Change the World

How Do Gay Dads Celebrate Black History Month?

We asked 12 gay dads to tell us what Black History Month means to them and how they celebrate in their households.

February is Black History Month in America. And although celebrating Black history, culture and people shouldn't be confined to just one month, it does ensure an opportunity to commemorate the heroic figures of Black men and women, and also increase visibility of Black life and history; two of Carter G. Woodson's goals when he created the concept in 1926.


As time has gone on, it has evolved from the initial one week celebration in accordance with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, to a month-long celebration. And it continues to go further.

"It's about the lived, shared experience of all African Americans, high and low, famous and obscure, and how those experiences have shaped and challenged and ultimately strengthened America," said President Obama in during the 2016 Black History Month reception. "It's about taking an unvarnished look at the past so we can create a better future. It's a reminder of where we as a country have been so that we know where we need to go."

We spoke with 12 families on how they choose to celebrate Black History Month in their household. Here are there responses:

Dads Clayton and Andy with daughter Lyla, New Orleans, Louisiana

From left to right: Clayton, Lyla and Andy; dads though adoption

"The older I get ... the more I am filled with pride about being Black and celebrating the work that my ancestors have done to allow me the life I have now."

Clayton on one of his Black role models: "My mother will always be my Black role model. When I think of the generations of Black women who endured pain, heartache and made countless sacrifices, I put my mother in that number. She raised six kids, all while working and making sure that we all were educated and had the essentials. She created a happy home for us with so little and I keep this in mind anytime I think about parenting. I celebrate her all year long!"

Clayton on his favorite thing about Black History Month: "The older I get, the more in tune and understanding I have with my Blackness, and the more I am filled with pride about being Black and celebrating the work that my ancestors have done to allow me the life I have now. I am excited to teach my daughter that with having a Black daddy and a White daddy, she gets to experience two different cultures while growing up and celebrating her own Blackness. I want her to embrace her version of being a Black girl in America while always knowing the story of Blacks in this country."

***

Dads Jeff and Brian with their son Carter, Hamden, Connecticut

From left to right: Jeff, Carter and Brian; dads through adoption

"No matter the color of your skin, a culture can be appreciated by anyone."

Jeff sharing a significant moment encountering Black history: "One of our first trip with Carter was an impromptu trip to the Philadelphia Zoo. After that we went for a late lunch and then a walk downtown and stumbled on to The President's House, and we learned about some of the slaves owned by George Washington. One in particular that stuck with me was a man named Hercules. It was a powerful moment in time for us that we still talk about."

Jeff on what Black History Month: "Definitely no matter the color of your skin, a culture can be appreciated by anyone."

***

Dads Chris and Nick with Ari and Baby K, Chicago, Illinois

From left to right: Nick, Ari, Chris and Baby K; dads through adoption and foster-adopt

"We want to raise our kids with a strong racial and positive cultural identity and for us that goes beyond buying books/toys where our kids can see themselves represented in diverse and positive ways"

How Nick and Chris celebrate Black History Month: "As White adoptive parents, we feel the spirit of Black History Month is something we need to strive for all year round, but during February we want to create extra space to celebrate Black art, history, and support Black owned businesses. This year we have planned to go to a special kid's story time reading of "My Hair is a Garden" by the author Cozbi A. Cabrera at a local bookstore. We want to raise our kids with a strong racial and positive cultural identity and for us that goes beyond buying books/toys where our kids can see themselves represented in diverse and positive ways, but making it a priority to ensure Black culture is reflected in the neighborhood we live in, schools they attend, and community we build for our family."

One their family's favorite quotes by a Black icon: "Never be limited by other people's limited imaginations." —Dr. Mae Jemison

***

Dads Antwon and Nate with Daughter K, Portland, Oregon

Antwon and daughter K; dads through foster care

"I hope she and I are a family long enough to travel to the Natural Portrait Gallery and look at the paintings of Michelle and Barack Obama. I'd give anything to watch her smile as she realizes that she truly can accomplish anything."

