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How Do Gay Dads Celebrate Father's Day Over the Years?

Whether it's your first time celebrating as a dad or your 30th, Happy Father's Day from all of us as Gays With Kids!

June is a celebratory month for us gay dads. We have Pride to remind us of our history, support our fellow LGBTQ+ community, and to be proud of who we are. We also have Father's Day, a cultural acknowledgement of dads everywhere!

It's a great day to acknowledge the dads in our lives (us included!) and the evolving role of fathers in general. But how does the celebration of Fathers' Day change for gay dads over the years? To find out, we spoke with seven gay dad families, each with a different number of Fathers' Days under the belt (from their first to their 30th!) to hear their family traditions, family stories, and their advice to future gay, bi and trans dads.


Happy 1st Father's Day to Ronald and Clarence!

Neil and Ronald with Viviana

Ronald and Clarence (Neil) Glenn Alarcon are thrilled to be celebrating their first Father's Day with their daughter Viviana, born July 19, 2018 via surrogate.

The dads met at a club in 2011, and over the next six months became best friends eventually stared dating. "We originally started talking about children in 2015 when a teenage family friend asked us to adopt their unborn child but later changed her mind." The dads would experience three failed adoptions, leaving them feeling lost and hopeless, before taking their friend up on her offer to be their surrogate, an offer she had made the year prior.

"We're most excited about being actual fathers for Father's Day! LOL," said Neil. "We have seven godchildren in total but this year will be different for sure." Although the dads aren't exactly sure what traditions they'd like to start for their Father's Day, they know it'll have something to do with traveling as they want to share the world with their kids.

One piece of advice to the next generation of GBT dads:

"Being a father is one of the best feelings in the world. The sleepless nights & poopy diapers are so worth it! LOL All the love that you give, you get it right back unconditional."

Happy First Father's Day to Nick and Shawn!

Nick and Shawn with Smith and Nora

When Nick and Shawn Goehring-Romero met eight years ago, one of the first things they bonded over was how close they were with their respective families, and how they really wanted to have their own one day. "Eight years ago LGBT families weren't as visible, so it took a lot of research and support from our friends and family," said Nick.

In November 2018, they welcomed twins Nora and Smith through adoption. "We have a strong relationship with our beautiful, caring, and unbelievably strong birthmother," shared Nick. "We were able to be there for the birth of our twins and she has made us a family."

As this is their first Father's Day, it'll be a day to acknowledge how lucky they are. "It is an amazing reminder of the importance of family. I'm sure there are going to be quite a few tears on Father's Day as we look at each other and again pinch ourselves that this is real: we are truly dads and words can't describe how much we love our beautiful children."

Going forward, they hope to establish traditions such as making breakfast together as a family, enjoying a walk or hiking together, or playing basketball as a family.

Our twins, Nora & Smith are 7 months old.- This year we are celebrating our very FIRST fathers' day as the twins entered our lives at birth in November. - When we met, one of the first things that bonded us was that we are both so close with our family, and we both wanted to figure out a way to have one of our own. 8 years ago, LGBT families

One piece of advice to the next generation of GBT dads:

"We encourage other GBT dads to SHARE YOUR STORY of how they became a family so that future generations know it is possible to be gay and raise a family. Everyone has so many questions, like we did, and we love being able to help others, so we know as long as we become more visible, others will feel supported and can have a resource."

Happy 4th Father's Day to Jonah and Deejay!

Jonah, Anuhea and Deejay

Jonah and Deejay Labayan-Arvelo are celebrating their 4th Father's Day with their 4-year-old daughter Anuhea.

Deejay, a trans man was able to carry their daughter. "We found as a blessing that I am transgender, and figured that we could bring a child into this world without having to jump through hoops and boundaries that other LGBT couples may find challenging," said Deejay. He also described the experience as "the hardest and, most interestingly, the most masculine thing I've ever done."

One of the things the dads love most about Father's Day is sharing their journey with other parents. "Being visible as a trans family, who also participates in drag, is a very different outlook for a lot of people. However, it's a positive lifestyle that is surrounded with love and acceptance."

While the family doesn't have any traditions for Dad's Day just yet, they imagine they will once their daughter is a little older. "She's going to come up with something wild and crazy she wants to do with her dads."

