but for all my kids knew I would be showing up to drop my new jam featuring Juicy J. In their eyes, Daddy was Katy Perry, and it felt awesome.

It was a lot of fun being on the air. Larry and his crew were very nice, and I got to plug the book, which was the whole point, I guess.

But I NEVER should’ve told Larry right before we went on the air that Drew was a big fan of his show.

Another Rave Review — And a Contest Update!!!

Me at BookExpo America 2014

Me at BookExpo America, May 29, 2014

Nobody tells you this about your book’s release, but much like growing up gay, it gets better.

Much.

Sure, it was fun when that box of books arrived in the mail and when people started sending me selfies*, but now that the book has been out for 3 weeks, the good times have really begun.

Promoting a book is awesome!

It helps that my publisher has been setting up some great events for me. Earlier this week, I got to go to SiriusXM headquarters and chat with Larry Flick of OutQ. (I’ll post the audio here soon.) Then, yesterday, I attended Book Expo America as an author. I sat at a table in the same (giant convention) room as bajillions of big-name celebrities like Anjelica Huston, Neil Patrick Harris and my buddy Tim Carvell. (I even scored an advance copy of Tim’s upcoming book, Return to Planet Tad.)

I signed copies of “Mommy Man” for conventioneers and met some really wonderful and enthusiastic people. And I felt like a big shot, which was the best part.

The other thing I wasn’t expecting to enjoy so much about having a book in print? The reviews. You know how when you’re writing something, you’re constantly imagining the reviews you’ll someday get? (What? Just me?) And they’re all crazy, over-the-top glowing? (Again, maybe that’s just me.) Well, the actual reviews I’ve read are almost as good as anything my bloated ego could conjure up. I expected raves from my friends and family, but people I don’t even know have been saying the nicest things.

If you want a good sense of what “Mommy Man” is about and why you’ll enjoy it, read this review which was just posted at the Good Men Project. Tom Burns, a straight dad and a fellow dad blogger (Did I mention my book makes a great Father’s Day gift?) said a lot of nice things, but I want to highlight this part:

“Mommy Man is a spectacularly well-told story. More than once, Jerry’s handling of his both hilarious and occasionally sobering subject matter reminded me of the deft storytelling chops that you can find in comedic one-man shows like Mike Birbiglia’s My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend or Sleepwalk with Me. It’s just an epic birth story, the kind that, if encountered at a dinner party, would make you cancel your plans for later and open another bottle of wine. Even if you know nothing about surrogacy, being a mild-mannered geek, or being a gay superdad, Mommy Man is a book that anyone can enjoy. It’s well worth your time.” – Tom Burns, Good Men Project

If that doesn’t convince you to read my book, I don’t know what will. (That doesn’t mean I’m not going to keep trying, though.)

Given what a blast this has all been so far, I’m really looking forward to my upcoming in-store events, so if you’re anywhere near Los Angeles, New York or Rochester, I hope you’ll come to one.

* I haven’t been great about promoting my selfie contest, so I’m going to extend the deadline a week, until Friday, June 6 at 9pm EST. You have until then to buy my book, snap a selfie (technically, it can also be a picture someone else takes of you) and upload it to my Facebook page with yourself tagged in it. By doing so, you grant me the right to repost it, but I’ll probably only do that 0-1 times. Whoever posts the best, most creative selfie will win a copy of Mommy Man autographed by me and creatively decorated by my kids somehow.

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Need just a tiny bit more convincing that “Mommy Man” is the “uproarious”, “touching”, “fascinating” read the reviews are saying it is? You’re in luck! Download the sample chapter from your favorite ebook retailer (i.e., Amazon Kindle or iBooks) and see if it doesn’t leave you hungry for more. Or crack a copy open in Barnes & Noble or your other favorite bookstore, open to a random page and see how long it takes you to find something funny. Trust me, this works much better with my book than it does with “I Am Malala.”

