Personal Essays by Gay Dads

6 Tips for a Fun, Family-Friendly and Fabulous Pride Experience!

A gay dad shares some of his newfound appreciation for gay pride after attending his first ever pride event

A couple of weeks ago I did something that I never thought I'd do.

I watched “Fox & Friends."

Come on, you know me better than that.

I attended my very first Pride event.


We were invited to join a group of other LA-area gay dads to proudly represent Gays With Kids by riding through the Long Beach Pride Parade in beautiful GWK-branded convertibles.

When another gay dad reached out to me to ask if we'd be interested in joining, I was honored. I asked our son Max if that sounded like fun. I had him at convertible. Then, after I accepted, the panic set in. I had never been to a pride event before. So I didn't know what to expect. More importantly, I wasn't sure it would be an appropriate venue to take our seven-year-old son, Max.

I feared we might encounter hateful protestors. And if so, how would that affect Max?

I've always admired what Pride stood for — a safe place where men and women from all walks of life could stand united to show the power of their love. Despite centuries of suppression, Pride acts as an important reminder that we belong and that we don't have to be ashamed of who we are. On one level, I very much wanted to use Pride as a way to reassure Max once again that our family is just as special, important and celebrated as all the other types of families in the world, but on the other hand, I was terrified by my own preconceived notions of what happens at Gay Pride.

At the risk of sounding like Judge Judy – I have a slight bias against those who perform graphic, lewd acts in public. Showing a little skin? Go for it –– like Madonna said, express yourself. Having full-on sex on the sidewalk? That's a different story. That's not something I want my kid to see. Some of the uninhibited Pride images I've seen captured in broad daylight disturb me, let alone an impressionable seven-year-old. I feel like those images continue to perpetuate negative stereotypes about our community. That said, I'm am by no means the morality police and I refuse to let a few vulgar people negate all the positivity that Pride brings. And so I decided it was finally time for me to stop judging a book by its cover and see for myself what Pride is really like.

What I discovered was an overwhelming sense of love, acceptance and belonging. I expected to feel supported. But the part I didn't expect — and what affected me the most — was having so many older gay men and women thanking me and my husband, Alex, for being gay dads and setting a great example for the next generation of LGBTQ individuals. I never thought doing something that seemed so regular to us would have such a profound impact on the very same people who've paved the way for us to be able to live our lives openly, freely and honestly. We are a family because of the earlier generation of gay men and women who refused to be silenced. And seeing so many of these people mouth the words “thank you" as we drove by gave me a profound sense of serenity and fulfillment.

Max took in the festivities with a huge glittering smile stamped across his face. Yes, there were a few R-Rated exhibitionists showing off a little too much bod, and yes there were a few scary protestors spouting highly inappropriate, hateful rhetoric from loudspeakers. But these are opportunities to teach Max. As much as we'd like to, we can't shelter our kids from everything we'd rather they don't see. It's up to us as parents to prepare Max for these very real, be it uncomfortable, parts of life when you grow up as a minority. When Max asked why those men were saying such horrible things, we explained that some people don't support families like ours. He, of course, was sad and confused. Then we told him to look out there at the thousands of people in the crowd who are proud of us, the ones celebrating our family, cheering us on and showering us with so much love and acceptance today. Those people far outnumber the bigots.

At the end of the day, I was reminded how necessary and crucial Gay Pride is for my family, and for countless others. At its core, Pride is about not being ashamed of who you are. And that is a powerful message to give my son –– and an important reminder for me. Pride welcomes and accepts to ALL gay people — and that includes me. So why should I have the right to pre-judge people that don't sit in judgment of me. I don't. And that's what attending Gay Pride for the first time taught me.

So whether you're a Pride-regular or a Pride-first-timer, here are some useful tips to help you and your family brave the exciting, unpredictable and unforgettable experience that is Pride.

