The Accidental Gay Parents


The Accidental Gay Parents

The second Trystan spotted John, a pink-haired guy in a black bandana, he was smitten. For a year, Trystan and John spent their weekends clubbing, partying in Vegas, and making out on the beach.


Then, one Friday, John got a call.

It was a social worker. She said that she’d be putting John’s sister’s two young children into foster care at the end of the weekend. Unless, of course, John took them.

So John and Trystan got in the car and drove to the sister’s house. And John gave Trystan that two-hour drive to decide whether or not he was ready to commit to becoming a dad.

This is this story of a couple of twenty-somethings going to court against family to become the legal guardians of two children in desperate need of a safe home. (Hint: extra hard when you are gay.) This is also a super romantic love story. Side note: Trystan is trans, which adds a whole other interesting element to the episode. Tune in to hear all of the surprising details. For now, some pictures of Trystan and John’s life with the kids:

Toenail painting is a favorite pasttime in Trystan and John's household

Toenail painting is a favorite pasttime in Trystan and John’s household

Riley, the older child, adjusting to his new life

Riley, the older child, adjusting to his new life

Trystan and John's wedding

Trystan and John’s wedding

Trystan, John + the kids in their wedding shoes

Trystan, John + the kids in their wedding shoes

P.S. We’re going to be following up with John in a couple of episodes!

UPDATE: John’s story is now up! Listen here.

Resources for Raising Kids in a Nontraditional Family
Trystan says he’s found the Facebook group Aunts and Uncles Raising Nieces and Nephews to be an invaluable resource.

He also has enjoyed reading the blog Papa Bear, about a trans dad giving birth—something he is considering in the future.

We asked our own LGBTQ listeners what trans-parenting resources they like, and they answer was, “Well, there’s not a lot.” We did, however, get a lot of recommendations for S. Bear Bergman’s books, especially Blood, Marriage, Wine, & Glitter. People also like the books Trans Bodies, Trans Selves by Laura Erickson-Schroth and The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson. And the website It’s Conceivable Now.

Do YOU have a nontraditional family?
Tell your story in the comments! Share your favorite resources! It’ll help other people feel less alone.

Top photo: Lisa Yagoda

Our sponsors for this episode are Thirdlove , Little Passports and Bombas. Use the promo code LONGSHORT at checkout for a special discount.

118 thoughts on “EPISODE #60: The Accidental Gay Parents

  1. Been listening to the podcast for only a few weeks now …it’s awesome! Even though our daughter is nearly 15, I can identify and remember so vividly the complex mix of emotions…24/7 spent with a brand new person (who came out of your body!), the joy & frustration, the exhaustion, and the adrenaline.
    All these questions floated through my head…never knowing if I was making the right choice. And the pressure! I was responsible for keeping her safe…
    We have a non-traditional family…2 moms…one stay at home, and one working in the corporate “Irory Tower”…& a baby girl born after 14 (a full year) tries at artificial insemination. There was no “accidental becoming parents” in our story. We were very intentional . We live here in Portland, Oregon…a very progressive city…and still…our daughter was asked the same question on the playground in 1st grade…”Do you have two moms because you’re dad died?” It’s so normal to us & the people around us…it’s jarring when someone comments or acts offended.
    Thanks for this great podcast!

  2. John and Trystan,

    I cannot thank you enough for sharing part of your story.


    Thank you for making it possible for them to have a space to share this.

    I am in the same position as these two guys (although in the Bible Belt and sans nanny), and I received a child via the same route. She’s eight now (almost nine!), and my partner and I were also in our mid-twenties when she came to live with us. The fact that Trystan said, “when they came to live with us,” is one of those tiny little details that made me cry in my car unexpectedly. Every single word he said made sense to me. I’ve never met another queer male couple with a child, and I’ve particularly never met one who became parents by accident. The similarities were eerie to hear out loud. I guess for “normal” parents, they hear their story constantly, but this is the first time I’ve ever heard my own out loud.

    One strange thing: I want to share this podcast on Facebook, but I am afraid to do so because I am afraid of how the mother would react… Trystan and John can probably identify with that, too.

    Thanks again to all of you, and I wish you all the best! I feel much less alone in the world today. I can’t put into words how strongly these two episodes have impacted me.

  3. I love this story! My husband and I are both bisexual. Our daughter was placed with us when she was 5 from foster care. I resonate with so much of their experience – waiting for the adoption to go through, loving a child regardless of biological ties, being queer and how that influences your thoughts on creating family. My daughter is now 12 and has seen all of these ways to build and love a family in our community. Thank you so much!

  4. I have never once posted a comment on a blog before, but this story and these men are truly exceptional. Unlike many of the other posters here, I have very little in common with John and Trystan (im a hetero, east coast, married mom of two who doesn’t know any trans people personally) but their story moved me to tears. They are so self aware and articulate, so selfless and strong. If these guys could get in front a wider national audience (Oprah, im talking to you) I really think they could single-handedly change the way many Americans feel about LGBT folks and their ability to parent. Do not let this story stop here! Keep going !

  5. I posted this one Soundcloud as well, but I’m going to post this here as well for better visibility:

    I’m not sure whether saying Trystan was “born a girl” in the first episode was cleared with Trystan or not, but usually you don’t say that a transgender person was “born X gender,” because they were always their actual gender. The language that’s usually used is “designated/assigned female/male at birth.” So in this case, I would have said Trystan was designated female at birth if it had been me here.

    Though, again, if Trystan was okay with you saying that, then you can disregard this comment. However, this might be something you consider in the future, because from my experience NPR / affiliated networks tend to not use the best language in regards to trans individuals.

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Erin. I used Trystan’s language for this. My understanding, from my conversations with him, is that different people have different preferences for language. So I always try to describe people the way they describe themselves to me.

  6. I’m listening to your story while running my Savannah, Ga. neighborhood, watching all the families enjoy a beautiful Spring evening with their kids. And I’m sobbing! I hope Trystan, John and family have many, many happy days like this. All the best to you lovely people.

  7. I’ve listened to the original and update, twice. With my transgender, teenage son in the car. Great stuff for him, and me, to hear. Be well, Trystan, John, and the kids.

  8. I’ve only been listening to this podcast for a month or so now, but I really like it. I’ve been happily gobbling up each episode, but THIS story, is what’s made me LOVE LOVE LOVE this podcast. What a heartbreakingly beautiful story! I’m so happy that these two littles have these two daddies. I wish them all the best!

    Thank you so much for sharing this story with the world!

  9. What a lovely story. Thank you for sharing John and Trystan’s journey.
    I am so hoping people who oppose gay people adopting will hear this joyous story of good and loving parents.

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