Fun

A Happy Gay Uncles Day to Us All

Last year, on August 14, the Internet lit up with the hashtag #GayUnclesDay, accompanied by countless adorable pictures of gay men beaming for the camera alongside their nieces and nephews. This year we're hoping to make Gay Uncles Day even bigger and better. So get in on the fun by telling the best gay uncle you know to send us their pics posing with their nieces and nephews to dads@gayswithkids.com for our latest photo essay.


As one would expect with any LGBTQ-themed holiday, last year others used the hashtag as an excuse to throw some social media sass:

"Not one tweet from my nephews or nieces on #GayUnclesDay," one Twitter user bemoaned of the non-existent holiday. "Cut them out of my will. The cash is going to a home for retired circus hamsters."

The social media sensation was all in good fun, of course, and I'm supportive of any holiday that leads Olympic bobsledder Simon Dunn to post this picture on his Instagram, but it's worth noting that not every gay uncle felt celebrated that day:

"If only I was allowed to have a relationship with my either of my sister's kids," said Tristan Michel Sauvageau, a gay man with a large list of friends on Facebook. "I bet it's nice being a gay uncle. I guess I'll never know."

For many gay men, National Gay Uncles Day was just another silly social media antic. But for others like Tristan, the hashtag contained a message that was at best aspirational and at worst a reminder of how far we have yet to go.

"I am not allowed in [my sister's] home," Tristan said when I contacted him via Facebook to ask him about the recent hashtag trend. "And have only met two of the three children. So whenever I see any holidays pertaining to 'family' I am filled with resentment, regret, anxiety, depression, and longing."



Looked at from this lens, it wasn't really the celebrities who joined in with a tweet or two or the funny "guncle" memes that gave #GayUnclesDay any sense of meaning. It was the straight people who chose to participate:

"Did not know #GayUnclesDay was a thing," said one user via Twitter. "It should be. My children have the best uncles."

"Happy #GayUnclesDay to my brother and his fiancé," said another on Facebook. "Connor is one lucky kid because of you two!"

For straight people, the simple act of posting the #GayUnclesDay hashtag was a sign of solidarity. Not only did it signal their willingness to celebrate the LGBTQ people in their families, but also — crucially — their openness to allowing them to carry on a meaningful relationship with their children.

That might not be so remarkable in today's world, when entire towns come together to respond to anti-LGBTQ bigotry with acts of solidarity. But it wasn't so long ago when gay men were equated with pedophilia in the minds of many of our straight family members, an association the religious right has exploited for decades to prevent LGBTQ people from becoming parents in our own right.

Visibility has gradually helped to change this and many other harmful perceptions of the LGBTQ community, and with any luck, social media campaigns like National Gay Uncles Day will help continue that trend so that some day all gay uncles can join in the fun.

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Change the World

Enter the First EVER 'Gays With Kids' Family Halloween Costume Contest!

Share your terror-ific family costume photos with us and you could win $500!

This year, we're DEAD EXCITED to be hosting our very first Halloween Family Costume competition! Every year we see the amazing costumes that our gay, bi and trans families come up with, and this year we really wanted to celebrate y'all with a fun and friendly family competition. Our amazing panel of judges (which includes comedian and fellow gay dad Alec Mapa, gay dad influencer Devon Gibby, and our co-founders Brian and Ferd!) will select the prize winners based on the following criteria: creativity, uniqueness, nerve... and overall fabulousness.

The prizes are...*drum roll please*

For first place: $500 cash prize

Two runners-up families: $250 Amazon voucher*

Competition information

Submissions must be sent to halloween@gayswithkids.com by October 31 midnight PST, along with dads' first names, Instagram handle (if you're on Instagram), and the city / state or country where they live.

Competition to be judged on November 1st, and the winners will be announced on Saturday November 2nd via Instagram and Facebook. Winners will also be notified via email and must respond within 48 hours to claim their prize.

All submitted photos will be included in our Halloween Gay Dad Family 2019 roundup

One of the runner-up families will be selected via a voting page (featuring 21 families) that we will set up on the website. When it's live on November 1st, 9am EST, we'll encourage folks to vote for their favorite family costumes! You'll have till midnight Friday PST - we know this isn't long so you'll have to act fast! - and we'll be sharing plenty of reminders via our Instagram to encourage folks to vote!

Rules for entry

Gay, bi and trans dads: Send us your favorite family photo(s) of Halloween 2019 showing each and every member of the family in costume: Dad(s) and child(ren). All those featured in the photo must be in costume, and must include at least one dad.

One entry per family, although you may submit up to 5 different photos of your family in the same costumes.

*For our overseas families: if selected as a winner, your runner-up prizes will be an alternative to the American Amazon gift voucher, but also worth US$250.

Meet the fabulous judges...