Antwon on his family plans to celebrate Black History Month: "This month, my foster daughter and I will be learning about how powerful our skin is, and how powerful it has been throughout history. I replay in my mind the poem "Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou, where she says 'I am the dream and the hope of the slave.' That phrase is so powerful! I don't know how many Black History Month's K and I will have together, so I have to use this time to remind her that she's beautiful, that she's brilliant, and she has history to make. She naturally gravitates to historical figures that look like her, so we'll read stories and look at pictures of brave, talented, brilliant black women. I hope she and I are a family long enough to travel to the Natural Portrait Gallery and look at the paintings of Michelle and Barack Obama. I'd give anything to watch her smile as she realizes that she truly can accomplish anything."

Nate and daughter K

***

Dads Trey and Phil with Michael*, Seattle, Washington

From left to right: Phil, Michael* and Trey; dads through foster care

"We love Michelle and Barack in our house! We talk about them all the time, and they are an inspiration in terms of showing the world that Black families who are committed, stable, and loving exist and are thriving with amazing children."

Trey on his favorite Black History museum: "I recently was able to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture in D.C. for the first time, and I can't wait to take Michael* there when he's older. They did such a great job painting an honest picture of our history; both the good and the bad. I also love that they included representation of Black gay men! I bought Michael* a Tuskegee Air Man doll and an MLK Jr. book that we'll read to him."

Trey on Black role models their family celebrates: "We love Michelle and Barack in our house! We talk about them all the time, and they are an inspiration in terms of showing the world that Black families who are committed, stable, and loving exist and are thriving with amazing children. I also love the greater exposure of Black gay dads in the media and seeing other families of color shining and unapologetically being themselves in their parenting life."

***

Dads DaRel and Charles with Braeden, Mitchellville, Maryland

From left to right: DaRel, Braeden and Charles; dads through adoption

"We plan to make sure that Braeden is continually exposed to lessons about his history and culture all year long."

DaRel and Charles' favorite children's book celebrating Black culture: "'Please, Baby, Please' by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee. Braeden has always loved this book, and often requests that we read it several times in a row. We love the fact that both the authors and illustrator are Black, and that the characters allow our child to see himself represented on the page."

One of DaRel and Charles' favorite quotes from a Black icon: "You never know how or when you'll have an impact or how important your example can be to someone else." - Denzel Washington

***

Dads Terrell and Jarius with Ashton and Aria

From left to right: Ashton, Terrell, Jarius and Aria; dads through surrogacy

Photo credit: @amanda.marie.photo

"While we feel that Black History and culture should be celebrated and embraced year round, we love the knowledge and wisdom shared during this amazing time."

How Terrell and Jarius celebrate Black History Month: "Our family celebrates Black History Month by researching and learning of a different pioneer in African American culture at the end of each week. We hope to continue this tradition as our kids get older so that they are knowledgeable on Black History as well and understand the impact they can have on the world one day."

What is their family's favorite thing about Black History Month: "To see so many people embrace the culture is just amazing."

***

Dads Tarik and Jeff with Avery, New Rochelle, New York

From left to right: Jeff, Avery and Tarik; dads through adoption

"We want her to understand the history of African Americans in this country. And we want her to understand what being African American in this country means today."

Tarik on how their family celebrates Black History Month: "Avery is a little too young to understand what Black History Month is, but as she continues to grow and learn, we want her to understand the contributions African Americans have made to society. We want her to understand the history of African Americans in this country. And we want her to understand what being African American in this country means today."

Tarik on what Black History Month means to his family: "Avery is being raised in an interracial household, in a diverse area, around many different types of friends. Because of that, we're excited that she is going to learn about a range of cultures and types of people. As an African American girl with darker skin, she has to be raised to understand that she's important, that she matters, and that she can be whatever she wants to be. We are sure to take the time during Black History Month, and all year long, to reinforce that and show her as many great examples as we can."

***

Dads Jason and Patrick with Marian and Betty, Charlottesville, Virginia

From left to right: Marian, Patrick, Betty and Jason; dads through foster-adopt and adoption.

"For us, the Obama family is the ultimate example for all Americans about humility, responsibility and family values. The grace that they display and the honesty about their challenges as a family and a married couple are deeply inspiring."

