Gay Dad Family Stories

Demolition Daddies: These Gay Dads Recently Appeared on House Hunters Renovation

The dads say their star turn on the popular HGTV show is all thanks to their two-year-old son, Theo, who charmed the producers

"I'm really not sure what our lives were like before having our son," pondered Matt. "I remember always doing stuff, but I have no idea how I wasted all that personal time that I find so precious now. I took so many showers without someone trying to pull all the towels down to make a bed on the bathroom floor. It must have been nice, but also wasn't as memorable."

Matt DeLeva and fiancé Joseph Littlefield met in 2014 at a Pride event at the San Diego Zoo, and have a 2-year-old son Theo through adoption. For this Los Angeles-based couple, and like many others, becoming dads was an emotional rollercoaster. Before being matched with Theo's birth family, they had two other connections with birth moms that didn't work out. "Each was upsetting," said Matt. "When you talk to birth mothers, you start to get excited and mentally plan your future. When it doesn't work out, it feels like a loss."


But despite those difficult hurdles, the men preserved and received a call one day about a baby boy who had just been born 30 minutes from their house. "The birth parents picked us, and gave us the greatest joy we could have ever received in the form of our son," Matt told Gay Star News in an article published in 2017.

The new dads had discussed fatherhood as early as their first date; now it was a reality. "We knew that it was in our cards to be dads. It was the easiest and best decision that we have ever made."

Another decision the dads made that has impacted their family life was to audition for a home renovation show in early 2018. They knew they wanted a house that needed work, so they looked online, curious to see if there was any home renovation shows being filmed in Los Angeles. "I figured that being a two-dad family would give us some points," said Matt, "I pitched our story online, and they set up a Skype interview with the casting director." The casting director then pitched them to HGTV, and when the HGTV team first watched it, they were so focused on Theo, that they later told Matt and Joseph they had to re-watch it to see what the dads were saying.

Basically, charming Theo got he and his dads onto House Hunters Renovation on HGTV.

Over the summer of 2018, the family of three and the House Hunters Renovation team and crew remodeled part of Matt and Joseph's house. "It was intense, but looking back at it, it was fun," said Matt. "If you asked while we were in the middle of it, I might have given you a different answer."

The family lived in the house throughout the renovation which was a challenge. They had to put up two layers of plastic between the living room and the kitchen to try and keep all the dust out. The air purifiers on in the bedrooms 24/7, and they also had to get creative without a kitchen and heat Theo's milk on the grill in the backyard. "I'm so happy that we went through all of it though," said Matt, "because we really love the finished product."

The episode aired on February 23.

One of the best parts of watching themselves and their home reno adventure? Being able to see Theo grow 5 or 6 months during the filming and have that captured for all time. "It was fun to see all the craziness we went through over the last year, and it was even better to see Theo on TV."

Looking beyond their house renovations and staring on one of the most beloved channels of any homeowner – aspiring or present – the dads are currently in the process of their second adoption journey. The dads have been told it might take them a little longer this time around as tends to be the case when adopting for a second time.

Matt and Joseph have also put their wedding plans on hold as they look to grow their family, but their nieces and nephews continue to ask about their plans as they're keen to get dressed up for the celebration. "Whenever it is, Theo will have a big role in the wedding," said Matt. "If we wait long enough, he might even be able to officiate!" Or, have a little brother or sister to share ring bearer duties!

Whenever the date will be, these dads are excited to celebrate their love as a family.


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'Homosexuality is Wrong' Utah Teacher Tells Boy Who Gave Thanks for His Two Adoptive Dads

The substitute teacher went on to say two men living together is "sinful." She was fired shortly after.

To anyone with a heart, the moment should have done nothing more than bring a tear to the eye. Last week, just before the Thanksgiving break, a substitute teacher in a fifth grade class in Cedar Hills, Utah — just south of Salt Lake City — asked her students to name something they were thankful for this holiday season.

"I'm thankful for finally being adopted by my two dads," said Daniel, one of the boys, when it was his turn.

Rather than grab a tissue to dab her eyes, or ask the classroom to join her in a hearty round of applause to celebrate Daniel finding his forever family, the teacher took it upon herself to impart her personal religious beliefs onto the young boy. "Homosexuality is wrong," the teacher said in front of the class, adding that it was "sinful" for two men to live together.

The teacher, fortunately, was fired from Kelly Services, the substitute staffing company that employed her, quickly after the incident, but the moment is nonetheless receiving widespread attention in the press — no doubt in part because one of the boy's dads, Louis van Amstel of "Dancing With the Stars," posted a video clip to his 76,000 Twitter followers with the title: "Our child was bullied."

