While in my late teens, my mom liked to tell me: “Jacob no matter how far out there or different you think you are, you have very traditional values.” She was right. Last weekend marked the ten year anniversary of my first date with my (now) husband, Stewart, on February 26, 2001. Ever since I came out as gay at age 22, I knew that my ideal future would include a life-long partner and a kid to raise with him. I was not envisioning a “husband” per se, because gay marriage was not only legally unavailable in the mid 1990s, it wasn’t even on the radar screen back then. That didn’t discourage my plans though. To the contrary, I even pinpointed the exact age I wanted to be when having a kid: age 38. I figured that gave me plenty of time to have fun as a single guy, and then get my act together through a serious relationship. Of course, life doesn’t run according to our planned timetables, and Max arrived when I was 36. But who doesn’t love an early present?!
While I ultimately succeeded in my aspirations beyond my wildest dreams, they didn’t always seem attainable. First off, I had the small problem of actually finding a life-long partner. Before I met Stewart, my longest romantic relationship had lasted all of 2 months. I remember being 27 years old and worrying that I was never going to find Mr. Right. Secondly, even assuming I found that special person, what was to say he would want to embark with me on the journey of parenthood? The concept seemed much more far-fetched back then than it does now. I didn’t know any gay male couples that had kids, or for that matter many gay male couples at all, and there was no such thing as the sitcom Modern Family on network TV. The only gay dads I had even heard of were men who came out as gay later in life after they already had children through a straight relationship. Most childless gay men who came out back then thought that in doing so they were necessarily sacrificing any opportunity to have kids of their own. Stewart has told me that he was one of those men.
Nor was it immediately obvious when Stewart and I met that we were destined to create the family we now have. Stewart was dating somebody else at the time, and so we were just good friends for a period of six months before he broke off his relationship and we became a couple. During those months we slowly became closer as we played squash together first weekly, and then twice weekly, and then started hanging out together after each squash match. Sometimes that entailed watching college basketball while having lunch at a sports bar, or discussing books at a cafe, or checking out art galleries in Chelsea. I realized that I had finally found somebody who shared all of my eclectic interests in life. Therefore it hardly seemed strange at all that our first official date was attending a New Jersey Devils pro hockey game followed by a late-night visit to a gay bar back in the city to watch a favorite drag queen perform. But I’m pretty sure we were the only couple with that itinerary that evening!
From the very beginning I was up-front with Stewart about my serious interest in becoming a father down the road, and thankfully Stewart was receptive to the idea. As our relationship progressed, we renewed this discussion at every important step along the way -- including when we moved in together in 2003 and when we tied the knot in 2008 -- just to make sure we were still on the same page. Each time we were more and more enthusiastic about pursuing parenthood together, and finally decided to go for it in 2009. The rest is history, as they say, and our precious Max, born almost 10 months ago, is proof positive that a little dream I had in my twenties could actually become an amazing reality over a decade later.
|With 10 month old Max on the 10 year anniversary of our first date|