TNF: Tell me about your family. How old are your kids? Did you get married/have a ceremony?
Garon: There are three dudes in our house. My husband Jamie, our little guy Matteo, and myself. Jamie and I got married in June 2012, first legally In front of the United States Capitol in DC. Then we jumped on a plane to Ft. Lauderdale, and that weekend our parents flew in and married us in a ceremony in front of 70 friends.
We never would have guessed that just a few months later we’d have our little man, but in November of 2012, Matteo was born in Howard County, Maryland. We worked with an agency, Adoption Makes Family, in Maryland and they market heavily toward jails and hospitals so that when a child is born, and a mother wants to place him or her for adoption, they are the first call. It seemed a long shot, but that’s exactly what happened just 5 months after our wedding.
We woke up one morning, Jamie was packing for a business trip to the UK later that day when the phone rang. “What are you guys up to?” said the adoption agency director. I looked at Jamie and in the worst makeshift hand signage possible I motioned to him, “do not say you are packing!”
“Your son was born this morning, “ he said. We were completely in shock. We had no idea he was coming that morning, or that we were the next family for placement.
TNF: How did you meet your husband?
Garon: Jamie and I met at the Washington Sports Club in Columbia Heights and it’s still the gym we go to today. We saw each other on the floor, in the locker room, our lockers were right next to each other but no one said anything. It wasn’t until we were walking out that I caught up to him and said, “hey, I’m Garon. What’s your name?”
TNF: Do you feel different from other families? If so, how so?
Garon: No, I don’t think we feel different at all. Family looks like so many different things in my opinion, and we’re one of those many variations. We clean up cheerios, change diapers, laugh, watch Lion King, and worry about our kid just like anyone else. However I will say that when we move through airports and board flights, it feels like absolutely everyone is staring. We either get the ‘that’s so awesome’ smile or the ‘disapproving glance’. Gate agents have asked us, “So whose the dad?” TSA always seems momentarily confused. Flight attendants love it.
TNF: Is it tough being a gay couple where you live? Do you feel accepted?
Garon: Washington, DC is a wonderful city to be gay in. I actually think it’s one of the most gay populous cities in the US. But you never know what might happen and we’re not taking any chances. We often take long multi-hour walks around the city with our son. When we do, there’s a baseball bat in the bottom of the stroller. Sometimes gangs come in from other cities to commit a crime as a challenge and then leave. I think two dads and a baby would seem a bragging rights target. We’re prepared to beat the shit out of anyone that tries. President Obama said, “No one in America should ever be afraid to walk down the street, holding hands with the person they love.” I hope one day soon, that comes true.
TNF: Why did you decide to start GayDadSwag?
Garon: Right after we adopted Matteo, I started looking around for a site that connected gay dads. There was nothing. I thought there’s got to be a site that brings together gay dads from around the world, shares their stories, their pictures, and gives straight allies a place to voice their support.
So I created Gaydadswag. To me Swag is the way you carry yourself. It’s you being you, in whatever way that is. And we’re cool with that. Initially it started as a Tumblr. In the first two weeks it went around the world. So I spent a couple months building the dot com and creating a team. Now www.gaydadswag.com is the first of it’s kind in the world. I hope it changes minds and hearts and gives people a window into these beautiful lives. There’s people from all walks of life that write us and tell us they read it. Mom’s groups, straight dads, kids, and young people from all over the globe. Google analytics shows us that people in places (to name a few) like Saudi Arabia, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana, Uganda, and Russia, are looking at it. We are so grateful to have that direct connection to them.
TNF: What has having a family meant to you?
Garon: Honestly, it’s everything. I knew I wanted to be a young dad before I knew that I was gay. I knew I wanted to adopt before I knew I was gay (maybe because I’m adopted myself). So when I came out, I thought, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t continue this dream of having a family. Looking back, I wish I had a site like Gaydadswag to show me what that might have looked like.
I sort of went on blind faith. There’s this beautiful moment that happens once in awhile, when the three of us are lying in bed, or on an airplane, or reading together, and I stop and look at them and I think, there’s no where else I’d rather be than with these two. I think often about when I might die. Will I live well into old age or will I be killed in an accident of some kind? I tell myself, whenever that moment comes, I hope the last image I process, is of my husband holding our son. That’ll be enough for me.
Jamie is from Rotterdam, New York. Garon is adopted from Sri Lanka, his family is American. Matteo is half black, half white. They all dance to P!nk & Madonna on the regular, play soccer in the house, and travel a ton.
Thank you Garon and Jamie for bringing tears to my eyes with your beautiful story. Keep in touch with The Next Family.