Gay Dad Life

Old and New, Mix and Match: Gay Dad Holiday Traditions

With all the boundary breaking and overcoming daunting obstacles that gay dads already do, it’s no surprise they find special ways to mark the holiday season. So what’s Christmas or Hanukkah or New Year’s?

They’re opportunities, that’s what.

They’re opportunities to build their families’ shared history. They’re opportunities to reflect on shared faith traditions. They’re opportunities to include extended relatives. And they’re an opportunity for simple, lasting joy.

We asked a few gay dads to tell us about their holiday traditions. As you might expect, the answers run the gamut.

Whitney Kyle, a single gay father, wrote that he emphasized the secular celebratory side of the Christmas season.

“We are not Christian,” he wrote. “For us, Christmas is a secular holiday that we celebrate the entire month by taking advantage of sales for the things we need or want. We do put up a tree and some lights and have a big traditional dinner for our friends but there is nothing religious about it for us.

Christmas tree and presents Christmas tree and presents

“My family and circle of friends include Quakers, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and Masons, so not celebrating all faiths equally and neutrally makes no sense to me.”

Dustin Jolly’s family has something in common with others in their holiday routine. They don’t wait for Santa to start opening the presents.

“One of our family favorite traditions is opening a gift on Christmas Eve,” Dustin wrote. “The anticipation and wonder of what gift it will be that they will open that evening.”

Honoring Tradition

Gays With Kids contributor Jason Howe has also worked as a TV reporter and an LGBT activist. His family draws on several traditions to make their holidays special.

“I grew up in California and Hawaii and my husband is from the Valencian community in Spain.  We're both basically atheists, but he calls himself a cultural Catholic, and I'm ethnically half Jewish,” Jason wrote.

He came from an assimilated Jewish family on his mother’s side, which meant that “Christmas – all Santa, no Jesus – was a big deal for her growing up and she, not my über-Maine-WASP dad, made sure it was for me too.”

But for Jason, who lives in Studio City, Calif., becoming a parent himself has meant reconsidering and re-emphasizing that Jewish identity for the sake of his own family.

“I'm an enormous history and archaeology buff, and my feeling is that the Jews are one of the few ethnic groups in the world with an unbroken tradition and language stretching back at least to the Iron Age,” he writes. “Religion isn't important to me, but it's a weird feeling to think that you're the one who let traditions die out that your ancestors struggled for 2,000 years to maintain.

“So now that I'm a dad, while I'm not tossing out the Christmas tree, I want to make sure that my girls have a sense of where they come from – though that also includes Spain, India (where we did surrogacy) and the Mayflower [the ship that sailed to America in 1620].”

He hopes to teach his daughters Olivia and Clara some Hebrew. And that’s not all.

“Our plan is to observe the Jewish holidays as secularly as we can, which usually isn't difficult; the traditional explanation of almost every Jewish holiday is, ‘They tried to kill us . . . We survived... Let's eat!’ We also light oil lamps for Diwali (the Hindu festival of lights) to make sure the girls know about that side of their heritage, too.”

Diwali Oil lamps to celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights

But Christmas is still omnipresent. Jason and his husband Adrian Pérez Boluda incorporate Spanish food and traditions, including  Caga tióthe pooping log of Catalonia. As Jason explains: “Children hit [the log] with sticks on Christmas morning and he poops turrón (a type of nougat), modestly, under a blanket,” leaving treats for the family.

Caga tió, the Catalan pooping log "Caga tió," the Catalan pooping log

"Adrián isn't Catalan and had never heard of the tradition, but I read about it and said, 'We are so doing this!'Jason writes.

Family focused

Bruce Lindstedt has decided to keep things close to home. Family and faith are important parts of the season to many, and that’s reflected in how he celebrates his Christmas.

“When we can, we go to out to dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant and then to church on Christmas eve,” Bruce writes. “Christmas day we spend at home. I spent too many years on Christmas as a kid running from aunt to aunt and cousin to grandparents. I vowed I would never do that to my children.

“So, get up, have breakfast of German "Stollen," open presents and the front door is open. We eat dinner at 2, you show up, you are welcome to what we have to share.”

German Stollen "Stollen," the German Christmas bread filled with candied fruits and covered with powdered sugar

For Chet Errett Atkins, his family’s traditions are part of a continuum. Both relatives and nostalgia are involved.

“We celebrate Christmas Eve at my grandma's – their great grandmother – and then go to candlelight service at church and then come home and open their gifts afterward,” he writes. “They spend Christmas Day with their mother. It's been that way for 9 years. ... And it's a lot like my childhood traditions as well.”

Close to Home

Gays With Kids Founder Brian Rosenberg finds himself bridging religions and working to include others in the joy of the season. He and his husband Ferd van Gameren, who is also the site's executive editor, have three children.

“Our family celebrates the holidays each year by giving all our neighbors a gift bag of homemade jams, marmalades and other preserves that Ferd makes with the kids’ help,” Brian writes. “Our kids take turns ringing the doorbells and they all shout ‘Happy Holidays!’ We hope this teaches them the importance of being good neighbors and of giving.”

