Family Pride exclusive: John Selig on gay parenting

I have just launched a podcast called “John Selig Outspoken”
that is aimed at the GLBT community and it focuses on three main
areas. First, I interview GLBT leaders and role models often
showcasing individuals and organizations of importance to our
community. Secondly I share insights and readings from writers
because I believe that our culture is so strongly represented in
writing and with the number of GLBT titles being published sinking
along with the number of GLBT bookstores closures I feel a need to
do what I can to promote the written word. Finally, I include a
commentary about an issue that I believe to be critical to our
community. Nobody has ever accused me of being lacking in having an
opinion or being shy about expressing it.

It is no coincidence that Ken Manford and Family Pride are being
highlighted during my first two podcasts. I came out of the closet
seventeen years ago after the collapse of a thirteen-year marriage.
My wife felt unfulfilled, as I was emotionally and physically
unavailable. After she wanted out I finally faced the fact that I
was gay. We had a son who was twelve at the time and both decided
that it would be best for him to live with me though we would both
co-parent him. As I entered the gay world, which was totally
foreign to me, I was concerned with keeping my son whole. The first
organization that I contacted was the Gay Parent group (later to
become GLPCI and now Family Pride). The support I received through
his school years and that my son received from a group for kids of
gay/lesbian parents run by a lesbian couple was a lifesaver.

Upon my son’s graduation from high school in the mid 90s I
drifted away from my connection with Family Pride but the
organization has never drifted away from my heart. GLBT parents are
special people. The straight world has moved a long way toward
understanding the need for civil rights protection for gays
(especially when it comes to work place discrimination, hate crimes
and even serving in the military). The two issues that seem to be
most difficult are same-sex marriage and GLBT parenting. I have
experience in both since my husband and I were married in Toronto,
Canada in April 2004. So the straight world finds GLBT parents a
bit of a misnomer and we often find ourselves in the place where we
have to prove ourselves. In fact, Abigail Garner in her excellent
book, “Families Like Mine: Children of Gay Parents Tell It Like
It is,” wrote that our kids feeling the need to be perfect to
lend credence to GLBT parents being just as good as straight

On the other hand GLBT parents often find themselves to be at odds
with our gay friends because so many gays and lesbians haven’t
been around kids since they left school. To be honest many are
uncomfortable around kids since many have bad memories of their own
childhoods. Most of our GLBT friends are able to drop everything
and go out with friends at a moments notice. We on the other hand
are concerned with after school activities, doctors’
appointments, helping with homework, taking care of a sick child or
one who is home on school vacation and all the many other
challenges and joys of raising our kids. For those of you who are
single parents I am not even going to go into the unique dating
obstacles that arise. So we are alien at times to our own
community. We get odd looks when we can’t make a meeting or go
out to dinner or a club on a Saturday night or go out on a date or
even mention that we would rather stay home with our kids.

Still I wouldn’t change being a gay parent for the world. My son
is now twenty-nine and he married a wonderful woman in September
2005. As I look back at my life, both what I have seen and what I
have been able to accomplish, without even the slightest blink of
an eye, there is no doubt in my mind that the greatest
accomplishment in my life was the rearing of my son. Though he
lives two time zones away and we don’t get to see each other
nearly often enough, we speak on the phone almost daily and he
provides me so much joy. I feel so fortunate to have this wonderful
unique relationship that so many of our GLBT friends will never
have the opportunity to experience.

I salute all of you because being a GLBT parent is a challenge that
only those of us that have experienced it can possibly understand.
Enjoy the love and cherish the time you have with your kids as they
do grow up far too quickly and they do leave the nest. The time and
energy you invest while they are young will be with you for a

Please feel free to listen to “John Selig Outspoken”  as I
think you will enjoy it. From my podcast blog
you can stream it over your computer or download it via iTunes or
whatever podcatcher you use. Also be sure to check out some of my
photographs and commentaries at