By HANS HIRSCHI
Becoming a father once had this dreamy quality to it. I was seven years old when I first knew the names of my future kids: Sascha, Pascal and a third that got lost in the passage of time. There was also a wife in that picture somewhere. As a kid, the concept of marriage and sexuality was nothing to be concerned with.
Later, when I realized that I was gay, fatherhood became an illusion, something I knew I’d never achieve. In the 1980s, finding a boyfriend was the height of gay aspirations. Living together was really a stretch goal. That all changed, when civil unions were introduced. All of a sudden, the prospect of family moved from the realm of illusion to the land of possibility.
My husband Alex and I had been thinking about becoming parents since before we met. It was a prerequisite for any future partner of mine as I had a real wish to start a family. As Alex is 12 years my junior, he felt it important to first finish his studies and get his career going before we explored our parenting options. We started slowly, with two exchange students, before finally trying to become full-time parents.
We first opted for foster care. We were evaluated, probed, prodded and finally approved as foster parents just before Christmas of 2011. Yet, due to the raging homophobia still permeating society, we were never awarded a child to foster.
Desperately, we resorted to surrogacy and in March last year, our son Sascha was born.
Since then, we’ve been asked countless times what it means to be gay parents. It’s a difficult question. Being a “gay” parent per se does not mean much to me or my husband or even Sascha. It seems to have more of an impact on the people around us as they witness two men raising happy and healthy children.
I’ve come to believe that gays as parents may result in shifting attitudes toward the LGBT community as a whole. So much of homophobia is based on fear of the unknown. The more people see LGBT families, the less they will fear us or listen to hate speech from politicians and religious leaders. Gay parenting may one day reduce prejudice, make it easier for gays to come out and for gay teens to face bullies.
Every now and then, there are people out there who will frown upon seeing us with our son. We recently had such an encounter. But more and more, they are becoming the exception rather than the rule.
For me, Father’s Day isn’t about getting a tie from my son (heaven forbid, as I don’t wear them). The day is to celebrate Alex and me, and our united contribution in raising our son, Sascha. Just as my dad once joined my brother and me in celebrating mom, paying to take her out to lunch and helping us make dinner and breakfast in bed, so too will we do for our boy. Happy Father’s Day, gay dads.
Hans M. Hirschi is the author of ‘Living The Rainbow: A Gay Family Triptych,’ a trilogy of novels that offer a mirror on today’s LGBT community. It is available now digitally and as a soft cover boxed set, on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble (Nook) and at selected local bookstores.