Big changes

When Neal Baudinette and his wife decided to separate after 13 years together, the welfare of their two sons was their first concern. While confident that the boys would adjust to the new living arrangements, Neal was not sure how they would accept his new sexual identity.

About 15 months ago my wife Rosie and I realised that we had lost intimacy between ourselves and decided we would separate. We decided to arrange it so that our two sons would be one week with me and one week with Rosie. I bought the house we lived in, and Rosie bought a house only ten minutes walk away. This worked well for a while, but Alex who is 12 didn't like shifting from one house to the other, so now he stays with me for a month then with his mother for a month. Raphael is 8, and seems to quite like the moving back and forth, although he had some trouble working out why his Mum and Dad separated since we get on so well.

Our separation is going smoothly in part because Rosie and I have always been very close and share our thoughts with each other. There was a lot of negotiation about sharing childcare during our marriage, which has helped us since separating. The decision to separate was mutual; we didn't argue about it, and the boys were included in planning our arrangements for after separation.

When I went to the Sydney Men's Festival last year, I talked and thought a lot about sexuality. It was not a great revelation to me to acknowledge that I am gay. This was the first time I started to really look at what it meant to be gay, how I was going to deal with being gay, how I was going to deal with the separation and managing two kids part-time as a single father.

In spite of having had relationships with women, I don't feel myself to be bisexual. I feel comfortable being gay now. I also feel happy with the decision to separate, and the way the separation is working for Rosie, me and the boys.

I recently discussed my sexuality with the boys. Raphael has no notion of what is "normal"; people just love each other whether they are man and woman, man and man, or woman and woman. He has seen me in bed with a friend and just come and happily joined us.

I was more nervous about talking to Alex about homosexuality, which I did just a few weeks ago. When I nervously told Alex I am gay, he gave me a puzzled look and said "what difference does that make?". Then he asked why I didn't tell him sooner, and I burst into tears - "I thought you might hate me, I thought you might reject me". I had actually arranged with Rosie prior to the talk that Alex could go and stay with her for a while if he needed some time away to work things through, but in fact it was a non-issue for him. His only question was "Dad, because you're gay, does that mean I'm going to be gay". I said "I don't think it's genetic", and that was that.

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