Becoming a dad? Make fatherhood a reality

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Many gay and bisexual men believe that being in a same-sex relationship will mean they never have children. However, more and more gay and bisexual men are becoming dads. More and more are raising children by themselves or with another man. We are slowly but surely overcoming a number of negative thoughts and images about gay and bisexual fathers, and, with some effort and planning, many of us are becoming dads. In this post, Pink Families explores three thoughts that some of us have when we think about whether or not to become a dad. We also explore some of the challenges we encounter and some of the strategies that make the journey of becoming a dad a little easier.

Myth 1: I’m gay, I can’t be a dad

Many of us grow up with good, healthy images of what it’s like to be a dad. A dad is someone you can rely on, someone you know you can count on and someone who will give good advice when you need it. It’s no wonder that many of us grow up thinking that one day we might want to think about becoming a dad.

However, with time, some of us go on to realize that we are gay or bisexual. When we have this realization, we also realize that this therefore also means the possibility of having a child is low… if not impossible.

Some of us continue to hold onto the belief that becoming a dad is not an option. In contrast, some of us are willing to challenge this view, and in doing so we are getting rid of our own unhelpful internalized homophobia about whether we could be a good-enough dad. We are starting to create our own version of family.

We are beginning to realize, know and believe that fatherhood is possible for us. We are seeking out information about our options and learning that we can adopt, we can co-parent, we can use surrogacy or we can recruit the help of trusted women to help us become fathers.

Myth 2: It’s too hard to be a gay dad

But even after we make a decision to become a father it still sometimes feels easier to give up on this dream due to the difficulties we experience with agencies, attorneys (lawyers), authorities and just our day-to-day interactions with others who are quick to judge. All of these challenges can make us feel as though it’s just too hard to become a dad.

It’s important to not allow these challenges to stop us. There are many good and proud examples of gay, bisexual, trans and gender queer dads. Plus, there are many straight men that have experienced difficulties with agencies and the law when it came to adopting a child as a single dad, for example, and this didn’t stop them. Also, there are many gay and bisexual dads that have fathered a child in a heterosexual relationship and they’ve continued to be good dads to their children.

Therefore, many men have trod down this path before and seeking out their advice may help.

Myth 3: People will think my child will be at risk

With all of the negative images of gay and bisexual men portrayed by some people in society, it is not surprising that sometimes we absorb some of the negative images into our own beliefs about ourselves.

One of these negative myths is that all gay and bisexual men will take advantage of their male children in some way. But we know that this is not true and is purely based on prejudiced views that some people in society hold.

Another myth is that all gay and bisexual men just party all of the time. They therefore wouldn’t have the time, the inclination or the capacity to be a good dad. This is another stereotype.

Although it’s natural to question our ability and capacity to be a father, it’s not helpful to take on these myths, negative beliefs and stereotypes about who we are. Also, it’s not fair to deny ourselves the opportunity of fatherhood based on the ways that others may or may not judge our capacity to be a dad. If we hold any of these believes we should just discard them. They are not helpful to ourselves, our partners (if we have one) or our children. Plus, these stereotypes are just not supported by evidence.

Strategies to help

Becoming a gay or bisexual father outside of a heterosexual relationship or heterosexual sex requires effort and planning. Becoming a dadHowever, it is entirely possible to become a dad and raise a family, either as a single dad or with another man. Discarding internalized homophobia, challenging myths and stereotypes, surrounding ourselves with positive images and allies, and becoming knowledgeable about our parenting options and legal entitlements will help change our thoughts from “I’m gay, I’m not going to be  a dad” to “I’m gay, I deserve to be a dad and I know I’ll be a good one.”

References

Berkowitz D, Marsiglio W. Gay men: negotiating procreative, father, and family identities. Journal of Marriage and Family 2007;69:366-381.

Image: Ramis | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

In this lovely video from the It Gets Better Project a number of dads share their experiences about having children.

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