One piece of advice to the next generation of GBT dads:

"Treasure every moment with your children. They are direct reflections of we want this world to be. Have patience, and feed their creativity in every way you can. There is no greater joy than being parent, that is the currency that keeps you rich all your life."

Happy 11th Father's Day to Kyle!

Kyle with his kids, Kasen, Kaylee, Avery and Brynlee

Kyle Ashworth became a dad through a previous straight relationship. "I was married to a woman for 10 years and amicably divorced in 2017. Together we had four children and we co-parent them," said Kyle. "I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to be a dad! I remember after the births of each of my kids, looking at them in their hospital blankets fearing that bringing them into the world would be the biggest mistake of my life. At the time I was closeted and feared coming out—even to my wife. I worried too much about what people would think of me and as a result, I worried about what people would think of my children.

I eventually came out, and the worst of my fears were never imagined."

Kyle is so proud of his children and feels as though they've taught him a lot, such as the important of honoring authenticity and honesty. "My children are strong, resilient and capable of giving love unconditionally. To them, having a gay dad isn't weird or shameful, but it is normal as any other parental relationship."

One of Kyle's favorite Father's Day traditions are the homemade crafts and drawings he receives from his kids. His home is proudly littered with sketches of giraffes, pandas, pugs and super heroes, although Kyle admits his feels somewhat close to donning a hoarder status as he has drawers full of their art. "I don't need ties, mugs or gifts for Father's Day, I just need them. I need my kids; they are my whole world."

One piece of advice to the next generation of GBT dads:

"To the next generation of dads, I welcome you to the club! Children will refine you. They have the ability to give you a perspective you've never before understood. Your capability to love them expands, your desire to seek goodness increases, and ultimately you will want the world to become a better place (because you know your children will venture into it someday.) I have learned that my children will follow my example, not my advice.

Go do some good today."

Happy 13th Father's Day to Bill and J.R.!

J.R. (left) and Bill with their daughters Mary and Nora

Bill Delaney and J.R. Parrish have two daughters through co-parenting. "We co-parent with our daughters' two moms and used at-home DIY insemination to conceive," explained Bill. "We have 50/50 legal and custodial rights and responsibilities." The kids split their time between their parents' homes which are 20 minutes, and the two families spent a lot of time together as a whole family.

As this is the dads' 13th Dad's Day, the love the excuse to do something a little fun. And still, Bill finds it triggers an odd feeling. "Even after all these years, I sometimes can't believe I have kids."

Typically, they celebrate with little weekend getaways. "Over the years we've gone camping, stayed by lakes in northern California, been to Russian River and Santa Monica, etc. Those trips are always just the dads and the kids." This year, it'll be a bit different as the whole family - moms included - will be in Kauai. "It wasn't intentional but worked out that way. This is our big annual family vacation so the baby mamas will be with us.

One piece of advice to the next generation of GBT dads:

"For couples, be a team and support each other. And that often means giving each other time off, so be willing to take on solo dad duty for a few hours or up to whole weekends. And whether a couple or a single dad (and especially the latter), if you don't have a built in local support network of extended family, think of alternate ways to create such support that doesn't always involve paying for childcare. Maybe work out an arrangement with other parents with kids of similar age to help each other out. Could be anything from helping with occasional errands up to providing weekends of childcare so you or the other parents can have time to themselves. We're socially conditioned to think our kids should be our 24/7 focus and source of happiness, but the reality is adults need childfree time…and often. Don't feel stigmatized into believing otherwise."

Happy 23rd Father's Day to Hunter and Johnny!

From left to right: Reed, Sidney, Eliza, Hunter and Johnny

Hunter Bigham's kids are 23, 21 and 18, and they are making him proud everyday. This will be his 23rd Father's Day and his needs are few, but being together is paramount. "The gift of time is precious indeed, especially at this stage in their lives."

Hunter was married to his children's mother for fourteen years after dating for eight. "Through quite a lot of self discovery, therapy, treatment, prayer, and help from the gay community, I came out in 2005 and we ultimately ended the marriage." Whilst rediscovering who he was, his kids remained the epicenter of his life. "They really saved me in so many ways; taught me how to be a man, showed me the importance of character, and just loved unconditionally."