1. GO IN WITH AN OPEN MIND

Pride is about freedom of expression. That means — spoiler alert — you're likely to see some scantily clad people shaking their moneymakers. Be the eyes and ears for your children. If there's something you don't want them to see, distract them. Have them look away for a moment — trust me, there's no shortage of other more entertaining things to look out.

2. COME PREPARED

Usually Pride parades take place in metropolitan areas where there are plenty of businesses and restaurants open to the public. But just to be safe, pack plenty of snacks, sunscreen and water. If you've got young children, consider bringing a stroller or wagon because carrying them or making them walk themselves might prove tiresome real quick. Also, if it's super sunny and hot, consider bringing an umbrella (a rainbow one, at that). Lastly, just so you don't lose your spot during bathroom breaks, set up camp near a restroom (but not too close… for obvious reasons).

3. TALK ABOUT THE SIGNIFICANCE OF PRIDE

You know why Pride is important to you, but your children or your straight ally friends may not. Before you arrive, explain what Pride means to you and why it's important to celebrate the LGBTQ community. It'll give them a newfound appreciation for why you're there and give deeper meaning to what they're about to experience.

4. MAKE IT FUN FOR EVERYONE

Yes, there will be plenty of teaching moments, but this should be a fun day out for everyone. Stop at the dollar store on the way and stock up on colorful beaded necklaces, bandanas, funny hats, temporary tattoos and little gift bags so the young ones can collect stickers and other treasures they might find at Pride.

5. LEAVE THE CAR AT HOME

Parades in big cities can mean lots of traffic jams and minimal parking. So give yourself plenty of time to get there. And if you happen to live close enough to walk, or have easy access to public transportation, I say leave the car at home. Otherwise, it could be a very frustrating start to what should otherwise be a happy and carefree day.

6. TOO LOUD; NEVER TOO PROUD.

As fun as Pride parades can be, they can also be super loud! If you're bringing babies with you, consider bringing something to protect their little, sensitive ears, like comfy earmuffs or padded headphones. For everyone else, do your research ahead of time and figure out where the less crazy-busy areas will be (there are often designated quiet and alcohol-free zones for families).

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Gay Dad Life

How Canada's 'Gay Dollar' Helped This Gay Man Reflect on His Biggest Regret—Not Having Kids

Canada unveiled a 'gay dollar' coin earlier this year, helping Gregory Walters reflect on the progress the LGBTQ community has made—and his decision to forgo having children children

Earlier this year, Canada unveiled a rainbow-stripped coin dollar to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the country's decision to decriminalize homosexuality. With the coins now firmly in circulation, Gregory Walters, who lives in Vancouver, wrote a moving essay for the Globe and Mail, expressing joy for how far Canada has come on the issue of gay rights, but how the coin is also a symbolic representation of the "greatest regret" of his life—his decision not to adopt children.

Gregory writes that he had hoped to adopt a child ever since his early career working with persons with developmental disabilities. "Several children I worked with were wards of the State of Texas," he wrote. "Their parents having relinquished all rights either owing to egregious acts of abuse or a lack of desire to raise someone with so many needs. There were days when I felt, 'If I could just take you home and raise you.' I knew there was a need for adopting persons with special needs but my own internalized homophobia got in the way yet again. Despite what is probably my own gift in working with children, I never felt worthy enough to be a parent. I always felt that if I were a gay dad it would create more of a liability for the child."

Gregory decision to forgo having children, he says, is his "greatest regret." While he takes responsibility for some of this decision, he also adds: "society's view of homosexuals and its opinions regarding gay adoptions also played a major part."

To critics of Canada's coin, some of who have said its a cheap political pander to the LGBTQ community, Gregory concludes with this thought:

"I don't care if the indulged majority who never had to question marriage or raising children or being secure in a job may feel the coin is frivolous. The coin isn't for them in the first place. It's an acknowledgment for those of us who repressed our true selves and felt oppressed. It is for gays who never lived to see rights and protections enshrined in law. It is for younger LGBTQ people to learn more about how far we've come and to gain a deeper sense of gay pride. For these reasons, the coin has value so much greater than any monetary designation. The coin represents both empowerment and normalization."

