America's Favorite Guncle
After 7 years of being together, my boyfriend Nick and I have often wondered if, when and how we would have children. Both of us come from large Italian families that would very much embrace us having kids of our own. During the recent holidays we were asked by a handful of relatives if we ever wanted to be parents. A question like that really does make you think! It made me reflect on how far society has come in the fight for equality and human rights. I know there is a lot more work to go but we are so grateful with all the progress and that there are many LGBT families leading the way. Nick and I have always been so inspired by gay couples that have children and celebrities that use their platform to show such a beautiful example of love and family. Neil Patrick Harris and his husband David are such an inspiration. I remember watching their amazing Oprah interview a couple years ago and calling up my parents to turn on the television – I said, “that is what Nick and I want someday.”
Interesting enough, I never was the guy that wanted to have babies. In my twenties I could not even imagine myself being a dad. Just the thought of waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of crying seemed so dreadful (yes, I absolutely love my sleep). I would also get annoyed when I would see kids misbehaving in restaurants, causing a scene and disrupting dinner. Thankfully, my mindset changed drastically when my older sister, Jackie, had her two daughters. It is safe to say that my nieces, Natalie Clare & Colette Marie put a whole new perspective on my view of parenting and idea of having little ones of my own.
Jackie and I have an extremely close bond, we are 11 months apart (I was very premature and my parents were very busy), and have been each other’s rocks throughout our entire life. She is usually my first phone-call of the day and has always spoken up for me when I struggled to find my own voice. Jackie leads the pack of our sibling posse of four and we all love seeing her as a mom. After giving birth, Jackie and her husband, John, asked me to be the Godfather to their first born, Natalie Clare. I remember sitting in my living room having an overwhelming feeing come over me that I never felt before. Being asked to be Godfather felt like such a huge honor. For me, it meant that there would be a spiritual connection between my niece and I. It would also mean I would be responsible for her if anything were to happen. The moment I held Natalie Clare in my arms, I cried my eyes out. She was so little, so innocent and looked so peaceful. My boyfriend and I still get very emotional whenever we hear the sweetness of her voice and the kindness of her soul.
Now at age 4, Natalie has grown to be a very smart little girl. She knows that Uncle Matt and Uncle Nick love each other and a couple (just like Mommy and Daddy and Nanny and Poppie). My sister and brother-in-law have raised their children to have no judgment and that everyone is equal. Seeing Natalie with such an open mind really makes me think about how so much of the hate going on in the world stems from what we learn at home. Can you imagine what the Earth would be like if there was more love and acceptance being taught? There are some people out there that can really learn a lot from the eyes of a 4 year old.
These days, I often use the term “Guncle,” especially if I need a cool hash-tag on Instagram. You have probably heard it before – the blending of the words “gay uncle.” When I think about it from a fun and light-hearted point of view, I really love being called it. For gay men, if you can’t be a parent, you can certainly be a Guncle! It is a big responsibility but so incredibly rewarding. My nieces really do think I build the best Lego houses, tell the greatest princess stories, host the most fun tea parties, and always in the mood to sing a song from Frozen.
Who knows if Nick and I will ever have children, it is something we are going to focus on later down the road. But, what we do know is that we will always have two beautiful nieces in our life. For now, I think we will take advantage of spoiling them and dropping them off at their mom and dads (ha!).
With all jokes aside, what I’ve learned through this whole experience of being a Guncle is that there is nothing more precious than feeling the love of a child and for a child. Seeing them grow into their own personalities is so fascinating. I also have so much more admiration for all the mothers and fathers out there – wow! My hat goes off to all of you.
My only wish is that I hope you teach your children the importance of equality. There are all kinds of families out there who love the same.
Show your kids that everyone deserves compassion.
May God bless us all.