Nick (AKA Papa) and I will have been together 20 years this October. We became parents when we were 42 and 40, and Jon is now seven (you do the math, we’re old and tired). As with any parents — gay or straight — we have to work to find time to be intimate, whether it’s in the bedroom or sitting down to snuggle or just finding out how the other is doing.
Luckily, Plum Organics is here to help. They sent us this nifty (and sexy) kit to spark some ideas on how we can reconnect both physically and emotionally.
< record scratch noise >
Waitaminnit… why is a baby food company sending out sexy-time kits?
The “straight” answer is that sexy-time leads to babies, which leads to potential new customers. But the real story is that Plum is a brand by parents, for parents that believes in honest (and sometimes messy) conversations; they’ve been at it for years with their #ParentingUnfiltered campaign.
So back to the kit. It’s part of Plum’s Do Your Part(ner) campaign, which involves taking a pledge to make your relationship a priority, with the end goal of making the entire family happier and healthier. Plus it’s also a lot of fun.
In 1990, I was deep in the closet, deep in the heart of Texas. I was in my fourth year (of five) at Baylor, sharing an apartment with three friends from my ultra conservative, evangelical, charismatic church. I lived in a bubble within a bubble within a bubble of repression and denial. And buried deep in my sock drawer were two CDs of the “secular” variety, hidden away like so much auditory porn. Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 was great for walking the Bear Trail and driving around town with the windows down; but it was George Michael’s Listen Without Prejudice, Volume 1 that filled countless hours spent in the painting studio, or that flowed from headphones as I silently lip-synched in bed.
I had plenty of other memories tied to George Michael’s music: awkwardly slow dancing to “Careless Whisper” in high school; “I Want Your Sex” blasting from a dorm window while parents (mine included) assisted their freshmen kids on move-in day; being mesmerized by George and Andrew’s legs in the “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” video.
But Listen Without Prejudice touched my soul in ways no other music had. It was Michael’s response to the well-deserved hype of Faith, choosing to downplay his image and focus instead on songwriting and emotion. In nearly every song, his longing for love and connection echoed my own. “Praying for Time,” “They Won’t Go When I Go,” “Something to Save,” “Heal the Pain,” “Soul Free,” “Waiting for That Day” (which included a snippet of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”) — all resonated, and still do.
And then there was his voice. Michael’s voice — particularly on that album — is what I always wished mine sounded like, or imagined it would sound like in heaven.
The only time I saw George Michael perform live was singing “Freedom! ‘90” at the Equality Rocks concert in 2000. He’d only been out officially for a couple of years, so all of RFK Stadium celebrated the song’s newfound significance for Michael, and for our community’s burgeoning, well… freedom.
That song still gives me religion — true religion that comes from the abandonment of repression. A soulful experience of reveling in self-expression. Singing from the pit of my stomach that I am who I am, haters and self-hatred be damned.
Thank you, George Michael, for sharing with us your voice and your soul, your trials and your bliss, your longing and your freedom.
Let me tell you a secret
Put it in your heart and keep it
Something that I want you to know
Do something for me
Listen to my simple story
And maybe we’ll have something to show
You tell me you’re cold on the inside
How can the outside world
Be a place that your heart can embrace
Be good to yourself
Because nobody else
Has the power to make you happy
From “Heal the Pain”
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Struggling or know someone who is? Call 866-488-7386 for The Trevor Project.
Never miss a post. Subscribe by entering your email at the top of this page to receive Designer Daddy directly in your in box.
Here we are at the end of 2016, and Holy Haircut, Batman! — it’s been a roller coaster of a year. I can’t recall a recent 12 months that contained as many highs and lows. Between the election and all the ugliness it exposed, the numerous police shootings of black men, and the Orlando nightclub massacre, it’s been an especially harrowing year for women, people of color, immigrants, Muslim-Americans, Jewish-Americans, and the LGBTQ community.
Yet through it all, there have been constants to keep me grounded: my family, feeding said family, and my love of superheroes. So the lunch notes were pretty constant, too.
Since starting this adventure three (!) years ago, I’ve tried to include a good mix of characters: DC and Marvel; comics and non-comics; human, animal, and whatever the hell Pokémon are. But this year in particular both inspired and challenged me to step up the diversity being represented in my son’s lunch notes.
Dude, they’re lunch notes. With cartoon characters on them. GET OVER YOUR ARTSY-FARTSY, DRAMA QUEEN, HOLIER-THAN-THOU SELF.
A friend recently asked if I was going to the Pride festivities in DC this year. And for the first time in nearly 20 years, not only was I not going — it had completely slipped my mind.
I came out as gay my first year in DC, and Pride has been an important part of my history ever since. I’ve braved the crowds as a newly single man, sung with the Gay Men’s Chorus from the main stage, took my brother to his first Pride as an out gay man, and marched in the parade with my husband and son, dressed as superheroes. DC Pride also falls near my birthday — often on the very day, as it did again this year.
But the weekend was already booked solid with decidedly non-gay activities, chores, and other familial stuff long before my friend’s reminder. On Friday night — as younger LGBTs were disco-napping and float-building — I was corralling my son into bed and mentally reviewing the weekend’s busy schedule, when I was inspired to create this graphic:
I posted it on Facebook Saturday morning, with this caption:
So how do LGBT parents celebrate gay pride? Well, for this gay dad, mimosas are replaced by juice boxes; Dykes on Bikes give way to tykes on trikes; shirtless go-go boys become toddlers streaking thru the sprinkler. And the only drag is us dragging our tired bodies to bed well before midnight.
