Book Review: Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight? Confessions of a Gay Dad

Dan Bucatinsky’s hilarious and heartfelt experience with gay fatherhood

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Dan Bucatinsky’s Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight? is an entertaining and insightful look into the world of parenting, not only for the gay or urbane or hetero-theological, but for anyone who has ever looked a child in the (big, innocent, helpless) eyes and thought, ‘Wow, I really hope I’m not screwing you up.’

Bucatinky’s ample neuroses and his willingness to lay them all out on the table makes the story of life with his partner, Don, and their two children, Eliza and Jonah, not only vivid but utterly relatable. His worries about how the children may grow to feel about him and Don when Jonah shows every likelihood of being the straight man in a household built by two gay dads (“I worry that he’ll see me, now aware of the difference between us, and there will form a divide”), or when Eliza wishes she had parents—a father and a mother—like the ones in the Disney cartoon du jour, are treated with equal gravity as the questions that will inevitably arise when the children begin to understand what it means being adopted and to have full biological siblings in another home in another part of the country. In other words, questions every adoptive parent will face because every adopted kid will undoubtedly ask them one day.

Adoption issues aside, Dan and Don navigate the playgrounds, play dates and preschool pitfalls, and the simple truth emerges that even the ‘perfect’ moms and dads, the ones balancing family, career and extra-curricular activities (and looking amazing doing it) are likely just winging it as much as the rest; it’s all a matter of perspective and self-awareness. Every parent must make decisions for his or her child’s wellbeing with the full knowledge that there may be a batter way to go but the absence of hard evidence to back it up.

Of course, there are some moments that initially come across as unique to the position of two men raising a little girl—the book kicks off with an amusing anecdote about Eliza and her explorations of her “front tushie”—but this is just another in a long line of surprises every parent will face. The lesson to be learned is that, as the author says, “life is crazy and unpredictable and undisciplined and fundamentally bad for your health, and the sooner you get [someone] in your life to show you that, the better.”

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