Change the World

A Thank You Letter to Gays With Kids

From sports and politics to pop culture and human interest stories, writers like me shine a spotlight on the things that matter most in our lives. And for me that thing is fatherhood. It's the reason I contribute articles to this website every month. And I'm happy to report that in the short span of just three years — since I began writing for Gays With Kids — there has been a major shift in both the awareness and presence of gay dads. These days, we're not just represented, we're celebrated. Or maybe it just feels that way because of how this website has become the conduit for all of us to share our stories, helping to normalize and validate the very thing we've all fought so hard for — our families.


Six years ago, back when my husband, Alex, and I started our family, we were considered to be going rogue. Remember, this was before gay marriage was legalized. Having a child wasn't the common next step for gay men, or at least not in our social circles. But it was something we always knew we wanted. And so once Max came into our lives, we had so many friends and colleagues reaching out to ask about our process. They explained that fatherhood didn't seem like a real possibility until they saw how our family came together. And now, almost seven years later, some of those very same people are now proud parents. That's how transformative our stories can be.

I am just one Dad who made the idea of parenting seem a little more accessible to a handful of friends. There was something far more significant going on that had a profound impact on tens of thousands of men all over the world. And that thing is Gays With Kids.

When this website launched in 2014, our stories received a permanent home. A home that would welcome men from all over the world. What started off as the brainchild of one determined pair of gay dads quickly went on to garner huge visibility, connecting fathers — and aspiring dads — from every corner of the globe: Spain, France, Germany, Ireland, Russia, China and the UK.

For many of us, GWK was the first real exposure we've had to gay dads since watching episodes of Full House in the 1980s. (Three feathered-hair men raising kids in San Francisco? In the words of Michelle Tanner, "Oh, ple-ease.") GWK gives a much-needed voice to countless Dads in rural America who have little to no contact with two-dad families. Had it not been for this website, these small town fathers would otherwise lack access to our stories. GWK has become not just an outlet for enjoyable reading, but a necessary resource for millions of men to learn from and be inspired by.

And at a time when the rights of our families are being challenged by anti-LGBTQ activists in the highest positions of power (#impeach), our community support for one another is more important now than ever before. Our stories have captured our collective fears and our combined strength. And as long as we've got our voices, we'll come out the other side stronger, louder and more powerful than ever before.

We owe GWK — and the men behind it, Brian and Ferdinand — a big, heartfelt thank you. Thank you for unselfishly donating your time, your heart and your money to create a vessel for which we get the privilege of telling our stories, and therefore, advancing the conversation about gay parenting. On a personal front, I have made countless valuable friendships, sought advice from dads around the world and have been able to work through my own parental challenges by putting pen to paper and sharing my stories, and reading the open and honest stories beautifully written by other GWK contributories.

Brian and Ferdinand are not the only ones who have garnered my respect. I'd also like to thank all the parents and hope-to-be parents for contributing to this community. For many, this is the first group or team we were welcomed to join with open arms. And let me tell you, not getting picked last feels pretty damn great.

To the entire GWK team, keep up the great work. You have no idea the impact you've had on all of our lives.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got next month's article to write.

With love and gratitude,

-Dave

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Gay Dad Life

Gay Muslim Single Dad Writes Op Ed on His Path to Self Acceptance

Maivon Wahid writes about the challenges of reconciling three separate, but equally important, identities in an opinion piece for Gay Star News

Maivon Wahid, a gay Muslim single dad living in Fiji, wrote an opinion piece for Gay Star News about the challenges he's faced on his road to self acceptance.

"I feel pressure on how I am supposed to behave and how I am perceived," he wrote oh how these competing identities play out for him, day to day.

Maivon described himself as an "odd" kid, who never quite fit in--something he still relates to today as an adult. "When I enter the masjid (mosque), I am always judged and questioned," he wrote. "Sometimes it's curiosity, but sometimes it's borderline bullying." He said he found a way to be both gay and Muslim, three years ago, when he met an openly gay Imam at a conference in Australia. "It was through him I was able to first appreciate who I was, then love who I had become and celebrate it."

Being gay in Fiji, he says also makes him feel the need to hide certain parts of himself. "In Fiji, I find the need to hide so many aspects of my authentic being," he wrote.

He also wrote of complications familiar to many single gay men who became dads from previous straight relationships. He writes: "As a single parent to the most beautiful son – I was married to my ex-wife for nine years – learning to become and celebrate the person you want to be is about more than just me; it's a legacy I want to leave for him and the next generation. Although it's hard to meet like-minded people (my dating life is non-existent!), in being myself, I believe I can show others it's OK to be you, and to love whoever you want to love."

Ultimately, despite the challenges he's faced, Maivon says he has found a way to reconcile these three identities into one. "Whether you're gay, Muslim or a single parent – or all three – there is a place and space for everyone," he wrote. "I have found my place in Islam, and am comfortable being the best version of gay I can be. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise."

Read the whole article here.


Change the World

Gay Dad and Christian Mom Have a Come to Jesus Moment on 'Wife Swap'

A Christian mom learns a thing or two about "judge not lest ye be judged" on the latest episode of "Wife Swap"

Two men, Terrell and Jarius Joseph, were recently the first gay dads to be featured on the show "Wife Swap," where they swapped spouses with Nina and Matt, a religious, Christian couple. But the drama doesn't unfold in the same way as some previous episodes featuring religious mothers (see everyone's favorite "Crazy Christian Lady") because (plot twist!) the gay dads are religious, too.

At one point, Nina asks Jarius to lead the family in a prayer before dinner, because she felt it was important to show him "what the true love of God is." She is surprised, then, when Jarius quite naturally launches into a prayer.

