Change the World

Dawn of a New Era: What Japan’s Discovery Could Mean to Gay Couples

As a science fiction fan and ardent futurist, recent work coming out of Japan and what it could mean for gay couples, infertile people and the future of in vitro fertilization (IVF) has me feeling full of wonder.


Though, for the sake of realism, it’s important to note this work is just that, a future prospect.

That doesn’t make it any less incredible that Japanese molecular biologists Drs. Mitinori Saitou and Katsuhiko Hayashi of Kyoto University have started on a path that could, according to them, viably build an egg from human skin cells, creating the possibility of two men birthing a child with genetic material exclusively from the couple, among many other variations the technology could create.

The idea inspires imaginings of a future where couples of any kind, especially gay, transgender and infertile people, could reproduce together, passing on their own traits, free from the shackles of exclusively dichotomous female-egg with male-sperm. The scientific development, as so often is the case, starts with mice.

For those who want to understand their work, I am going to do my best to break it down as simply as possible from a fantastic and thorough Nature article, which explains the Doctors’ work in depth.

We’ll start with the creation of typical sperm and eggs. A germ cell is a biological cell that migrates to developing gonads, the inner workings of the human reproductive system and, through cell division and cellular differentiation, when cells take on more specialized types, eventually become mature gametes, the sperm or eggs.

For mice, these germ cells come about after the first week of embryonic development as a few dozen primordial germ cells (PGCs), which would go on to be the eggs and sperm mice have at birth. These PGCs are the very basic of material that pass on a mouse’s genetic heritage. From the skin cells of mice in vitro, Hayashi was able to create PGCs.

With years of work on molecular biology between them, Hayashi and Saitou worked together, inserting PGCs into the testes of mice that couldn’t produce their own sperm. These developed into viable sperm which, when coupled with an egg, the embryo inserted into a female resulted in fertile male and female mice.

The next step was to create sperm through induced pluripotent stem cells, basically turning adult cells into an embryo-like state. The sperm cells worked, this scientific achievement called “a rare accomplishment,” but eggs were expected to be more difficult.

Hayashi created PGCs in vitro, making those very basic cells that normally transform into eggs or sperm within mice, from the cells of a normal-coloured mouse. He put those PGCs into the ovaries of an albino female, and the eggs, fertilized in vitro, grew into albino pups.

The science is essentially, take the PGCs from skin cells, like those that are found within embryonic stem cells, insert these into the place where they would normally develop into eggs or sperm, and let nature take its course.

Hayashi has already been receiving a number of requests from prospective parents, but he warns them that a viable human treatment could be decades away. “My impression is that it is very far away,” he says. “I don't want to give people unfeasible hope.”

There are a number of other long-term technical and ethical concerns that have scientists, including Saitou, urging caution, and they’ve explained that working on the human option would be basically starting from scratch.

However, with no stretch of the imagination for humans, this has a great future prospect for same-sex parents, or couples with a transgender parent. This means you could take the PGCs from the skin cells of a human male — for instance, a gay man — transfer them into the ovaries of a female, and let them create their own eggs with the male’s genetic material. These eggs could then be fertilized in vitro by the sperm of the gay man’s partner, birthed by a surrogate, and the child would have all of the genetic material from the two parents.

Not a very sexy process as far as making babies, but a very big, sexy scientific leap forward!

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Change the World

In the Philly Area? Attend 'Family Pride' On October 5th!

Philadelphia Family Pride is hosting their 10th Annual "Family Matters" Conference on October 5th for LGBTQ parents, prospective parents, and their kids!

Guest post by Stephanie Haynes, the executive director of Philadelphia Family Pride

On Saturday, October 5, 2019, Philadelphia Family Pride will hold their 10th Annual Family Matters Conference from 9am to 3:30pm for LGBTQ parents, prospective parents and their kids of all ages at the University of the Sciences in West Philadelphia. The theme this year is "Telling Our Stories." Registration is now open!

In an interactive keynote, Anndee Hochman, author of the Philadelphia Inquirer's weekly "Parent Trip" column, will share highlights from her work as a journalist and memoirist. She'll invite conversation about the stories that shape us—what tales do we share? who does the telling? who is left out?—and how those stories, added up, are changing the world. Read her bio.

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Entertainment

Upcoming Marvel Hero is Not Only Gay — He's a Dad!

Break out the spandex, dads, Marvel finally recognized our superhero status!

Calling all gay dad geeks! This is not a drill!

At a recent Disney expo, Marvel Studio President Kevin Feige announced that an upcoming superhero in The Eternals will not only be gay — he'll have a partner and kids.

