theirTWOdads

For co-parenting couple Tyler Scoresby and Jonathan Ingram, every day feels like Father’s Day

A FAMILY UPSIDE-DOWN | Jonathan Ingram, left, with 6-year-old Brett and biological dad Tyler Scoresby, right, with 8-year-old Ella, show how a family with two gay dads can be a rough-and-tumble affair — and the kids seem to love it. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

The story of Tyler Scoresby and Jonathan Ingram, like all good gay love stories, started at the gym.

That’s where Ingram, a graphic designer, and Scoresby, a physician, met more than three years ago, not long after Scoresby came out and divorced his wife of seven years. Scoresby dated a few men before Ingram, “but he was the first to express a definite interest in meeting my kids.”

“Before he’d let me get involved with them, he kind of interviewed me!” Ingram says.

“I told him, there are times when I’ll have the kids but you may want to go out with friends. But he was really clear about wanting to be a dad with me,” Scoresby says.

And that’s exactly what they are now.

Currently, the couple (they legally wed in Provincetown, Mass., last September) share custody with Scoresby’s ex-wife, getting the kids — Ella, 8, and Brett, 6 — every Thursday, the first, third and fifth weekend each month, select holidays and all of July (“a traditional set-up,” Scoresby calls it). And they will have them this Sunday, June 19 — Father’s Day. But honestly, they don’t expect to make a big deal out of it.

“We have no major plans,” Scoresby says, 35. “We have fun every weekend. When there are two parents [in a heterosexual household], the woman usually the kids to celebrate Father’s Day. But it’s just us celebrating each other.”

“We keep them active all the time,” Ingram adds. “We do crafts, play on the trampoline, take road trips,” including one next month to California to see the Redwood Forest. And being that there are two fit, athletic men leading this household, roughhousing is the rule, not the exception. The kids seem to love it.

Scoresby calls Ingram “a perfect partner in parenting. Neither of us has a defined role. We don’t try to compare it to a straight relationship.”

The children have taken to Ingram whole-heartedly. They call Scoresby “Daddy” and Ingram “Jonathan,” but both act, and are treated, like full parents.

“A lot of times I think they like him better than they do me,” Scoresby jokes. “They respect him like a parent and he loves them like one.”

Ingram, now 41, had been interested in having children when he was younger, “but you put it aside when you come out. If I was going to have kids, it was not going to be an easy road.” He came from a fairly large family himself, which included one adopted sister.

Meeting Tyler, Ella and Brett presented an opportunity to be the dad he always wanted to be.

“Parenting comes naturally for me,” he says. “I get to do the same stuff as Tyler without dealing with the divorce. Everything else I deal with — motivating them, teaching them how to ride bikes, cleaning up after them, reading books to them at night or dealing with a nightmare — is the same.”

But they do try to operate under a different set of rules. Both had been reared in nurturing but conservative straight households that put an emphasis on values, and saw aspects of parenting they liked. But they wanted to achieve those goals their own way.

“When there aren’t set roles, it gives you a lot of freedom,” Ingram says. “For instance, there are many ways to be a moral person that are not tied to religion. So every Sunday morning [when we have them], we spend about an hour and a half on what we call ‘human time.’ We like to think of it as the next generation of parenting.”

BOUNCE | One advantage in a two-dad household? Lots of fun physical activities, like jumping on the backyard trampoline. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

They did worry at first about how to introduce Ingram as Daddy’s partner, though that has ended up being unexpectedly easy.

“Because they were so young [when we met], they really don’t remember what their lives were like before me,” Ingram says. “We certainly show affection around them like any straight parents would.” About a year into the relationship, they read Ella And Tango Makes Three, a children’s book about a family of same-sex penguins.

“Ella was already around clearly defined families and we wanted to make sure she could always tell her friends, ‘Yeah, I have two dads,’” Ingram says. “We said, ‘Do you understand our family is a little different, but that doesn’t mean we are less or bad?’ She pointed at the penguins and said, ‘That’s me, that’s you, that’s Daddy.’ It was like she already got it.”

That’s one reason you won’t hear the dads talk down to Ella and Brett. They explain honestly why someone is there to photograph them, and both kids pose like burgeoning runway models. And they are excited to start human time soon.

It’s all going so well, in fact, the couple have talked about having more kids, whether through adoption or surrogacy. But whatever they decide, one thing is certain: With two men in the house, every day feels like Father’s Day.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 17, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Tyler Clementi’s parents say they don’t want harsh punishment for classmates

Tyler Clementi

Associated Press

NEWARK, New Jersey — The parents of a university student who killed himself after authorities said his intimate encounter with a man was captured by a webcam want his classmates’ invasion-of-privacy cases prosecuted, but they don’t want them to receive harsh punishment.

Tyler Clementi’s parents, Jane and Joseph Clementi, issued a statement Tuesday, six months after he jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge that connects New Jersey and New York.

“The past six months have been the most difficult and painful of our lives,” they said. “We have done our best to deal with the grief and pain of the death of our son Tyler, in awful circumstances while dealing with the crush of media attention, the pending criminal investigations and, of course, our own unanswered questions.”

The Clementis have not granted any interviews, but have released a few statements to reporters. The latest one was sent first to The Star-Ledger of Newark.

Clementi’s roommate at Rutgers University, Dharun Ravi, and classmate Molly Wei are each charged with two counts of invasion of privacy. Authorities said that last September, they used a webcam to watch part of Clementi’s encounter with another man. Within days, Clementi killed himself.

Family attorney Paul Mainardi said the Clementis feel it’s important to establish it was not “a college prank.”

Gay rights and anti-bullying groups seized on the suicide and made it a symbol of the movement to take bullying, particularly of young gay people, seriously.

The charges against Ravi and Wei do not link the alleged spying to Clementi’s suicide.

The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office has weighed additional bias intimidation charges, but no decision on those more serious charges has been announced. Mainardi said he believes the investigation is substantially complete.

Lawyers for the students, both of whom have since withdrawn from Rutgers, have said their clients are not guilty of any crimes. The lawyers did not immediately return calls on Tuesday.

The fallout from the case has been immense. The Point, a scholarship-granting group based in Los Angeles, has announced a scholarship in Clementi’s memory.

The Ridgewood Symphony Orchestra and the Bergen Youth Orchestra, where Clementi, a violinist, had been a member, have had performances in his memory and named concertmaster chairs after him.

His parents say they are also starting a foundation that would raise public awareness of bullying, assist vulnerable young people and encourage research and awareness of the effects of electronic media.

Rutgers has decided to allow men and women to be roommates in parts of certain dorms — largely as a way to make gay, lesbian and transgender students more comfortable.

And celebrities from President Barack Obama to entertainer Ellen DeGeneres have campaigned publicly against bullying.

—  John Wright