Why Jason believes celebrating Black History Month is important? "It gives a formal structure for us to learn more about Black Americans who are and were instrumental to the making of this country. It's incredible how little attention is paid to the individuals of African descent throughout the year. This month, however short, is an opportunity to expand the conversation."

One of the ways that Jason and Patrick celebrate Black History Month: "My husband & I own two bakeries in Charlottesville and he is always creating stencils to put on the breads and cakes. This February, to celebrate Black History Month, our bread will feature a stencil of a different person from past or present who has shaped our country. Some will be well known, others a little more obscure to most Americans. Throughout this month we hope to showcase the indelible influence Black Americans have had at shaping the United States."

***

Kenneth and J.Maurice with Eli and Juan, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

From left to right: J.Maurice, Eli, Juan and Kenneth; dads through foster-adopt

"We celebrate Black History Month by incorporating books about the lives of black historical figures into our daily reading."

One of the dads' favorite quotes by a Black icon: "Learn to deal with the valleys and the hills will take care of themselves." - Count Basie

J.Maurice and Kenneth on one of their Black role models: "Bill Cosby; despite his recent transgressions, in our household, Dr. Cosby single-handedly displayed to the world the complexities of African American culture and livelihood. As a child, "The Cosby Show" was the only true representation of my parental family unit on television. My husband and I have incorporated some of the traditions from the show within the makeup of our household (wearing college sweaters, exposure to Black art and frequent visits to our alma mater - Howard University)."

***

Dads Joe and Francois with Daphné and Axel, living in Larmor Plage, France

From left to right: Joe, Axel, Daphné and Francois; dads through surrogacy

"One place I'd love to visit with the kids, is the the national museum of African American history and culture. Since we moved overseas when the kids were 2 1/2 months, the African American side of their culture hasn't been as pronounced, so I am dying to get back and experience it for them and for myself, as well."

Joe on a Black icon who has impacted his life: "One person who I look to, as a father and as a human being, is Oprah. She is someone who walks the walk and talks the talk, and she firmly believes that you need to take care of yourself emotionally, physically and spiritually, to be able to take care of others. I wholeheartedly agree with that, and because of her, I've actually become more nurturing to my spiritual needs, and I've seen such change in how I'm present for my kids and husband."

One of the dads' favorite quotes by a Black icon: "'I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.' - Maya Angelou. I try to remember this, especially when I'm stressed or frustrated, whether it be business, or bath time. I don't always succeed, but I think it's important to remember that sometimes it's better to be kind than to be right."

***

Dads Weston and Brandon with Xander and Zoe, Salt Lake City, Utah

From left to right: Xander, Brandon, Zoe and Weston; dads through adoption

"Black role models in our family are any Black person who is willing to share their experience with our family. Finding cultural mirrors for our children is not easy in Utah but the community here is robust and welcoming. To be honest, my biggest hero right now is the woman who does my daughters hair and makes her look like the natural princess she is."

Why this family believes Black History Month is important: "It reminds us to honor the cultural and historical path of our children's ancestry. But more importantly, Black History Month is important to us because it offers a chance for the rest of the country - particularly those privileged enough to not have just one month dedicated to their culture - to take a moment and reflect on the contributions that Black Americans have made to all our lives - and to all our collective culture - and to our nation's history. Black History Month is really for White people to work on humanizing the Black experience. Humanizing will absolutely result in happier humans, stronger communities, and saved lives. We celebrate Black History Month by doing what we can to spread the celebration beyond our family, after all, as parents of Black children we should be honoring our children's culture every single day. This year we encouraged our predominately White elementary school's student council to decorate the entry way with Black history, quotes, and inspiration. They are encouraging teachers to do something in their class to honor the month as well."

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Gay Dad Life

Gays With Kids Turns Five!

Wow! Time certainly flies when you're busy becoming the world's biggest online resource and magazine for gay, bi and trans dads!

As if we don't have enough going on this June (Stonewall's 50th anniversary! Father's Day! Taylor Swift rounding up all the gays in West Hollywood for her latest music video!) we're also celebrating another milestone here at Gays With Kids: we're officially turning five this month. (And we don't look a day over two, right?!)

