Stereotypes are the result of ignorance. Even the most accepting, progressive person can depend on a stereotype without knowing it. As a gay dad, I've been on the receiving end of some impressively ignorant remarks from friends, relatives, and coworkers. Most were actually intended to be kind and helpful, ironically enough. Here are comments gay dads hear all the time and what we're really thinking when you say them.
"Your daughter must have great fashion sense!"
Everybody knows that gay men are fab-u-lous, down to their Italian loafers and leather satchels, right? Except when they're not. I know plenty of gay guys whose fashion sensibilities are limited to T-shirts and jeans. Including myself. For me, stylish is when I don't wear black shoes with brown socks. Luckily, my daughter's fashion sense is evolving without any help from me. It's not that I don't try to offer my input when she's getting dressed. But the last time I tried, I said something like: "Hey, you should wear that purple shirt with those embroidered jeans! That would look good, right? Right?" I received a raised eyebrow and skepticism from her. "Yeaaaaah, I could do that," she said, "if I were clueless."
"But how is your kid going to learn sports?"
Thank you for your concern about my child's athletic prowess. Clearly, you believe that gay men lack something fundamental in their DNA that makes them good at sports. But before you decide that gay men were born without the athleticism gene, go ahead and google "gay professional athletes." And then get back to me. I'll wait.
"So what extraordinary theme did you use when you decorated your kid's room?"
Stereotypes come from somewhere, sure. There are many gay men out there who may have a great eye for interior aesthetics. But not all gay men are gifted interior designers, just as they're not all into shopping, Madonna, and show tunes. Being gay doesn't give me the ability to turn my kid's room into an amusement park ride. Undersea paradise? Princess castle? I couldn't pull that off if I tried.
"Do you worry that your daughter will be gay?"
No. Worrying that my child might be gay only reaffirms the idea that being gay is wrong. I'm not wrong, and he or she wouldn't be either.
"Do you hope your daughter will be gay?"
No. I didn't have a child hoping to strengthen the Gay Mafia. Rather than root for our kids to be one thing or another, we should help them to figure out who they are, not who we want them to be.
"It's sad your child will grow up without knowing how to relate to straight guys."
That would only happen if I chose to get on a boat, take my daughter to a remote island populated solely by gay people, and raise her there. I wouldn't like to live in a place like that (though I wouldn't mind vacationing there, mind you), and I don't raise her that way now. I want my kid to be around as many different kinds of people as possible. If I do my job, she'll be able to relate to all of them.
"Your daughter is welcome to hang out at our house if you want her to be around a 'regular' family sometimes."
That's sweet? But I wouldn't want my daughter to spend any time in a household that has such a rigid, limited notion of what "regular" means.
"So who's the 'mom' in your house?"
I am, thanks. I'm also the dad, in case that was your next question. Whether you're a man or woman, whether you're gay or straight, whether you're married or single, you should be able to wear both hats in your own home when necessary. Play soccer with your kids. Then go inside and sew their protein costume for the school nutrition play.
"Are you worried your daughter will fall in love with only gay men when she grows up?"
I'm really not. It's true that when children become adults they may seek partners who demonstrate some of the qualities they value in their parents. But just because I'm gay, doesn't mean my daughter is doomed to a future of having her heart broken by gay guys. (Side note: Female friends of mine tell me that most adolescent girls fall in love with at least one gay guy in high school anyway.) My hope is that she'll date men who are honest and trustworthy, and who treat her with respect.
Copyright © 2014 Meredith Corporation.