David Ledain is a gay father of two teenagers. Separated and now divorced, he has written a book about being a gay dad. His book, Gay Dad, tells the stories of ten gay men who have written about their experiences and how their families have coped with coming to terms with the fact that the father and husband they have always known, is gay. Here, Ledain tells us ten fascinating facts he discovered during his research for his book.
- I have not come across any men who married their wives for any other reason than for love. Indeed, many of the men still have deeply held feelings for their ex-wives and the couples often manage to continue close relationships.
- The term 'homosexual' wasn't coined until the 1860's by German-Hungarian, Karoly Kertbeny, and did not appear in English until 1891.
- Gay slang is not a modern phenomenon. In 18th century London, gay slang was a modified form of thieves' speak, and Dutch homosexuals of the time talked in what they called 'John-girlish'.
- In ancient cultures relations between men were not considered unusual and were very much a part of life. In Imperial China, homosexuality was not spoken of in terms we would recognise, but rather in poetic language, such as 'the passion of the cut sleeve', referring to Emperor Ai, who didn't want to wake his lover and so cut his tunic sleeve rather than disturb him.
- Native Americans called homosexuals 'two-spirits'.
- Henry VIII first introduced legislation under English law with the Buggery Act of 1533, making the offence punishable by hanging which was not lifted until 1861.
- 81 countries out of 195 in the world still uphold anti-gay laws with punishments for gay men ranging from imprisonment to death.
- The UK Office for National Statistics says that the Census taken in 2011 estimates that 1.1 per cent of the population identified as gay or lesbian. This would equate to 1 in every 100, but other sources quote a figure nearer to 1 in 10. While 1.5 per cent of men said they were gay, only 0.7 per cent of women said the same. This is reversed when it comes to identifying as bisexual where 0.3 per cent of men and 0.5 per cent of women said they were.
- The question of whether someone identifies as gay, bisexual or straight might be better asked on a scale of 1 to 10. Most people would probably steer away from the poles and place themselves somewhere in between. Their answer might also depend on their age as young people are more likely to 'experiment' with their sexuality than older generations.
- Finally, reading the stories of these 10 men, it is clear the last 20 years have seen a huge shift in our culture towards acceptance. There is a long way to go, however, before we all feel entirely free to make the life choices that are written into our genes.
"Gay Dad: Ten true stories of Divorced Gay Men with Kids, living in the UK today" by David Ledain is published on 13th June 2016 and available through amazon (paperback: £8.99; also available as an ebook) .