A Big Bunch of Pink Princessy Stuff

  • Wiimote-picProbably the highlight of my week was this wonderful review of my book by superblogger/supermom Mombian over at Bay Windows. She says, among other nice things, “Jerry Mahoney’s Mommy Man: How I Went from Mild-Mannered Geek to Gay Superdad, is a wonderful addition to the growing genre of LGBT parenting memoirs, not only because of its sharp writing and smart humor, but because it shows us an aspect of LGBT parenting we haven’t seen in a book-length memoir before—two men pursuing parenthood through gestational surrogacy.” and The blend of engagingly told common experiences with the particulars of this family make Mommy Man a compelling read for parents and prospective parents of all types (and a great Father’s Day present).”
  • Speaking of Father’s Day presents… at this moment, my book is a mere $8.69 on Kindle! If that’s your preferred platform and you’ve been waiting for a good time to buy it, wait no more!
  • Here’s a great post from A Little Bit Brave about how my blog (!) on Disney World led to an uncomfortable interaction with a family friend, and her wonderful response.
  • My piece How to Talk to Your Kids About Gay People, By a Gay Person was reblogged a bunch of places, including the Good Men Project, the Daily Dot and xoJane. That last one especially really impressed Drew.
  • Are you going to be at Book Expo America this week? I’ll be at Booth 1124 on Thursday, May 29 from 10:00-10:30 signing books and snapping selfies. Come say hi!
  • Best laugh of the week: this video, “If Gay Guys Said the Shit Straight People Say…”
  • Thanks again for the birthday wishes last week. The picture above shows one of my favorite gifts, a pink-colored Princess Peach remote for Wii. I’ll let you guess which one of my kids picked that out for me. I’m just grateful she let me hold it for this picture, because she sure doesn’t let me hold it when we’re playing Wii.

A Blog-to-Book Adventure: Mommy Man’s Jerry Mahoney

Jerry Mahoney:

Thanks to Cheri Lucas Rowlands for conducting this interview for WordPress, and welcome to anyone who discovered this blog through her post on WordPress.com News. I hope you’ll stick around to read some of my other posts, and make sure you check out the reviews of my book, too!

Originally posted on WordPress.com News:

Jerry Mahoney and his partner, Drew Tappon, wanted a family. After searching, they ultimately found an egg donor in Susie — Drew’s little sister. With Susie as their donor, Jerry and Drew were able to pursue their dreams of fatherhood — and have a life they never thought they could have.

We chatted with Jerry about his blog, Mommy Man, his new book of the same name, and blogging on our platform.

How did your blog, Mommy Man, come about?

mommy man header

I’d written a Modern Love column for the New York Times about my family. I got a lot of attention for it, and it convinced me to turn the entire experience of how my partner and I became dads into a book. I found an agent and wrote a book proposal, but it didn’t sell. Despite the exposure from the New York Times, I was still relatively…

View original 862 more words

A Big Bunch of Stuff for My Birthday

suttonbenchIt’s been a busy couple of weeks, so I wanted to make sure a few things didn’t get lost in the shuffle:

  • My eBook is now available! Kindle, iBooks, Nook, you name it. If you play Candy Crush on a device, you can also read “Mommy Man” on it. See if you can get 3 stars on Chapter 1!
  • The amazing Amy Wruble of Carriage Before Marriage conducted a really fun interview with me at Lifetime Moms. Check it out here and read what one of my proudest moments with my kids was.
  • I wrote a piece for Scary Mommy last week called “The B-Plus Parent: 5 Perfectly Acceptable Reasons to Shout at Your Kids“. It got over 22,000 shares (that’s not a typo — twenty-two THOUSAND!), and if you haven’t checked it out yet, I think it’s a fun read.
  • Another belated link, but this post from my friend Brent at Designer Daddy about gay dads and Mother’s Day is worth reading, even if you have 51 weeks before the next Mother’s Day.
  • This blog got a very nice review and a spot on the blogroll of NY Metro Parents.
  • Through A Glass, Darkly raved about my book: “I really did laugh and cry while I was reading it. I read this on Mother’s Day and it was a perfect reminder of the miracle of life.”
  • You may have noticed on the sidebar, but my DC event on May 23rd has been postponed until later notice. It should be rescheduled for later in the summer, and I’ll be posting here when I know the new date.
  • Apropos of nothing, that picture above is one of my current faves. I did not ask Sutton to pose for that picture, and I certainly did not tell her to wink at the camera. She just jumped up on that bench, struck the pose and asked me to snap it. So I did.
  • It’s my birthday! Yes, today! The best present you can give me would be to buy my book for yourself or someone you know who is as cool as you. And if you’ve already read it, maybe you could write me a nice review online somewhere. Aw, shucks, you shouldn’t have!