Read Gregory's full essay here.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

5 Reasons Why We Love Gays With Kids!

Our longtime blogger Erik Alexander breaks down five reasons he loves Gays With Kids to celebrate our 5th birthday!

Photo Credit: BSA Photography

In the divisive and polarizing environment that gay dads live in today, what would we do without Gays With Kids? Honestly.
Just think about it. GWK gives the gay dads of America and across the world an outlet to feel a sense of belonging and inclusion that, for many, is difficult to find. Furthermore, GWK is primarily about us—gay dads.

With that being said, this is GWK's 5th anniversary! So how better to show my appreciation than to list My 5 reasons Why: We Love Gays With Kids!

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Change the World

What Does Pride Mean to Gay Dads?

Gay dads reflect on how far we've come in the 50 years since Stonewall, and how far we have yet to go.

We caught up with 12 gay dads from across the country to ask them what pride celebrations mean to them as members of both the gay parenting and LGBTQ communities.

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Popular

'Our Family is Complete': Congrats to Gay Dads on Their Recent Births and Adoptions!

Join us in congratulating all of the gay men in our community whose families grew recently!

Wishing all of these gay dads congratulations on their exciting news this month. From becoming first-time dads to finalizing adoptions, congrats to everyone in our community on their wonderful news!

Circle Surrogacy is the proud sponsor of this month's congrats post. They were founded in 1995 on the belief that everyone should have the opportunity to be a parent. "For over 20 years we've helped LGBTQ+ couples and singles around the world fulfill their dreams of parenthood. We've helped bring more than 1,900 babies into this world... and counting!"

Congratulations to Andrew and Edward on finalizing the adoptions of their twins!

For Andrew and Edward, their foster parent training plus home study took about a year. "We had a brief placement of twin girls that were four years old two months after we had been approved," said Andrew. "Then we took a break as it was a difficult process, the 'loss' aspect, when that placement ended."

Then on March 15, 2017, their case worker sent them information about two little babies - a boy and a girl - that were still in the NICU and only nine days old. "It was a foster case with an uncertain future, but we decided those little babies needed us!" They dads took a leap of faith and on July 10 this year, their twins' adoptions were finalized. Andrew and Edward have a wonderful bond with the paternal grandmother as well as a special relationship with the twins' father. "We all love these twins, and the more love they have the better their lives will be."

"Adoption is one of those experiences where one side experiences incredible joy while the other side experiences incredible loss," continued Andrew. "We are grateful to experience this joy knowing that biological family members are happy for us to experience that joy."

Congratulations to this Mt Airy, Philadelphia, forever family of four!

Congratulations to Sean and Thomas on finalizing the adoptions of their twins!

Together 15 years, London couple Sean and Thomas recently finalized the adoption of their twins.

"About 3 years ago we started meeting adoption agencies and were approved as prospective adopters the following spring," shared Thomas. "We were anticipating a long wait, but quite quickly were matched with our twins. At the time they were nearly five."

After a fairly long transition period for everyone to get settled in, the adoption was formalized the day after Father's Day. "Two years after matching, at times it seems like the kids have been with us forever and other times a blink of an eye. But it is certainly the most life-changing, transformative experience and we cannot imagine life without them. It's wonderful that our family is now official!"

Congratulations to Phillip and Clinton on the birth of their daughter Madison!

Little Madison joined her dads on July 1, 2019, after coming into the world via surrogate.

"I caught Madison as she was born," said Phillip. "I have never felt such an exhilarating rush in my entire life! We were genuinely in love at first sight!"

Now that we Phillip and Clinton are dads, they say they feel a "sense of wholeness" in their lives! "We have a new motivation and purpose in life! It's truly the greatest blessing!"