Alec Mapa

Actor, writer, comedian, and dad, Alec Mapa is America's Gaysian Sweetheart. We know him from his roles on Half & Half, Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives. He's also husband to Jamie Hebert and proud dad to son Zion, whom they adopted through foster care when he was 5 years old. Watch Alec on his hilarious comedy special "Baby Daddy" on YouTube.

Devon Gibby

Dad of two through a previous straight relationship, and Instagram Influencer @dadndaddies joins our panel of judges. We've witnessed some amazing costumes from Devon in the past so we believe he'll be bringing his A-game to selecting the best, most creative, most faaaaabulous family costumes around!

Brian Rosenberg

Co-founder of Gays With Kids, Brian is dad of three kids through adoption and surrogacy. He lives in Boston with his husband Ferd, and together they started Gays With Kids almost six years at their kitchen table. Brian is proud of and humbled by the Gays With Kids community, and is excited to throw his hat into the judging pool.

A big thank you to our amazing sponsored and supporters!

All prizes were generously donated by some incredible dads in our community, for which we are super grateful!

Gold:

Thomas and Brandon are proud dads to their two sons through adoption. They're also the co-founders of Feinsod Consulting, a Medical IT Consulting firm, located in Orlando, Florida. Their firm offers a comprehensive range of services to ensure their client's medical and healthcare practices deliver technical excellence with every patient.

Silver:

Chad Henson is a doting dad to his daughter and husband to Ray. He's also a gay father who is grateful for this community.

Brian Martinez is the proud husband to Adriian, stepdad to their daughter, and also a food and lifestyle entrepreneur based in the Bronx. His five current businesses include Fresco's Cantina, The Coffee Break Company, The Bronx Barber Shop, La Parada Pit Stop, and Travesias, all located in the Bronx, NY.

Bronze:

Rick Clemons is a dad and husband, as well as a life coach, motivational speaker, author and podcaster. His superpower is guiding men out of the closets of their life - to break free of fear, make bold moves, and live life without apology. Check out his website: Gay Mans Life Coach,

Brandon Adkins and Jamie Wince are fiancés, set to marry in 2020, and also dads to their two kids whom they had through previous relationships. They are owners of Adkins Raceway, a karting experience for everyone at every age and every skill level based in Port Washington, Ohio. Even if you're new to the sport, they offer introductory karting classes, so if you're in Ohio, go check them out!

Matthew and Ian Leprino are new dads to a baby boy, and owners of The Ridgewood Company, a Denver-area Real Estate Brokerage.


Halloween

Five Dads Who Spook the Competition Each Year With DIY Halloween Looks!

These dads are kings of DIY Halloween costumes — and the results spook (I mean speak) for themselves!

Not only do gay dads win at Halloween, we also create WINNING outfits and creations with our own hands! Check out these dads who've slayed Halloween every year with their ghoulishly imaginative skills!

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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.

Change the World

11 Family Stories That Show the Depth of the Adoption Experience for Gay Men

November is National Adoption Awareness Month! To celebrate, we've curated some adoption stories that show the true depth and breath of the adoption experience for gay men.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month! And few people are more aware of the importance of lifting up and celebrating adoption in this country than the LGBTQ community. According to the Williams Institute, 21% of same-sex couples are raising adopted children compared to just 3% of different-sex couples. Despite the fact that we are a crucial part of the support system for children needing loving homes, we are currently facing an administration that is trying to make it legal for foster care and adoption agencies to discriminate against us on the basis of religion.

To help celebrate National Adoption Awareness Month, and demonstrate that religious beliefs should in never trump the ability for a loving LGBTQ family to welcome children into their home, we've rounded up several family stories that show the true depth and breath of the adoption experience — men who never planned to become dads, and woke up one day to find themselves responsible for little ones. Men who always wanted to become dads, and suffered through years of failed placements before finally making their dreams come true. Single men, who realized they were strong enough to adopt on their own. And men who adopted older children through the foster care system.

These are just a few of the inspiring stories of gay, bi and trans adoptive dads — we are literally sitting on a treasure trove of them. And, no doubt, there are countless more headed your way in the months to come.

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Popular

"We're Dads, the Greatest Thing We've Ever Been": Congrats to Gay Men Whose Families Recently Grew!

Wishing all of these gay dads whose families expanded a lifetime of happiness! Congrats to everyone in our community on their recent births and adoptions!

Gay men go through a lot of ups and downs on the path to parenthood. It can be one of the most emotionally draining times in our lives. But as each of these families who are celebrating births and adoptions this month agree: it's worth every hardship.

Congrats to the dads whose families grew this month!

Congratulations to dads Ryan and Sebastian on the birth of their son, Máximo!!

Ryan and Sebastian's path to fatherhood was through surrogacy and their journey took nearly five years from start to finish. "There were many ups and downs and we almost gave up — but are so glad we didn't!"

