I found myself stag at the end of a long workday tonight. After months of missing invitations, J finally accepted a date with an old friend who manages the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the borough’s oldest theater venue (“I don’t know what it’s called, but it stars that woman? You know her. I forget what she’s been in…”). So I decided to revel in the sudden arctic temperatures that have finally hit New York and walk the twenty blocks down to Art Bar, a divey, no-one-cares-who-you’re-screwing, hole-in-the-wall in the West Village for a drink (Bullet Rye, neat, and a Blue Point Toasted Lager) where I took in the bearded eye-candy, the businessmen ordering hot wings, and the cute Chardonnay ladies playing I-haven’t-seen-you-since-our-Smith-graduation catch up, before popping across the street to the vegan sandwich shop with my laptop to do some writing…
Yes. I’m the childless writer on the Gay Dads’ Website.
While I’m acutely aware that nights like this will not be possible should our fatherhood dreams come true, it’s also not that fair of a representation of who we are. (This decade, anyway.) My fiancé J is the social animal, rarely turning down an invitation, and the one struggling to keep our wedding guest-list below the 300 mark—but he’s also a nester and the most adoring uncle, biological and otherwise, I’ve ever witnessed. I’m the tall, dark, and gangly quiet one wrestling with decades-old demons around acceptance and confidence and just shocked daily that anyone wants to head into this journey with me. And while there are aspects of the urban nightlife outlined above that clearly appeal to us, we’ve also set ourselves on a literal path out of the city and into the woods.
I suppose I’ve always figured that I would be a Dad, somehow. As a teenager, I think I daydreamed about my Latino husband and I adopting children from Africa and Asia and posing for Benetton ads. Dropping out of college to dance on speakers at gay clubs, only to drop back into school to study design so I “could be a stay-at-home-dad someday,” only confused matters. As did years dating men who thought my intention to be a father was some sort of personality flaw. When J and I discussed babies (and dogs, and a house in Upstate New York) on our first date, it was not only a validation of my seemingly unfounded, dying hope that I’d have kids, but really of my entire being. The Latino hunk of my adolescent fantasy has been replaced by an adorable mensch, and I couldn’t be happier. That J is the best thing to happen to me is something I hope is no secret to him, or anyone else either of us know.
We got engaged in Puerto Rico moments after efforts to help lesbian friends of his conceive (they haven’t yet, but efforts continue). Within months, we were talking with one friend of J’s about being a surrogate mom for us, and another about selling us fifty acres of woodlands in the Hudson River Valley. The two conversations seemed to be on alternating roller coasters, until one derailed (the surrogate) and one reached its final destination (the fifty holy-crap acres).
There’s something tellingly similar in the way we’re approaching our future in both respects. We want to build our own home, ourselves, with only friends and family, where possible. We hope to forgo bank loans for construction and contractors who don’t get us. Family and friends will act as architects and builders and laborers and investors—people we know, who are emotionally invested in our success. We’ll build a home for us, and cabins for them to come and enjoy for years to come. We’ll host workshops and weekend retreats about what we’ve learned living and building in the woods, grow our own food, and raise animals. We’ll invite other gay families to experience the pioneer life with us and with each other. A safe, adventurous place for us, by us.
Likewise, we’re pursuing traditional surrogacy with women we know. We want to include family and friends, we want everyone involved to be people we care about, who are invested in our personal security and safety and happiness. As few clinics and policies and agencies and insurance companies as possible, creating safe places for us and our friends for years to come where our kids can love their birth moms with the security that their Captain and the Fox (we’re hoping that catches on) are the grownups who put them to bed every night and are there for them every morning.
And we invite other gay families (current and hopeful) into whatever we learn along the way, and to teach us whatever they’re willing. It’s a far cry from the seitan-cauliflower wrap and mint tea I’m sipping now, but it’s a frontier I’m thoroughly excited to cross. Thank you for letting me share the journey with you.