5 Types of Parents It’s OK to Judge

If you’re one of those people with no kids of your own who’s constantly judging everyone’s parenting skills, then please stop.  Trust me, all the other parents and I had a meeting, we put it to a vote, and it was unanimous: we hate you.  You don’t know what you’re talking about, you’re rude and you should keep your stupid opinions to yourself.

On the other hand, if you are a parent, then judging other parents can be one of the most fun and satisfying ways to spend your time, so have at it!  It’s open season for you!

OK, that might still get you in some trouble with the people you’re judging, so I can understand if you want to be careful. But I can’t imagine any of the lamest moms and dads would do something so informative as to read a parenting blog, so just between us, I’m going to let them have it.

Here are 5 types of parents who, in my opinion, it’s perfectly OK for you to judge…

1. The “What’s Bedtime?” and “What’s a Sitter?” Parents.

saw 6_edited-1Look, I’m sure you really needed the six pack of Corona Light, but was it really worth dragging your toddler out to Stop & Shop at 10pm?  Some of us call that “bedtime”.  We look forward to it as a relaxing break at the end of our hectic day, and what’s more, the kids need it.  It’s win-win.

At least Stop & Shop is an age-appropriate activity for young children.  We’ve all seen those morons who were so psyched for “World War Z” that they dragged their 2-year-old out to the midnight showing at Mann’s Chinese rather than wait the two months it’d take for that movie to be on DVD.  How are they selling these people tickets instead of calling child protective services on them?

It’s insane that some places have laws against gay parents adopting or fostering kids when there are clowns like this raising children.  Look, not every gay couple is Ozzy and Harriet, but if you want to root out the truly unfit parents, I suggest starting at the multiplexes.

2. Parents Who Helicopter Other People’s Children. 

booboo_edited-1Say what you will about helicopter parents. At least the only kids they’re messing up are their own… that is, except for this subset of helicopter parents who are determined to overparent everyone’s kids.

When my kids fall down at the playground, I don’t usually make a big deal about it, and because of that, they don’t make a big deal about it either. They get up, limp for a second or two and then run around like maniacs again… unless some other grownup runs over and screams, “OH MY GOD! ARE YOU OKAY?”

Odds are, my kid was fine until the crazy lady ran up and started screaming hysterically in his face. Now he’s not crying because he’s hurt. It’s because you freaked him the eff out. If not for you, he’d be back swinging upside-down from the jungle gym by now.

Oh, and while you’re at it, spare me your evil eye. When my kid really does get hurt, I will swoop in faster than you could imagine and do all the things that need to be done. I just want him to know that there are some ouchies he’s perfectly capable of handling on his own.

By the way, this is a park. I’m not sure what that green spongy material under our feet is, but I suspect it’s at least 70% marshmallow. No one’s going to get beheaded here. Relax.

3. The Only-Engage-With-The-Kids Parents.

gamelastnight_edited-1These ones are just weird. I take my kids to the same places over and over, and we see a lot of the same people.  Some of them are friendly, some of them are not, and a lot of them fall in this weird middle ground where they’re very friendly… but only to the kids.  They talk to them, hand them toys, introduce them to their kids, but even when I’m standing right there, they won’t address me directly or look me in the eye.

