I think I almost threw my phone the first time a younger gay that I was hitting on—maybe even sexting—used that word, referring to me.
I was a bit shaken to my core—was I starting to age? Are my gray hairs starting to show? Am I losing my hair? Am I old? Am I a gross old man hitting on the young ones? Daddy!?!? What the hell?
So, I did not acknowledge it was said, and just kept the texting going. But then it happened a second time. This freshman from Belmont University literally just said that damn word again: “When are you free, daddy?”
Again, I didn’t respond. Kids these days… Wait, erase that. I sound just like a daddy.
I’m in my 30s and I definitely do not think of myself as a daddy. I admit I even still call my own father “daddy” when talking about him. My friends give me a hard time about that.
And the only time I’ve asked, “Who’s Your daddy?” is when I’ve been singing along to Toby Keith’s number one single from 2002.
Who’s your daddy, who’s your baby?
Who’s your buddy, who’s your friend?
And I haven’t been playing that record since probably 2013. So here I am, being confronted with my aging and the boys that think calling me daddy is hot and a turn-on.
When did the term daddy become so sexually-laced, and maybe even a bit perverse?
In an article from The Washington Post in 2005, the question of the origins of the term daddy was answered: “the slang use of ‘daddy’ has long been associated with prostitution. According to the Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, the oldest usage dates to 1681, when the speakers were hookers who used the phrase in reference to their pimps or to an older male customer.”
But it wasn’t until much later that the gay community adopted the word, first used as a phrase.
Esquire reports, “Jump ahead to the 1970s, when the gay community co-opted the word for leather subculture, with the term ‘leather daddy’ coming to be.” Then, the leather community simplified the phrase, to just daddy.
Paul Morris, the iconic gay pornographer from Treasure Island Media (NSFW), thinks of the term daddy as part of LGBT culture.
“Daddy has been sexualized and eroticized since forever. It touches on fetishes as diverse as incest and being ‘kept.’ In my thousand years of making porn, I’ve come across an incredible range of uses—from old men who love calling young men daddy to young men who are aroused by pretending that men old enough to be their grandfathers call the young men granddad.”
But can the term daddy help build something deeper or more meaningful?
Morris continues, “I think if it’s meant sincerely and serves to activate either a fantasy or a salient reality for the couple, ‘daddy’ or ‘boy’ or ‘granddaddy’ or ‘son’ or any variant on those can be warm, nurturing and helpful in negotiating a positive workable relationship—sexual or otherwise.”
According to Google Trends, the slang use of daddy has an interesting search record. New Mexico, Kentucky, and Oregon have the highest amounts of searches for the word.
At Pride events around the country, the daddy appreciation is on full display, particularly at Pride events in major cities like Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and Palm Springs. Self-identifying as a daddy seems more acceptable, but are these stereotypes what we want?
In a recent YouTube video, Davey Wavey questions whether terms like daddy and twink are “just stereotypes used to put us in black and white boxes in a world full of color and nuance. What if it’s just another attempt to define human beings so society can more easily understand and judge us? What if each of us is just a complex human being that defies definition—that we have free will and we can create this expression of who we are, independent of society?”
Maybe it’s my fear of aging or wanting to stay young forever, but maybe my anxiety just made me miss out on a hottie because he called me daddy. Regardless, I’m only getting older. I’d better start owning daddy.
Let’s be honest, I’ve paid for someone’s Uber ride to my place before—that has to be a daddy qualifier.
Happy Pride, y’all!
Josh Robbins is a spokesperson for DatingPositives.com, an award-winning sexual health advocate, and author of the site imstilljosh.com. He was nominated for a GLAAD media award in 2017 and recently won the National Lesbian and Gay Journalist Association’s Excellence Award in the blogging category.