Gay Dad Life

Gay Dads BJ and Frank Wish Everyone a Merry Chrismukkah!

The holiday season is a time that reminds us about the important things in life, like spending time with our loved ones, helping people and spreading that holiday cheer. Frank is Jewish and I am Catholic, so growing up we had our own customs and traditions.


Frank’s Traditions

Growing up, my family celebrated Hanukkah, with a pinch of Christmas thrown in for good measure. As a child I went to a Jewish school. I spent half my day with an English teacher learning things like math and science and the second half of my day I was learning Hebrew and studying the Old Testament. Around the holidays we would learn all the traditions and songs that accompanied them. I was pretty excited to go home to share with my family all the things I had learned. 

At Hanukkah we light candles to remind us of two great miracles. First, how Judah Maccabee led the Maccabean Revolt (they named the army after him because he was so awesome) against the Greeks and took back the Temple in Jerusalem. Second, we celebrate the miracle of the oil needed to light to temple for worship. The Maccabees found one jar of oil in the temple that the Greeks overlooked which had enough oil for only one day, but it lasted for eight!

We did have a few traditions that included lighting the menorah, giving gelt (not to be confused with giving guilt, which I am really good at giving BJ!) and going on a family vacation.

For some reason it is customary to give gelt for Hanukkah. I have researched why this is and have never really found a good reason; however, I never complained when money was handed to me! Now we give all our nieces and nephews gelt.

We lit the menorah every night for eight nights. My brother, sister and I would receive small gifts and gelt every night and one big gift on the eighth night! We played with our dreidel and if we were lucky my mom would fry up some latkes. (We had to be very lucky because my mom didn’t love to cook!) 

Every December, since I was 4 years old, we would travel to Florida or Mexico as a family. This was by far my favorite tradition, and the one of which I have the fondest memories. In our house, the Christmas/Hanukkah season was about going to a warm climate and spending time together as a family. This is a tradition that still carries on to this day. This year we are all going on a cruise to celebrate my mom’s birthday. Not everyone has this opportunity, and we are so fortunate to travel as a family and spend the time with each other. This is only one of many traditions that BJ and I hope to continue when Milo gets older. 

I mentioned above that we always had a pinch of Christmas thrown into our family traditions each year. We had a nanny that lived with us most of my childhood (since I was the oldest) and we always had a little tree for her. I think I was always pretty excited to put that mini Christmas tree up and decorate it with strings of popcorn. My mother also used to take us for holiday photos with Santa. I guess it is hard to get away from Christmas and even harder to explain to a child why you don’t get to celebrate what everyone else in celebrating. It took me many years to realize that being different is cool.

BJ’s Traditions

I grew up in a Catholic/Italian/Polish family, so going overboard on anything that had to do with Christmas is an understatement. We decorated our house with Christmas lights, put on carols and decorated our Christmas tree, hung stockings by the fireplace, and waited for that first snowfall. My mom bought my sisters and me each an Advent calendar, which we would open the little flaps every day to get a chocolate and count down the days until Christmas.

My parents own an Italian bakery in Niagara Falls, Canada, so we didn’t have the opportunity to go traveling. All my life, Christmas Eve meant going into work in the early morning hours, getting orders ready, and spending the day serving our loyal customers and wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. Although I now live in Toronto, I do miss all that hustle and bustle of the bakery, but I don’t miss the 15-hour work days! (Maybe I’m getting lazy in my old age!)

On Christmas Eve, we opened our presents after dinner and after cleaning all the dishes, which felt like an eternity! We all gathered in the living room around the Christmas tree. My mom was in charge of handing out the gifts to us, and she still is today.

One of the things I looked forward to the most was my grandma’s Christmas cookies. She made large tins full of all different kinds: Linzer cookies, lemon-iced shortbread and rum balls potent enough to feel that holiday cheer, to name just a few.

Christmas Day we wore our best clothes and we went to church, visited family and then came home and have our Christmas lunch. Being off for the Christmas holidays meant we spent time together: Whether working together in the bakery or going over to our cousin’s house to play, we were together.

Our Traditions

Being a mixed-faith family gives us the opportunity to celebrate our own customs and traditions, and create new ones with our son Milo. We celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas, and we will raise Milo to know both his Jewish and Catholic roots. Ultimately, it becomes his decision which religion he will chose, but we are teaching him to be kind, supportive, and empathetic towards others and really that is what every religion should be about.

Now having Milo, we want to continue our own family’s traditions, but of course create new ones. Both being teachers, Frank and I are lucky enough to have the same working schedule, so family trips are well planned out in advance. Traveling and going away somewhere warm during the winter break is a tradition we hope to continue. Now I will trade the white snow for the white sand!