These new dads and the apple of their eye live in Texas.

Congratulations to Michael and Tyler on the birth of their twins, Elliot and Oliver!

Herriman, Utah, couple Michael and Tyler have been together for 9 years, and married for 3. "In the beginning of our relationship we knew how important family was and how much we wanted to be dads," said Micheal. "After we got married we met with a couple surrogacy agencies and were advised to meet with an IVF clinic before proceeding. In doing so, we found that going through a surrogacy journey independently was very possible."

So the dads decided to shift gears and work in that direction, booking a follow up appointment with the clinic. "We met with their 3rd party coordinator over the surrogate process and she did not have any inquiries of any surrogates." Serendipitously, and unbeknownst to the husbands at the time, their future surrogate made an appointment to talk about being a gestational carrier for a same-sex couple. "The next day we got the unexpected call that someone was interested and open to meet. From there the rest was history as we continued with the surrogacy process."

Over a year later, the dads welcomed their two sons. "The first time we got to hold the boys, it felt so natural to us, as if nothing else in the world existed and time stood still as we got lost in the moment."

Congratulations to Adam and Josh on finalizing the adoption of their daughter!

Adam and Josh got engaged on Good Morning America on Valentines Day, and welcomed their Christmas miracle baby into their lives on December 26th. On July 12 this year, they celebrated becoming a forever family of three.

"For an event that always seemed like it would be the end of our adoption journey, Baby K's Finalization Day felt more like the beginning of a greater adventure," shared Adam. "Since day one, Baby K was always loved and 100% part of our family, but we are so filled with joy to see this day come and make it officially official. We cannot wait to spend the rest of our lives not only watching Baby K grow and develop, but also to see the two of us learn and grow in this new role as parents."

Congrats to these Dallas dads!

Congratulations to Dan and Martin on the birth of their son Herman! 

Copenhagen couple Dan and Martin welcomed their second child through surrogacy on July 11 this year in Florida, USA. Herman joins big sister Ellen, born March 1, 2015, in Vermont via surrogacy. Here's a little more.

"Two amazing American women and their families took us in as their own and we're forever bonded," said Dan about their path to fatherhood experience. "It has been an amazing journey with both of them, our family is complete."

Congrats to the Danish family!

This post is sponsored by Circle Surrogacy

Circle was founded in 1995 on the belief that everyone should have the opportunity to be a parent. To this day, that belief is at the core of everything we do. For over 20 years we've helped straight and LGBTQ+ couples and singles around the world fulfill their dreams of parenthood. We've helped bring more than 1,900 babies into this world... and counting!

We're an agency comprised of social workers and lawyers, accountants and outreach associates, and program managers and coordinators; but, more importantly, we're an agency made up of parents, surrogates and egg donors, who are passionate about helping people build their families, and invested in each and every journey.

Circle is proud to have helped so many gay families achieve their dreams of becoming parents. Together, we make parenthood possible.®

News

Ed Smart, Father of Kidnapping Victim Elizabeth Smart, Comes Out as Gay

In coming his coming out letter, Ed Smart, a Mormon, condemned the church for their "ridicule, shunning, rejection and outright humiliation" of LGBTQ individuals.

In a post on Facebook, Ed Smart, father of kidnapping survivor Elizabeth Smart, came out as gay. He also discussed his strained relationship with his Mormon faith, claiming he felt he didn't feel comfortable living as an openly gay man in a church with a difficult history with respect to its LGBTQ members. He and his wife, Lois, have filed for divorce.

"This is one of the hardest letters I have ever written," he began the letter. "Hard because I am finally acknowledging a part of me that I have struggled with most of my life and never wanted to accept, but I must be true and honest with myself." He went on to acknowledged a new set of challenges facing he and his family as they navigate a divorce and his coming out — in the public eye, no less — but concluded, ultimately, that it's a "huge relief" to be "honest and truthful about my orientation."