Instead, they’ll direct all their questions to my children.  “Does your Daddy mind if you play with that?”  “What a pretty shirt your Daddy dressed you in!”  I imagine they’re just socially intimidated by other adults, but it’s hard not to feel like Bruce Willis in the Sixth Sense.  Her Daddy is standing right here! Talk to him, please! He’s starved for adult conversation!

Seriously, if there are other people out there who can’t see me, please let me know, because I’m starting to worry that I’ve crossed over to another plane of existence or something.

4. The Insufficiently Apologetic.

hairpull_edited-1One day at the kiddie gym, a little boy smacked my daughter in the face because she was on the trampoline he wanted to use.  His mother was appropriately horrified, but she didn’t say a word to me or Sutton.  No “Sorry”, no “Please don’t sue”, no “Bobby, give that girl a hug.”  She just grabbed the kid and ran away to lecture him.

I’d lump into this category any parent who offers their own apology for the kid’s behavior but doesn’t make their kid apologize himself — and worse, doesn’t do anything to reprimand him. One day at a playground, a perfectly polite nanny assured me that her kid didn’t normally pin kids to the ground and pull their hair until they screamed, the way he had just done to Sutton.  She even gave him an ultimatum: apologize or they were going home.  He didn’t apologize, but half an hour later, they were still there, and he was pulling some other kid’s hair.

I thought we were all in the same boat, trying to teach our kids to own up to their actions and say they’re sorry when they screw up. But now the next time my kid misbehaves, she’s going to whine, “But that kid at the park didn’t apologize!” And suddenly my teachable moment turns into me teaching her that some people are just assholes.

5. The Overly Apologetic.

misbehave_edited-1Look, everyone’s kid throws a fit in public sometimes.  It sucks.  But you don’t need to run around telling everyone how sorry you are and swearing, “He never does this!”  Try to forget about all the annoyed jerks glaring at you and focus on your kid instead.  Calm him down, get him out, do whatever your parenting instinct tells you the situation demands.  Trust me, no one’s going to hand you a report card on the way out, with an “F” in tantrums. Well, I’m not, at least. I’ll be one of the parents passing you glares of sympathy and encouragement. In almost any case of tantrummy kid vs. beleaguered parent, I take the parent’s side, because I’ve been there myself many times.

Sometimes the best way to handle an outburst is to ignore the behavior, and that can be tough.  I know I look like a horrible parent because my kid’s screaming their head off in a shopping cart and I’m trying to decide which brownie mix to buy.  But you know what?  I’m not going to give into him just to calm him down, and it’s not that I think this is acceptable behavior.  I’m just halfway through my shopping, and I’m really in the mood for brownies, so we’re riding this one out together, everybody.  You don’t like it?  Kindly move to Aisle 6.  Thanks.

Besides, don’t be so self-centered.  You think everyone’s judging you?  Pfft, who would do that?

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Do you like reading things like this post? Good news! I’ve written a whole book about my journey to parenthood, called “Mommy Man: How I Went From Mild-Mannered Geek to Gay Superdad” and it’s NOW AVAILABLE! Publisher’s Weekly called it “uproarious” and “touching”, and other people like it, too! You can buy the hardcover or the eBook now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, iBooks or any of these other choices. Check out what people are saying on GoodReads, too.

Still not convinced? Just leave me a comment below. Tell me a little about yourself, and I’ll give you a personalized reason why you’d love my book! That’s right, it’ll be personalized just for you, Vanessa! (For the rest of you, too. I just really wanted to freak out anyone named Vanessa.)

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Like this post but have an acute case of bibliophobia (fear of books)? Share the post using the buttons below! That’s cool, too!

How to Talk to Your Kids About Gay People, By a Gay Person

English: Train Board at Grand Central Terminal

Image via Wikipedia

[Note: I originally published this piece here as How to Talk to Your Children About Gay Parents, By a Gay Parent. The post took on a life of its own and was read and shared by lots of people whose kids might be exposed to homosexuality any number of places, and not just through kids with gay parents. So I figured it was time to freshen the piece up a bit and broaden the scope.]

