End of Summer Potluck!
Saturday, September 15
Hosted by Alumni at their Party Room near the Village in Toronto.
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org with number of guests coming, and what you are bringing. (Check Yahoo group for official Party Invite and directions or request when you email)
Stay tuned for more events to be posted here: These may include:
In 1978 a group of gay men who were also fathers banded together to establish a peer support group for themselves and other gay fathers. These men had created families the only way then possible, in a relationship with the mother of their children. Nevertheless, facing an unfriendly and judgemental world they wanted to reconcile their conflicted desires and emotions.
In 1981, the book Gay Fathers was written, apparently the first of its kind ever published. (Out of print today, it is freely available on this website). That collection of "coming out" biographies was based on the actual experiences of GFT men, including several of the men who started this support group.
Canada today is very different from 1978 in many ways. Marriage regardless of gender became legal in 2003 in Ontario and by 2005 throughout Canada. Sexual orientation is not a factor when child custody decisions are made, and there are many ways gay men can become fathers. Yet thousands of men - for personal, religious, age, or cultural reasons - become fathers first and then later begin the process of coming out, and Gay Fathers of Toronto continues to support those men.
We understand that coming out -- to yourself, to your wife, to your children, to family and to friends -- is a daunting and emotionally challenging. But you are not alone. At Gay Fathers of Toronto, you will find men currently coping with issues similar to yours, other men who have already resolved them, and some gay fathers (even grandfathers) living happily as gay men with or without partners.
With children young and old, fathers at GFT come from every corner of society - married and divorced, immigrant and Canadian born, young and old, wealthy and poor, able and disabled, every race and nationality. One will find men who have never had sex with anyone but their wives, some that are not even sure if they are gay, bisexual, or trans*. Some men are certain they are gay; some have had a "secret life" for years. Most come to GFT at the beginning of their journeys, but a few come out, fall in love with another man, and later when the relationship has ended start attending GFT meetings.
Every man at GFT is a father, step-father, or the partner of one. All struggle with questions about sexuality, parenting, and responsibilities. Nearly all of them also began suppressing those questions at an early age, but now those questions need answers. "To love unreservedly", "to end the lie", "to be true to myself", "to live authentically" are some typical ways these men describe that need. As fathers they also want to reconcile their dreams with their responsibilities as fathers - even grandfathers.
Change is stressfull. Gay Fathers of Toronto understands this and encourages every man to seek professional financial, legal, or emtional guidance as needed. GFT does not prescribe a one-size-fits-all resolution. Every man's situation is unique. Our meeting facilitators are volunteer gay fathers who are trained to lead discussions; they are not counsellors. Through discussions about coming out, being gay, parenting responsilities, and so on every man takes away what he finds relevant. GFT encourages and supports every gay or bisexual dad to find the path that best fits his needs and situation. Coming out is not a single step but a journey of many steps. Together we travel that path a little more confidently and maybe make the journey a little easier.
Support group meetings occur two times every month at The 519 Community Centre on 2nd and 4th Thursdays (8:00 to 9:45 pm), except when "The 519" is closed for statutory holidays.
The 519 Community Centre
Room 304 - 519 Church St. Community Centre, Toronto, ON
Directions to The 519 ►[See map in a new window] - ('The 519': 416-392-6874)
It is not necessary to register or call in advance.
Most men start coming to GFT meetings because something has spurred a need to resolve this lifelong issue: They have met "Mr. Right" or the Mrs. discovered his secret or divorced and looking for a new wife (again) just doesn't cut it. Occasionally a man comes out, falls in love and settles into a longterm relationship, and then seeks support after the relationship ends. Every man, though, is a father. All of them have unresolved issues about sexual identity.
"To love unreservedly", "to end the lie", and "to live authentically" are phrases these men use to describe their hope. To reconcile that wish and with their responsibilities as fathers - even grandfathers - is the reason they come to GFT meetings.
Many times men have told how they would plan to attend, but walked away when they got to the entrance of a GFT meeting. They just couldn't walk in. One man said he walked around the block several times to build up the courage to enter.
That first meeting is a big step. With a future that seems uncertain, stressful, even spinning out of control, entering a Gay Fathers meeting could be your first deliberate step toward confronting and resolving that "big secret" and opening the door to possibilities of love and a revitalized future.
It is an informal discussion meeting. Each meeting begins with a check-in for participants, we have a topic opened by a Facilitator that is usually the primary focus of the meeting. But the most important thing is that WE share our experiences, listen to yours, and learn from one another. The power of the meeting comes from our shared experiences, the commonality that we all realize we have. It is a time to be real, to allow yourself to listen and ask questions in a supportive environment.
Gay Fathers of Toronto does not have an agenda and does not advise. There is no "right solution", no prescription that fits every situation. Through sharing, we learn from one another. Each man will find the path to his future that best suits him and his family. For a few, this happens quickly, but change is difficult and occurs step-by-step.
Our meeting facilitators are not professional counsellors, we are trained volunteers and we do know the conflicting emotions and difficulties that come with change. As facilitators, we are Gay Fathers and we all started by coming through the same door the first time.
As a first time attendee, you are our guest. Thereafter, we ask each person to contribute $5 at each meeting to cover costs of meetings and maintaining the Gay Fathers of Toronto website. Gay Fathers is a peer-group, peer-run organization and receives no funds from anyone other than its members.
If this $5 is a financial burden or the reason for staying away, please contact the Facilitator in person or by email privately (email@example.com). We are here to support, not to inhibit or embarrass.
Gathering afterward at a nearby pub - it is often the Boutique Bar (down Church Street), we used to meet at Pegasus on Church St. (but has been recently very busy after our meetings, thus we have used Boutique). This is NOT a requirement to attend, but is a longstanding tradition; it is a way to get better acquainted and continue discussing whatever comes up. (Non-alcoholic beverages are available.) Please feel free to join us if your schedule permits.