The family celebrates both Hanukkah and Christmas, incorporating their Jewish and Christian backgrounds.

Jewish Christmas Jewish "Christmas"

“On Christmas we’ll open Santa’s presents in the morning, then have a traditional Dutch Christmas breakfast (usually had at midnight on Christmas Eve, but we do it on Christmas morning with the kids instead), and followed by a Jewish "Christmas" in the afternoon, which means going to the movies and eating Chinese food,” Brian writes.


As for this writer’s family, we’ve also incorporated traditions from each parent. My husband’s family would always open presents on Christmas Eve, so we do that, much to our son’s relief and excitement. My mother was a great devotee of Christmas cards, so I’m the one who designs and sends them off to friends and relatives.

So far, we’ve kept the holiday low key, given that our parents live in other states. But we’ve involved them via Skype, and have made sure to document each year with photos and video.

And that’s the tradition that seems the most important. The holiday season is a time for pausing and taking stock, a time for realizing how much your family has grown and changed in the past year. Looking through old photos and video footage, you can see for yourself how quickly your children have grown, and how much they’ve already achieved.

And that’s the greatest seasonal gift of all.

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Gay Uncles

Gay Uncles are an Essential Part of This Gay Dad Family's Village

It takes a village to raise a child, and this village includes many gay uncles

In November last year, Ottawa-based husbands Matt Ottaviani and Rej Gareau (whose story we shared in July) became first-time dads through surrogacy. They were overjoyed to welcome their daughter Andy and become a family of three.

But as many of us know, raising a child isn't always just about the nuclear family. The African proverb "it takes a village to raise a child" is a commonly repeated phrase, and rings very true for many families. Matt and Rej are no different, and when they shared their story last month, one thing jumped out to us: the important role Andy's guncles play in her and her dads' lives.

In honor of Gay Uncles Day today, we reached out to Andy's many guncles to learn first-hand how their relationship with the family affects their lives. Here's what they had to say.

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Gay Dad Life

Need a Sitter for Your Kids? Gays With Kids Reviews UrbanSitter

Back-to-school is already here for some of us, and if you're looking for a sitter to help out with school runs, after-school pick-ups, and the occasional date night, check out our review of UrbanSitter.

Instagram @davidcblacker

We moved from New York to Boston the summer of 2017. Along with the Manhattan skyline, our beloved Broadway, and late-night cookie deliveries, we also left behind our sitters — two sisters who had become more like family.

After settling for several months into our new home and neighborhood, we realized we hadn't had a dads' night out since our move. Our kids were still too young to leave alone at night, so I began what I presumed would be the tedious task of finding a sitter.

The first thing I did was to leave a post on our local parents' Facebook group. The dad of one of our daughters' classmates told me about UrbanSitter, a website and mobile app that he'd had success using to find last-minute sitters a few times. He also mentioned that within the app, I could see see babysitters and nannies recommended by parents at our kids' school in addition to local parenting groups.

While I appreciated the tip, I let him know that I was really hoping for a direct referral. But when none others came from the — other than a couple of middle schoolers looking for their first sitting jobs — I decided to give it a try.

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Move over Modern Family, there are some new gay dads taking over the small screen! Big Bad Boo Studios is bringing their animated series The Bravest Knight to Hulu. The series is based upon a children's book called "The Bravest Knight Who Ever Lived" by Daniel Errico, and it follows the life of Sir Cedric - now grown and married to Prince Andrew - as he regales their adopted daughter Nia with tales of his knighthood journey as she trains to become a knight herself.

"We are so excited about The Bravest Knight, its values and our partnership with Hulu," said Shabnam Rezaei, the director of the series and co-founder of Big Bad Boo Studios. "They understand how to push the envelope with authentic storytelling."

"I immediately fell in love with the idea of a girl wanting to work hard and make something of herself," Rezaei continued. "I also have a nephew who has two dads, so it's a very personal issue for me. I want him to have role models when he's watching TV. I want him to feel like having two dads is completely normal. That's what this show is going to do for him."

Errico's book was first realized as an animation when Hulu created a short film based upon his writing and were interested in exploring the concept of a full series. "I watched the eight minutes on Hulu and at the end the prince and the knight get married and I was in tears," says Rezaei. Rezaei then stepped in to create all new art work including new character design by Tim Linklater and backgrounds by Sarita Kolhatra. Together, they created a kickass bible and pitched the series to Hulu and were successful.

Diversity and inclusivity is celebrated throughout The Bravest Knight, reflected by its casting choices. Nia is played by Storm Reid, from "A Wrinkle in Time," and her dads Sir Cedric and Prince Andrew are voiced by T.R. Knight and Wilson Cruz respectively. The star studded cast also includes Wanda Sykes, Bobby Moynihan, RuPaul, Steven Weber, Teri Polo, AJ McLean, Jazz Jennings, Maz Jobrani and Christine Baranski as the formidable Red Dragon.

"With so many wonderful stories yet to be told, we hope that The Bravest Knight stands as an example of the undeniable strength in inclusivity, and the inherent joy in all forms of love and identity," said Errico, the author of the original book.

