I have always been comfortable with being gay, but felt there was always something missing. I’d always had a very strong paternal instinct that confused me. I didn’t know whether it was a goal that would ever be achieved. It was a part of me that I felt I couldn’t express in a gay relationship -“ something was missing. I devoted myself to working with children with disabilities for about 15 years, but my work didn’t fulfil that need either.
I did have a few relationships that lasted a few years, and after travelling overseas, I returned to live in the Blue Mountains. I met my son Christopher’s mother in the workplace. She knew that I was gay, we talked a lot and became good friends. I told her that I would like to have a child. She was divorced and wanted to have another child, and being the modern woman she was, she thought that it was a perfect opportunity to have a family that was non-stereotypical. She agreed to help me. As we were both in our mid-30s, we took fertility vitamins to increase the chances of conception. She fell pregnant almost instantaneously. We were quite shocked.
We discussed arrangements before Christopher was born: we agreed it was in the best interests of the child that he’d always be share-cared, he’d have a home with dad and he’d have a home with mum. Initially I was able to take more time off work to look after the baby. Nurses from the hospital and Christopher’s mother gave me crash courses in what to do and she’d ring me quite often.
I would want Christopher in the best clothes and I would be taking photos of him all the time. I’d be changing his entire outfit several times a day, so during the times Christopher was with his mum, I’d be kept busy washing all of his things. It felt like that was never going to end.
Christopher is just such a happy balanced boy now. He’s got two worlds: he’s got a mum that loves him and a dad that loves him, his home with mum, and his world with me, and all of his things at my house. Both his mum and I have our own lives -“ his mum is more career-driven than I am. We respect each other and she has a very positive perception of gay men in general. We both give Christopher as much time as we can. We don’t have to live in each other’s pockets either.
Christopher is quite a gentle little spirit. He loves his dad, he wants to be with me constantly, which I find very rewarding. You can’t think of yourself all of the time, and you know whatever you’re doing is out of love. You have to remember that having a child is for life. You have to sacrifice your time. Being constantly available for Christopher makes it hard for me to date guys. Ideally I would like to be in a relationship. A potential partner would have to accept the responsibilities that I have.
As a gay father, you tend to be under more scrutiny with some people. A common attitude people hold is whatever mistakes your child makes, it’s your fault. A few people have said, Your child will turn out gay because of you, which is very narrow-minded, considering most gay people are brought up by heterosexuals. Probably the majority of negativity comes from some gay men, attitudes like leave it to the breeders. It’s just not the way the world is any more. I was quite surprised to hear things like that. Although I know that some people do hold the opinion that gay dads might want to molest their kids, I’ve never had anyone express that to me personally. Drawing such a conclusion about gay people and pedophilia makes me rather sick. It’s quite a harsh judgment. I don’t worry about Christopher being teased at school because he has a gay father. He’s already pretty big for his boots at this age.
I’ve read about situations where gay men have wanted to have children and paid a woman to be a surrogate mother and, after she had the child, instinct kicked in, she wanted to keep the child, and the father didn’t have much of a leg to stand on. So, I’ve been lucky. It depends on the motivation of the couple and of the mother. If the motivation is money, then straight away I would say no. I think lesbians shopping for sperm among their close gay friends is good, because they want the child to know its father. A gay couple needs to know someone who would mother the child for the right reasons and to keep in mind that having a child is for life. It’s bigger than marriage -“ it’s forever. You can’t just walk away from it.
Interview by Barry McKay