Entertainment

Gay Dad, Inspired by His Kids, Founds "Deeply Diverse" Theatre Company

Tripp Pattigrew, a gay dad who started the non-profit theatre company Imaginary Theatricals, promises to produce only "color-blind, gender-blind, and sexual-orientation-blind" theater.

Guest post by Tripp Pettigrew (read his family story here). Tripp is the proud parent of adopted children, and, inspired by his children, he founded a not-for-profit theatre company in Los Angeles. His company is getting ready to produce its inaugural production of Kander & Ebb's "Cabaret." In his own words, read about his inspiration below.

My youngest son, Alex, has had an incredible journey. He walked into my home shirtless, dirty, scared of our dogs and barely verbal. From that moment, his tantrums were so powerful and explosive that I was called to his school multiple times a week. He stabbed one teacher with a pair of scissors and scratched another on the face so deep she had to go to the emergency room. In order to try to have any kind of time to dedicate to my job, my mother-in-law spent three months of her time going to school with Alex, something which I'll always be grateful for. I won't get into the tantrums outside of school but suffice it to say that there were way too many times that, in traffic, Alex would throw open the door of the car and run. Just picture this Caucasian early thirties man chasing after a Latino child on the streets of Los Angeles. Thankfully no one reported me for kidnapping!


It has been a long journey but after 7 years, the tantrums are completely gone. Yes, there are still times when Alex expresses anger inappropriately but I will take this version! We finally found a great school for him: a small class room with dedicated teachers that are trained in behavioral issues. At home he spends most of his time drawing comic books or building with Lego. He has won citizenship awards at school and his teachers adore him. He has the highest grades in his classes and he hates weekends because those are days he can't be a school. We still struggle, of course--why won't teenagers take a shower or brush their teeth! But, he greets me with a huge hug every time I come home. He has changed my life in a million ways.

A few years ago, Alex could hardly wait to see the new Frozen show at Disneyland. Since the movie came out, he was in love with Olaf and spent most mornings before school singing Olaf's song. The summer the Frozen show opened, there was a lot of hubbub online about the color-blind casting. True to the hubbub, at the show Alex and I saw, Kristoff was played by an African-American actor.

Considering that Alex is usually a stickler for things appearing correctly (he once refused to ride the Haunted Mansion ride because Oogie Boogie--typically just a large, naked green monster--was depicted at the end wearing a Santa hat and beard), I was curious if he would notice or care about the multicultural casting. To my surprise, Alex didn't blink an eye. The lady behind me whispered to her husband, "Why is Kristoff Black?" But my son loved the show. He didn't have anything critical to say except he thought the Olaf puppet was too small. Later that day, though, he asked me, "Do you think I can be Olaf some day?"

This moment made me realize the power of representation. This is what I wish to do with my theater company, Imaginary Theatricals. I wish to produce only color-blind, gender-blind, and sexual-orientation-blind theater. I firmly believe that what's more important in theater is the story being told not whether or not Curly from Oklahoma is played by a white man. Rodgers and Hammerstein made us confront racism and domestic violence.

I think the same can be done to further the race and/or sexual orientation and/or gender conversation in this country through casting (and even better if you can find new works to produce that support this idea). I think you can make small adjustments (for example, as in Frozen, choosing an African-American actor to play a traditionally white character) that have huge impacts. For the most part, if the production itself is good enough, I don't think many people will notice. However, if people do notice, I think it starts the right conversation. The lady sitting behind me at Frozen didn't get up and leave. She asked her husband, "Why is Kristoff Black?" If I had been her husband, my response would have been, "because he's a made up character from a place that doesn't actually exist."

We are producing our inaugural production of Kander & Ebb's Cabaret from June 7th through 9th. We hope to have a trans actor as our Emcee and a deeply diverse cast. We want to pay these actors a living wage.

Be sure to check out Imaginary Theatricals' tax deductible donation page which is looking to raise money to be able to pay their artists as much as possible.

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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!

Change the World

Gay Dads Featured in Enfamil Commercial

A new ad for Enfamil showcases two gay men talking about their daughter.

The best kind of inclusion is when you're not singled out but instead included right along with everyone else. This kind inclusion inspires others to pursue their own dreams and desires, just like any one else. As part of our popular culture, we know that brands are uniquely suited to inspire us in this way.

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Diary of a Newly Out Gay Dad

A Gay Chiropractor Explains Why He Came Out to His Patients

After Cameron Call, a chiropractor, came out to his family this past year, he knew he had one more step to take — he had to come out to his patients

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.

Only so much growth and learning can occur when we limit ourselves to our fears. If people never did anything they were afraid to do, life would be incredibly boring and far too predictable. At some point we must face the things we fear and just go for it not knowing what will happen next.

After finally coming out to my ex-wife after ten years of marriage (see previous articles for that story), and eventually telling my family I knew there was one more step I needed to make.

I am a business owner. I am a structural chiropractor and am highly specialized in my field. Nearly four years ago I opened my own clinic, Horizon Chiropractic Center, in Phoenix, Arizona. I poured my whole heart, body, and soul into the creation of my practice and its growth. Opening a business fresh out of school is no simple task and I worked hard to build my practice with close relationships and word of mouth referrals. I established myself as an expert and built a strong reputation as a family man, and my ex-wife and kids were the face of my practice.

I loved and do love every person who has ever come into my office and treat them like family. We laugh together during visits, celebrate wins, cry together, often hug, and cheer each other on regarding various things in our life. That's also a large part of who I am: a people person. I enjoy spending quality time with those I am privileged to help. No one comes in my office and only sees me for 2-5 minutes.

Even though there was so much good that I had built into my brand and reputation fear eventually found its way into my business too. I was afraid of what would happen if people found out the truth. Would they be okay with having a gay chiropractor? Would they still trust me to be able to help them? Of course, the story in my head I was telling myself was much bigger and badder than it needed to be.

When we decided to get a divorce, I felt strongly that I needed to face these fears and begin telling a number of patients the truth of what was happening in my life. I know in reality it is no one's business but my own. However, I felt like I needed to let my patients who had become like family to me truly see me for who I am, and who I always was. And so slowly, case by case, I began to tell a select number of people.

I'll never forget the first patient I told. She had been coming in for years and was bringing her son in to see me who is on the autism spectrum. It was the day after my ex-wife and I decided to get a divorce and she could tell something heavy was on my mind. I eventually came out to her. The first words out of her mouth were "I am so proud of you!" We cried and hugged and it was the complete opposite of what I ever expected. And it was perfect. I felt loved. I felt accepted. I felt seen.

As time went on it got easier. And overall the responses were all completely positive and supportive. Out of all the patients I told and those who found out from other circles, only three stopped coming in to see me. Since coming out, my office has grown tremendously. My reputation hasn't changed. If anything, it's solidified. I can't help but think that part of that is due to finally embracing all of me and allowing others the same opportunity.

I read somewhere once that you never really stop coming out of the closet. And I've noticed that too. Sure, not everyone needs to know; it isn't everyone's business. And I hope that one day we live in a time period where fear doesn't prevent anyone from being seen. I want to contribute to the upward trajectory I think our society is headed of understanding, acceptance, support, and equality.

I would love to be able to say that after coming out publicly I no longer feel fear; but I do. And I think in some ways I always will no matter what. But that's part of life, right? Recognizing fear when we have it but then choosing to move forward out of love – love for others, but maybe more importantly love for ourselves.

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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Fatherhood, the gay way

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