I caught up with David Ledain to talk about fatherhood and his book Gay Dad.
What was your inspiration for your book Gay Dad?
When I was going through the process of separating from my wife, I looked for books by men in similar situations. I was desperate to read about other men’s experiences, but I couldn’t find anything. There were plenty of books about gay parenting and adopting or fostering, and coming out stories by celebrities and sports stars, but nothing that spoke to me or that I could relate to. I seemed to be the only one going through this situation — the only gay man who had married a woman and had children. Of course, I knew this wasn’t the case at all, and so I decided to write that book myself.
How did you find the ten men that are featured in the book?
I belong to a Facebook group called GADSSupport. Administered by gay dads, it gives a supportive private forum for gay dads from all over the UK to talk about their experiences and problems. I asked them if any of them would be willing to share their stories anonymously for the book and I was inundated.
It’s very cathartic to tell your story knowing that you won’t be judged — this is me, this is what has happened in my life, and this is where I am now. Crucially, it’s very important that other gay men in marriages or heterosexual partnerships know that they’re not the only ones that this has ever happened to.
What were some of the consistent experiences of the ten men featured?
Shame, guilt, loneliness. But the fundamental message that applied to each and every one of them was that they all married for exactly the right reason — they fell in love. It just so happened that the person they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with was a woman. As with heterosexual marriages, nobody goes into it thinking that it’s only going to be for a few years while they sort out their sexuality.
Straight men and women also have affairs and sexual encounters while they’re married, and for all sorts of reasons. What seems to be the case with gay men who marry is that they think, wrongly, that they can control their sexuality or that it won’t impact on the marriage in any way — which was my naive thinking.
What were some of the consistent experiences of the children of the men featured?
The book is about the experiences of gay men in heterosexual marriages — their telling of those stories is biased to their viewpoint. It would be interesting to do a book about the children’s side of the story, but generally, kids come through it as they would any divorce or separation situation — it very much depends on how the parents handle it.
What does the book tell us about gay men and fatherhood?
The overriding message is one that we’ve known all along, that gay men are caring, loving individuals, and that they very often have an innate nurturing side to them that they need to fulfil.
What sort of feedback have you had so far on the book?
People have been fascinated, not least because of the diversity of the stories, the different backgrounds, the socio-economic status, race and religions of the men featured. Each story is unique and yet the binding thread of what we’ve been through is the same. There’s a universality to the stories that will resonate with a lot of people.
In the book, I included a lot of information about what it means to be homosexual, where the term ‘homosexual’ came from, homosexuality and religion, and porn addiction. I didn’t want it to be just a collection of stories, but to inform and educate people about gay culture as well. We need to own our history and we need to talk about it.
What do you hope that people feel when reading the book?
If I’ve managed to reach one gay dad who feels that he’s trapped, that he’s the only one this could possibly have ever happened to, and he takes from the book the positive message — that though it may take time, sometimes years, there’s a way through it and that in the end, all those involved start to live the lives they should be living — then I’ve done good.
It’s not a healthy situation to be in a marriage that’s not working, for whatever reason, and it’s not good for the children either.
Is it getting easier for gay men to be fathers?
We’ve just heard that Tom Daley and his husband have had their first child. That would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. I do think though that institutions such as the NHS still need to do more training in preparing professionals to the idea of a more diverse society and family set-ups.
Diversity Role Models do a lot of good work going into schools to talk about bullying and to let kids know about different ways of living, and I think that each one of us can talk about the issues that affect us personally. We should embrace those moments to tell our story whenever and wherever we can.
We want to hear your opinion
I caught up with my LinkedIn buddy Peter to talk about his first date.
Can you remember your first date with a guy?
My fist date was with a soldier I was 17 he was 27.
I’d gone to a gay bar. You had to be 18 to get in, but I’d convinced the doorman that I was 18.
I met the soldier in the bar. He took me back to the barracks. He stripped me off, got me to stand up against his bedroom wall, then forced his big cock into my tight ass. He then pumped away until he shot all his spunk into me.
When you’re dating, how do you typically meet guys?
Generally at pubs, or the gym.
What’s your idea of a perfect date?
A lovely day out with a stranger, ending up in hot sex.
For a young guy who was just starting to explore dating in the gay world, what advice or guidance would you give them?
Take it slowly. Go with a friend. Only do what you feel happy with.
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