In 2013, Hunter met Johnny Martell and although Hunter wasn't looking for a relationship, he immediately know Johnny would fit with his family. "His kindness and generosity are hallmarks of why our transition to being a family has worked. The children accepted him right away like I knew they would. It works because everybody understands how important the other is to me."

This Father's Day, the family plan to do what they usually do: church, food, and a movie. "Pretty simple, but special."

One piece of advice to the next generation of GBT dads:

"If you put the needs of children first, give them constant love and never stop showing up, they'll turn out to be the special people they were intended to be."

"I'm extremely proud of the work we have all done to make this house a loving home for all in it. There has been a lot of change in our lives and I believe we are stronger and love better because of it."

Happy 30th Father's Day to Gerald!  (And 15th for Gatlin!)

From left to right: Gatlin, Madison, Kinley, Gerald and Reggie.

Father's Day has another meaning for the husbands Gatlin Dresidan and Gerald Hyler this year: it's also their anniversary.

Six years ago, both Gerald and Gatlin came into their relationship with children from previous straight marriages. Gerald's son Reggie is 30, and Gatlin's two daughters Kinley and Madison are 15 and 14 respectively. The two men met via Facebook.

"When we first started you know it was Gerald's son and Gatlin's daughters but now we're one happy family. Our son Reggie got married last October so we now have a daughter in law to add to the family!"

Gatlin and Gerald chose June 16th as their anniversary to celebrate their relationship, and it also marked their first Father's Day together. Five years later, on June 16 2018, they were married. So this June 16 will mark their 6th anniversary, first wedding anniversary, and sixth Father's Day together. A special day indeed!

"You know, as parents we spend 99% of our time celebrating our children and their accomplishments, whether it's birthdays, graduations, sports, band, cheer, or what have you, that it's the one day that's set aside for them to get to celebrate the both of us," said Gatlin. "It's also a day for G and I to reflect and be extremely proud to be their fathers."

One piece of advice to the next generation of GBT dads:

"Enjoy every moment being a father the good and the bad! Remember that moments make memories for you and them!"

And Happy Father's Day to Phillip and Clinton ... in 2020!

Phillip and Clinton

Phillip and Clinton Billingsley from North Dallas are expectant dads, and eager to welcome their daughter via surrogacy this July. Phillip's sister is carrying the baby.

The husbands already feel like dads and although they are going to celebrate this Father's Day, they can't wait to recognize their first official Father's Day as a family of three next year. "I'm excited to spend the day reflecting on and celebrating our accomplishments as fathers with our daughter," shared Phillip.

The dads-to-be envision future Father's Days spent together, taking time to reflect on the "good times and love shared" as a family.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever received from a parent?

"Some of our favorites would be, Remembering to not overly expect too much from our children depending on their current stage of life, and let them be kids! Instilling the importance of always being kind and showing unconditional love to those around them! And lastly, to always be encouraging and supportive! We need to focus on building our children up!"

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Gay Dad Life

Brooklyn Gay Dads Who Brunch

This is the fourth year in a row that José Rolon has hosted a brunch for gay dads on Father's Day. This year, he played host to 80 people!

José Rolon has been throwing an annual Gay Father's Day since 2016, and every year they get bigger and better. "Basically I threw up some balloons and cooked for 30 people and let the kids run around my home," said José when asked about his very first brunch. Last month, he hosted 80 people at Everyday Athlete in Brooklyn and even had sponsors for the special event! We spoke with José to find out about his brunch celebrating gay dads on Father's Day.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Things I've Learned in the Decade Since Celebrating My First Father's Day

This year will be John Hart's 10th year celebrating Father's Day as a dad. Here's 15 things he's learned in that decade.

I celebrated my first Father's Day as a new father a decade ago. And while some sleepless nights, whining phases or the Gangnam Style-era seemed endless at the time, the years have gone by quickly.

Here are some of the things that I've learned about since 2009:

#1. Learning is Constant

I have discovered so much more about hockey, hip hop and slime than I ever knew before. And just because I love musicals, singing and Tiana (my favourite Disney princess), doesn't mean my kids have to enjoy the same. Plus my kids tell me that just because I can do the Floss and Orange Justice, doesn't mean I should, especially in public.

#2. When it's quiet...

