Exclusive Excerpt: Jesus Has Two Daddies

This is an excerpt from Jesus Has Two Daddies: Two Dads, One Family by Tom McMillen-Oakley (2 Moon Press, 2012). Reprinted by permission of the author.

Tod (far left), Tom, and their children

Chapter Seven: Going to the Chapel

For many, weddings are an exciting time. For me, they are a reminder of my second-class status as a gay man living in the United States. Many of the dreams that are readily available to our heterosexual counterparts don’t come easily for those of us who are gay.

When I first came out to my family back in the 80s (I was 16 years old), some of the first comments and criticisms from my folks were that I would never have a family, nor give my parents the coveted grandchildren they so desired. It would seem that by being gay, my life would be one big orgy of self-indulgence and debauchery. I will admit that for a young man without many role models in my life, their rather glum forecast did seem to be my destiny. I knew a few older men who were gay, many of whom became mentors and role models in my life. Some, however, never made it out of the 80s because of illness or suicide.

Then there are those who disappeared, for whatever reason. We didn’t have a high school group (aside from Thespians) that connected us, and many of the bars that we hung out in together are history. Yes, Facebook provided me with some great reunions, including my first boyfriend. But searches for many of my friends have turned up nothing. It’s saddens me that they are gone. I have some pictures, but for the most part, they are hazy memories floating in my head. So yes, I mourn with my folks and their losses, but I hold a candle that has been burning for almost 30 years in my heart for the lives that ended much too soon.

I miss you all.

I would hear about a family member or a friend getting married, and I would flinch at the thought of sitting through yet another ceremony full of all the trappings that make the perfect day: horrible music, hot churches, bad dresses, and the receptions. Oh sure, you could score some free drinks, but the whole concept of a reception makes me dizzy with disdain. While the wedding party is off getting their pictures taken or driving around town in a limo consummating their marriage, you are hustled down to a church basement, K of C Hall, or some ballroom in a hotel off the freeway.

For those of us without kids, or the ability to legally marry, these events can cause great strain and stress. The stress is caused by the desire to strangle all the kids running around and the wish to choke the DJ to death with his mic cord. Would it kill them to play some Madonna? The strain comes from clutching the chair legs every time one of the parents chirps about how cute the kids are and then tucks back into their drink or third piece of wedding cake, oblivious to the carnage those little monsters are bringing to the hall.

In 2005, our friend Michelle invited us to her nuptials east of Detroit, so Tod and I had time on the lengthy drive over to discuss a whole host of subjects. One thing I love about Tod and our relationship is that we can talk about anything for any amount of time, or we can say nothing at all and be completely comfortable with the silence.

On the drive home after the ceremony, Tod and I began a lengthy and exciting discussion about expanding our family. We were in a new house, one that called out for more than two inhabitants. We bounced questions off of each other and grew more and more excited as we headed home on the freeway.

We had been told that we’d never find love, marry or start a family. However, on the ride home after the ceremony, the defining moment came when we decided that this could be a possibility for us.

Jesus Has Two Daddies is now available in Kindle and paperback.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • kaydenpat

    “For me, they are a reminder of my second-class status as a gay man living in the United States.”

    Thankfully that’s changing. Illinois looks like the next state to pass marriage equality legislation.

    • pagansister

      As the state of my birth—GO Illinois! I hope they pass the legislation.

    • http://www.facebook.com/tommcmillenoakley Tom McMillen-Oakley

      Alas, here in MI it is not.

  • JenProhaska

    Sounds like a great love story. I’m interested to know why “Jesus” is in the title.

    • aoscott

      I took it as a reference to God and Joseph, which I never thought of in that way before actually.

      Urhrhh talk about the worst position for a step-dad to be in…his dad is GOD :|

      • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

        I’ve seen “Jesus Has Two Daddies” before, and it’s definitely referring to Joseph and Yahweh. It is a cute take on the whole “Heather Has Two Mommies” trope.

      • Stev84

        He is really his own father

        • aoscott

          haha waughghH! You’re right!

          • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

            OT, but you don’t happen to be a movie critic, do you? I can’t help noticing your user name.

            • aoscott

              ;]

              • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

                LOL, is that a yes? If you are, I love your reviews. And I was awfully disappointed when At the Movies was canceled.

    • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

      They’re religious, it seems. While I’m sure it would make fundies’ heads spin to know that two gay men can raise their children Christian, I’m not sure why it’s being promoted here. My feelings about kids of same-sex parents being indoctrinated into religion are exactly the same as my feelings about kids of opposite-sex parents being indoctrinated into religion.

