Pride Month 2022 - Being an LGBTQ+ Parent
The month of June marks Pride month, a month dedicated to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and the importance of freedom for them to themselves.
This month, members of our LGBTQ+ network are sharing their stories across a wide range of experiences. Gary Wilson, Project Manager within the Portfolio directorate at the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA), shares his story as an LGBTQ+ parent.
I became a father through adoption in November 2019 at the age of 33. As a gay man growing up, I always knew I wanted a family of my own but I never thought it would happen, and until the day my son moved in it still didn’t feel real.
I’ve been in a relationship with my partner Dean since 2007, and our adoption journey started in July 2018 when I was manning the NHSBSA stall at Newcastle Pride. We were next to a stall for a local adoption agency and out of curiosity spoke to the social workers to find out more about the adoption process. When I got home, I told Dean about the conversation and that I had asked for them to visit us at home to tell us more, expecting him to tell me to cancel it. I was very surprised when he said he was excited about the visit.
In March 2019 we started our adoption training, and including getting approved and matched to a child, the whole journey took us around 9 months. This was a lot quicker than we were expecting, and our son moved in with us in November 2019 when he was 10 months old. He has changed our lives forever. The journey has been a rollercoaster of highs and lows and whilst our process was quick, some people can wait years before they are chosen as the right family for a child.
The thought of becoming a dad absolutely terrified me, but I think anyone starting a family will have similar thoughts and feelings. We’ve now been a family for 3 years, and I can’t imagine life without our son.
I have faced very little discrimination in my life as an out gay man, and I believe this is mostly because I’ve kept a low profile. However, it is obvious to the world you are a same-sex family when you have a 3-year-old shouting “Daddy and Dad” at the top of his voice and proudly telling anyone he meets that he has 2 dads, but surprisingly we’ve never been subject to any unwanted comments. There have been a few occasions where someone has made uncomfortable comments assuming our son has a mother, but when we’ve corrected the person, they’ve always been very apologetic. I hope this makes people think twice when speaking to people in the future. Prior to becoming a father, I’d probably have let these small things slip but I feel it’s important, especially when our son is around, to correct this so he knows he shouldn’t be ashamed about having 2 dads.
We aren’t naive and know our son could be targeted by his peers because he has 2 dads, and we’ll make sure he’s well prepared for this. I hope the world has changed from when I was at school and people are now less cruel and more accepting of others. We will always be honest with him and where he’s come from- we’ll always celebrate Pride with him to make sure he never feels like he has to hide anything.
I’d encourage any LGBTQ+ person who wants to start a family and is ready to go for it. There a several different routes to becoming a parent, and there are no restrictions on who can adopt as long as you can give a child a good, loving home. The adoption process is the same for all prospective adopters regardless of gender, relationship status or sexual orientation.