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Parenting: My Two Dads


M.R.: What was the most unexpected problem you ran into as a gay parent?

D.S.: The hardest thing turns out to be getting on airplanes. We're constantly being stopped. We were trying to get boarding passes to get on a flight when the baby was just like three months old, and the woman behind the counter was like, "Whose baby is this?" She picked up the phone to call the police because she thought we were kidnapping him.

Now we carry the birth certificate and the adoption decree in the car, because we have to whip it out constantly. When you get on an airplane, everybody addresses the child. They say, "Who are these boys taking care of you? Are you going to see Mommy? Where's Mommy?" We usually answer the question truthfully. "Mommy's in New Orleans, living on the streets, begging for change. That's what Mommy does and likes to do." She's a gutter punk by choice. But all this questioning becomes very tiring. You're constantly being dragged out of the closet.

J.G.: It's the most constant outing imaginable, because everyone demands to know your family story. And the truth is, I understand the curiosity. But it is tiring. I don't have the problem in airports, because the kids have Andy's last name. But a lot of people do ask Erez where his mother is. Recently it was reported to me that when people ask him "Where is your mommy?" he says, "She's dead." Which isn't true, as far as we know. But it may be his truth right now. It's not as if he doesn't know the real story. Since he was born, he was told how he came to be with Andy and me. There have been different phases when he's asked, "Where's Mommy?" or "Is that my Mommy?" and we tell him the story again, and he'll transform it into something else. Now it's transformed into "She's dead." But he doesn't seem to have any longing for a mother, any more than he does for a sister he never knew.

That's probably, in part, because of where we live, in Brooklyn, in a community where there is no norm left. Every day, Erez and Lucas see kids who have single moms, two moms, have interracial or blended families -- every possible kind of mix.

D.S.: Even so, people express an awful lot of misplaced concern on behalf of our son. They are inordinately concerned that D.J. is going to look around and say, "Why isn't my family like every other family?" The reality is, very few families in my neighborhood live up to the mythical standard.

M.R.: I guess the concern is that kids are cruel and it's so hard to grow up anyway, that to afflict a child with this additional burden is unkind.

J.G.: There will always be something your kids will find lacking in you as a parent. If it weren't being gay, it would be that we look funny, or that one of us writes for a living, or that we're too Jewish or not Jewish enough. You just try to give them the strength to withstand their own rebellions. When it's time for our kids to be angry at us . . .

D.S.: They'll find something.

M.R.: Do you think that moment is inevitable?

D.S.: I expect there's going to be a sociosexual dynamic when he is in high school when people will say horrible things to him about why two gay men would want to adopt a boy. We intend to work very hard to make sure that's not an issue.

But even though I make my living writing about sex, it's important to me that my son grows up in as much denial about his parents' sexuality as I grew up about my parents' sexuality.

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