To celebrate, we took a look back at some of our most popular essays, photos, news stories and more. What do you want to see us cover in the NEXT five years? Let us know at dads@gayswithkids.com


#10. The Hardest Part of Foster Care? The Wait, Say These Dads-to-Be

Several years ago, we brought you this article: The Hardest Part of Foster Care? The Wait, Say These Dads-to-Be. The article included a video of Antwon and Nate, who were in the midst of their process to become foster dads, which quickly became one of our most popular posts of all time. In this video, they shared how difficult it was waiting for "the" call from the agency letting them know their lives would be forever changed once a child came to live with them.

Want to see how the dads are getting on several years later? Check out this updated video here!

#9. Famous Gay Dads and Their Kids!

Our article, Famous Gay Dads and Their Kids, featuring well-known gay dads from Neil Patrick Harris to Ryan Murphy, quickly became one of our most popular. In the years since, as the ranks of gay dads has continued to grow, we've brought you MANY more stories of gay men in the limelight who are venturing into fatherhood. Check them all out here!

#8. The Story Behind America's Youngest Gay Dad

The Story Behind America's Youngest Gay Dad, which ran back in 2015, is also one of our most popular posts of all time! The post explores the story of Brian Mariano, who became a father with an ex-girlfriend while still in high school. "Everybody in my life is really supportive of me," he said. "If it's someone new and a friend mentions I'm a dad, they will stop. 'Wait, what? How are you a dad? You're gay.' It's like that 'Mean Girls' quote sometimes. You know – 'if you're from Africa, why are you white?'"

#7. When His Son Got a Tattoo, He Freaked Out. Then He Saw What it Was

This article, When His Son Got a Tattoo, He Freaked Out, definitely plucked the heartstrings of our readers! Which is why it's one of the most popular articles on our site of all time.

"Guess what dad I'm getting a tattoo," Richard's son, Jonathan, texted him. "Don't you dare," was Richard's response. But Jonathan went ahead with it anyway. At first, his dad "fumed." But then he found out what the tattoo was.

"So I got my first tattoo!!" Jonathan wrote on Facebook, of his roman numeral tattoo on his side. "This date is the day that my life changed. This is the day my dads adopted me. The greatest day in my life knowing that for the rest of my life I would finally have a loving family that loved me for me!" (Another one of our most popular posts is this photo essay of gay dads who explain the meaning behind their tattoos.)

#6. 8 Black Dads Share What Black History Month Means to Their Families

Last year, during February's Black History Month, we ran an article titled 8 Black Dads Share What Black History Month Means to Their Families. To create the post, we asked our community a simple question: as a Black gay dad, what does this month mean to you, your family, and your community? The answers we got back were reflective, poignant and deeply moving, which is why this article became one of our most-viewed ever.

Check out the story here.

#5. 19 Photos of Matt Dallas & Blue Hamilton That Will Make You Green with Parenting Envy

Ok the popularity of this article, 19 Photos of Matt Dallas & Blue Hamilton That Will Make You Green with Parenting Envy, doesn't need that much explanation. Gorgeous, talented, successful and good dads? What's not to love! Also check out this more recent post, Things Husbands (and Gay Dads) Do According to Matt Dallas and Blue Hamilton, which is also quickly climbing the ranks of our most popular!

#4. A Gay Dad's Message From His Heart to his Facebook Friends

This article, A Gay Dad's Message From the Heart to his Facebook Friends, by gay dad Michael Anderson, ran in the troubling aftermath of the 2016 Presidential election, when so many LGBTQ people, our allies, and other vulnerable communities looked (and continue to look) towards an uncertain future.

"Suddenly I don't feel secure anymore," Michael wrote. "Vice president-elect Pence has an extensive anti-gay record from supporting gay conversion therapy on kids that literally includes trying to (but failing to) electro-shock the gay out, to signing legislation in his state in 2013 to jail any same-sex couple who attempted to get a marriage certificate. All of the progress that we have made that gives my family a sense of belonging and security is very likely to be erased."

For more of our ongoing political coverage, including the 2020 race, check out these articles as well.

