Friday, April 25, 2014

Gay Culture Shock... by Joey Spinelli

When I was growing up as a young boy in Brooklyn, NY, I knew that I was different than many of my friends.  But, being a male I was fairly certain there were some things that I was never going to have to worry about in my life.  And, being a gay male, I thought for sure some of these things were never going to come to pass.  Well, I was wrong.  Below is a list of things that I never expected to deal with in my lifetime.

  1. Getting Married.   Well, I thought it was pretty safe to say that I was never going to have to worry about getting married in my lifetime.  Gay = No Marriage. Then, I remember when the very first state allowed gay marriage, My partner said “Should we go to Massachusetts and get married?  I said  “Hey, don’t worry, I will marry you as soon as they allow gay marriage in Minnesota”.  I thought for sure that was pretty safe, well, on July 13th of this year, after almost 10 years of being together, we are getting married.  In Minnesota of all places.  I swear sometimes he stays with me just to prove that I was wrong.  Never say never gentlemen.

  1. Changing my last name.  Ok, no guy at all ever thinks about this. I felt pretty sure up until this year that I was going to have the same name my whole life.  I am sure ladies grow up knowing that one day they will most likely change their last name to their husbands.  But, men never, ever, consider this.  There is no reason to because when men get married, the woman changes her last name.  That's the tradition.  Well, again, as I am getting closer to my wedding date, I am getting ready to say goodbye to my last name.  We have a son and we all want to have one last name from that point on so I will be changing my last name to my partners.  It just sounds weird to say that but the reality is, we discussed this many times and I am not tied to my last name in any way.  My last name just reminds me of my dad and just like I decided with him, it’s time to get rid of it.

  1. Raising a child.   When you say a “child”, you mean a dog, right?  No. Many gay men are in this position now.  We struggle, come out and then learn our lives are all about ourselves.  The gym, happy hour and our gay friends are our entire world.  Until you get the opportunity to raise a child.  Gay men are notorious for standing out in a crowd. Being different from their heterosexual counterparts.  Then, a child comes along and guess what?  You are the same as every other parent and every other couple with kids.  Your Shiba Inu that you treated as a child and said to all your friends with kids, “My pups are my kids”?  That’s over.  My dog is now a dog.  I still treat her with love and I love her just as much, but she’s a dog, not my child.  She’s much easier to figure out, a lot less messier and doesn’t negotiate every single thing with me until I am red in the face.  But, I digress…

  1. Other Peoples Kids.  When you are a gay parent, you are just going to wind up doing play dates with other peoples kids.  Your life revolves around the needs of your kid and between school, sports and other activities; your kid will make friends.  It’s inevitable that with your incredible fashion sense and your snappy, witty personality, that you will be one of the popular “Moms” in your kid’s circle and their kids will want to play with your kids.  I love having play dates with the kids but when you are a young gay male, you are totally anti everything to do with kids.  They are just not something you ever want to deal with.  But, once you are a gay parent, your kid is your life and his life includes his friends.  Soon, all your kids friends will be leaving your home memorizing words like “Mid Century Modern”.

  1. Living paycheck to paycheck.  Huh?  What’s that?  Ok, not sure if we really live from one paycheck to the next, but there sure was a lot of extra money with both mine and my partners income before the kid arrived and one of us had to be a stay at home dad.  I hear all the time that kids cost money, and its true.  They don’t cost me so much with education expenses but with swimming at $100.00 a month, baseball $100.00 for the season, after school learning program at $110.00 a month, etc, etc, it all adds up.  Add to that only one income because one of you wanted to stay home to get your kid to school and all these activities and living gets pretty tight.  All that extra money you have when you are a young single gay man or a young gay couple without a child should go into a bank account immediately in the event that you ever have a child.  Save, save, save!  Otherwise, you will have a home, two BMW’s lots of polo shirts in kids and adult sized an you will be asking yourself “Do we really need to spend money on a new couch or can we live with the old one?”  I know, it’s scary but its true.

  1. All your friends are straight.  Straight People?  I have seen them on TV before but do they really exist?  They sure do.  Remember when you and your gay friends were like the Mean Girls?  You guys hung out every weekend, went to the bars, talked about other people who were ugly or slutty?  Remember when you had a workout partner and the two of you showed up at the gym every day at 530pm to do weights and then you went to Chipotle for a healthy dinner (nothing on their menu is under 1000 calories).  Yeah, that’s all over.  When you have a kid, your friends are your kids’ friends’ parents.  Suddenly, all your gay friends vanish as if a purple cloud encompassed them and they were gone.  Your friends are all straight people with kids now.  They invite you to ski trip weekend, beach weekends in California, game night at their house and if you really hit it off with some of them, you all get a baby sitter on Friday nights once a month so you can still eat at trendy restaurants in your city and have some adult conversation.  Of course, all the adults talk about are their kids. 

Life has definitely changed for me in the 10 years since I was single and without a child to rise.  If you would have told me that I was going to one day be thinking about any of these things, I would have laughed.  But the world is changing.  Not only is it changing but I am the reason its changing.  Every one of us with children and same sex spouses are making a difference.  For those of you that are just coming out or even those of you that are in a committed same sex relationship,  Are you ready for your future?  

"Who am I? That’s simple. I am a gay parent that’s treated like a second class citizen and I am done taking it. 
Every day I am in the battlefields, in my kid’s school, PTA meetings, swim team, birthday parties with
other parents and I am forcing people to meet me.

Every day I stand right next to them and even if it’s just in my mind, I say “ Look at me will you! I am a gay man, right in front of you. 
I have a partner of 8 years and a 6r old boy. 
My kid is in your kid’s class and will be for the next 11 years. 

I am not going away so now would be as good a time as any to accept me and everything that comes with me."
Joe also blogs at 1 regular joe