The first 5 episodes were released on June 21, and there are 8 more planned for release before the end of the year. Be sure to tune in!

This is the Main Title Song for Big Bad Boo's Hulu Original Series "The Bravest Knight". The song is performed by Justin Tranter and composed by Michael Plow...


Utah Court Rules Gay Couples Can't Be Excluded From Surrogacy Contracts

The Utah Supreme Court found in favor of a gay couple attempting to enter into a surrogacy contract.


Earlier this month, the Utah Supreme Court ruled that a same-sex couples can't be excluded from entering into enforceable surrogacy contracts, and sent a case concerning a gay male couple back to trial court to approve their petition for a surrogacy arrangement.

As reported in Gay City News, the case concerns Utah's 2005 law on surrogacy, which was enacted prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state. As a result, the content of the law is gendered, saying that surrogacy contracts should only be enforceable if the "intended mother" is unable to bear a child. When a gay couple approached District Judge Jeffrey C. Wilcox to enter into a surrogacy arrangement, he denied them, arguing that the state's law only concerned opposite sex couples.

"This opinion is an important contribution to the growing body of cases adopting a broad construction of the precedent created by Obergefell v. Hodges and the Supreme Court's subsequent decision in Pavan v. Smith," according to GCN. "It's also worth noting that same-sex couples in Utah now enjoy a right denied them here in New York, where compensated gestational surrogacy contracts remain illegal for all couples."

Read the full article here.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Thoughts and Prayers Aren't Working:​ One Father's Plea for Gun Reform

One gay dad's plea to our leaders to enact sensible gun control

My articles on GaysWithKids aspire to be lighthearted, helpful and humorous. This one won't be any of those things. Because I'm feeling heavyhearted, helpless and sad. Last week I woke up to news of yet another mass shooting. This time at a family-friendly Garlic Festival in northern California. I don't know if it's because this one hit so close to home, or if it's because the headline included a picture of the innocent 6-year old who was among those killed, but I am overcome with emotion. But mostly I am angry. And I don't know what to do with my anger.

Then, just a few days later came two additional horrific mass shootings that stole the lives of at least 32 more innocent people, many of them children. And then there's the "everyday" gun violence that plagues American cities like Chicago, where guns injured another 46 people this past weekend alone… creating so much turmoil, a hospital had to briefly stop taking patients.

How does one verbalize the collective sadness felt around the world? One can't. And that's why I am asking everyone reading this article to commit to getting involved in some way, to help end this epidemic once and for all. Even though the solution is so obvious, we can't allow ourselves to become numb to mass shootings. Because becoming numb isn't going to save anyone.

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Gay Russian Dads Forced to Flee Moscow

Fearing the Russian government might take their adopted kids into custody because of their sexual orientation, Andrei Vaganov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev fled Moscow

A married couple in Russia, with two adopted children, were just forced the flee their home in Moscow for fear that the authorities would take their children away, according to German news site Deutsche Welle.

Trouble started last month after investigators in Russia opened a criminal inquiry into the proceedings that had allowed the gay couple, Andrei Vaganov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev, to legally adopt the two boys —adoption by LGBTQ people in Russia has typically not been recognized. The government became aware of the adoption proceedings after the gay couple brought their 12-year-old son to the hospital, who was complaining of a stomachache. The boy was fine, but after he mentioned offhand that he was adopted and lived with two fathers, the doctor called the police.

Andrei and Yevgeny granted an interview with Deutsche Welle after escaping Moscow, but on the advice of their lawyers have yet to disclose where they are currently located. Here is a quick recap of that conversation:

"In connection with the 'propaganda of non-traditional values,' the state representatives are accused of having neglected their duty of supervision," Andrei said, when asked to explain on what basis the Russian government might take his children into custody. "This means that lesbian couples could even have their biological children taken away because, through their lifestyle choices, they propagate "certain values."

Yevgeny also explained the events that led to the couple's harrowing escape "I was alone in Moscow at that time. A week after Andrei and the children had left the country, there was a knock on my door, but nobody called 'police, open up.' After half an hour the violent knocking stopped. My parents' home was searched. They were looking for the children and our Danish marriage certificate because we got married in Denmark in 2016. My friends then got me out of the country."

Read the full interview here.

Gay Dad Family Stories

This Couple is Using 'Wheel of Fortune' Winnings to Help Fund Their Adoption

Need to raise money for your adoption fund? Why not try your luck on Wheel of Fortune like these guys!

Doug and Nick Roberts connected three and a half years ago via a dating app, and on their first date, the two immediately felt a connection. Doug, a psychologist, and Nick, a neuroscientist, were married 18 months later. Today the couple live in the suburbs of Philadelphia, and they're ready to start their next exciting adventure together: fatherhood.

The husbands would like to have children, and Nick has always wanted to adopt. "We considered surrogacy, and may consider it in the future as we expand our family," said Doug, "but right now, it is cost-prohibitive. Adoption was easily the right choice for us as we begin to grow our family.

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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