A gay dad’s Father’s DayEntertainment News, Feature Story, Section 4A Thursday, June 5th, 2014
Becoming a father once had this dreamy quality to it. I was seven years old when I first knew the names of my future kids: Sascha, Pascal and a third that got lost in the passage of time. There was also a wife in that picture somewhere. As a kid, the concept of marriage and sexuality was nothing to be concerned with.
Later, when I realized that I was gay, fatherhood became an illusion, something I knew I’d never achieve. In the 1980s, finding a boyfriend was the height of gay aspirations. Living together was really a stretch goal. That all changed, when civil unions were first introduced. All of a sudden, the prospect of family moved from the realm of illusions to the land of possibilities.
My husband Alex and I had been thinking about becoming parents since before we met. It was a prerequisite for any future partner of mine as I had a real wish to start a family. As Alex is 12 years my junior, he felt it important to first finish his studies and get his career going before we explored our parenting options. We started slowly, with two exchange students, before finally trying to become full-time parents. Even though we are allowed to adopt legally (I’m part of the ‘lucky’ generation that has seen the laws change along with my own aging, slash maturity), there have only been a handful of adoptions to LGBT couples in Sweden so far – homophobia here and abroad, as well as the social welfare legislation at home being contributing factors.
We first opted for foster care. We were evaluated, probed, prodded and finally approved as foster parents just before Christmas of 2011. Yet, due to the raging homophobia still permeating society, we were never awarded a child to foster.
Desperately, we resorted to surrogacy and are now the very lucky parents of a healthy, and might I say beautiful, son. Sascha was born in March last year and we could’ve celebrated Father’s Day three times already, but this is a tradition we’ll have to grow into I guess. I’ll be honest with you and say that it is quite confusing when your Swiss friends call you on the first Sunday of June, the Americans on the third, and finally the Swedes come out of the woodwork five months later on the second Sunday of November.
Since then, we’ve been asked countless times what it means to be gay parents. It’s a difficult question. Being a “gay” parent per se does not mean much to me or my husband or even Sascha. It seems to have more of an impact on the people around us as they witness two men raising happy and healthy children.
I’ve come to believe that gays as parents may result in shifting attitudes toward the LGBT community as a whole. So much of homophobia is based on fear of the unknown. The more people see LGBT families, the less they will fear us or listen to hate speech from politicians and religious leaders. Gay parenting may one day reduce prejudice; make it easier for gays to come out and for gay teens to face bullies.
Every now and then, there are people out there who will frown upon seeing us with our son. We recently had such an encounter. But more and more, they are becoming the exception rather than the rule.
As a Swiss, living in Sweden with family in the U.S., we get to potentially celebrate Father’s Day three times every year. We’ve decided to celebrate “pappa” Alex on the Swedish date in November and me on the U.S. date in June (sorry Switzerland.)
For me, Father’s Day isn’t about getting a tie from my son (heaven forbid, as I don’t wear them). The day is to celebrate Alex and me, and our united contribution in raising our son, Sascha. Just as my dad once joined my brother and I in celebrating mom, paying to take her out to lunch and helping us make dinner and breakfast in bed, so too will we do for our boy. Happy Father’s Day, gay dads.
Hans M. Hirschi is the author of Living The Rainbow: A Gay Family Triptych, a trilogy of three novels that offer a mirror on today’s LGBT community – the first generation able to legally marry and have children. Each tale offers a glimpse at how modern gay families live their lives, the unique worries they have, and how they deal with them. Living The Rainbow: A Gay Family Triptych is available now, digitally and as a softcover boxed set, on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble (Nook) and at selected local book stores.
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