Gay Dad Life

People en Español's Armando Lucas Correa Opens Up about Writing, Family, and What It Means to Be a Gay Dad

Armando Lucas Correa came of age in Cuba during the late seventies, a particularly dangerous time to be gay in the Communist country.


Correa explains, "I grew up in Cuba in a time when homophobia was government-sponsored. There were laws in the books against homosexuality. In the 60s, concentration camps were created to send gays, religious people, and political dissidents. When you were in college, you could be kicked out if anyone questioned your sexuality."

Armando with his twins, Lucas and Anna

Though he never formally came out to his family, Correa didn't hide the fact he was gay. In fact, he met his partner, Gonzalo (together now for thirty-one years) right after college. They left Cuba together that same year (1991) and landed in Miami. Gonzalo worked as a photographer while Correa pursued his passion for the written word. Correa says, "When I arrived in the U.S., I went through the daily struggle all immigrants go through to cobble together a new life, a career—in my case, journalism."

In addition, the couple looked into adoption, but in those days, gay couples couldn't legally adopt kids in Florida. So the dream of starting a family was put on hold. Correa recalls, "I always wanted to be father, from the time I was a boy myself. Maybe it was because my parents divorced when I was two-and-a-half years old. I grew up in a matriarchy: my grandmother, my mom, my sister."

Armando and Gonzalo with their kids

When the couple moved to New York City in 1997, the dream of having their own family came back to life. Correa had accepted a position as a senior writer for the newly minted People en Español. Shortly after arriving, he read an article about surrogacy in People Weekly, which led him and Gonzalo on an "odyssey," as Correa describes it, creating a family via IVF with the help of a surrogate mother and an egg donor.

This odyssey would become the basis for Correa's first book: Finding Emma. (Today, the couple has three children: Emma is now 11. Her twin siblings, Anna and Lucas, are seven years old.)

Regarding how the book came about, Correa says, "I remember back in 2008, René Alegría, then editor at Rayo/Harper Collins, asked me for a meeting in my office. I thought he would talk to me about putting out a book about Hispanic celebrities—and I couldn't have been more wrong. He came to ask me to write a book for a U.S. Hispanic audience about how I had created my family. Initially, I was taken aback because though I'm openly gay, I never spoke about my private life with People en Español readers."

Correa says reaction from readers has been extremely positive. He's quick to point out, however, that the focus shouldn't be on the gay dad aspect. "For me, it's important that people see us as a family, which in this case has two dads," Correa says. "That they see we have the same conflicts and issues of any other family. The day we all understand we are human beings and we are all very different, and we accept and respect those differences, the world will be a better place."

Correa is now Editor-in-Chief for People en Español, which is the top-selling Hispanic magazine in the U.S. Correa's most recent book, a novel entitled The German Girl, came out in the fall of 2016 to great reviews from critics and readers alike. It's based on the true but little known story of 900+ Jews who fled Nazi Germany in 1939 to Havana. When the ship (the Saint Louis) arrived in Cuba, it was turned away, even though all passengers had the proper paperwork to disembark in Havana. The U.S. and Canada would deny the ship entry as well, forcing its return to Europe and leading to the encampment and deaths of most people on board.

The novel picks up in modern times. "The German Girl is about Anna, a girl who lives in New York and in 2014 receives an envelope from Hannah, her German great-aunt, who lives in Havana," Correa says. "Inside the envelope: pictures of Hannah aboard the Saint Louis, celebrating her 12th birthday. Anna's mother tells her Hannah is related to her from her father's side. Anna and her mother take a plane to Cuba and start to discover their family history."

When it comes to his writing, Correa says the work speaks for itself. "It's no better or worse because of my sexual orientation," he explains. "I'm defined by my family, my values as a human being, my work as a writer and editor, my role as a father, partner, friend, son, brother."

He adds, "But my biggest accomplishment is having created my family. My children are my pride."

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Gay Dad Life

Gay Dads Featured on Cover of Parents Magazine for First Time

Fitness guru Shaun T. and his husband Scott Blokker are the first gay dads to be featured on the cover of Parents Magazine

I literally never thought I'd see the day. Literally.

Gay fathers on the cover of Parents Magazine! Gay fathers being celebrated in a "main stream" publication about being parents. Gay fathers!

I don't want to get overly dramatic here, but this is a milestone. A massive cultural milestone.

Sure, gay dads have come a long way in being accepted in our popular culture, but to my eye we've never been on the cover of a big popular parenting magazine celebrating our parenting skills. As if we are the norm.

We are now - thanks to Parents Magazine.

This is a particular milestone for me because I have a bit of a history with the magazine and with parenting publications in general. My first job out of grad school was in brand marketing at Johnson's Baby Products where I did indeed run advertising in this particular magazine. Back then though we only featured married, straight couples. There were no other kinds of parents to feature back in the day! And if I'm to be really honest, they were generally white, married, straight couples.