It could happen anywhere, at any time. A train station. A Disney Channel show. The NFL draft.

Your kids are just hanging out, being kids and daydreaming about candy, when suddenly they see…

TWO DUDES KISSING!

michaelsamkiss

Or maybe they spot a little girl in the dropoff line at school. She kisses her mom goodbye, and then… she kisses her other mom goodbye!

You feel a tug on your leg, you look down, and there’s your kid. He just saw the same thing you saw, and now he looks up at you with his innocent face and says, “Yo, what’s the deal with that?”

As a gay man, I know I’ve spurred conversations like this myself, by doing just what Michael Sam and his boyfriend did on live TV. I want to be clear first of all that I don’t kiss my husband in public because I want to confuse your child or piss off right-wingers, although I’m aware that both of those things might happen as a result. I’m kissing him because I love him and I’m probably saying hello or goodbye at the time. (I assure you. It will never be because I’ve just been drafted by a professional sports team.) When I kiss my husband, I’m not going to look around first to make sure your kid and/or Pat Robertson isn’t watching. I’m just going to kiss him and then go on with the rest of my day.

I understand you might be unprepared for what follows. So here and now, I’m going to do what I feel is only fair for someone in my position to do. I’m going to prepare you.

Naturally, these tips are intended for the sympathetic straight parent. Unsympathetic straight parents are free to ignore my suggestions, in which case, I’ll enjoy watching them squirm.

Obviously, what you say will depend on how old your kids are and how much exposure they’ve had to gay people previously, but in a broader sense, these suggestions should apply to anyone.

I’m not a child psychologist, just a gay dad who’s thought a lot about the issue and who has a big stake in it.  After all, I don’t want your kids coming up to my kids one day and telling them they’re weird for not having a mommy.

If you don’t want that either, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Use the word “gay”.

Everyone’s concentrating on taking the negative connotation away from the word “gay”, but at the same time, let’s not forget to encourage the positive.  We don’t want “gay” to be a curse, so go ahead and teach it to your kids.  That’s how we’ll really take the sting out of the word.

“Oh, Uncle Doug and Uncle Max?  They’re gay.”  “Aunt Vera and Aunt Debbie aren’t sisters, honey.  They’re lesbians.”  “Well, statistics suggest at least 3 of the Smurfs must be gay.”  Don’t make a big deal about it.  Just say it.  If your kids hear some jerk at school sneering, “That’s so gay!”, their response will be, “Yeah?  So what?  So are Uncle Max, Aunt Vera and, most likely, Brainy.”

2. You don’t have to pretend half the world is gay. 

Don’t play down the fact that your kids may have witnessed something unfamiliar.  “Geez, Madison.  They have two daddies, what’s the biggie?”  It’s natural for poor little Madison to be confused, so give her a damn break.

Kids are probably going to assume all families have one mommy and one daddy, because that’s all most of them see.  You can be honest. Use words like “most” and “some”.  “Most families have a mommy and a daddy… but some have two mommies or two daddies.”  “Most women marry men, but some women marry other women.” As long as you don’t attach a value judgment to those statements, it really is no biggie. (The same goes when explaining single parent families, divorced families or anything else your child might be witnessing for the first time.)

Some kids might say something like, “That’s weird”, or they’ll think you’re playing a joke on them.  That should just be a reminder of why you’re having this conversation.  Get to your kid before ignorance does.  If you’re honest with them, they’ll get it.

3. Get your mind out of the gutter.

It seems silly that I even have to say this, but when some people think about homosexuality and kids, they imagine that you’re suggesting they graphically describe intercourse to kindergarteners.  Um, no.  All you should be doing is answering the questions they’re asking, and save the rest for junior high health class.  If they wonder why they saw two football players kissing, it’s because “Those two men are in love”… or because “Some men love other men.”  Hopefully, you’ve taught your kids to understand what love is, so no further explanation should be required.

