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Patrick Price, our Equality and Diversity and Inclusion Lead shares his story of being a gay parent this Pride Month.

Monday, 06 June, 2022
Patrick Price, our Equality and Diversity and Inclusion Lead shares his story of being a gay parent this Pride Month.

I’ve worked at Northumbria Healthcare for the past 28 years in various roles and have been an out gay man since I was 18 years old.  I have always been open about this part of my life ever since I started working here.

When I first joined the trust in 1994 I had recently become a father and had a picture of my first son on my desk which raised some questions for some of my colleagues who made the assumption that either this was a nephew or that I was married to a woman at some stage and we had a child.

Way back in the 90’s there was no provision for lesbians to access IVF so, necessity being the mother of all invention, a number of lesbians who wanted children made arrangements with gay male friends, some of these men were only interested in supporting their lesbian friends through donation but others like myself were happy to be known as the father and some played an active part in parenting their child/children.

The big challenge at the time of course was that there was no clear legal process in place to support these kinds of arrangements, just as there were no legal rights for same sex partners to be considered a joint parent or for donors who were not on birth certificates to have guaranteed access to see their child.

In my case we operated on the basis of trust and kept regular contact with each other and decided to have a second child (having both come from big Catholic Families we knew the joy of siblings!!). There were visits to my home where the boys met my friends and family who live nearby and to my parents’ home where the children met their grandparents and aunts, uncles and cousins – as gay parents we wanted the boys to know that they were part of a wider family and to have a range of adults in their lives who gave them examples of loving relationships regardless of sexuality.

Other challenges were more around supporting them to address any potential bullying issues that might occur at school if people asked about who their parents were, especially as I didn’t live with them but as it turned out, their friends were more concerned by the fact that we were both vegetarians than that we were gay and they took that information in their stride. That gave me a lot of faith that things had changed radically since I was a child at school where being different in any way invited harassment.

So, skip forward 28 years and both sons are adults, have been to University and are working – one in London and one in Taiwan and my relationship with them, particularly since they became young men is the thing that gives me the most joy in my life. I have learned a great deal from them about how young people like them view the world and experience it differently from my generation – not least they teach me how to navigate technology a bit more effectively!

If I could change one thing about how I did this, it would be to have been more active in their upbringing perhaps by moving to their home city and to have them know their grandparents better. However, the questions they ask about my upbringing have led me to begin writing a family biography so that they can feel rooted in my history and can better understand their own backgrounds.

If I had advice to give to gay parents or parents to be it would be to make sure if you can that your children experience broader family life so they can see that their experience is just part of a wide spectrum of being brought up in a family. Also, contact other LGBT+ parents through our LGBT+ Staff Network – people are being more open about their experience and can support you if you don’t have the support of your wider family for whatever reason. I recognise that I am fortunate to have a biological family that have celebrated my choice to have children and have included them in family gatherings but I know not everyone has that so where that is  the case perhaps find your Logical Family!

To find out more email equality.diversity@northumbria-healthcare.nhs.uk

 

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