Friday, September 4, 2009

Blaze - “Gay Dads” by Scott McGuinness

With Fathers Day just around the corner (Sunday September 6), we went in search of Adelaide’s gay dads. Scott McGuinness spoke with Damien Riggs, who with his now ex partner Greg, foster three children.

Are there many gay dads in Adelaide?

I know of a few but I don’t know any who have children through adoption or surrogacy and most aren’t coupled. Adelaide’s gay dad scene really is quite different to that in Sydney and Melbourne. We hang out with a great bunch of SA mums and their kids through Pink Parents ( but we don’t see many dads there, unfortunately.

How has life changed since becoming a dad?

With each child I have had less time for myself, friends, and relationships, but with each child I think I have become more focused on my identity as a parent. I don’t think that necessarily qualifies me as more grown up or sensible, but it does mean that most of my energy goes on the children, and that is something I’m happy about. They’re only young once, so we try to enjoy it!

Is there a mother figure in the relationship?

All three children have birth mothers who they have varying degrees of contact with. We are very focused on putting the children’s interests first, which often means negotiating a complex set of relationships and kinship claims that ultimately we hope will provide them with a rich life story to take with them as they grow up and move out of home as adults.

Has there been sacrifice in your own life to have kids? In what ways?

I don’t know that ‘sacrifice’ is the right word – I think all of us give things up when we are in a relationship, no matter what form that relationship takes. We give things up for friends, we give things up for partners, and of course we give things up for kids. For me probably the biggest thing I now see I don’t have is personal space. Children, in my experience, move in the world in quite different ways to adults. They will claim you and your space as their own. Parenting as a gay man (and as a foster parent) means negotiating what it seems like other people expect from you with what children expect (which I think at the end of the day should come first).

How accepting do you think the wider SA community is of gay dads?

In general I wouldn’t say people are not accepting (either within LGBT communities or in the broader community.) Rather, I would say that we often don’t make sense to people – I think we often are presumed to be brothers, or uncles or mannies! We were in the Castro recently in San Francisco with the children and even there we felt like people couldn’t make sense of our family. I think we have come a long way with legal recognition in much of Australia, but I think we still have a long way to go towards recognition in general.

Any plans to extend the family?

I think we have both pretty much factored ourselves out of the ‘market’ with three children, so I think we will stop there!

What have you got planned for Fathers Day on Sept 6?

Lunch with my dad and our family, I think!

[Link: Original Article]

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