I was working at a night club on Bourbon Street and stepped into the back. He sat at a desk filling out a new hire work form.
At that moment it was like time stopped. It was like the beating of the bass from the music on the dance floor silenced, and all I could hear was my own heartbeat. I still remember what the room smelled like, I even remember what we were wearing. I couldn’t look away, as if I was frozen. I knew instantly that this was the very moment I had prayed for. This was him.
People often ask me if it was love at first sight.
My answer to them is always, “absolutely.”
It was about a year after Katrina and New Orleans was starting to get put back together again. I was still pretty shaken by the experience, so to have him in my life now was so comforting.
My only one, unique rose
Although we had found each other, we still had a lot of growing to do. Our twenties were wild to say the least. New Orleans doesn’t sleep. The bars never close. So, spending so many nights in the club meant we also saw so many sunrises. Once the sun came up, we would dart out of the bar and cover ourselves like an Anne Rice character from ‘Interview with the Vampire.’ We would run to his old Volvo wagon and quickly drive out of the French Quarter.
He was so spontaneous and I loved that. Some mornings we’d walk to Audubon Park and climb trees. My favorite mornings were spent on the levee of the Mississippi river flying kites.
Afterwards, he’d take me down to the railroad tracks by the riverbend and smash coins under the train wheels. After the train would pass he would pull out ‘The Little Prince’, one his personal favorite books. Douglas read, “There may be millions of roses in the world, but your my only one, unique rose.”
As he continued, all I could do was melt into the grass.
As he looked down reading, I couldn’t help but cry a little. I knew even more in this moment that this was the boy I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
There was no stopping us
Once we cleaned up our act there was no stopping us. It was like something ignited in us and we had a burning desire to make something happen for ourselves.
This became more evident by the day.
Douglas decided that he wanted to pursue a career that would allow him to help people who have a history of substance abuse. At first, all of the local universities rejected his application. The community college accepted him, but pressured him to enroll in an air-conditioner repair program, saying that medical school was too lofty of a goal for someone like him. He pushed forward anyway, and ended up getting a full scholarship to Loyola University. He went to college and also started a fundraiser to bring scientific instruments to local classrooms across New Orleans by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. After Loyola, he graduated from LSU New Orleans School of Medicine.
He is now a doctor of medicine in a psychiatry residency program which will allow him to practice a mind-and-body approach to substance abuse.
We had no idea what 2015 would bring
In December of 2014 he asked me to marry him.
We had talked about what we hoped to accomplish in our lives, but we had no idea what 2015 was going to bring.
In April of that year we became first time homeowners.
In June, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality and on August 1st of 2015 we were the first gay couple married inside of Jackson Square in the French Quarter.
In November, our first daughter was born. We were elated!
It all seemed surreal. We had always dreamt of the day we both would become dads. In the beginning of our search, we were told that for adoption, our wait could be anywhere from 5-7 years because we were a gay couple.
To our amazement we waited a mere 3 and half weeks.
Although it was a short amount of time to wait, it was still super emotional and very hard at times. Some days it seemed like the adoption would happen, and others it seemed like it wouldn’t. For a few days there, it almost didn’t and those 3 days of grief will always stay with me.
Our baby was born prematurely and she had to stay in the NICU. She was born at 30 weeks and because of this, the original adoptive family backed out of the adoption and left our angel without a family to go home to.
As life would have it, we were indeed allowed to adopt our baby girl.
Afterwards, I guess we did what any parent would do in that moment. We ran to Target! We had about a month to plan and get the nursery ready. After a long month of gaining weight and getting stronger, she was discharged from the NICU.
On December 4th we got to bring our tiny angel home.
That was the best Christmas- EVER.
For 10 years I was the general manager of a popular restaurant in the French Quarter. About a year and a half after we adopted our first daughter our second daughter was born.
It was then that I left the restaurant and became a stay at home dad.
Douglas and I both felt strongly about one of us being home with the girls. I knew that this was my calling.
It’s like we’re unicorns
A couple of months into the transition into my new
stay-at-home dad role, I really felt like our journey could really help someone out there. So, I created my blog and began to write. I wrote about my past lessons of life and what what we had learned so far in parenthood.
I write about my insecurities and learning how to embrace who I am. Being a family with two dads makes it obvious whenever you walk into places. People often stare. Most of the time it is innocent and purely out of curiosity. For many around here, especially living in the south, people aren’t exposed to same-sex families often. When they finally see one, they tend to watch very closely. For me, it’s like we are unicorns and we have finally been spotted for the first time. I constantly tell myself that this is a teaching moment for them. They probably have never seen a family like ours before and they are curious.
I suppose if we need to be the ones to help teach them then,
so be it.
Recently, we went out to eat and there was a family that sat beside us. They were obviously disgusted. I admit, that hurt.
We try so hard to be good parents. God knows I am so much of a better father than my own. To have someone look over with such hatred validates my reasons that I started my blog.
We love our children just as any other straight family does, if not more than some. Just like them, we would do anything on Earth for our babies.
We do that every single day, regardless if we are two dads.
It is my mission to broaden the one sided view of the stereotypical American family. We too, are living the American dream. We live in an incredibly divisive time and right now visibility is critical to help destigmatize and normalize same-sex families.
We are the new normal, loving family that teaches our children acceptance of all walks of life and the importance of being kind to one another. Our place in this world is earned, not owed.
You can always be respectful
This journey is beautiful. I am beyond grateful to the universe for allowing me to find my purpose in life. The gratitude I get daily from my girls easily allows me to overlook the stares from onlookers and the occasional ignorant bigot.
Who knows? Maybe the hatred they spew comes from a place in their heart that longs to find the kind of love that radiates from each of us.
It is so important to embrace each other for all that we are, all that we bring and all that we stand for. Let us all lead by example- while showing our children who their parents are by being respectful and tolerant of everyone. Even if you do not agree with them, you can always be respectul.