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The Sunday Conversation: Dan Bucatinsky

The producer of 'Web Therapy' is a happy, hard-working gay dad who's written a book on the topic, 'Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight?' So, what's the answer?

June 17, 2012|By Irene Lacher, Los Angeles Times
  • Author Dan Bucatinsky in his kitchen holding his children's toys.
Author Dan Bucatinsky in his kitchen holding his children's toys. (Ricardo DeAratanha, Los…)

In his new book, "Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight? Confessions of a Gay Dad," Hollywood hyphenate Dan Bucatinsky explores his experiences parenting Eliza, now 7, and Jonah, 4, with his husband, director Don Roos. As Lisa Kudrow's partner in Is or Isn't Entertainment, Bucatinsky, 46, has also produced several TV series, including "The Comeback," "Who Do You Think You Are?" and "Web Therapy," which returns to Showtime for a second season on July 2.

Did you grow up thinking that eventually you'd have kids or did you assume you wouldn't because you're gay?

The latter. I assumed I wouldn't because I was gay. It was a different time. I grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, a very liberal upbringing. I grew up very anxious about the idea that I might be different. I even made a pact with myself that if it turned out I was going to be gay I would kill myself when I was 18. I was fairly frequently bullied as a kid in junior high, and it made me feel that I will make sure it's not true about me. It's not like I was growing up with a family where I wouldn't be accepted, because when I finally came out at 25, I was very, very well accepted. Obviously I didn't kill myself, thank God. But growing up with that kind of pressure was tough. And it just did not feel like an option that I was going to be a parent.

When did that change?

Early in my relationship with Don, his lawyer, who's gay, and his lawyer's partner had a joint wedding/baby-naming for their daughter. It was a good 15, 16 years ago. I was so moved, it completely caught me off guard. I was overwhelmed by something so conventional, something so normal about the two of them standing there with their daughter and having some kind of a ceremony. That was the first time I thought, oh, my God, this is really possible, in my lifetime. And it wasn't like we were fighting politically for the right to get married.

How common is parenthood among gay people you know?

There's the whole notion of a "gayby boom." It really has become — certainly in Los Angeles and New York, places where you feel the most assimilated — very common. Nothing is a great equalizer like kids. I joke with people; they say, "What's the difference?" and I'll say, "You know, when you're changing a diaper, it all smells exactly the same. We just look a little better when we're changing it."

A lot of our friends have become parents in a lot of different ways, and we have now a circle of friends — straight parents with kids and gay parents with kids and two moms and two dads — it has become something that feels very, very common.

You and Don are legally married, right?

We are. During the window in 2008, we got married on the patio of our house. Eliza was 31/2 and Jonah was a year and a half, and we threw a clip-on tie on our boy and a dress on Eliza. Our baby sitter was our witness and, oddly enough, Tom Arnold was our minister because he got some kind of online license, and in 15 minutes we were married. And there's something kind of silly about it, but kind of perfect also.

Did you name Eliza after Eliza Doolittle?

I didn't. Don will say that he did. He fell in love with the name because Don is the biggest Julie Andrews fan that has ever lived on the Earth. I just love names that end in "A."

When you did decide to adopt, was adopting in the U.S. your only option?

Yes. At the adoption agency and the family services agency that we visited for information, they had told us that in almost every country of the world, they would never allow two men to adopt together. And California would. Open adoption was the way to go, where the mom picks the couple. We hoped to get picked.

Why do you think that the moms who picked you, picked you?

There's something I find fascinating, which is that a lot of these single moms will often want to pick two guys because it allows them psychologically to feel they will always be the only mother. So in a way, gay couples can have an advantage. Why me and Don? She told us she picked us because she liked "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" and she thought we'd make awesome dads.

What kind of parenting quandaries have you had to deal with that straight parents haven't?

The quandary that comes to us the most has to do with the absence of a mommy. It has to do with how to celebrateMother's Dayor another kid who wants to know why there's no mommy in our family. And that's why in the book I explore the definition of mommyness, without the obvious, which is the presence of a woman. Isn't there a little bit of mommy or daddy that can exist in any gender? It comes down to what I think about the role of each parent in the family. But that's hard to explain to somebody on an airplane who's trying to tell you how to feed your kid because they assume you don't know what you're doing.

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