I was a dad back when most dads were portrayed as bumbly, fumbly fools who couldn’t be trusted alone with the kids. I was a dad when dads were just supposed to cut the lawn and take out the trash.
Boy, I did a lot more than that!
I was also a gay dad before any of it was discussed, accepted, or supported. I carved my own path and my own journey, and I made many a mistake along with way.
It was the late 1990’s and I had just gotten divorced, came out as gay, and started my own marketing agency. It was a bit of a hat trick, so to speak.
The scrutiny and the judgment I faced at the time were insurmountable.
There weren’t many active fathers around at the time, and even fewer active divorced ones, and even fewer gay ones! At best I was an anomaly, if not a freak show in most people’s eyes.
I took it all in stride, though, because I honestly had no choice. I was raising two children and I was responsible for their physical and emotional wellbeing. I was carrying a lot of weight on my shoulders, I can tell you that.
I was naïve at best, back in the day. But hey, we made it. I’m now the proud papa to two young adults, each carving out their own path now.
I’m happy to say that they are more confident now in their twenties than I ever was…or ever will be.
Which is why I applaud the dad movement that is happening right now. Dads of every flavor are taking care of their kids, openly and publically whether alone or partnered. No matter who they are partnered with.
No matter who they are!
Marketing and pop culture are much kinder to dads now, actually showcasing them in a real way as they focus on raising their children. There are websites and Facebook pages galore that celebrate and educate all things dad. If only there were just ONE when I was going through it, things would have been so different.
Things are so different as a result.
I walk proudly down the streets of New York City, watching with great delight the legions of fathers who bring their kids to school every day. I catch, out of the corner of my eye, the grocery store membership cards that hang off the dads’ key rings at work. I marvel at their ability to conquer the sleepless nights that come with a newborn.
I’ve been there, done that. Alone.
Dads are not alone anymore. Not anymore. There’s no need for any father, any father, to be alone in parenting anymore. There is support every where we turn, with conversations and acceptance a plenty. It’s not perfect, and there is still judgment and prejudice but we’ve come a long way in my lifetime as dad.
There’s a real mens’ movement afloat, a fatherhood movement if you will and I am so proud to be a part of it. I’m even prouder to contribute to it with my new book “Out and About Dad.” I chronicled my journey as a father during a very rough time in my life and during a very unique time in our culture.
Finally, men can be whatever kind of man they want to be…gay, straight, coupled, fathered, single, and every thing in between.
There’s a mens’ movement afloat that is raising the confidence of boys and men everywhere.
I personally embrace the change. It didn’t come soon enough.