How do I register?
Perhaps something has happened that makes this the right time to resolve these conflicted feelings. Met "Mr. Right", the wife discovered your big secret, just divorced and a new wife is no longer an option, 'I just could not hide any longer'. It doesn't matter why; every man has his reasons, but all men want to figure out the future. When you know the time is right, just show up. There is no need to register or call in advance. You do not have to make any commitments to future meetings.
What happens at a 'Support Meeting'?
Gay Fathers of Toronto is a peer support group, not a professional counselling service. Meetings are informal discussions led by gay fathers on a range of topics that are relevant to coming out gay fathers.
Typically meetings open with an introduction of the organization. Then after brief introductions, the Lead Facilitator starts the evening's topic discussion. (Click the calendar Day or Topic titles to browse upcoming and past topics.) It is neither a lecture nor advice session. The men at the meeting - usually 10-20 men - talk about the topic from a personal perpective. This is a place where a father can talk to others who "understand". By sharing our experience, concerns, and hopes and by listening to others, everyone learns. You are never required to participate, though. Participation is voluntary, and if you prefer to sit and listen, that is okay.
Gay Fathers of Toronto does not have an agenda and it is not political. It will not advise you how to resolve your situation. There is no single "right solution" to fit every man's needs. While there are many parallels, every man finds the path best suited for him and his family situation. For some men, this happens quickly, but change is difficult and usually occurs gradually, one step at a time.
As a peer-group and peer-led organization Gay Fathers of Toronto is not funded by anyone other than its members. We ask each man to contribute $5 at each meeting to cover costs of Gay Fathers of Toronto's website and meetings.You are our guest, though, at your first meeting. If this $5 is a financial burden or the reason for staying away, please speak to a Facilitator in person or privately email (firstname.lastname@example.org). We are here to support, not to inhibit or embarrass.
Many men have described how they would plan to attend a meeting and then walk away at the last minute. One man said he walked around the block several times gathering the courage to enter. With a future that may feel uncertain, stressful, or even spinning out of control, your first Gay Fathers meeting might be your first deliberate step toward confronting that "big secret". That step may open the door to a revitalized future and maybe to possibilities only dreamed of. The first meeting is a big step.
Socializing at a nearby pub following the regular meeting is a longstanding tradition. If your schedule permits, wind down, get acquainted individually, continue discussions, or just enjoy the "gay community" scenery. (Non-alcoholic beverages are available.)
Is a peer support group run by and for gay men who are fathers.
Since 1978 GFT has been helping men on their journeys. We are here to tell our stories and to hear yours. We do not tell you what to do or when; we are here to support you in the path you believe is right for you and your situation.
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.
The book Gay Fathers published by GFT in 1981 apparently was the first book of its kind ever published. Now out of print, it is freely available on this website. Its collection of coming out stories describe actual experiences of several gay fathers who helped establish Gay Fathers of Toronto.
Canada now is very different from 1978. Marriage regardless of gender has been legal in Ontario since 2003 and everywhere in Canada since 2005. Sexual orientation is not a factor when child custody decisions are made. Gay men can become fathers in a variety of ways not available in the past. Yet thousands of men - for personal, religious, age, or cultural reasons - become fathers first and later begin the journey of coming out. Gay Fathers of Toronto continues to support those men.
We understand that coming out - to yourself, your wife, your children, and to family, friends, and colleagues - is daunting and emotionally challenging. You are not alone, though. 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.
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.