"It shouldn't matter if you're gay, straight, bisexual, black and white," he said to the New York Times in a follow up interview. "If you're adopting a child and if that child goes to a public school, that teacher should not share her opinion about what she thinks we do in our private life."

Louis also revealed that the moment may not have come to light were it not for three of his son's classmates, who told the principal about the teacher's bigoted comments. His son, Daniel, didn't want to report the incident for fear of getting the teacher into trouble.

Louis expressed thanks that the staffing company responded as quickly as it did following the incident — and also stressed that his neighbors and community have rallied behind he and his family in the days afterward, offering support. He wanted to dispel stereotypes that Utah, because of its social conservatism and religiosity, was somehow inherently prejudiced.

"It doesn't mean that all of Utah is now bad," he told the Times. "This is one person."

It's also true that this type of prejudice is in no way limited to so-called red states, and incidents like these happen daily. LGBTQ parents and our children are subjected to homophobic and transphobic comments in schools, hospitals, stores, airlines and elsewhere as we simply go about living our lives. These moments so often fly under the radar — many classmates don't have the courage, as they fortunately did in this case, to report wrongdoing. Some administrators are far less responsive than they were here — and most of us don't have 76,000 Twitter followers to help make these moments of homophobia a national story.

All that aside, let's also get back to what should have been nothing more than a heartwarming moment — Daniel, a fifth grade boy, giving thanks to finally being legally adopted into a loving family.

Entertainment

Amazon's New "Modern Love" Series Includes Episode on Open Adoption

The episode is loosely based on the New York Times "Modern Love" essay written by sex columnist and activist Dan Savage.

In 2005, Dan Savage, the gay sex columnist, contributed one of the most talked about essays for the Modern Love column in The New York Times. Better known for his acerbic wit and cutting political commentary, Savage exposed a more vulnerable side in this piece, sharing the highs, lows and everything in between that comes from the experience of pursuing an open adoption.

His son DJ's birth mother was experiencing what Savage called a "slo-mo suicide": homeless by choice, in and out of prison, and surrounded by drugs. Though Savage has chosen an open adoption so that DJ's birth mother would be a presence in his son's life, she often disappeared for months and sometimes years at a time without contacting the family, leaving their young son with lots of questions and no satisfying answers.

The piece ends on a heartbreaking note, with Savage simply seeking some sort of resolution. "I'm starting to get anxious for this slo-mo suicide to end, whatever that end looks like," he wrote. "I'd prefer that it end with DJ's mother off the streets in an apartment somewhere, pulling her life together. But as she gets older that resolution is getting harder to picture."

At the time, many interpreted Savage's story as a cautionary tale for those considering open adoptions. But in 2016, on the Modern Love Podcast, he asserted that was not his intention: "DJ's mom is alive and well," Savage said. "She's on her feet. She's housed. We talk on the phone occasionally. She and DJ speak on Mother's Day and on DJ's birthday." He added that he "would hate to have anyone listen to that essay or to read it — which was written at a moment of such kind of confusion and despair — and conclude that they shouldn't do the kind of adoption that we did," Savage said. "I think that open adoption is really in the best interest of the child, even if … it presents more challenges for the parents. So I encourage everyone who's thinking about adoption to seriously consider open adoption and not to be dissuaded by my essay."

Now, Savage's piece is getting the small screen treatment as one of 9 episodes included in Amazon Prime's adaption of the column. The episode inspired by Savage's essay, "Hers Was a World of One," contains some departures from Savage's original story — Savage's character, played by Fleabag's Andrew Scott, adopts a daughter rather than a son, for example, and the episode concludes closer to the upbeat note struck in the Podcast version of hist story than in the column.

Either way, we welcome any and all attention to the complexities of open adoption. Check out the episode (which also randomly includes Ed Sheeran in a couple scenes) and tell us what you think!

Entertainment

Christmas Movie Has Gay Dads In One Version — Straight Parents In Another

Two Christmas movies from 2004 are identical in every way — except one very queer one.

Tis the season for made-for-T.V. Christmas movies that you will likely never see — but some sleuths on Twitter found at least one good reason to pay attention to two of them: Too Cool For Christmas and A Very Cool Christmas, which both came out in 2004, are exactly the same in every way, except one version cast gay dads as the parents of a 16-year-old girl, while the other swaps out one of the husbands for a wife.

The gay version (Too Cool for Christmas) is available on Amazon Prime, while the straight one (A Very Cool Christmas) trades out one of the gay dads for a female actor and is on Hulu.