I distinctly remember one photo shoot where I forgot to put a wedding ring on the "husband's" finger and we had to reshoot it. No photoshop back then!

Now admittedly this was before I was a dad and before I was out, but as the years went by and I embraced my own journey as a gay dad, there were no role models or pop culture markers to say that I (and other gay dads) were accepted. There were no Andy Cohens publicly making baby announcements. We were alone on our parenting.

It was hard. There was a constant barrage of straight parenting norms that constantly reminded us that we were different.
Not any more! Being a gay dad, or any dad, is now simply being a parent. A good parent. A loving parent. And we have Parents Magazine to thank for the reminder and endorsement, with hopefully more to come.

And I can't help but think, and actually know, that this kind of normalization will inspire the next generation of gay dads who will simply accept, without hesitation, that fatherhood as a gay man is a real, accepted, and normal option.

Bravo!

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9-Year-Old Girl Starts Successful Jewelry Line With Help of Gay Dads

Riley Petersen is 9 (!) and already a Creative Director, with the help of her gay dads

Riley Kinnane-Petersen is 9 years old, enjoys playing tennis, being with friends, has a pet cat, and lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her two dads, John Petersen and William Kinnane. She's also the official Creative Director of a successful jewelry line she founded with the help of her dads. Two years ago, John even quit his day job to assist in the day-to-day operations of the jewelry company.

What began as a long road to adoption for William and John, has become a thriving creative business, and more importantly a family.

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New Children's Book Explores a Different Kind of Gay Fatherhood: Doggy Dads

Pickles + Ocho is a real life story about two French bulldogs in a family with their two gay dads.

Guest post written by Dan Wellik

Pickles + Ocho is a real life story about two French bulldogs in a family with their two gay dads. It tells the story of how Pickles' life changes once his new "baby brother" Ocho joins his family. The themes in this story are important ones – families come in all shapes and sizes, all families look a little different than the next and diversity and inclusion should be celebrated. I have always felt strongly that children need more exposure to LGBT families and wanted to add my voice to this very important conversation.

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Study Finds Two-Thirds of Gay Dads Experienced Stigma in Last Year

The study also found that over half of gay dads have avoided certain social situations in the last year for fear of experiencing stigma.

According to new research by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the vast majority of gay men and their children experience some form of stigma. The findings are based on a survey of 732 gay father across 47 states in the United States.

More gay men are becoming fathers each year, and have more options for doing so than ever before: including adoption, foster care, and surrogacy. However as the study's authors write: "Despite legal, medical, and social advances, gay fathers and their children continue to experience stigma and avoid situations because of fear of stigma. Increasing evidence reveals that stigma is associated with reduced well-being of children and adults, including psychiatric symptoms and suicidality"

Almost two-thirds of respondents, or 63.5%, reported experiencing stigma based on being a gay father within the last year. Over half, or 51.2%, said they have avoided situations for fear of stigma, in the past year. Importantly, the study found that fathers living in states with more legal protections for LGBTQ people and families experienced fewer barriers and stigma. Most experiences of stigma (almost 35%) occurred, unsurprisingly, in a religious environment. But another quarter of gay dads said they experienced stigma from a wide variety of other sources, including: family members, neighbors, waiters, service providers, and salespeople

Surprisingly (or perhaps not?) another source of stigma cited by the study originates from other gay men. "Gay men report suspicion and criticism for their decision to be parents from gay friends who have not chosen parenthood." The study also says gay dads often feel "isolation in their parental role."

The study concludes, "Despite growing acceptance of parenting by same-gender adults, barriers and stigma persist. States' legal and social protections for lesbian and gay individuals and families appear to be effective in reducing experiences of stigma for gay fathers."

Read the whole study here.

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On January 1st, 2019 superstar Ricky Martin and his husband Jwan Yosef shared a post via Instagram announcing that they'd welcomed a baby girl named Lucia into their family.

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In their previous video, Broadway Husbands Bret Shuford and Stephen Hanna shared that they found their egg donor. In this video, the dads-to-be discuss their embryo creation process. And - spoiler alert - there are now frozen Hanna-Shuford embryos, and the husbands are ready for their next step: finding a gestational carrier.

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Adoption for These Dads Was Like a "Rollercoaster" But Well Worth the Ride

After multiple scam attempts, bizarre leads, and a birth mom's change of heart, Jason and Alex finally became dads.

Photo credit: Dale Stine

Every gay man who pursues fatherhood fights for their right to become a dad. They've had to keep going even when at times it's seemed hopeless. Jason Hunt-Suarez and Alex Suarez's story is no different. They had their hearts set on adoption; overcame multiple scams, some very bizarre leads, a birth mother's change of heart at the 11th hour, their adoption agency going bankrupt, and tens of thousands of dollars lost along the way. But after a long, turbulent, and heart-wrenching three-year-long journey, it was all worth it.

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