"Holding Máximo for the first time was something we will never forget," shared Ryan. "He was looking up at us and we were just overcome with love and joy."

This new family of three live in Long Island City, New York.

Congratulations to dads Andy and Mike on their birth of their son Bennett!

In July this year, Andy and Mike became first time dads through surrogacy when they welcomed their son Bennett.

"We are absolutely in love with our baby Bennett! He's doing awesome and his Daddy and Papa have been rewarded with a lot of big smiles! He sleeps a lot and is generally relaxed as he learns about the world around him. He's made us happier than we knew possible and we feel incredibly blessed that he is the culmination of our wonderful surrogacy journey."

Even though their son is only 3 months old, they're already starting to think about and plan for his sibling! Congrats dads!

Congratulations to dads Bryan and Zachary on the birth of your son Spencer!

Three years ago, husbands Bryan and Zachary moved from New York City to Dallas, Texas to start a family.

"Like for most, our journey had many uncertainties with ups and downs along the way," said Bryan. "When you stop and really think about everything that goes into the process and has to take place, it's a true miracle and we feel blessed."

On August 26 this year, their son Spencer was born through surrogacy. "Patience, hope, support and remembering what's eventually to come helped my husband and I during the most stressful times. Now that Gates is here, it's hard to even look back."

"Holding Gates for the first was a true miracle - my husband and I finally took a breath. At that moment, the three of us created our new family and everything was exactly how it was supposed to be."

Congratulations to dads John and Ryan on finalizing the adoption of their son Connor!

When John and Ryan in 2004, they both knew they wanted to be parents. They were married in 2005 and started their journey as foster parents in 2009. They first became dads when their son Cody, then an infant, came to live with them. His adoption was finalized in 2013.

"After Cody's adoption, we 'closed' our home and actually moved a few times before joining the foster parent community again in 2018. When we decided to look to foster and adopt again, Cody was fully on board and that was a big part of our discussions about timing."

Their son Conner was placed with them as an infant in May 2018. Connor's adoption was finalized on October 16, and he was 19 months old at the time.

"Adoption day was a whirlwind," shared John. "We were first on the docket for the judge and he made quick work of finalizing his placement and formally making Connor a member of the family!"

The forever family of four live in San Antonio, Texas and would love to connect with other families like theirs.

Congratulations to dads Matt and Ian on the birth of their son Rocco!

Denver couple Matt and Ian had been dreaming of the day when they'd become dads. The husbands have been together going on 8 years, married for 5, and had picked out their son's name even before they were married.

"The journey to fatherhood has been a long and emotional one," shared Matt. "After our first fertility clinic placed roadblocks in front of us for almost two years, we changed to a new once and suddenly found ourselves on a pace far quicker towards fatherhood. We engaged a surrogacy agency to find our gestational carrier after two attempts to do it ourselves, and ended up with someone who was so far and beyond what we ever could have imagined, we cannot imagine the journey without her. We call her our angel not just because of her selfless act but for her guidance along the way as a mother herself."

From their first 13 embryos, one little one tried to hang on but didn't quite make it to the end. After several years of trying up, they decided to give it one more go and were able to produce 6 eggs, one of which resulted very quickly into a multiplying, healthy and genetically viable embryo - the last of 19 attempts. "The day we found out that our little bundle of cells had matured, we unexpectedly lost my Grandfather on the same day – a stark reminder of the cycle that is life. We gave our son the middle name of Keen as it was one of my late grandfather's signature words to use. 'Oh, that's so keen...' is a phrase I can still hear him saying to me as a child."

On July 26, the dads welcomed their son Rocco! "We are blessed now with a sleeping, funny, expressive and engaged little spirit in our lives. The process was tough, emotional and downright exhausting. The moment he showed up though, let out a scream then looked at his with his funny little furled brow, every single appointment, lost night's sleep, worry and tear was collectively worth it. We are Dads … and that is simply the greatest thing we have ever been."

Congratulations to Travis and Jay on finalizing the adoption of their son Kathan!

Travis and his husband Jay began their path to fatherhood a little over three years ago when they began the certification process to adoption through the foster care system. "After a little over a year and a half in the making we got the call on June 3rd 2018 at 11:30am. That day changed our lives in so many beautiful ways," said Travis.

At just 4 days old, the dads brought their son Kathan home, and 16 months later, they celebrated his adoption being finalized. "It felt like we had been set free as a family for the first time."

Kathan's adoption day was incredibly personal for the dads so they spent it with close family and took Kathan out for celebratory brunch.

Congrats to this Orange County forever family of three.

Congratulations to dad Derek and Zack on the birth of their daughter Georgia!

On October 18, 2019, dads Derek and Zack, and big brother Hank, welcomed Georgia to the family. The family is over the moon!

