I’ve always argued that Pride is more than a weekend celebration. It’s more than a month of the rainbow flag flying from public buildings or public service announcements on TV encouraging viewers to learn about LGBTQ+ trailblazers like Harvey Milk or Audre Lorde. Pride grows and evolves with every person, every single day.
As gay fathers, Kelly and I have entered a new stage: we’re the fathers of an adult man. Gus is 18. On the one hand, nothing much has changed — we still support him financially, he lives in our home, he’s covered on our insurance. On the other hand, everything has changed.
I’m proud of how, over the course of his life, my now-adult son has made me a better gay man. Just by being our son, he’s forced his parents to be prouder gay men.
Since the moment he came into our lives, Gus has made us come out to people we otherwise wouldn’t have a reason to tell we’re gay.
Suddenly we found ourselves thrust into the middle of playdates, parent-teacher conferences, and youth sports leagues, sharing our personal information with total strangers. A plus for us and hopefully other gay parents.
I admire his service as an amazing ambassador for gay families. Whether they like it or not, the kids of gay parents have to come out too. They need to share the fact they have two dads or moms with a whole host of kids and adults alike. My kid has always done so in such a matter-of-fact manner that he’s “normalized” our family to dozens if not, hundreds of people.
His confidence and nonchalance have served as a guide for his little brother as well. The way Gus effortlessly explained he had two dads removed any stigma Niko might have had. That, in turn, led to even more kids and their parents learning that gay parent families are remarkably uninteresting.
This is a bit odd, but I’m proud of his sense of humor. No, not just because he and his younger brother are genuinely funny people, but because he sees the humor in life and doesn’t take everything too seriously. His Scoutmaster called once to share a concern: the troop was making a shopping list for an upcoming camping trip which included Airheads Extreme – a long, flat, rainbow-colored sour candy, which the kids had dubbed “gay bacon.” Scoutmaster Bob was worried that the joke might have offended Gus.
Bob’s gesture deeply touched me, but instead of being offended, Gus told me he thought the name was hysterical. Then he explained why they called it “gay bacon” – you know, in case it wasn’t obvious enough to his gay vegetarian dad.
Seeing my kids thrive as individuals has been the most rewarding aspect of parenthood. It has helped me understand what’s really important in life. Every day, for the past 18 years, Gus has served as an example to me. He reminds me that being a kind and decent human is the greatest success a man can achieve.
Having my sons in my life has changed me so much as a person and as a gay man, mostly for the better. I’m really proud of the evolution I’ve seen in myself and in Kelly. To me, that’s what Pride is really all about – being proud of who you are and who you have become. Pride is about our personal journeys as LGBTQ+ people. Mine just happens to have been made better by a couple of kids, one of whom isn’t a kid anymore.