#3. Helping Gay Men Afford Adoption Through Sizable Grants

Our third most popular article, Helping Gay Men Afford Adoption Through Sizable Grants, features our good friends Help Us Adopt, an amazing non-profit organization that helps adoptive parents offset the substantial costs associated with the process. They are also dedicated to inclusivity, and are one of the few financial resources available for gay adoptive parents. Check out this great profile of their work!

#2. 9 Times Gay Dads Crushed Their Pregnancy Announcement Pics

Gay dads love a good photo opportunity. So obviously this photo essay of gay dad pregnancy announcement pics is high up on our list as well. This photo essay, 9 Times Gay Men Crushed Their Pregnancy Announcement Pics, is our second most popular. Check out this most recent roundup of pregnancy announcement pics, which is also climbing the

And Our MOST Viewed Article of All Time Is... 

Gay dads do Halloween right! So it's no surprise that this article, 13 Dads Giving You Major Family Halloween Costume Goals, is our most viewed of all time! And though Halloween may still be months away, why not prepare early with a look at some of our other most popular Halloween articles!

Gay Dads Snap Pics at the Pumpkin Patch
Nobody Does Halloween Like Neil Patrick Harris and Fam
31 Gay Dads Serving Major Halloween Costume Inspo (and Where to Get The Looks!)
Get Your DIY Skills On for Halloween, Dads!







THANK YOU!

Lastly, a big thank you to all of our readers! It's thanks to you that we now can claim the biggest online community of gay, bi, and trans dads in the world (not to mention two GLAAD award nominations ;) We can't wait to see what the next five years bring!

Change the World

How to Deal with "Dad Shaming"

In the latest episode of Daddy Squared, we take a deep dive into the issue of "dad shaming" with guest Jeremy Hooper of GLAAD

Almost every dad has suffered some unwanted criticism either on social media or in real life, from people who 'know better' about parenting. Dad shaming is a thing, parents tend to judge other parents, and it manifests itself both on social media and in real life, making dads just feel awful about themselves. As a follow-up to our Pride episode, we talk about the opposite of pride – shame. We brought on Jeremy Hooper, a writer and consultant for GLAAD, who has been dad-shamed before he even left the hospital with his newborn, to discuss dealing with dad shaming, 'momsplaining,' and other forms of criticism.

On the eve of publishing this episode we received an email from a person who chose to remain anonymous but made sure he let us know that he had heard one of us asking our kids not to touch every single item on the Starbucks counter and the way we talked to them made him 'concerned that we are beating our children.' Less than a year ago we confronted a mom who literally told us we're bad fathers because we didn't handle a parenting situation like she would. Dad shaming is everywhere, and it happens to almost all of us, and it hurts. Even if we pretend that it doesn't.

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Change the World

New York: It's Time to Legalize Ethical Surrogacy

New York, one of only three states to prohibit compensated surrogacy, is faltering on a bill to legalize the practice in the state

With the Democratic takeover of the State Senate in the 2018 elections, legislators in New York have been busy passing any number of long-held progressive priorities, from a sweeping package of bills strengthening rent regulations to others aimed at expanding and protecting voting access in the state. But as the legislative season comes to a close, another initiative, which looked all but assured to pass just a couple months ago, now stands in limbo: the legalization of gestational surrogacy via the Child-Parent Security Act.

New York is just one of three states that doesn't already permit surrogacy in some form, but we are closer than ever before to finally legalizing this important family-building option for LGBTQ people and those who struggle with infertility. The Child-Parent Security Act has passed the State Senate, and Governor Cuomo has promised to sign it. But the legislation is now stalled in the State Assembly, where a number of legislator and advocates have unfortunately spoken out against it. Assemblywoman Deborah Glick has called the practice "pregnancy for a fee" and the "commodification of women." Gloria Steinem likened the practice to allowing "profiteering from body invasion."

But State Senator Brad Hoylman, the bill's sponsor and himself a gay father of two via surrogacy, is nonetheless pressing ahead. "My two beautiful daughters were born through gestational surrogacy," he wrote via Twitter. "They are everything to me. Every family in NY, whether LGBTQ or struggling with infertility, should have the same opportunity."