"Zack and I were lucky to be able to work with the same surrogate that helped us with our son Hank," said Derek. Their family journey experienced a significant setback when one of their fertility clinic's embryo storage tanks malfunctioned, and they lost all their genetic material - 11 fertilized embryos - that Derek's sister and Zack had donated to create their family. Luckily, Derek's sister was incredible and happily flew out to donate her beautiful genes again.

"Our family is truly the living embodiment of the love of our extended family and our carrier Raelene (and her family) have for us and our dream to meet our children. Meeting Georgia, for me, was the realization of all those feelings of love and hope we felt throughout our journey."

Congrats to this San Francisco family of four!

Congratulations to dads Rob and Scott on the birth of their daughter Sierra!

Rob and Scotty's journey to fatherhood started in December 2014, and they became first time dads eighteen months later when their son Ryder was born through surrogacy. In early October this year, they welcomed their daughter, Sierra, also through surrogacy.

"Holding her for the first time was amazing and warmed our hearts completely," shared Scotty. "Our son loves his baby sister and is very protective of her!!"

Huge congrats to this Sacramento family!

Congratulations to dads Brian and John on the birth of their son Weston!

Brian Wall and his fiancé John Agricola live in Toronto, Canada, and they recently welcomed their son Weston into the world on November 13.

"Our path to fatherhood was made a little simpler because my first cousin offered to be our surrogate," said Brian. "It took about a year total from picking an egg donor and our first successful embryo transfer on March 13."

When the dads first held their son they both agreed it was the most emotional experience they've ever had. "So grateful to our surrogate and he is a healthy boy!!"

Congrats to this new family of three, and can't wait to see wedding photos from your upcoming nuptials!

Congratulations to Ricky and Jeff on finalizing the adoption of their daughter Kylie!

Ricky and Jeff finalized the adoption of their youngest on November 8, the biological sister to their son Kadyn.

"Her birth mom knew that she couldn't take care of her and wanted us to have her," shared Ricky. "We went through the county again and we were able to adopt Kylie 6 months after her birth. The extra cool experience this time around was the fact that we were invited to be there to be part of the birth."

To be finalize Kylie's adoption was "amazing" said the dads. "It means that nothing and no one can do or say anything that would effect her being with us, which almost happened about a month before the adoption day."

Congratulations to this Californian forever family of four!

News

United Nations Calls on Cambodia to End Criminalization of Surrogates

Cambodia's 2016 law criminalizes surrogacy — and requires women who work as surrogate to raise the children they conceived for intended parents as their own.

Last Friday, the United Nations Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) reiterated its support to end the harassment and criminalization of surrogates in Cambodia, according to Voice of America.

The report issued by CEDAW recognized growing international criticism of the unregulated practice of surrogacy around the world, which often leads to the exploitation of women who work as surrogates. However, since surrogacy became illegal in Cambodia, over 60 women working as surrogates — the very people put in danger of exploitation — have been arrested and subjected to criminal proceedings. The women were only released according to VOA, under the condition of raising the surrogate children until they are 18.

"The Committee is particularly concerned that such an obligation creates an additional financial and emotional burden on women who are in precarious situations, which led them to act as surrogates in the first place," the report reads, "and that they face discrimination and stigma from their families and communities for having acted as surrogates."

CEDAW called on the Cambodian government to repeal the October 2016 law — particularly the requirement of raising the children they conceived for other intended parents as their own. This punishment is particularly onerous given that many of these women entered surrogacy arrangement against their will, said Chak Sopheap, Executive Director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, speaking to VOA.

"Surrogate women in Cambodia are likely to be at the sharp end of various economic and political hardships that caused them to make the decision to become a surrogate," she told VOA in an email. "We have seen, over the past year, women surrogates raided, charged with human trafficking, and detained, with no transparency from the authorities as to their wellbeing or that of the children they have given birth to."

Read more about this story here.

Gay Dad Family Stories

One Single Gay Dad's Trailblazing Path to Parenthood Via Surrogacy

20 years ago, Gene became the first single gay man to work with Circle Surrogacy in order to become a dad — trailblazing a path for many others since.

This article is part of our family feature series with Circle Surrogacy, a surrogacy agency that has been helping LGBTQ+ singles and couples realize their dream of parenthood for the past 20 years.

"I think I was pretty naïve, I guess," chuckled Gene, one of the first single gay dads to work with Circle Surrogacy over 19 years ago. "I just had made a decision and went out and did it, and wasn't really thinking about how difficult it might be or what other people thought, being first at doing something."

So how did Gene hear about surrogacy as an option for single gay men? Well, it began with Gene flipping through a bar magazine. He recalls seeing an ad about a woman providing a service to connect gay men with lesbians in platonic co-parenting relationships. While he started down that path, working with the founder, Jennifer, he remembers thinking, "What if I meet someone? What if I want to move? It would create all these complications."

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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