He went on to condemn The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for their "ridicule, shunning, rejection and outright humiliation" of LGBTQ individuals. "I didn't want to face the feelings I fought so hard to suppress, and didn't want to reach out and tell those being ostracized that I too am numbered among them. But I cannot do that any longer."

In an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune, Ed Smart further discussed his reasons for coming out now, as a 64-year-old man.

"I mean, I knew that it would probably come out at some point, just because people can't leave things alone. I did anticipate that it would happen at some time, but my intention in writing it was to try to let my friends and family know, you know my extended family ... know where things were. So, you know, I was really concerned about how the rumor mill starts," he told the paper. "I knew that at some point in time, that would come out," he elaborated. "I didn't know when it would come out, and so I would rather have it come out the way that it did versus having some rumors going around, and you know the crazy way things can get twisted."

In 2002, Ed Smart's daughter Elizabeth was abducted at knife point by a married couple from her bedroom in Salt Lake City, Utah. She suffered physical and sexual abuse at the couple's hands, for nine months, until she was finally rescued by police. During the ordeal, papers — including the Salt Lake Tribute — speculated about Ed Smart's sexual orientation based on some fabricated information sold to the paper by tabloids like the National Enquirer. (The Enquirer retracted the story, and the reporters at the Tribute were ultimately fired.)

"I think that in April I started feeling like I needed to prepare something," Smart told the Tribute. "Because during Elizabeth's ordeal, there were things said, and it wasn't what I wanted to say, and I was not going to allow that to happen again."

As to how his family has taken the news, Smart said they've been "very kind" to him. "I think it was very difficult to have this kind of come out of the blue. I don't think any of them knew I was struggling with this, so it was something they were, if you want to call it, blindsided by. I totally get that. They've really been very wonderful."

Congrats to Ed Smart on making the difficult decision to live his truth. Read his full letter here and his interview with the Tribute here.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

"Rollercoaster and Sons," Explores the Journey of One Single Gay Dad Through the Foster-Adopt System

When it comes to the foster-adopt system, "there is no roadmap," said single gay dad Chase Turner

Guest post written by Chase Turner

Many of us thought long and hard about what avenues were best to pursue being a dad. For me, fostering to adoption was the selected road. There is no roadmap here, many things that came my way were learned by doing. Along the way, I started wishing I had a better support group or people who could understand what it's like to be gay and attempting to adopt. Often we (people who are LGBT) feel scrutinized and judged for choices that the majority makes but for us there is pushback. Once my adoption was complete, I felt it was necessary that I put pen to paper and write this story, from a gay male perspective.

My goal was to provide a voice in the space of foster care and adoption where there is a void. Additionally, I wanted to provide an authentic look at all facets of the process, from the kids, to the obstacles and challenges that happened within my personal life. I do hope you enjoy and more importantly can relate or prepare yourself for a similar journey.

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Fun

Gay Dad Penguins Strike Again! This Time in Berlin Zoo

The latest male penguins to care for an egg together are Skipper and Ping in the Berlin Zoo.

First, there was Roy and Silo — the two male penguins in the Central Park Zoo that served as inspiration for the famous children's book And Tango Makes Three. Then Magin Sphen got together in Sydney, where aquarium keepers gave the cocks (Calm down, that's what a male penguin is called!) a foster egg to care for.

And now, please welcome Skipper and Ping in Berlin to the latest list of gay dad penguins! As soon as the two emperor penguins arrived at the city's zoo, they set about trying to start a family, said Berlin Zoo spokesman Maximilian Jaege to DPA news.

"They kept trying to hatch fish and stones," Jaeger said.

So the zookeepers loaned the penguins an egg from a female penguin, who is apparently uninterested in hatching eggs on her own, according to the BBC.

Unsurprisingly, the gay penguins are killing it as parents. "The two male penguins are acting like exemplary parents, taking turns to warm the egg," Jaeger said,

Read the whole article on DPA here.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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