A gay dad superhero? Take that all of our collective high school bullies! We've finally made it!

But we'll have to wait a bit longer to figure who, exactly, gay dads 'round the globe will be dressing up as each and every Halloween for time eternal. Feige only revealed that the future character will be "married, he's got a family, and that is just part of who he is."

As Out Magazine noted, the rollout of LGBTQ characters in the Marvel universe has been teased for years. In 2015, Feige said the company would "for sure" include an openly gay character some day — a day which, finally, seems to be just around the corner. Just last month, the studio announced Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie character in the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder will be its first queer character.

And now, with news of a gay dad superhero not far behind (November 2020, but who's keeping track?) it seems like the company is finally making good on its promise.

Watch. This. Space.

Change the World

Hungarian Company Raising Money for LGBTQ+ Organization with a LEGO® Heart

Startup WE LOVE WHAT YOU BUILD is helping combat misinformation and prejudice in Central and Eastern Europe

Guest Post from WE LOVE WHAT YOU BUILD

WE LOVE WHAT YOU BUILD is an innovative startup venture that sells LEGO® parts and unique creations. The core values of our company include social equality regardless of gender identity or origin. As LEGO® is a variety of colors and shapes, so are the people.

We all know that LEGO® is a brand that nearly everyone knows and likes between the age of 3 and 99 so this gives a great opportunity to connect unique LEGO® creations and Pride. We started a fundraising campaign for a Hungarian LGBTQ+ organization who's aim is to bring people closer to the LGBTQ+ community, they help to combat misinformation and prejudice regarding LGBTQ+ issues in Central- Eastern Europe since 2000.

You might know that gender equality and the circumstances of LGBTQ+ people is not the easiest in the former communist Eastern European countries like Hungary so this program is in a real need for help. For example a couple of month ago a member of the government said that homosexual people are not equal part of our society.

The essence of the campaign is when one buys a Pride Heart, a custom creation made of brand new and genuine LEGO® bricks the organization gets $10.00 donation so they can continue their important work. This Pride Heart is a nice necklace, a decoration in your home, and a cool gift to the one you love.

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Gay Dad Photo Essays

Pics of the Moment Before and After Gay Men Become Dads

Dig through your phones — what was the last pic taken of you BEFORE you became a dad?

We all have THAT photo: the one taken moments after we become fathers for the first time. For some of us, we're doing "skin to skin" in a delivery room. For others, we're standing proudly alongside our newly adopted child and judge in a courtroom. However or wherever it happens, though, we make sure to snap a picture of it.

But what about that last photo BEFORE you first became a dad? What does that image look like, we wondered? Well, we asked our Instagram community to dig through through phones and find out. Some of us are enjoying a last carefree meal or glass of wine, others of us are captured nervously contemplating our futures. Whatever it is, we've decided these BEFORE pictures are just as meaningful.

Enjoy some of our favorites! Want to play along? Dig through your phones and send us your pics to dads@gayswithkids.com!

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Entertainment

Gay Dad in Sundance's 'Brittany Runs a Marathon' is Relatable AF

Sundance hit "Brittany Runs a Marathon" stars a gay dad trying to get in shape.

Who would make for the best marathon training partner for an overweight, overly boozed 27-year-old woman? A gay dad, of course!

The pairing, for any gay man who has been subjected to impossible beauty standards (not unlike... literally all women?) makes a bit too much sense after watching the new Sundance film, "Brittany Runs a Marathon," starring SNL writer Jillian Bell (as the 27-year-old) and Micah Stock as the (somewhat *ahem* older) gay dad.

Based on a true story, the film follows Brittany, an overweight and over-boozed 20-something, trying to clean up her act by training for the New York City marathon — while doing so, she meets Seth (the gay dad), and the two begin to train together, along with Brittany's neighbor Catherine. Each has their own motivation for running: getting one's live together, recovering from a messy divorce, or an attempt to impress one's athletic son. (Which is the gay dad? Guess you'll have to watch to find out!)

We won't give too much more away, apart from saying that the trio — based off of actual people and events — really works. It's the feel good film you're waiting to see.

Expert Advice

Your 15 Most Common Questions About Adoption, Answered by an Expert

We asked our Instagram community for their biggest questions about adoption. Then asked Molly Rampe Thomas of Choice Network to answer them.

As part of our new "Ask an Expert" series on Instagram, our community of dads and dads-to-be sent us their questions on adoption in the United States. Molly Rampe Thomas, founder of Choice Network, answered them.

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Popular

'Life Is Amazing': Congrats to Gay Dads Whose Families Recently Grew!

Help us congratulate gay dads on their recent births and adoptions last month!

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

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