Just because it's quiet doesn't mean everything is ok. I've let the two kids play on when it was quiet, only to realize later they were playing with postage stamps as if they were stickers or were unrolling condoms onto their fingers ("these balloons are kinda slimy...."). On the other hand, just because it's quiet doesn't mean everything is wrong: I once checked on them in the other room to find them counting each others' toes and in the car I turned around to see them looking out their own windows but holding hands in the middle.

#3. Speak Out When Necessary

I have advocated – sometimes wisely, sometimes passionately (read angrily) for my kids while trying to navigate the education, health, social services and adoption systems. I am much more outspoken on their behalf than mine. I will go all daddy bear on you if I must.

#4. New Perspectives

I have looked at life anew through my children's eyes, especially Christmas, theme parks and board games. Also, however, sexism, racism and homophobia – while I want to protect their innocence and curiosity as much as possible, I need to prepare them for the real world. I feel they need to know what might happen, how to respond and how irrational it all will be.

#5. Old Perspectives

There are times when "when I was a kid..." stories are fascinating to the two kids – landlines? Antenna tv? VHS? And there are times when "when I was a kid..." is just not relevant to how they live their lives today.

#6. Curiosity 

The kids have questions – so many questions – but they're not looking for overly complicated answers, simply something they understand and hopefully an analogy to their own experience or to a character they know.

#7. An Extensive Family

We have grown our family by multitudes with our children, their blood siblings and their blood siblings' adoptive families. It is amazing to celebrate special bonds with them all and have so many people we now consider family.

#8. Love and Pain


I find ways to let my children know that they're wanted and loved every day, while also acknowledging the trauma of the separation from their birth families. Sometimes my love isn't enough because they have questions I can't always answer. We talk to them about their adoption stories, and to ensure their sense of permanency, I had tattoos of their initials inked onto my arms.

#9. Learning From Mistakes

I try every day to provide the structure, security and safety my kids need, but also room to grow and to express themselves. They need to discover who they are, explore the world and make their own mistakes.

#10. Learning From Mistakes (Daddy Edition)

I have found myself failing as a father, yet I have never given up completely. These kids are mine and I'm responsible. I need to learn from my mistakes and do better. I also need to admit my mistakes, apologize and show that we can persist, forgive and move forward.

#11. The Importance of Saying Less

There are times when "you're having a hard day, let me give you a hug" is all I need to say and all they want to hear.

#12. Creating Community 

We have met and bonded with many gay dads, sharing similar experiences of adoption, confused or inquiring looks, and times we need to out ourselves yet again. We have also met and bonded with many parents of whatever sex and orientation as we share the same experiences of trying to do the best for our children (and retain some sense of sanity), trying to register for programs with waitlists and swap helpful hints of how to get the kids to sit down and eat their dinner.

#13. Sharing Our Story 

I've spoken with dozens of gay men, both individually and while on panels, about becoming parents, offering advice, wisdom and encouragement. There are usually so many questions – How? How long? How did you...? When did you...? But also sharing our photos and stories that show the results and rewards of pursuing parenthood.

#14. An Online Community 

I've written for Gays With Kids for five years, offering insights and a personal perspective. I enjoy hearing from other families too and seeing photos from around the world. It is so wonderful to find a small but growing international community to encourage, support and inspire each other.

#15. Pride for All

It is important for our family of four to attend Pride together. Sure they've seen some things that make them giggle or prompt conversation later, but they need to partake as well. They need to see others like them – and others not like them – and be seen; they need to feel that they belong; and that they are equally deserving to stand tall and proud too. They're part of the community too.

Fun

Here's 130+ Gay Dads Celebrating Fathers' Day

Check out this short video featuring many of the gay dad families who shared their photos with us this past Fathers' Day.

In case you live under a bush, Father's Day was this past Sunday in a few places around the world. One of the things that many in our community of gay dads did (besides continually move the apostrophe from "Father's Day" to "Fathers' Day") was to snap a beautiful family photo and share a heartfelt message with the world on social media.

Thank you for using our hashtags #gayswithkids and sharing them with us - we loved seeing them all! So much so, we had to make a short video of all 130+ photos we received! Check it out and below.

