The collapse of DOMA and the demise of Prop 8 has pushed the progress for gay rights further. What these victories prove is that the much-ballyhooed “gay agenda” is really simple: parity with the straights. The evolution of the gay rights movement also will ensure that gay families will be protected. Writer-actor-producer Dan Bucatinsky (business partner of Lisa Kudrow), currently on the ABC’s Scandal, has been a leading activist in the entertainment community when it comes to gay rights. He and his husband, director Don Roos, have two children, a product of an open adoption, an emotional episode in his life that he covers in the charming Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight? Confessions of a Gay Dad, a beautifully written, humorous memoir about being a gay dad.
Bucatinsky drew some inspiration for his book from Dan Savage’s own account of gay adoption, The Kid: What Happened After My Boyfriend and I Decided to Go Get Pregnant. He recounts in sometimes-excurciating details of the journey he and Roos went through to find a birth mother for their child – one story in particular, is pretty heartbreaking, as Bucatinsky writes of meeting a young pregnant women who was ensnared by a hidden drug addiction that came out after a series of half-truths, extended periods of silence, and evasions. But the author is not bitter – and remembers to place this young lady in a socio-ecomonic context, understanding her behavior is influenced by her dire situations.
But the adoption story has a happy ending: Bucatinsky and Roos find a birth mother and become the parents of two happy children. Despite their daughter’s serious health scare, the life Bucatinsky writes about is seemingly ideal – he and Roos come off as loving, intelligent parents, intent on raising their kids with values and lots of self-esteem.
What’s interesting about the parenting dynamic is Bucatinsky’s embrace of the “mommy” role – he doesn’t ascribe to old-fashioned notions of gay couples (one’s the man, the other’s the wife), but he does admit to fulfilling the more traditional mothering role – and it comes out in the stories he shares of his parenting – whether it’s planning craft projects, making banana pancakes or taking the kids to a public restroom, his interactions with his children do tend to fall to moms in more traditional families; but that’s okay, because in Bucatinsky’s tome, the term “mom” is no longer just a woman, but it’s more of a title – anyone can be a mom, as long as there’s love, nurturing, and caring.
But all of this mom and nurturing, thankfully, doesn’t translate to a sappy book. Initially, I was worried about reading a book about a guy and his kids, because, well, sometimes it’s hard for me to stay interested when friends talk about their kids – and after all, to a mom or dad, a child is a bottomless well of interest – to others, not so much. But because Bucatinsky’s got a comic’s instincts for funny, he’s able to write about his kids, but remain hilarious – namely because he’s not interested in painting an idealistic picture sans any stress or doubt.
In fact, Bucatinsky is only too happy to make himself look petty, jealous and insecure. Sometimes it’s shockingly funny just how little Bucatinsky can get – especially when he writes of feeling competitive with Roos for his children’s’ affections – the best example of this is when he shares a Valentine’s Day story, in which he and his children work late into the night the day before on elaborate homemade Valentines for Roos, only to discover that his kids neglected to make a card for him. The awesome thing about this episode is that Bucatinsky’s inner monologue is scolding him to drop the slight, but he’s grilling his five-year old daughter on the Valentine’s Day snub.
Much of Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight is laugh-out-loud. Some of it is sad – there’s a poignant tale of Bucatinsky being on the receiving end of some latent, stealth homophobia from someone he considered a good friend. He shares other episodes of well-meaning folks who disappoint him with their unintended prejudices – these telling episodes give Bucatinsky to share his thoughtful and substantiative insight on sociology and politics – and while this is squarely a humorous memoir, there’s much more to substance to his work.
Click here to buy Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight: Confessions of a Gay Dad by Dan Bucatinsky on amazon.com.