I remember the late '90s. I was fresh out of the closet, a teenage, single, gay guy who was going out clubbing every weekend. 90% of my friends were single gay guys and I was frequently on the dating market. That's how I saw most young gays living their lives back in those days. It was not yet legal for two men to get married, and usually same-sex families were out of public sight.
Fast-forward 10 years later. I was married to my husband, Ido, we were pregnant with our first daughter, and 90% of our friends were married, straight couples. Our date nights involved staying at home, watching a movie on a 40-inch television screen in our own living room. How did we end up there?? I always wondered when this transition to the good ol' typical American family started.
During our first weeks of dating, I knew that Ido was the love of my life. I wanted to marry him and have lots of kids. We moved in together after 6 months, adopted a dog, and it became normal for us not to hit the gay bars that often. We were busy building our future together where the highlights of our weekends included theater nights, dining at our favorite restaurants and hanging out with straight couples.
Even though most of the couples we mingled with were straight, we were constantly reminded that we were different. In our minds, we wanted to be like any other couple, to have the same relationship stages like getting married and having kids. What stopped us was the legalization (or actually the non-legalization) of gay marriage and surrogacy for same-sex couples during the beginning of the new millennium.
Luckily for us, we were able to achieve our dreams when more and more states started legalizing gay marriage and surrogacy for same-sex families, including having two dads (or moms) on a child's birth certificate. Hurray! We did it!
Eventually we had our big wedding and we were able to have two beautiful daughters via surrogacy. But then we were just like all our friends. We became the cliché' straight couple, but in gay. But is being a cliché couple a bad thing?
The GLBTQ community fought hard to achieve their family rights. While divorce rates increase, and many straight couples bring children into the world without being married, it feels like lately getting married is SOOOOO gay! So are we acquiring the heterosexual model? Or maybe what we should do is to live our lives the way that works for us individually, as long as we can all have equal rights.
Do I really mind that we are living like a typical heterosexual couple? The answer is no! We, as a family, feel comfortable with the way we live our lives, being the traditional family with the twist of two dads. The only thing that Ido and I need to constantly remind ourselves is not to forget each other.
On episode 17 of 'Connected,' Ido and I try to not be one of those couples that just raise their kids but forget about their own relationship. We found ourselves in a spiral of the routine life and didn't think of stopping for a moment and find that spark again. We went to a gay bar and felt free to kiss and hold hands. We had a nice family vacation in Mexico and enjoyed a spa day with only one another.
Same-sex families deal with the same universal issues -- relationships, raising kids, fulfilling individual dreams, finding what makes us happy. And guess what? We are not that different from any other family. Yes, sometimes we face challenges when we are reminded that we are somewhat different, but these days, who doesn't want to be a little different and make this world more interesting?