TNF: Tell me about your family.
Christopher: Well, Brent and I have been together for 14 years. I am a hair stylist at a local salon, and Brent works at a local car dealership. We are not married yet, but are planning a small ceremony next April, on our 15th anniversary.
We have an amazing 2-year-old daughter that we adopted through a local non-profit agency. We were lucky enough to be matched with a local birth mom, and were able to be present at her birth.
And I cannot leave out our parents and my sister and her family. They are incredibly supportive of our family, and there is no way we could survive without their support.
TNF: How did you meet?
Christopher: It’s kind of a cliche, but we met when we were both out with friends. We exchanged numbers that night, and then had our first date about three days later. And we’ve been basically inseparable since.
TNF: Do you feel different from other families?
Christopher: No, I don’t feel different from other families. We just look different, but we work to pay our bills, sit at the table for dinner, and battle bedtime stalling just like every other family that I know. Do I feel like we are held to a “higher standard parenting”?…now, that’s a horse of a different color. As an adoptive gay dad, I feel like I HAVE to be the perfect parent at all times. And I know that it’s totally in my head, and I have gotten better about ignoring it as our daughter continues to grow and surprise us every day.
TNF: Where do you live?
Christopher: We live in a small historic town in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia.
TNF: Is it tough being gay where you live?
Christopher: That’s a loaded question…being that I have lived here my whole life, I would have to say “no” now. This area has changed significantly since I came out 16 years ago (at age 17). Being located only an hour or so from Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, MD, has helped to evolve the acceptance level of the area. As a teenager, it was “hush hush” when it came to homosexuality, but nowadays I don’t think most people really care anymore. Now, would I walk down the street holding my fiancé’s hand? No! However, I don’t ever feel paranoid as we walk down the street with our daughter linking us as a family.
Do I feel accepted? …absolutely. But my job exposes me to many people in our community, and I try to be very active in the community. It is a rarity that I go anywhere without running into someone that I know.
TNF: What does having a family mean to you?
Christopher: It is the most exhaustingly fabulous feeling that a person can experience. I have always known I would have a family some day. Even when I came out, I never doubted it. Brent and I agreed early on in our relationship that a family was the ultimate goal. It’s about instilling the core values that my parents instilled in me. It’s about teaching a future adult self-respect, as well as respect for others.
Thank you Christopher and Brent for sharing your story. You have a beautiful family!