The plot of the movie is nothing spectacular. A teenaged girl wants to go on a ski trip with friends over the holidays rather than spend time with her family. (Will she learn a valuable lesson along the way? Watch to find out!)

Both films were directed by an out gay man, Sam Irvin, who spoke to Buzzfeed about the reasons behind filming two versions:

"Back in those days, there was a little bit less open-mindedness to having gay characters. [Filmmakers thought] they would have better chances of selling [the straight version] to those more lucrative markets, but also be able to do an alternate version."

Irving said at the time, during the late 1990s and early 2000s, he worked closely with Here TV, an American television network for LGBTQ audiences — but that it was difficult to get funding to finance entire movies on an LGBTQ platform. So they created two versions in order to make the project possible.

"The executives at these companies decided, if we could have some gay content in a movie that could run on Here TV that would satisfy our subscribers that are expecting gay content, but we could also repurpose it and do a quote-unquote straight version and try to sell that to Lifetime or those types of networks, that would be beneficial," Irving told Buzzfeed.

Twitter, of course, had a field day posting videos of the two versions running side-by-side with the Freaky Friday parent switch:

Others wondered what it would be like to have "choose your adventure" casting options for everything we watched:

Despite all the fun at the expense of these movies, we give major props to anyone willing to go to lengths such as these to increase positive representation of gay dads in the media — particularly back in 2004!

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

A Gay Dad Gains Clarity After a Health Scare

A recent health scare helped give Erik Alexander clarity.

Sometimes fear can cripple the mind and hinder ones judgement. Having children of my own, I have come to grips with accepting the things I cannot change and learned to take action when there is no other choice. When it comes to my own personal health, the future and well being of my family gives me all the clarity I need to make the right decision about any kind of health scare.

This episode is dedicated to all the parents out there that are going through or have gone through similar situations.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

This European Couple Became Dads Through a U.K.-Based Surrogacy Program

Janno, from Estonia, and Matthias, from Belgium, were accepted into the "Childlessness Overcome Through Surrogacy" Program.

Janno Talu, an accountant, and Matthias Nijs, an art gallery director, were born in different parts of Europe. Janno, 39, is from Estonia, and Matthias, 28, is from Belgium. Their paths crossed when the two moved to London, each from their different corners of the European Union.

Janno relocated to London earlier than Matthias, when he was 24, and his main reason for the move was his sexuality. "Although Estonia is considered one of the more progressive countries in Eastern Europe, when it comes to gay rights, it is still decades behind Western society in terms of tolerance," said Janno. "And things are not moving in the right direction." In 2016, same-sex civil union became legal, but the junior party in the current coalition government is seeking to repeal the same-sex partnership bill. "In addition," Janno continued, "they wish to include the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman in the country's constitution. Even today, there are people in Estonia who liken homosexuality to pedophilia, which is why I decided to start a new life in the UK, where I could finally be myself."

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Surrogacy for Gay Men

Interested in Surrogacy? Check Out These Bay Area Events This Weekend

If you're in the Bay Area this weekend, two major events are happening that will be of interest for dads-to-be and surrogacy advocates: the Men Having Babies San Francisco Conference, and the SF Advocacy and Research Forum for Surrogacy and LGBT Parenting (ARF)

If you're in San Francisco or the surrounding area, clear your calendar this weekend. Two events are happening simultaneously that are significant for dads-to-be AND surrogacy advocates: the Men Having Babies San Francisco Conference, and the SF Advocacy and Research Forum for Surrogacy and LGBT Parenting (ARF). For an outlines of both events, check out below.

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News

Gay Dads Show Up at Boston Event to Drown Out Anti-Trans Protesters

When Trystan Reese found out protesters were planning to show up to an event in Boston he was presenting at, he put out a call to his community for help — and gay dads showed up.

A couple months ago, Trystan Reese, a gay, trans dad based in Portland, Oregon, took to Instagram to share a moving, if incredibly concerning, experience. Reese, who works with Family Equality Council, was speaking at an event in Boston, and learned before his appearance that a group of protesters were planning to attend.

"As a trans person, I was terrified to be targeted by anti-LGBTQ people and experienced genuine fear for my own safety," Trystan wrote. In response, he did what many LGBTQ people would do in a similar situation — reach out to his community in Boston, and ask for their support. "And they came," he wrote. But it wasn't just anyone within the LGBTQ community that came to his defense, he emphasized — "you know who came? Gay men. Gay dads, to be exact. They came, ready to block people from coming in, ready to call building security, ready to protect me so I could lead my event. They did it without question and without reward. They did it because it was the right thing to do."

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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