“I could give you a child, if you want,” I blurted out, an above-aver-age rush of serotonin still rushing through my veins. At some point, the night ended and she crashed on my couch. I don’t really know what was going through my head. When I realised the next morning over an Aperol Spritz breakfast how serious Siobhan was taking this, a sense of panic surged through me. I had never wanted kids before. I had actively spoken out against them.
As a gay man, I have a certain lifestyle I’m accustomed to. One that can easily be destroyed by one thing: parenthood. While I thought about Siobhan and what she wanted, I thought a lot more about myself and that potential kid. If I gave it to her, no matter how hands-off I wanted to be, I’d be bound to that thing – it would constantly weigh on my conscious for the rest of my life. No more boyfriends, no spontaneous sex, no more bad decisions (who has time for all this with a kid?). No more long parties. Basically, no more Berlin – farewell to the carefree and decadent life I’d been cherishing myself as a child of Berlin.
Why am I here in this city as a gay man if I can’t have those things? (Yeah, yeah, Corona’s done that for us at the moment in a lot of ways, but a fag’s got to have hope!). Do I even know any gay dads in Berlin I could aspire to be? Do they exist at all? Obviously they do. Berliners even.
Das Regenbogenväterbuch, a German-language collection of advice for gay fathers that came out this past summer, was brought out by, well, gay Berliners. But not exactly the freewheeling, bon vivant bohemians that I was used to mixing myself up with. I actually met the editors of the book at a rainbow parents picnic in Volkspark Friedrichshain with fellow Exberliner columnist Dan Borden this past summer. While everyone at the picnic was lovely, Dan and I weren’t exactly their crowd. This is was an older, established group of German men. They were in Berlin for entirely different reasons than Dan and I were. And Dan’s connection to fatherhood came about somewhat roundabout anyways, so he didn’t count.
My friend Florian is probably the closest thing to a gay father I know in Berlin. He may even have the ideal version of fatherhood here. He gave his sperm to two well-off, working lesbians who own a house in Brandenburg. He is a father and actively participates in his child’s life, but all-in-all, the kid is raised out in the well-sheltered sticks. His heart may always be with his kid, but his body is still prancing around the streets in daisy dukes and a glittery baseball cap.
Even as I progress through my mid-thirties, I wonder if some of my gay brethren have been tempted to spread our seed differently than we have been. But even the gays that have adulted into more worldly pursuits (Coke! Not speed!) haven’t wanted to take that plunge. Berlin has so much to offer for gay men that it would be a hard sell to convince me or most gay men I know to give that up.
But maybe I don’t have to have kids. I’ve been seeing a 22-year- old for the past couple of months. Doesn’t that already make me a daddy?