And do use the word “love”.  That’s what we’re talking about here.  You don’t need to say “attracted to” or “some boys like boys”.  “Like” is how they feel about each other.  A kid might think, “Well, I like boys.  I guess I’m gay.”  Compare it to your own relationship (assuming you have a good relationship).  “You know the way Mommy and I love each other?  That’s how those two men or those two women feel about each other.”  And if your kid says, “Yuck!” it’s probably because they feel the same way about when you and your spouse get all schmoopy-doopy with each other.  That’s progress.

4. Don’t make it about your kid — yet.

Understanding homosexuality is a big enough topic of discussion, and your kid probably won’t be prompted to wonder about their own sexuality at this point.  You don’t need to say, “You might marry a man someday yourself, Junior!”  While it’s great to plant the seeds of acceptance early, you’ll probably just end up confusing them more.  Your kids have plenty of time to figure their own feelings out, and when the time comes, make sure you let them know that you love them no matter what.  But no, they can’t marry Brainy Smurf.

5. If your kid does ask you to speculate, you can tell them they’ll “probably” be straight.

Again, only if your kid expresses some curiosity should you even broach the subject.  But if they’re wondering, “Who will I marry someday?”, feel free to tell them, “You’ll probably marry someone of the opposite sex, but I’ll accept you either way.”  Of course, if you’re like the mom from the amazing blog Raising My Rainbow, your “probably” might lean the other way.  Just take your cues from your kid.

6. Remember the magic phrase, “Love is what makes a family.” 

Even kids who don’t know exactly where babies come from understand that women are the ones who get pregnant and give birth.  When that’s all you know, then the idea of two men being in love and even forming a family together just might not add up.

Again, don’t go into any more detail than you need to.  Remind your kid that while it’s a woman who gives birth to a baby, your Mommy(-ies) and/or Daddy(-ies) are the one(s) who raise you. It’s no different than how you’d explain adoption by a straight couple.  “The Strattons flew to Beijing and brought little Daisy home.  Now they’re her Mommy and Daddy.”

What kids want to know is that the little boy or girl they see whose family looks different is still being well taken care of. Assure your children that the kids are in good hands, because love is what makes a family, and those parents love their kids as much as you love yours.

7. Most importantly, just talk to your kids.

Your kids are bound to see a gay couple sooner or later, even if it’s just Mitchell & Cameron on Modern Family.  So if they come to you with questions, it’s really important that you don’t get weird about it.  Don’t change the subject, don’t tell them they’re too young to understand and definitely don’t lie and say that those two ladies were only kissing to be silly or because they were rehearsing a play.  Otherwise the message you’re sending is that there’s a reason to be uncomfortable around gay people.  The same goes for all kinds of people, really – just explain that some people look or feel a bit different from most people we meet, and isn’t it nice that everyone’s a little different.

… which leads me to a big secret.

You see, there is a gay agenda.  It’s true.

What most people don’t realize is that the gay agenda isn’t “everybody should be gay”.  It’s “everybody should be themselves.”

Be a nerd, be a Yanni fan, be a real housewife of your particular geographic region.  Whatever.  It’s all part of the same cause, and it’s a great message to teach your kids.

I shouldn’t have to say this in the 21st Century, but for anyone who’s still wondering, NO, I don’t want to make your kids gay.  I just want to live my life with a sense of mutual respect for everyone else on this planet.  If you want the same thing, then let your kids learn by your example.  Show them that gay people and nontraditional families are nothing to be afraid of.

Teaching your kids to be accepting of gay people and gay families is a great way to teach them acceptance in a broader sense – and to teach them the ultimate lesson: to be accepting of themselves.

I know some people think differently, but that’s what I call family values.

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If you know anyone who you think would appreciate this post, please share it using the buttons below. I’ve come back and revised this post a couple of times now, so if you have any non-homophobic notes or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment. If you have homophobic notes or suggestions, on the other hand, you might want to read my comment policy first.

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Looking for a fun read? My book “Mommy Man: How I Went From Mild-Mannered Geek to Gay Superdad” is NOW AVAILABLE in hardcover and digital formats at all your favorite online and real world retailers. Get more details here.