Saturday, November 24, 2012

[USA] - What It's Like to Be Gay Dads - Advocate - Abbie E Goldberg

There is a new book out called "Gay Dads - Transitions to Adoptive Fatherhood" by Abbie E Goldberg.  Well worth a read.  Back in September the following article appeared in The Advocate.  Read and enjoy!

From: The Advocate

Men share their experiences stepping “out” as parents and families in their communities in a new book, called Gay Dads, from author Abbie E. Goldberg.

Thirty-eight-year-old Daniel and 39-year-old Vaughn, both White, were living in a rural area in the Northeast when they adopted Miri, an African American baby girl, via private domestic adoption. Out in public, both men noted that they felt somewhat more “out” as parents, in that Miri’s presence served to clearly identify them as a family – and, in turn, to bring attention to Daniel and Vaughn’s status as a couple. They were both pushing her stroller, feeding her bottles, and wiping her nose, and this made it obvious that they were both her parents, and, by extension, that they were a couple. Vaughn, who described himself as “liking [his] privacy,” struggled with this new visibility more so than Daniel, who viewed himself as the more “flamboyant” one. They both agreed that the fact that Miri was racially dissimilar from them also served to draw attention to the adoptive nature of their family. Vaughn described his particular concern about how African American adults might react to the fact that two White men had adopted an African American girl: “I’m a little bit more concerned about that than I am about anybody else’s reaction.” Importantly, though, Vaughn had not actually encountered any negative reactions from African American individuals at the time of the post-placement interview.

Both men described their immediate community as very liberal and progressive, but also as “very White” and lacking in racial diversity. They sometimes encountered racial stereotypes and generalizations that they typically viewed as reflecting the speakers’ ignorance, rather than evidence of hostility. As Daniel mused, soon after adopting Miri, “One of our friends here, she keeps on mentioning, ‘Black kids this, and Black kids that, and Black kids this,’ and my mother does the same thing.” Both men struggled with such generalized statements, but at the same time minimized them, noting that “most people are not really directly confrontational.”

Both Daniel and Vaughn further noted that although they had not encountered negative remarks about their being gay parents or about the biracial nature of their family, they believed that such experiences would be more likely to occur in the future, as their daughter grew older, and also when they traveled outside of their immediate community. Vaughn explained:

We’re more or less staying in [state] until everything’s finalized because everybody’s told us, have the paperwork with you no matter where you go. You know, because two men driving around with an African American baby just doesn’t seem right, you know, to most people. It’s not saying that anybody’s going to pull you over purposefully, but if something happens, and somebody pulls you over, then. . .well, you go through that whole thing.   

As Daniel and Vaughn’s story illustrates, gay male couples may encounter increased visibility as they interact with their communities as parents. Although they were previously able to pass as good friends, roommates, or brothers, the presence of a child now rendered men’s relationship status more visible, a reality to which the men responded in different ways. Some of the men balked at the loss of their privacy, whereas others used their heightened visibility as an opportunity to educate others. Men who adopted racially dissimilar children were further “outed” not just as gay parents, but as gay adoptive parents. This chapter explores the men’s experiences of visibility and invisibility as they step out as partnered parents for the first time.

Read the rest of this interesting piece at The Advocate.

Find the book at NYU Press here.

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