How father's day works with two dads

FATHER'S Day is a rather new and special celebration in my household. It's also a double celebration because my children have two dads.

I am a single gay dad of twin toddlers.

Tomorrow we'll spend the day at the beach while Daddy and Papa (me) get plenty of cuddles.

My son and my daughter are 2½ years of age and, despite all the tribulations and angst after three years trying to have them, they are by far the best thing that has ever happened to me.

I am not in this journey alone. I co-parent with my ex-partner, and we live in the Byron Bay hinterland in two houses within the same property.

The children made us manage our break-up and forced us to find an alternative solution: we became friends.

And they forced us to bring out the best of us when selfishness was the most obvious reaction.

Our community has been pivotal to our success as a family.

Besides a small number of negative reactions from people around us, 99% of our peers have offered us support, advice and, more than anything, love in many forms.

This weekend select cinemas across the country will screen Gayby Baby, a documentary portraying the lives of four children - Gus, Ebony, Matt and Graham - who grew up with same-sex parents.

Beyond the obvious work assignment, for me this interview had a different tone. So when I was asked if I wanted to interview filmmaker Maya Newell, 22, about Gayby Baby, a film I had heard about through the national gay dads network online, I jumped at the opportunity.

In some ways, while talking to Ms Newell, I felt I was talking to a future version of my own children.

 

Q: How has your idea of parenthood been moulded by the fact that you have same-sex parents?

A: For all of us, our upbringing informs the people that we become. I think that, of course, our families are the same as our straight-parent counterparts. We experience the same venal, frustrating, delightful, fun and - dare I say it - normal existence as the average family does, whatever that is.

At the same time, we should be at a point in history when we are able to celebrate and talk about those differences in a way that doesn't denigrate our families.

Often, people who come from families with gay parents, talk about the fact that we are the same and we are normal, when in actual fact we shouldn't have to say that we are normal in order to be seen as equal.

 

Q: Are there any positives from being raised by a same-sex couple?

A: The wonderful thing about being raised by a same-sex couple, being two dads or two mums, is that children in our families grow up to see gender as equal.

It is often said that men have to have masculine traits, and women have to have feminine traits. In reality, you can get masculine and feminine traits from both men and women. We have a broad understanding of gender and are not limited by stereotypical gender roles.

I grew up with two mums who both mowed the lawn and did the cooking, helped me with my homework and took me to soccer practice. I was shown that there is a multiplicity of ways to be a strong woman, and I believe that it would be the same for children who grow up in two-dad families.

 

Q: Have you met any children of same-sex parents with interesting experiences in that regard?

A: I was just talking to a friend, Kate, who lives in Adelaide. She has two dads and she also has a heterosexual mum, and she said that when she got her period for the first time, it felt the most comfortable for her to tell her dads first.

As a society, we think that we are divided by gender, but I think that a lot of the problems in our modern society are derived from that separation.

For some reason we cling to some gender roles that have created so much damage for men who feel pressured to be buff and macho, when if we moved away from those idealistic understandings of gender we would all be much happier people.

 

Q: Do you have to explain what your family is like when you meet someone new?

A: All the time. If I feel the need to come out about my family and share that information, I can be guaranteed another 30 minutes into that conversation where I can completely guess the first five questions.

I think that it's very nice that I am the one who shares that information and talks about our family. I really enjoy being able to enlighten people.

 

Q: What would you say to people who are considering watching the film but are not sure yet?

A: I would say to them that the film is really entertaining.

It is easy to get caught up in the political side, because it's been released at a time when our country is in the midst of a debate about our families' worth, and the ability to parent.

However, it's important to acknowledge that it's a film that is also entertaining, and these children are delightfully humorous and will remind you of your childhood, whoever you are.

Gaby Baby was released nationally on Thursday. For screenings, visit thegaybyproject.com/


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