Daddy Day: Accepting and Loving My Preference for Daddies

Ray Dexter is hardly alone in his love of mature men—but he examines why he loves turning to older guys so much, and why we all potentially have something to celebrate on Father's Day.

You’re sitting in a gay bar with your friend and a mature, handsome, salt-and-pepper–haired, bearded, muscular man walks through the door.

“Oh. My. God. He’s daddy!” says your friend.

You both gawk and drool at this chiseled, authoritative figure who just waltzed into the room with such suave that neither of you (nor the entire bar, for that matter) can contain yourselves.

He notices that you staring and walks over. He locks eyes with you.

“Well, hello there. What’s your name?”

“Um, hi, daddy. I’m Ray. As in, ‘ray of sunshine.’ You?”

In the gay community, “daddy” is generally defined as a handsome, middle-aged gentleman who gives off strong nurturing vibes, while maintaining a firm and fatherly stance. Though the term isn’t new and the rise of yearning for a daddy is something that has been relative to the open-minded nature of attraction, this Father’s Day, I wanted to dig deeper into the why.

Why are some men are more attracted to a daddy than others? Maybe daddy issues, whether related to the presence or the absence of father? Or are some guys just more attracted to an older group?

Growing up and being raised by a single mother, I never had a prominent father-figure in my life. I never had a dad; I didn’t have someone to take me to do all the father-son activities or show me the ropes of “being a man.” The closest thing I had was my grandfather, who did more supervising to make sure I didn’t accidentally get myself killed than being a father to me. Having never met my father and my mother having only one blurry picture of them together, I never noticed a difference between my life and the lives of other kids who did have a dad. It wasn’t even until I was 10 or so that I started to question the whereabouts of my father.

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It was the first day of school and we were doing an activity where we had to fill out a worksheet about our favorite color, our favorite food, et cetera. But there was also a question regarding our parents: What are your parents’ names? Of course, I knew my mom’s name, but what would I write down for my dad? I raised my hand and asked, “What if you don’t have a dad?” My teacher tilted her head in confusion and said, “What do you mean? Everyone has a dad!”

That day, I went home and asked my mom, “我爸爸係邊個呀?” [“Who is my dad?”] She held me tight and told me, “你爸爸係阿Tom. 你爸爸係叫阿Tom.” [“Your dad is Tom. Your dad’s name is Tom”]. I had finally learned my dad’s name. With tears welling up in my eyes, I asked, “我爸爸而家喺邊度呀?” [“Where is my dad now?”] This was only be the second time I ever saw my mom cry. She held me even tighter and told me, “佢離開咗我哋.” [“He left us.”] After that day, not much was spoken of my father for a while. However, leading into my angsty teenage years, I would come to learn that my father was a very abusive and manipulative person, not just to my mother, but to my entire family. I resented him for that, even though I never met the man.

Fast forward to young adulthood, I had been out the closet for about five years. As the saying goes, I was young, hung, and full of cum. I was lucky growing up in an era where everything was app-based and readily accessible right from your phone. I started prowling on every gay dating app that was available: Grindr, Jack’d, Scruff, you name it. However, Scruff, with its hairier, more mature users, was always my favorite. I felt like I was in heaven scrolling through the sea of all these hot daddies.

Though I was never exclusively attracted to daddies, I found I had a greater preference for the type. I liked guys who were scruffier, a little older, and could make me feel safe in their arms. But as a top, I also enjoyed the contrast between me and my “daddy” dates. Here I am, a twinky, smooth, teen, picking up these beefy, hairy, older men. I’m sure they loved it, too, the fact that I was essentially their opposite. It never dawned upon me that maybe I was more attracted to the daddy demographic because of my own daddy issues until I had met my chosen family.

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I met my chosen family in early 2018 at 20. Although when we first met, it was more of a “Stevia daddy” situation because he was definitely far from being your typical sugar daddy buying me a car or paying all my bills.

Don’t get me wrong: I loved having someone pay for my car note, but what I enjoyed most about being around my then-Stevia daddy was the fact that he would take me out to do all the father-son things that I never got to do in my childhood. He would take me out on bike rides, camping trips, hiking trips, tubing down the rivers in the Texas Hill Country, all these activities that provided substance to my life; it was finally filling this empty void that I had for the last 20 years.

The sugar dadd deal ended after about three months, leaving us true friends. I started to call my him dad. He was the first person in my life to act like the father I never had. It took me over a decade to accept that not everyone has a perfect, “normal” life, and accepting my daddy issues helped me come to terms with myself: that I don’t have a “normal” life and that’s OK. Frankly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Even though daddy issues played a pivotal role in my attraction to the type, that isn’t always the case for everyone with the same attraction. It was eye-opening for me to learn that there was a deep and emotional connection—or rather a lack of connection—to a person (one’s father) that is generally an influential part of a young man’s life that ultimately led to me being who I am today. In a sense, everyone has some degree of daddy issues, whether it be they have a tight bond with their father or none at all. In my case, it was the latter.

In whatever way you choose to spend Father’s Day, there will always be someone you can call Dad. Sometimes, you just find him at a party or on a dating app. And to those whose father(s) are no longer with us, know that a father’s love is tough but never fleeting. It’ll always be their job to watch over and make sure that you are being the best possible version of you. Happy Father’s Day, everyone!

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