Later in the episode, Nina says she wants to lead Jarius in a "devotional" about judgment. "Jesus knew that this would be a battle for us, so he was very stern in warning us in Matthew 7: 1-5," she say. "Do not judge or you too will be judged."

Jarius quickly points out that most Christian churches are unaccepting of LGBTQ members. "You say 'Don't judge people,'" Jarius says. "But you are."

"Now that I've talked with Jarius, I feel like I jumped to conclusions a bit," Nina tells the camera later on in the "I'm not a judgey person but I actually judged the situation and I don't like the way it makes me feel."

Watch the moment play out in full here:

'Do You Feel Like Being Gay is a Sin?' | Wife Swap Official Highlight www.youtube.com

Change the World

Tennessee Drops Anti-LGBTQ Adoption Bill Amid Growing Opposition

Amazon, the Tennessee Titans, and Taylor Swift were among those calling on the state to drop an anti-LGBTQ adoption bill

This past week the sponsor of a so-called "religious freedom" bill in the Republican-dominated Tennessee State Senate, which would have permitted state welfare agencies to discriminate against prospective LGBTQ adoptive parents, requested the piece of legislation be pulled, effectively killing it for at least this year.

The bill, which had already been approved the the House, was widely expected to be passed and signed into law, so the sponsor's request surprised many. No explanation was given for the move, thought the Washington Post hints that increasing corporate pressure may have helped play a role. Both Amazon and the Tennessee Titans joined a growing list of companies speaking out against the discriminatory bill.

Taylor Swift, a native of the state who is increasingly wading into the political realm, also joined the fray by donating $113,000 to the Tennessee Equality Project, an advocacy group fighting the bills. In a handwritten note to the group's Executive Director, Swift wrote: "I'm so inspired by the work you do, specifically in organizing the recent petition of Tennessee faith leaders against the 'slate of hate' in our state legislature. I'm so grateful that they're giving all people a place to worship."

This good news follows Michigan's recent decision to rescind its own "religious freedom" law last month, though eight states currently still permit discrimination against prospective LGBTQ adoptive parents, and a bill is pending in Arkansas that would do the same.

Gay Dad Life

Cooking with Kids: An Interview with David Burtka

David Burtka sits down with us to talk about his new book "Life is a Party."

When you're a young couple it's easy to order in or dine out on a daily basis, but when the kids come along, spending time in the kitchen to prepare nutritious and healthy meals for them can become a problem for some dads. We turned to gay dad and celebrity chef David Burtka who just published his debut recipe book Life is a Party, to get some advice, inspiration, and support as we take our baby steps in the kitchen.

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Politics

Daughter of Married Gay Couple Who Used Surrogacy Abroad Isn't Citizen, Says U.S. State Department

A decades-old law can be used to discriminate against gay couples who use surrogacy abroad.

James Derek Mize and his husband Jonathan Gregg are both American citizens, but their daughter, born via a surrogate, may not be, at least according to the U.S. State Department.

The New York Times took an in-depth look at this case in a piece that ran in the paper yesterday. While James was born and raised in the U.S, his husband Jonathan was originally born in Britain. That may be enough, according to the State Department, to deny their daughter citizenship.

"We're both Americans; we're married," James told the New York Times. "We just found it really hard to believe that we could have a child that wouldn't be able to be in our country."

According to decades-old immigration law, a child born abroad must have a biological connection to a parent that is a U.S. citizen in order to be eligible to receive citizenship upon birth. Children born via surrogacy are determined to be "out of wedlock," according to the Times report," which then requires a more onerous process to qualify for citizenship, such as demonstrating that a biological parent is not only an American citizen, but has spent at least five years in the country.

The intent of the law, which dates back to the 1950s, was to prevent people from claiming, falsely, that they are the children of U.S. parents. But LGBTQ advocates argue this archaic policy is being used intentionally to discriminates against same-sex couples, who often have to rely on donors, IVF and surrogacy in order to have biologically children, and are thus held to a higher standard.

"This is where our life is. This is where our jobs are," James told the Times. "Our daughter can't be here, but she has no one else to care for her."

Read the whole story here.


Popular

Couple That Met at the Gym Now Spotting Each Other Through Fatherhood

How two real New-Yorkers became two soft-hearted dads

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.

Byron and Matthew Slosar, both 41, met ten years ago at one of New York City's Equinox gyms. "I asked him for a spot on the bench press," smiled Byron. The couple were married September 22, 2012.

Surrogacy was always the way Byron and Matthew wanted to become parents. They chose to wait and become dads later in life, until they had established careers and the financial means to pursue their chosen path.

They signed with Circle Surrogacy after interviewing a few agencies. "We immediately connected with their entire staff, particularly Anne Watson who lovingly dealt with my healthy neuroses on the daily for 1.5 years," said Byron. "They definitely personalized the service and helped us understand all 2,000 moving parts." The dads-to-be were also very impressed with how much emotional support they received from Circle.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

Adopting an Older Child Through Foster Care Was the Best Path for These Dads

After learning more about older-child adoption through You Gotta Believe, Mark and Andrew decided it was the best way for them to form their family.

"Hey! I got adopted today! These are my dads, Mark and Andrew!"

Jeremy was 16 years old when he found out his new dads wanted to adopt him.

In late August 2017, husbands Mark and Andrew Mihopulos, 34 and 36 respectively, remember driving out to the east end of Long Island. They knew at the very same moment they were driving, social workers were letting Jeremy know they wanted to adopt him. "We expected Jeremy to be hesitant or feel mixed emotions," shared Mark. "We didn't know how he would feel about having two dads and about having white parents and family, as he is a black young man."

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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