To excited first time parents to be, I would offer encouragement and well wishes, but a bit of sobering advice as well: Be prepared to lose some friends. Most experienced parents know of this phenomenon, but for a couple reasons that I will go into below, I think this effect is felt even more acutely by gay parents.
Fact: I have lost more friends becoming a gay parent than I have coming out as gay in the first place. I have always been a bit of a nerd and thus in grade school I wasn’t a popular kid, but I mingled with a group of similarly studious friends. Two of my best friends, “Rich” and “Nick” remained tight with me even though we all went to different colleges. When I came out of the closet in college, I was pleased that both of them were accepting of me and remained close friends well into adulthood. Rich and Nick were in turn friendly when I introduced them to Josh. Even though the three of us lived in different places, when we visited we would all hang out together like old times. Nick would share about his girlfriend problems, and Rich invited Josh and me to celebrate his engagement and his wedding to his wife. It was around this time of transitioning to a different phase of adulthood that Josh and I started talking about having children in earnest. Just like Rich and Nick shared their major life events with us, Josh and I were excited to share about this endeavor with them. Rich was clearly in a happy place in his life and was happy for us when we shared the news. I distinctly remember calling Nick to giddily tell him about how Josh and I were going to California to look into gestational surrogacy and become parents. My heart sank when he responded by saying, “Why are you telling me this?” In further discussion it became clear that Nick did not understand why we would ever want to have to children, and that he was not particularly happy for us. I ended the rapidly deteriorating conversation and hung up the phone before it became an argument. We exchanged superficial pleasantries at Rich’s wedding, and then we did not speak for about two years. Around the time that we were planning AJ and JJ’s first birthday party, I received an email from Nick. He was attempting to strike up a conversation and asked the question, “What ever happened between us?” as if he was oblivious to how my feelings were deeply hurt. I responded angrily that he knew very well what happened, and he again responded, this time stating openly what I knew to be the truth all along: He disagreed with the idea of two men raising children and felt it would adversely affect children to be raised in a non-traditional household. In retrospect I feel that Nick was perfectly fine with the novelty of having gay friends that hung out in gay bars doing stereotypically gay things, but as soon as his gay friends decided to be real people and live their lives outside of a socially acceptable second class box, he became disapproving.
After AJ and JJ were born, many good friends, most of them gay, faded away more slowly. In our first few years living in Florida, Josh and I had amassed a large group of gay friends. Most of them had no interest in having children, but they were all very happy for us all the same when we announced that we were expecting. We invited them all to a baby shower shortly before AJ and JJ were born and the party was very well attended. After AJ and JJ were born, I appreciated that these friends continued to invite us to go out at night to the bars or have wine tasting parties in their homes. Because we were busy with twin babies, we would either pass or try to send one of us out to have fun while the other stayed home with the kids. Inevitably, the invitations became fewer and far between. Unlike Nick, there have been no hard feelings involved, so I don’t fault these friends in the slightest. Our unusual situation as gay guys with kids just didn’t fit into their social calendars neatly. That’s okay.
Losing so many friends over the years both gay and straight, either suddenly or slowly over the years, I have only a touch of sadness. In place of these friends, I have a large beautiful family. These four children bring me unlimited and enduring joy and fulfillment. We are beginning to make a few new friends as well. They are usually fellow parents, and often happen to be gay dads themselves, who seem to be more understanding of our priorities. Reaching out online we have found some groups of like minded gay parents like the Handsome Father and Gays With Kids. These groups do amazing and much needed work connecting gay dads around the country and offering support for our special family situation.
Everything I really need in life is right here.