      • http://www.facebook.com/tommcmillenoakley Tom McMillen-Oakley

        Hi Anna, we WERE religious, and that is part of the story.
        I appreciate all your comments about this post.

        • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

          So you’re not religious anymore? That would make your story a lot more relevant to the atheist perspective! I’ve never read a deconversion story by two dads, although in Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight?, Dan Bucatinsky does mention that his partner is an atheist and that they’re bringing up their children outside of religion.

          • http://www.facebook.com/tommcmillenoakley Tom McMillen-Oakley

            The story was to be about our quest for family, but as the narrative unfolded, us leaving the church became a big part of the story. And, for the record, Dan Bucantinsky did the intro for my book. : )

    • MichaelBrice

      Maybe it’s their son’s name.

    • JD929

      I was hoping it was a story of a Mexican child, Jesus, with two gay men as parents.

  • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

    This is certainly an interesting story, but I’m curious why so many self-published books are mentioned on this site. There are plenty of titles released by actual publishers that seem to be ignored in favor of them.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      I post about the books that I would want to read. A lot of published books aren’t very exciting to me.

      • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

        Fair enough. Although don’t you find that they tend to be of very poor quality? I have tried to read self-published books in the past, and I almost never make it through any of them.

        If someone wants to read nonfiction about same-sex families, for example, there are recent books that might appeal to them: Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight?, My Two Moms, Homo Domesticus, She Looks Just Like You, Blood Strangers, etc., all released by mainstream publishers. I’ve read most of those within the past few years.

        • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

          /ironic

          like with blogging, you have to get over the whole “if it’s online it’s not Serious” thing, anna. read and learn about the process of who, how, and what makes the cut in the dead tree “official” publishing world. it will open your eyes. hint: in america, it’s not fair, nor based on truth and “quality.” if you think so, you’ll be disappointed, upon inspection.

          • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

            I’m just going by personal experience. I’m not commenting on this particular memoir (in case the author is reading), but self-published books are often poorly written, not to mention frequently riddled with spellig and grammatical errors. This can also be a problem in the world of professional publishing, but at least they have editors to try to catch those things. In addition, the cover and text usually scream self-published, with a terrible font, an awful photograph, etc.
            It’s like with many of these atheist billboards. They don’t look professional, and I think having that sort of look hurts the message. The “Please don’t indoctrinate me” billboard (one of my favorites from last year) could have been a lot stronger if it had looked more professional. I know I’m attracted to things that look like people have taken the time and effort to care about how they come across. I’m not attracted to things that look like they were put together by a five-year-old with a 10-dollar budget.

            • http://www.facebook.com/janeteholmes Janet Holmes

              Plenty of books published by large businesses are badly written and boring too.

              • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

                Of course, but it’s much more prevalent in self-publishing. Mainstream publishers do their best to turn out a quality product. I don’t usually come across horrible writing in books from Random House or Harper Collins (for example) because they spend the time, money, and effort to ensure that their books are free of stylistic errors and contain solid writing and professional cover images.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

          Some are poor quality, but again, I try to post the ones I think are worthwhile :)

          • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

            Fair enough, and I admit that there are writers out there who do a good job despite not having been picked up by a major publisher.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    this sounds like a wonderful narrative. but

    But searches for many of my friends have turned up nothing. It’s saddens me that they are gone.

    i know this is hard to accept for many, but some of us have NO facebook, myspace, linkedin, or similar accounts. we live our lives, get jobs, have lovers, buy food, etc, without them.

    i’ve been a “blogger” for longer than most people here. one of the first revelations i had about this whole stuff is that life goes on, even if you don’t sit in a chair every waking moment trading info and insults with friends and trolls.

    there are pets and trees and birds and sports and shopping and jobs and all this other stuff out there, even. you don’t need to post, log on, check in, “friend” or otherwise “connect” to have access to it. it’s called “life.”

    put the little brain cancer causing device down, for at least an hour or two a day. it’s worth the attempt, even if like with nicotine, meth and crack, it’s really hard for you to do.