Gay Dad Family Stories

These Dads Had 'Twins' — Just Four Months Apart

Angel and Dan's wanted twins, without the complications of a twin pregnancy — so they worked with two separate surrogates at once.

If you have ever been out late on a Saturday night, you may have high hopes of meeting a handsome stranger, but you probably wouldn't expect to meet your future husband. Angel Mario Martinez Garcia, 45, surely didn't when, five years ago on a very early Saturday morning in Barcelona, he casually approached Dan's Mouquet, 40, and asked him, over many gin and tonics, what he wanted out of life. The nightlife setting notwithstanding, Dan's told Angel he ultimately wanted a quiet life, with a partner and children.

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Politics

Gestational Surrogacy Legalized in New York State

The Child-Parent Security Act, which legalizes commercial surrogacy in New York State, was included in the 2020 New York State Budget signed by Governor Cuomo

Yesterday, a years-long battle about the state of compensated gestational surrogacy came to an end in New York when the Governor signed into a law the Child-Parent Security Act in the 2020 as part of the state budget.

The effort stalled last year after opponents, including several Democrats, successfully argued that the bill didn't go far enough to protect women who serve as surrogates — even though it included a surrogate "bill of rights," the first of its kind in the country, aimed at ensuring protections.

"Millions of New Yorkers need assistance building their families — people struggling with infertility, cancer survivors impacted by treatment, and members of the LGBTQ+ community," the Family Equality Council said in a statement about the victory. "For many, surrogacy is a critically important option. For others, it is the only option. Passage of the Child-Parent Security Act is a massive step forward in providing paths to parenthood for New Yorkers who use reproductive technology, and creates a 'surrogate's bill of rights' that will set a new standard for protecting surrogates nationwide."

Opponents, led by Senator Liz Krueger, had once again attempted to torpedo legalization efforts this year by introducing a second bill that would legalize surrogacy in New York, but also make it the most restrictive state in the country to do so. "A bill that complicates the legal proceedings for the parents and potentially allows them to lose their genetic child is truly unfortunate," said Sam Hyde, President of Circle Surrogacy, referencing to the bill's 8-day waiting period. He also took issue with the bills underlying assumptions about why women decide to serve as a surrogate. The added restrictions imply that "they're entering into these arrangements without full forethought and consideration of the intended parents that they're partnering with," he said.

The bill was sponsored by State Senator Brad Hoylman, an out gay man who became a father via surrogacy, and Assemblymember Amy Paulin, who has been public with her experiences with infertility.

"My husband and I had our two daughters through surrogacy," Holyman told Gay City News. "But we had to travel 3,000 miles away to California in order to do it. As a gay dad, I'm thrilled parents like us and people struggling with infertility will finally have the chance to create their own families through surrogacy here in New York."

"This law will [give intended parents] the opportunity to have a family in New York and not travel around the country, incurring exorbitant costs simply because they want to be parents," Paulin said for her part. It will "bring New York law in line with the needs of modern families."


Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Just Like Dad: Ways My Kids and I Are Alike

Joseph Sadusky recounts the ways he and his adopted sons are cut from the same cloth.

Editor's Note: This is the third in a series of excerpts from Joseph Sadusky's new book, Magic Lessons: Celebratory and Cautionary Tales about Life as a (Single, Gay, Transracially Adoptive) Dad. The book contains many stories about my life as a dad, as well as lessons learned, and we're excited to share several excerpts from the the book over the course of the next few months. Read previous installments here!

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Expert Advice

4 Tips for Single Gay Dads Raising Daughters

Here are some ways to create a safe space for your daughter to discover who she is, with you by her side.

There's nothing quite like father-daughter relationships, and when it comes to single dads, your little girl likely holds a very special place in your heart. From the moment she's born, it's as if you can see every moment of her life in front of you, from her first steps to walking her down the aisle at her wedding. You'll be the first man she'll know and talk to, and you'll be her biggest example of what a loving man looks like. She'll come to you for advice on how to navigate challenges, be independent, treat others and grow into herself.

Your relationship with your daughter may be shaped by your personal history, whether you've been through a difficult divorce or breakup, you've transitioned out of a straight relationship, or you made the courageous decision to pursue surrogacy on your own. Whatever your situation is, studies have shown that children with involved fathers excel more in school and have fewer behavioral issues in adolescence.

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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