Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Sick of the News? Turn Off the T.V. and Take Action, Says This Gay Dad

Erik Alexander, a resident of Hurricane-prone New Orleans, is used to media spin. But he's getting tired of protecting his kids from it.

BSA Photography

"They grow up so fast!" I often heard that cliché when I was growing up. It was like a knee-jerk response to people's comments about us, and my mom said it all the time. But, as it turns out, that cliché is soooo true. So savor every single — good or bad — and enjoy this precious time together. Be happy and make them laugh. Guard them. Shelter them. Protect them from the difficult realities of the outside world while you can. And in this day and age, keep yourself together. Don't let the stresses of everyday life get you down, especially in front of them. I say all of this so maybe I can do a better job of applying these things to my own life.

It is so easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole of the world's social and political drama. We want to protect our babies from everything. So does that mean we have to be glued to Rachel Maddow & Anderson Cooper every night? The thing is, our news media is not what it used to be. Back in the day, our news was held to much higher standards. There were more facts and less spin. Another striking difference is that news outlets weren't constantly seeking to sensationalize the stories they were covering.


Cable news networks rely on ratings to rake in revenue. Stories like "Boy scout helps fallen senior citizen" don't make headlines, largely because that doesn't bring in ratings. As such, that story is bumped all the way to the end of the broadcast. In fact, most national news programs now feature a single, token positive story at the end of the show. The body of news programs has become saturated with stories that play on our fears, weaknesses, and emotions. They want our anger, outrage, and disgust. But don't get me wrong, we need to be outraged at times. And at this particular time I am outraged.

I didn't like the direction our country was going in 2016 because I was afraid, quite frankly at where we would be today. Sure, because of his poor tact and judgment the President seems to divide our country more than bringing us all together. Race, religion, sexual orientation--all these things affect us and are being used to divide us. The media takes hold of these tweets and tirades and run them nonstop on their networks. What do you think the President would do if all of a sudden no news network reported about his tweets anymore. Would he stop? Probably not, but it makes you wonder.

Recently here in New Orleans, we recently experienced our first "hurricane" of the season, Hurricane Barry (or "Hurricane Barely" as we locals called it). All the national news outlets flooded into our city. Even The Weather Channel's Jim Cantore came to report. The utter misrepresentation of facts that were spun into news headlines not only freaked locals out, but people around the world thought New Orleans was decimated again. When it was all said and done, HARDLY ANYTHING HAPPENED. Yet it seemed like every hour some news outlet would report a bogus headline purporting disaster and ruin. And for what? To march in here, look around, cause chaos and then leave? Are ratings that important? Of course they are!

If a hurricane is coming then of course we need for the news to report on it and keep us informed. But what we don't need is the media trying to scare the hell out of everyone with bullshit stories like "levees weeping, may crumble."

BSA Photography

For those that didn't know, the Mississippi River in New Orleans was at flood stage for many months.

In fact, this was the first time in history that a Hurricane formed during flood stage. The levees held back the river water for a long time- so long that water began to seep (weep) in different spots along the levee system. Though, not designed to seep, many levees do when holding back water of that magnitude for so long.

We were all on edge. The last thing we needed was to read headlines like, "New Orleans' residents flee as it braces for hurricane force winds" and "New Orleans could see Possible heavier rains than Katrina."

All of these national media outlets were playing on our fears to bump up their ratings.

Shame on them for doing so!

So, yes- as you can probably tell, I am still somewhat pissed about how the media handled it. They reported on what would bring ratings, played into our fears and profited from it.

Mass shootings are an epidemic that our country needs to come to grips with. It is sickening. The truth is that they didn't start with Trump. They've been happening all too often since I was in middle school. And what have our leaders done? I am not talking about the different presidents, rather, the ones that have worked in D.C. for decades. There is no accountability.

And speaking of accountability, you do not have to saturate your mind with the 24 hour cable news cycle. I understand that newsworthy things happen and we should be kept up to date, but only to a point.

Most major news networks now have an agenda. They present themselves as doing us a service while in reality it's just the opposite. Well, I've got news for them--as a parent I have an agenda of my own, and it starts with turning off the TV. Call your senators, your councilperson, and your state and national representatives and hold them accountable. Don't just sink into a couch or recliner and yell at the TV.

I am not suggesting people boycott the news. All I am saying is take an inventory of how much you allow into your mind and home. By all means, stay informed. Stay "woke." But curling up into a helpless ball with cynical news programs blaring in the background isn't going to help anything.

But you know what will?

Here is a link to the Directory of United States Representatives in Washington D.C.:

https://www.house.gov/representatives.

Here is the national phone number to contact your senator:

(202) 224-3121

You can mail your senator at the following address:

For Correspondence to U.S. Senators:

Office of Senator (Name)

United States Senate

Washington, D.C. 20510

For Correspondence to Senate Committees:

(Name of Committee)

United States Senate

Washington, D.C. 20510

We've got a long road to go. But we are all getting there together. After the election in 2016, I wrote about leading by example. Today, I am writing about taking action. I know this should go without saying, but I can't say it enough. We have been given the privilege. Use it. VOTE. It's now more important than ever.

I just called my congressman and senators. Will you?

***

I would love for you to follow our family's journey!

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News

Indiana Court Says Couples Using Sperm Donors​ Can Both Be Listed on Birth Certificate — But Ruling Excludes Male Couples

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in the case, a major victory for LGBTQ parents — but the Attorney General may appeal to the Supreme Court.

On Friday, a US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling from a lower court that said that both parents in a same-sex relationship are entitled to be listed on the birth certificate — previously, the state of Indiana had required the non-biological parent within a same-sex relationship using assisted reproductive technologies to adopt their child after the birth in order to get her or his name listed on the birth certificate, a lengthy and expensive process not required of straight couples in the same situation.

It's a double standard LGBTQ parents have long been subjected to in many states across the country. So this represent a major win. As reported by CNN, this ruling "takes a lot of weight off" the shoulders of LGBTQ parents, said Karen Celestino-Horseman, a lawyer representing one of the couples in the case. "They've been living as families and wondering if this was going to tear them apart."

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals deliberated the case, according to CNN, for more than two and a half years, which is one of the longest in the court's history.

However, because all the plaintiffs in the case involved female same-sex couples using sperm donors, the ruling left open the similar question of parenting rights with respect to male couples. Indiana's Attorney General, moreover, may also appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

We'll be following the case closely and be sure to keep you up to date. For more on this recent decision, read CNN's article here.

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Whatever your thoughts on 2019, it certainly hasn't been a boring year for gay, bi and trans dads — this year was chockfull of news relevant to gay men who are fathers. We've had important successes and setback. We've been overjoyed, incensed and entertained. See below for our roundup of 10 important moments that defined the news for gay dads this year.

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Fear is an interesting thing. It motivates when it shouldn't, shows at inconvenient times, and is the author of stories that do nothing but hold us back. I would argue though, too, that fear has some good qualities. I believe it helps us to feel. And I think it can be a great teacher as we learn to recognize and face it.

For years fear prevented me from embracing my truth and accepting a large part of who I am. I know I am not alone in that regard. But for so long my fear convinced me that I was. Fear is what kept me from ever telling my parents or anyone growing up that I am gay. Fear mingled with strong religious teachings, embraced at a young age, which led me to believe that I could cure myself of my attractions to the same gender. And fear is a part of what kept me in my marriage to a woman for over ten years.

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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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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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Fatherhood, the gay way

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