Thursday, May 1, 2008

DNA Magazine - "From Disco to Dribble" by Robbie Fells

The road to gay fatherhood is paved with trials and tribulations. What could possess a gay man to start his own family?

Have you ever thought about what it means to be a man? Have you ever thought about what it means to be a gay man? For many of us, that question lies quietly under the surface, not being faced.

For most, being gay means being raised in a straight world where the social norm is still to get married, have kids and have a beer with your mates – without lusting after the sexy ones. But like all gay men who are brave enough to face up to their sexuality, I had to transcend these social pressures and, as you know, that wasn’t easy.

Living your life beyond the expectations of family, friends and society is a huge hurdle. The challenge for me was how I would reconcile my need to be a dad and have my own family with the fact that this was near impossible given that I had no knowledge of any gay men having children. The essence of being a man, I believe, is an innate need to create a legacy to continue on in the world after you’re gone. The fact that two men cannot reproduce makes me wonder whether gay men are an evolved breed of human that don’t need to reproduce or whether we’re just missing a crucial factor of reproduction. Whatever the answer, I wasn’t going to miss out on the chance of being a dad.

Why? What made me so determined?

I asked my partner this question and he said, for him, there was no difference between straight men and gay men and men that want to father children are men that want to create family structures of their own because of positive experiences in their family of origin.

One of my motivations to be a father was to be a better dad than my own father. I know he did the best he could but, to me, it wasn’t great. This motivation wasn’t a good reason to go and produce a child, though.

Having my own family is a nice side effect of my need to have children, but not the core reason, as is with my partner. I realised, through the discussion, that I wanted to be a father to keep learning about myself. I constantly reflect on how I function as a person during interactions with my kids and the dynamics of my new family. These dynamics have catapulted me into a learning curve that is constantly redefining who I am. My threshold for patience, managing frustration and working with difference has changed. My understanding of how we become who we are as people is becoming deeper as I learn about how children develop. It’s an amazing journey that keeps promising new and exciting chapters.

There was a time when I wondered if I’d become a father to be validated by the straight world. I think this may have had some influence but, like trying to be a better father to my kids than my father was to me, I believe this is not a good enough reason to create another human being.

My partner and I were financially secure before kids. The decision to give up this security was an easy one to make, though. It gave me a chance to relive my childhood experiences and reflect deeply on what they were like compared to my kids’.

I now know the meaning of altruism. Your kids become your unselfish concern. Though I get so much in return, it can’t be true altruism.

If you have a question for Robbie email

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