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Parenting: My Two Dads

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J.G.: My response is to be more steadfast in not acting on that impulse.

D.S.: It's essential to fight this feeling that forbids you from being intimate with your children, because your child will suffer if you aren't. I was talking to a straight friend, a dad, about this, and he said, "You fall in love with your child, you kiss their toes, their thighs, and there's almost nothing about your child that you don't as a parent put in your mouth." It is a physical kind of love. There's a kind of romance between a new child and a parent that creates the kind of bond that would make you jump in traffic for your kid. And it would be so awful to let ignorant stereotypes prevent you from falling in love with your kid.

M.R.: Was there ever a moment where you thought about adopting a girl to prevent this?

J.G.: I don't know if it would prevent it. I think men -- and especially gay men -- are seen as sexually suspect no matter whom they're parenting.

D.S.: It wasn't up to us whether we had a boy or a girl.

M.R.: How do you and your boyfriend divide up the child-raising duties?

D.S.: When we adopted the baby, Terry stopped working. He stays home and takes care of the baby. Terry has sort of become the mom, and he does the laundry and he washes the bottles, and I make the money and I come home, and I give the baby the bath, and sometimes I leave before the baby is awake and I come home after the baby is asleep. It's Ozzie and Harriet, really. It's hard to talk about it without it sounding just corny and thoughtless. It sort of shook out this way. It's not that I can't do laundry. It's just that I don't have to.

J.G.: Since we can't divide the chores according to traditional established gender roles, we get to divide them according to ability and taste. It's not as even as in your situation, which falls to some degree into traditional categories. Andy cooks, I clean, we both sing, and we both roughhouse. But it's funny how that awful question, "Well, who's the girl?" has become "Who's the mom?"

M.R.: Do you find yourself competing for your child's affection?

D.S.: Well, we joke about it. It exists, and it's real, and we frost it with irony to make it not so damaging for either of us. But we jokingly compete. And there are times when the baby just wants to be with me and times when the baby just wants to be with Terry, and at those times we look at each other and go, "Ha-ha, the baby likes me better!"

M.R.: Would you rather your sons grew up to be straight or gay?

D.S.: My feeling is that D.J.'s already a straight boy, because he loves little girls. I also loved little girls when I was a boy, but I wanted to play with their dolls. He wants to kiss them. I never wanted to do that. And he smashes shit. I mean, my mother says that when I was a little boy I never smashed anything. But he belches, he farts, he throws up -- he's so fucking straight!

J.G.: Doesn't it bring into question the whole idea of how gayness is constructed? I mean, your evidence that your kid is probably straight is based on the kinds of prejudices we railed against as gay kids. Like liking girls or smashing things. Does that really suggest they're more likely to be heterosexual? It's true that as our boys have grown up, they've developed certain familiar boyish behaviors that are just like the ones that used to intimidate me as a child.

D.S.: You don't want to discourage him from being the boy you were afraid of when you were a boy.

J.G.: Exactly. But on the other hand, we are compelled by our own experience to find more meaningful ways to define what "good boys" should be. You know, Andy and I both feel that the likelihood of our boys being gay is the same as it would be for anyone else's boys: 4 percent? Ten percent? Not very much. But we've been trying to do everything we can do to make them gayer. We play musicals, and every night I sing them to sleep with a medley from The King and I laughs. So we were kind of delighted when Erez, our older boy, told us that he wanted to go to ballet class. He was very interested in ballet, and he had seen Lourdes Lopez on Sesame Street. So we thought, "Great!" Because, all kidding aside, and assuming they will be straight boys, we hope in some way that they will be a different kind of straight boy than the kind that I grew up terrified of. Maybe they'll be very sensitive. They'll certainly know that men cook and do all the housework -- to the extent that anyone does. If they do end up straight, they'll be a real catch.


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