    • http://www.facebook.com/janeteholmes Janet Holmes

      Are you SURE about this? I might cease to exist in a puff of smoke! ;-)

    • http://www.facebook.com/tommcmillenoakley Tom McMillen-Oakley

      My lament here isn’t that I can’t find them on Facebook, or elsewhere, my concern is that many of them made choices (prostitution, drugs, etc) which may have shortened their lives. Kids these days (eek, I sound old) are connected at every level. Ask them where any of their friends are and with the swipe of a finger they can tell you. We weren’t that connected back then and I wish I could see these guys again.

  • pagansister

    If Jesus can have 2 Dad’s, why can’t other children?

    • Seemourhairs

      So you believe Jesus had two Dad’s?

      • Golfie98

        Of course he did – there is his biological dad (that god fellow who is also himself who raped his mother) and the Joseph bloke who brought him up.

        • roberthughmclean

          Ooh, that ads some interest to the baby jesus story. Where do the three itinerants with the funny gifts come in? Were they part of jesus’ family or the donkeys?

      • pagansister

        Yep—the almighty book said that the BVM was impregnated (magically of course) by GOD (dad 1) and then there was Joseph (dad 2—kind of like Thing 1 and Thing 2), who fell for her explanation of her pregnancy (because after all she was a virgin!) and agreed to raise JC as his “own”, at least until JC decided to head out on his own and do what Thing 1 told him—thus ending up as a dead guy on a cross.

  • http://www.facebook.com/janerleblanc Jane R. LeBlanc

    Seems like a neat book. However, the title is a bit off. Yes, Jesus had two fathers (according to the Bible). But he also had a mother.

    Most of the religious folks get upset because the child won’t have .

    As an atheist, I worry the title is too easily written off.

    • http://www.facebook.com/tommcmillenoakley Tom McMillen-Oakley

      Hi Jane, the title is from a children’s sermon given by the former minister of the church we used to attend. She was preparing the kids in the church for our daughter’s arrival and made the analogy that God asked Joseph to take care of his son since he couldn’t. So in a sense, like Anna, Jesus has two daddies.

    • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

      While that’s true, religious conservatives also get very upset by the idea of families outside the traditional set-up. So pointing out that Jesus didn’t come from a traditional “one mom and one dad” family might be a good idea. After all, that particular alternative family came straight from their deity.

      Slightly OT, but fundies who scream that “children need a mother and a father” also seem to have no conception that many children of gay and lesbian parents actually do have both moms and dads, and that sperm donors, egg donors, surrogates, and birth mothers can be (and are) incorporated into the family.

  • Seemourhairs

    And if a gay parent recruits a child into the gay lifestye? And problems with that?

    • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

      What kind of nonsense is that? Are you straight because someone “recruited you into the straight lifestyle” or because you find the opposite sex more attractive and always have? Children of same-sex families don’t turn out to be gay any more often than children of conventional marriages. And for those few that do turn out to be gay, who better to help them deal with that than a gay parent? And at least the mostly straight kids of gay parents won’t grow up with their heads filled with the kind of bigotry and misinformation that your question reveals.

    • JD929

      I don’t believe that’s possible. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being gay either. Sexuality likely isn’t something that can just be changed, it’s not like people can be converted to “gaydom”.

    • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

      You can’t “recruit” people into “the gay lifestyle.” There’s no such thing. This is a lie that is perpetuated by people on the religious right in order to advance their political agenda. It’s particularly offensive because it plays off the stereotype that gay and lesbian people are predators who seek to influence or change children’s sexual orientation, which could not be further from the truth. Gay and lesbian parents not only understand that sexual orientation is inborn, they have no desire to “make” their children gay, even if they could.

      You can’t “catch” homosexuality by being around gay people, either. Sexual orientation just doesn’t work that way. Religious conservatives seem to have gotten it into their heads that gay people can make their children gay. How exactly would they do that? How could anyone dictate which sex their children find attractive? My brother and I were raised by two lesbian moms, and we’re both heterosexual. This was simply never an issue. My parents couldn’t have cared less about our orientation. All they wanted was to make sure that we were happy, healthy, and safe.

      There’s also nothing wrong with being gay, so what “problems” are you talking about? Let’s say a gay couple did have a gay child. Some of them do. What’s wrong with that? I’d say they have an advantage because of their personal experience. They know exactly the sorts of issues their child will encounter and they can also model a healthy example of a same-sex relationship, something that few gay and lesbian children see growing up.

    • pagansister

      So you think “gay” is a “lifestyle?” Where have you been? I have a dear friend who happens to be a lesbian and her daughter is “straight” and married with 2 children. One doesn’t turn someone “gay” or “straight”. It’s called being born the way one is.


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