Who comes to support meetings for gay fathers?
- who live still with their wives and children,
- who have divorced, and share custody with their children
- who have lost contact with their children
- who have primary and sole custody of their children
- who live with boyfriends
- who sometimes are unsure if they are gay or bisexual.
- who have long histories of "secret life" history and others who have never been with a man
- who are single dads trying to figure out what being a gay father is all about
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.
What goes on in a 'Support Meeting'?
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.
Your first meeting
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.
After the meeting - the meeting after the meeting
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.