Before Milo was born, Frank and I would host a Chrismukkah Party with our friends. There would be lots of food, a lot of drinking, and a gift exchange. Since Milo was born our annual Chrismukkah Party has been put on hold, but this year we are inviting our neighbors and Milo’s classmates from his day care. There will be food, crafts for the kids and some holiday punch for the adults. Chrismukkah was all about spending time with friends; now it means spending time with friends and kids!

My inner baker in me explodes with excitement this time of year! I get to make my grandma’s cookies, and lots of them! I love making her cookie recipes, and love giving them out as gifts! Milo even likes to help out!

We also celebrate Hanukkah, and we all gather around the menorah and say the prayer and light the candle. We are pretty sure Milo thinks they are birthday candles and will try to blow them out, but teaching him about Hanukkah and why it is important to our family is a tradition we will carry on.

We decorate the house with Christmas lights, although not too many. And we put up our tree and top it off with a Jewish star. It’s the perfect way to combine both our religions.

Milo has an Advent calendar that he opens every day, and sometimes sneaks an extra chocolate when we aren’t looking! 

Growing up, my parents took my sisters and me to the Santa Claus Parade. When Milo gets older we will take him, but for now we visit with him and get our annual picture with the big guy.

Being Jewish and Catholic allows us to blend our traditions and create new ones for our family. We will continue to wear our matching sweaters for our holiday card until Milo tells us to stop because it’s embarrassing! We will continue to celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas and teach Milo the significance of both holidays and our religions. We will spend time with family and friends for as long as we can, because there is no better gift than having the time to spend with the people you love.

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Gay Dad Life

Lance Bass Opens Up About Forming His Family Through Surrogacy

Lance Bass and his husband Michael Turchin hope to spend Father's Day next year as first-time dads!

According to a recent interview with ET Online, Lance Bass and husband Michael Turchin will likely be spending Father's Day next year as first time dads!

"It's looking like this might be the last Father's Day that I'm kid-less!" the former *NSYNC band member told ET. "We'll see if the timing's right. We're hoping to have a kid next summer, so we'll just see how everything works out. Who knows what wrenches might be thrown in, so we're just crossing our fingers that it all works out."

This past April, the dads-to-be revealed their plans to build their family via surrogacy, and will thus join the growing ranks of famous gay men who form their families in this way. In his recent interview with ET, Bass opened up further about what the process has been like so far.

"Our surrogate fell into our laps through our embryologist, who is incredible," Bass said. "We just loved her. She was so selfless and all about wanting to give that gift to someone. I wanted to cry because it was just so special that someone would do that."

The couple is still looking for an egg donor (here are some tips for choosing, Lance!) but are hoping to have the process complete by spring of this year.

In a recent appearance on the Today Show, Bass shared that he and his husband Michael Turchin have long hoped to become fathers.

"We are super excited," he said. "We love the idea of having a family. That's one of the reasons I wanted to marry this man, because I know he'll be such a great dad."

We'll be sure to keep you posted on their exciting journey!

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Nick Bryan and Sean McGuire, who live in Columbus, Ohio, have suffered heartache that no parent should ever have to endure. They became first-time dads in 2016 when they adopted a baby girl who was born two months premature. Sadly, their daughter did not make it to 4 months, and passed away due to premature complications. The dads struggled to go on. But with the support of their family, friends and a wonderful adoption agency, they tried again, and in November last year, another little girl was born, and she had two daddies ready to love her with all their hearts. Here's their family's story.

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Federal Judge Rules Against Adoption Agency's Attempt to Discriminate Against LGBTQ Parents

Many challenges to LGBTQ adoption continue to exist, however, including a Federal amendment that would grant tax-funded adoption agencies the right to discriminate nationally.

This week brought us some much-needed good news in the fight to protect LGBTQ adoption rights: U.S. District Judge Petrese B. Tucker ruled that Catholic Services Society (CSS) violated the city of Philadelphia's Fair Practice Ordinance due to the organization's refusal to work with prospective parents' based on no other reason than their sexual orientation.

The decision is the result of a suit brought by CSS against Philadelphia. Last May, the city announced it was suspending foster care placements with two agencies, CSS and Bethany Christian Services, given their refusal to place children with LGBTQ prospective parents. While Bethany Christian Services ultimately agreed to stop discriminating against same-sex parents, CSS sued the city instead, and lost.

