This gay dad has great advice about dealing with stares from strangers
A gay man in America has written a powerful blog about dealing with discrimination as a parent, and how he has moved past it with the help of his partner.
Erik Alexander, from New Orleans, was surrounded by homophobia when he was growing up and was “bullied for being different” – a factor that has left lasting damage in his life.
He said: “My heart breaks when I hear other stories of people being bullied about being different, about being gay. There is something that happens to someone’s confidence when they grow up in an environment such as I did.”
Alexander, who has a child with husband Douglas, went on to write that he is still affected by the bullying from his youth.
“I was called gay before I even knew what gay meant. Over time, it really hurt me and would often break me down.”
“I was able to move on, but I was not able to forget. As much as I wish I could and not be bothered by my past, sometimes it comes bubbling back up.
“This really didn’t happen until we had our beautiful baby, Alli Mae. She is the absolute light of our lives and I fall more in love with her every single day.
However, Alexander writes that freedom of religion law that was passed in the state this year proves that he and his family have a long journey to reaching acceptance.
“In 2017, in my home state of Mississippi, my own family can be denied service because we are different from most people. My little girl’s parents are gay, and because of that we can be turned away. It breaks my heart.
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“I cannot let my angel see that I am hurting,” he added.
Alexander said that they still get stares in public, but with the help of his partner he know that they are “good parents”.
He said: “This may be the first time straight people have ever seen a gay family. This may be the first time they have ever seen a baby be as happy as ours with two dads. This may be the time that we proved to them that gay people can be just as good of parents as traditional ones. We are even better than some.”
“Everytime we go out, people stare because they may have never seen this before. Rather than being self-conscious about it, own it. Let it be a teaching experience for them. Don’t read into their stares. Most likely they are staring with curiosity and not judgment.
“I think about those words every time I am in public now. I never realised that some people down here may have never seen or interacted with a gay family.”
The dad finished up the moving post with a quote from Hellen Keller: “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”