All in the Family
Confused. Hesitant. Conflicted. Concerned. Understanding. Excited.
Name an emotion, and I’m sure I’ve witnessed it in the one of the faces of people I’ve told that my brother is our sperm donor.
Really?? But wait, how does that work? So, like, he’s gonna be the dad? What are you going to tell your kid? Well, what if you and your brother get in a fight? But isn’t that, like, incest? So are he and your wife going to…? Why don’t you just adopt? Oh, so, your baby will be related to both of you! Aw, he’s like your twin!
I really don’t divulge this information lightly, even though now it’s in print and available for anyone and their mother to pick up and read. I’m aware that whenever people share personal information, it’s inviting judgment. Is there any topic more personal?
So why talk about it? It was Harvey Milk who told us, “You must come out.” We as a community know that the more we come out, the more we live our truth, the more normalized our lives become in the eyes of society. I don’t think that ends with simply saying, “I am gay.” I think we can go one step further, and share what it’s like to live as gay families and what unique challenges we face. Fortunately, my wife and my brother agree that whatever possible benefit to others that may be brought about with our disclosure outweighs any privacy concerns we may have.
I’m sure every gay person wishes they could procreate “the old fashioned way” with their spouse. I certainly do. (Spoiler alert: It doesn’t work.) The fact that we can’t isn’t just emotionally difficult, it’s also been used against us as the basis for religious attack, among other things.
For me, for us, we chose the next best thing. We chose one of the most important men in our lives, and certainly my biggest support, my chief confidant, and my closest friend throughout the years. To top all that off, he happened to be my brother and shared the same ancestry. It was a no-brainer. He is truly giving us the greatest gift.
As for those questions.
But wait, how does that work? Provided that it does work (here’s hoping), that’s for another column, another day.
So, like, he’s gonna be the dad? Um no, he’s Uncle Eddie.
What are you going to tell your kid? That Uncle Eddie gave your mommies the best gift and helped us make you.
Well, what if you and your brother get in a fight? You don’t know me and my brother. When we fight, it’s smack talk about Fantasy Football.
But isn’t that, like, incest? I’M not having my brother’s baby. Gross, guys!
So are he and your wife going to…? Really?
Why don’t you just adopt? We might someday, too. But for right now, this is our choice.
I must say, I’ve been surprised by who has inquired about our family plans, and who hasn’t. After all, “first comes love, then comes marriage,” and any kindergartner on the playground can tell you what comes next. My own insecurities about internalized homophobia have me worried that folks don’t, and won’t, see us as a “real” family. Fortunately, while performing his chief confidant duties, my brother reminded me that some folks simply aren’t sure whether it’s socially appropriate to ask.
(I’ll tell you who HAS decided it’s appropriate to ask: Target. And Facebook. Change your Facebook status to “Married” and cue the baby ads. Buy prenatal vitamins from Target one time, and instead of the usual dog treat coupons, we’ve been bombarded with coupons for formula, diapers, and baby clothes.)
As with all sensitive issues, especially those that are deeply personal, prudence is essential to any line of questioning. To some, questions like “Who is going to carry?” and “Who is your donor?” are profoundly delicate and akin to asking heterosexual couples about their favorite positions or their family planning schedules. While I find it important for our community to share, other couples are presented with their own decisions that may not be as easy to make. There are those that use anonymous donors. Those who purposefully choose not to use known donors who are family members. Those who choose known donors outside of their families, and those who choose to adopt.
The best advice I could have for the curious is, if someone is sharing their family plans with you, listen. Acknowledge that they’ve shared something private and ask how you can offer support. In the sharing of our challenges and decisions, we’re opening our hearts and coming out yet again. Hopefully, we’ll also soon be sharing our joys.