Judge Tucker found that no "substantial burden" existed on on CSS's religious exercise in providing foster care to children, writing that, "In essence, if CSS provides its services consistent with the minimal requirements of the all-comers provisions of the Fair Practices Ordinance, then CSS may continue to provide foster care to children.

Elsewhere around the country, however, the news on LGBTQ adoption rights has been much less encouraging. Over the course of the year, news hasn't been great for the LGBTQ community's adoption rights. Over the course of the year, a slew of anti-LGBTQ adoption measures have been cropping up in state legislatures all across the country. At the federal level this month, Republicans passed an amendment to an appropriations bill that if enacted will allow tax-funded adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ adoptive parents on the grounds of religious freedom.

Get Involved!

Want to take action? Look up your federal representatives here and demand they reject the inclusion of the anti-LGBTQ amendment in the appropriations bill passed by Republicans earlier this week.

Have you experienced discrimination as a potential gay adoptive or foster parent? We want to hear about it. Contact us at dads@gayswithkids.com and tell us about your experience.

And stay tuned to Gays With Kids as we continue to monitor and report on developments in anti-discrimination protections for adoptive LGBTQ parents, on both the state and federal level.

Change the World

Gay Dad's Family Car Vandalized with Homophobic Slur in Tennessee

"Sometimes people do things to try and make you sad," Michael told his sons following the incident. "But we have to be better than that."

Michael Quinton, a gay man living in Dandridge, Tennessee, had just arrived at home on July 6th when he noticed the damage done to his car. His tires were slashed, the car seats sliced up, and the radio rendered useless by a sharp object.

"My first reaction was a flood of every emotion," he said. "Angry, mad, sad, disheartened. As I took a look at the vehicle I saw more and more damage."

The physical vandalism, however, was nothing compared to the emotional damage inflicted by this next part of the crime: the word "fagot" had been etched into the side of his car.

Though Michael was clearly the intended target of the crime, he was particularly worried about how the incident might affect his two sons, Blake and Clayton, whom he had adopted with his ex-husband.

"I called my mom who lives a few minutes away to come sit with the boys as an officer was coming out," Michael told Gays With Kids. "At that moment I didn't want them to see the vehicle or the words carved into it.

Michael called the experience "eye-opening," adding, "Come what may I have to ensure [my sons] are taken care of. I have to show them that love wins and without a doubt there is nothing wrong with the way you love. One day they very well could help change the climate in this country."

As far as the perpetrator, Michael has his suspicions of who might behind the damage, and has shared them along with some potential evidence with the detective involved. The incident is being investigated as a hate crime. Michael has spent most of life in east Tennessee and says this was the first time he had ever experienced an act of hate. From sharing this horrible experience, a lot of people have reached out to Michael and his family to send words of support and kind messages. But Michael is still worried.

"In the end, the tone of this country has done a 180," he said. "I honestly feel worried that things will continue to happen to families like mine or anyone viewed different in others' eyes."

New data has shown that hate crimes have risen 12% in the past year, and that is only those that are reported. The African American community has been the most targeted, followed by LGBTQ people.

Michael with his kids

The damage to Michael's vehicle has also been a blow to family, symbolically, he says. Michael is recently divorced from the boys' second dad, and is now raising them full-time. The car, a bright blue Kia, came to represent so much more than a vehicle; it meant a new beginning for Michael and his boys after the separation.

"So many memories have been made in that vehicle over the last 18 months," shared Michael. His youngest son, Blake, "processes things a little different than your average 7 year old," Michael says. "You take away routine, structure, consistency, security and he doesn't do too well."

Since the incident, the family has been comforting each other by sleeping together on the couch every night. Michael has always kept an open conversation with his kids, whether it be about their adoption (Blake originally came to Michael through kinship guardianship, and Clayton is Blake's biological older brother whom Michael later adopted as well), divorce, and now this.

"I told them that sometimes people do things to try and make you sad," said Michael. "But we have to be better than that and know that we can't stop loving and that we have each other and I wouldn't allow them to be hurt. We also have to be able to forgive in order to find peace."

The car, sadly, is beyond repair. Fortunately, Michael has a vehicle supplied by work he can use for family drop offs, baseball practice and medical appointments. But eventually, he'll need to get his own car again. As a single-income father, Michael has set up a GoFundMe page to help with the insurance deductible and/or possible replacement of the car.

Despite the gravity of the situation, Michael didn't miss an opportunity to through some well-deserved shade back at the perpetrator of this heinous act. "Who spells faggot..... fagot?" he wrote on a post he published to Facebook shortly after the incident. "Doesn't most everyone have access to spell check with their phone? I mean come on!!!"

Fatherhood, the gay way

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