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Father's Day Pride

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June happens to be when both Father's Day and LGBTQ Month occur. For many people, these events are treated somewhat separately. Many gay men are either single or if they are in a committed relationship, do not have children (sorry, pets owners don't count here!). And many gay fathers are not into the "gay scene" and so may miss out on some of the activities offered during Pride Month.


Among those gay men who are fathers, younger fathers are becoming increasingly commonplace. This is not unusual as societal views of homosexuality become more positive and gay would-be parents realize that their desires of starting a family is becoming more of a reality thanks to cultural and technological developments. For instance, adoption agencies are becoming more open to applications from committed same-sex parents. Medical science has made surrogacy easier and safer. And after receiving your child(ren), there are support groups available to help you navigate your way around being a gay parent.

Less known and heard of are the gay parents who came out much later in life, when their children are usually already grown up. These are fathers who were not out as gay or bisexual men in their younger days, usually married a woman, and either had children the traditional way or through adoption. There are probably a decent number of Prime Timer members who fit in this category, although we don't know how many of them there are out there, and scientific research on this group of parents is small. There is some information from anecdotes through articles and blogs, but even those sources are based upon the child's perception of their gay father(s).

Here is what we know so far on gay fathers who came out later in life and their relationship with their children based on a comprehensive overview of the research*:

Fathers who had come out after a heterosexual marriage tended to experience emotional turmoil when integrating their gay/bisexual identity and their father identity. This point probably hits home for some of you or if you have friends who have gone through this period in life.

Nevertheless, the majority of these fathers researched still chose to reveal their sexual identity to their children in order to secure or deepen their relationship with them. Studies suggest that when parental disclosure had occurred earlier in the child's life, the children reported feeling closer to their fathers in adulthood.

What is interesting is the way in which the children of gay fathers seem to have accepted the revelation of their father's sexual identity in spite of their concerns about this. Some children already knew or suspected about their father's sexual identity, some were surprised, while for others, it was a gradual process through which the overwhelming majority accepted and welcomed the revelation. Children appreciate it more when the revelation is clear and honest, as opposed to vague and elusive.

Gay fathers who were divorced after their heterosexual marriages tended to report sharing parenting equally with their new same-gender partner if they did not remain single.

With their ex-wives, gay fathers said they either shared post-divorce parenting or at least had an important position in decision-making.

Understanding this group of gay fathers who came out later in life to their children is slowly increasing in research. However, few have tackled this issue in pop culture, with the movie like Beginners (2010) being one of the few standout exceptions. It could be that as societal norms shift toward accepting gay/bisexual fathers, the older generation of such fathers quietly fade away. But they too have their stories to tell and a place in LGBTQ history. If you are one of them, remember to celebrate your journeys into fatherhood and gay/bisexual identity this month. And include your children if you can; they will appreciate you for it!

* Information taken from Carneiro FA, Tasker F, Salinas-Quiroz F, Leal I and Costa PA (2017) Are the Fathers Alright? A Systematic and Critical Review of Studies on Gay and Bisexual Fatherhood. Front. Psychol. 8:1636. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01636

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Last modified on Saturday, 23 June 2018 11:00