Our hair may be grayer, but our lives couldn’t be any more colorful!
I don’t do a lot of memes, but I was feeling a bit out of the loop, and this made me feel a bit more Pride-y. By the reactions I got from many of my LGBT parent friends and readers, it rang true with them as well.
In the summer of 1984 I turned 16. I had a year of high school behind me and was living on a tropical island in the middle of the Pacific. My dad was a military chaplain, and we’d moved to Okinawa, Japan the previous summer. For several months we lived in a house in Okinawa City, and the top floor consisted only of my bedroom and a wraparound balcony with a view of the ocean. Aside from the occasional gecko scurrying across the ceiling, it was a sanctuary of solitude for this eldest of four boys.
I had a pretty good first year of high school, as years of high school go. My grades were good, I made the tennis team, and had a solid group of friends. I’d even been voted “Cutest Couple” with a girl who I happened to be dating when the votes were cast, though soon after reverting to friend status.
By the summer of this story, we’d moved onto Kadena Air Force Base. Military housing is typically bland, but here was accented with island flavor: a clay tile roof, palm trees growing from the patio, poinsettia bushes along the side of the house. I hadn’t yet attained high school party-attendee status, so weekend nights were spent walking to the movies or bowling alley, days at one of the beaches scattered around the island.
At the end of that June, I bought Purple Rain at the BX. Over the course of the summer and into my sophomore year, Prince’s magnum opus was the soundtrack of our collective youth. Blasting from cars and boom boxes, on every Walkman, every track (and some B-sides) played nonstop at school dances.
Like Thriller the year before, Purple Rain crossed lines of gender, race, and genre. But it went even further, delving into and mixing sex and spirituality. This was exemplified most in the album’s two biggest hits. “When Doves Cry” dripped with sensuality, while “Let’s Go Crazy” sang of the afterlife with raucous, unpious fervor. The latter was a revelation for this preacher’s kid struggling not only with faith, but also with my sexuality… and what that meant for my own afterlife.
2015 was quite a year for me, for my family, and for several communities to which I belong. A flurry of sticky-note success; a milestone in equality; venturing into kindergarten; the return to a galaxy far, far away; the tragic loss of a friend — all of these contributed to one of the most eventful 12 months in my recent history. And it’s been exciting, fun, cathartic, intimidating, and inspiring for me to chronicle it all here (and a couple of other places) in word and doodle.
So if you’re a new reader curious to know what this site is all about, or a familiar friend sharing some moments of reflection, welcome. These are my 15 favorite blog posts of 2015.
Actress Yvonne Craig passed away Wednesday at the age of 78. She was most well-known for portraying Batgirl on the über-campy Batman TV show… and she was my first* favorite superhero.
Like many superhero-loving adults of a certain age, Batman was my favorite show growing up (just to be clear, it was already in reruns). I didn’t get most of the jokes or recognize the rogues gallery of guest stars, but it was awesome because it was “real people” (not cartoons), and oh so bright and colorful.
By now you’ve no doubt heard the term “Dad Bod,” and have subsequently seen a marked increase in the number of paunchy, fuzzy man-tummies in your strolls through the Internet.
The term was coined by a college student to describe her ideal guy: a less-ripped/more average fellow who she could cuddle up to and ultimately settle down with. This phenomenon has had beer-bellied men rejoicing, some women crying foul, and me wondering why this is news.
Dad Bods aren’t a new trend, at least not with the always-ahead-of-the-curve Gays. Gay men have been celebrating their stout brethren for decades, declaring definitively that Fat + Hairy ≠ Undateable. They’re called Bears, and as a card-carrying member of this cuddliest of gay subcultures, I want to officially welcome you to the party!
While not without their flaws and stereotypes, Bears pride themselves in being more accepting of the average-to-overweight man. Bears are the “real man’s” alternative to the cliché of a smooth, sculpted Adonis. And as a gay bear and a dad, I am undoubtedly the ultimate expert on what constitutes a “Dad Bod” …and how to make the most of it.
So to my hefty, hetero brothers, let me offer you some of my unsolicited expertise.
Yesterday one of the original members of Marvel’s X-Men came out as gay; and despite the usual online cynics and haters, I’m pretty stoked. While Iceman (aka Bobby Drake) isn’t as well known as fellow mutants Wolverine, Cyclops or Storm, he’s been consistently well-represented in and out of comics since the team of super-powered outcasts debuted in 1963.
In animation, Iceman was one of the “friends” on Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, and he makes appearances on Cartoon Network’s The Super Hero Squad Show. On the big screen, Iceman has been portrayed by actor Shawn Ashmore in four of the X-Men movies. He had the most screen time in X2, where his strained relationship with his parents after he reveals he’s a mutant is a not-so-subtle allegory of a teen coming out of the closet.
Even before I became a father, I would read stories about little boys who didn’t like sports, or preferred Barbie over Boba Fett, or wanted to dress like Daphne for Halloween, or enjoyed having their toenails painted pink. Invariably there was an antagonistic relative, neighbor or onlooker going head-to-head with a proud, resolute parent who was coming to the aid of their atypical son. I’m sure these moms and dads went through a period of adjustment to reach their own place of acceptance, but in these stories they’re already proud Papa and Mama bears, stopping at nothing to defend their cub’s right to live outside society’s rules. One dad even wrote a letter to his hypothetically gay son, which melted my heart, as well as that of the bazillion other people who read it. These stories are beyond inspiring and give me hope for humanity.
So yeah, sometimes I wish my son was gay.