“Welcome to Gay Fathers of Toronto”
We’ve been saying that since 1978 when a small group of gay fathers first met in the home of one of the GFT’s founders. Today, as was the case forty years ago, married men finally coming to terms with the fact that they are gay have found a place to feel connected, supported, and can finally be who they were meant to be. These dads find common values, a realization they are not alone, and a support as we move forward in our lives.
Men arrive at all states of their lives: still married and not sure what to do, newly separated looking for support to help through this time, divorced and moving forward as a gay man, still in the closet and struggling with issues, dealing with isolation from estranged children, partners looking to help their love with their children, or even those with grandchildren.
It doesn't matter when you arrive, know if you are a gay father, you belong, and you will be welcome.
At GFT we don’t tell you what to; instead it is a place to gain valuable information, and allow you to hear and share stories and experiences with other gay fathers. What is disclosed at meetings is strictly confidential. We’re here to support you in any positive and healthy path that works for you! GFT has no religious agenda or affiliation. We are gay fathers supporting gay fathers!
In 1978 a group of gay men who were also fathers banded together to establish a peer support group for themselves and other gay fathers. These men had created families the only way then possible, in a relationship with the mother of their children. Nevertheless, facing an unfriendly and judgemental world they wanted to reconcile their conflicted desires and emotions.
In 1981, the book Gay Fathers was written, apparently the first of its kind ever published. (Out of print today, it is freely available on this website). That collection of "coming out" biographies was based on the actual experiences of GFT men, including several of the men who started this support group.
Canada today is very different from 1978 in many ways. Marriage regardless of gender became legal in 2003 in Ontario and by 2005 throughout Canada. Sexual orientation is not a factor when child custody decisions are made, and there are many ways gay men can become fathers. Yet thousands of men - for personal, religious, age, or cultural reasons - become fathers first and then later begin the process of coming out, and Gay Fathers of Toronto continues to support those men.
We understand that coming out -- to yourself, to your wife, to your children, to family and to friends -- is a daunting and emotionally challenging. But you are not alone. At Gay Fathers of Toronto, you will find men currently coping with issues similar to yours, other men who have already resolved them, and some gay fathers (even grandfathers) living happily as gay men with or without partners.
With children young and old, fathers at GFT come from every corner of society - married and divorced, immigrant and Canadian born, young and old, wealthy and poor, able and disabled, every race and nationality. One will find men who have never had sex with anyone but their wives, some that are not even sure if they are gay, bisexual, or trans*. Some men are certain they are gay; some have had a "secret life" for years. Most come to GFT at the beginning of their journeys, but a few come out, fall in love with another man, and later when the relationship has ended start attending GFT meetings.
Every man at GFT is a father, step-father, or the partner of one. All struggle with questions about sexuality, parenting, and responsibilities. Nearly all of them also began suppressing those questions at an early age, but now those questions need answers. "To love unreservedly", "to end the lie", "to be true to myself", "to live authentically" are some typical ways these men describe that need. As fathers they also want to reconcile their dreams with their responsibilities as fathers - even grandfathers.
Change is stressfull. Gay Fathers of Toronto understands this and encourages every man to seek professional financial, legal, or emtional guidance as needed. GFT does not prescribe a one-size-fits-all resolution. Every man's situation is unique. Our meeting facilitators are volunteer gay fathers who are trained to lead discussions; they are not counsellors. Through discussions about coming out, being gay, parenting responsilities, and so on every man takes away what he finds relevant. GFT encourages and supports every gay or bisexual dad to find the path that best fits his needs and situation. Coming out is not a single step but a journey of many steps. Together we travel that path a little more confidently and maybe make the journey a little easier.
Support group meetings occur two times every month at The 519 Community Centre on 2nd and 4th Thursdays (8:00 to 9:45 pm), except when "The 519" is closed for statutory holidays.
The 519 Community Centre
Room 304 - 519 Church St. Community Centre, Toronto, ON
Directions to The 519 ►[See map in a new window] - ('The 519': 416-392-6874)
It is not necessary to register or call in advance.