We at Gays With Kids couldn't agree more, which is why we've brought you countless stories of gay dads, like Senator Hoylman, who have realized their dream of fatherhood through the incredible medical advancements of the last several decades that make surrogacy possible.

But even more importantly: we've brought you the stories of surrogates themselves — a perspective so often left out of the morality debate surrounding surrogacy — who help illuminate the incredible and diverse set of reasons women decide to become surrogates. The joy many of these women take in helping others realize their dream of parenthood via surrogacy is truly palpable, and couldn't sound more different from the alarmist and coercive reality painted by surrogacy's critics.

Here are just a few of their voices:

  • Shelly Marsh, told us of the urge she felt after becoming a mother herself to help others who can't start families as easily. She subsequently worked with two separate gay couples to do exactly that. "My girls are my life," she told us of her decision to become a surrogate. "If I have the ability to share that love with someone else, that is what I wanted to do."
  • Heather Manojlovic told us about some of the reasons she enjoyed working to make fatherhood a reality for gay intended parents. "The fact that I was able to help someone that may have had to overcome a lot of adversity during his lifetime to fulfill a dream meant so much to me," she wrote.

  • Another surrogate we profiled told us about the experience of working with an HIV positive man, a population of people who once thought biological fatherhood would never be in their future, become a dad through the Special Program for Assisted Reproduction (SPAR) program. "I knew they didn't have the same number of gestational carrier match options that gay men who weren't part of the SPAR program had," she wrote. "It felt even more gratifying for me to be able to be the person who helped make their dreams come true."

To be clear: surrogacy does indeed raise any number of moral and ethical issues that should absolutely be discussed before legalizing it. Abroad, surrogacy is often left unregulated, which creates a system that does in fact take advantage of women and their families who serve as surrogates. And let's face it: surrogacy is expensive, meaning this form of family creation is far too often available to just a privileged few.

But rather than ban the practice completely, why not work to improve these shortcomings?

Many efforts are underway to help tackle surrogacy's hefty price tag. The non-profit organization Men Having Babies has been fighting for years to offset the considerable costs associated with surrogacy for gay men. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who is currently vying for the 2020 Democratic nomination for President, has suggested insurance companies be required to cover some parts of the process, such as IVF treatments, for LGBTQ couples and others who can't get pregnant independently. And an increasing number of corporations, like Target, are offering benefits to their employees to cover some aspects of surrogacy's costs.

Senator Hoylman has also taken steps to shore up protections for surrogates by including a "Surrogates' Bill of Rights," the first of its kind in the country, as part of the legislation. Under the bill, surrogates will have guaranteed access to legal advice and extended medical benefits. By passing this legislation, New York will finally catch up to the 47 other states that already permit gestational surrogacy in some form, allowing LGBTQ people and others impacted by infertility to realize their dream of parenthood in the state they call home. But we will also have the opportunity to do something arguably more important — set the national standard for the ethical practice of surrogacy.

If you live in New York State, please take a second to send a message to your representative asking them to support the bill.

Adults

Why This Adopted Gay Man Will Never Have Children

Do we have a biological right to parenthood? Kevin Saunders, a childless 52-year-old gay man, says no.

Guest post written by Kevin Saunders.

Two dear friends of mine, each partnered, capable gay men of relatively sound mind and body, have recently decided to become fathers, and I could not be more unnerved. The expense, the risk, the potential for disappointment, the logistical complexity that they must navigate leave me baffled and at times enraged with the lingering question that I have, out of respect, refrained from asking, "WHY, WHY, WHY do you want to do this?!" These feelings toward what most would consider a happy occasion beg a reciprocal enquiry: "Why do you care?" The answer is rooted in a disposition and a history that has left me skeptical of the innate right to biological parenthood that many, gay or straight, seem to feel entitled to.

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Gay Dad Life

Gays WITHOUT Kids (If Just For a Day...)

Andrew Kohn explains why he decided to leave his kids at home this Pride

I'm not a monster. Yes, I saw the wagons carrying lovely toddler children waiving their flags and eating their graham crackers. The children were plentiful wearing their Pride family shirts, bejeweled in rainbow. The weather was perfect and the crowds were as prideful as ever. But my husband and I had a day where we didn't have to worry about someone else, not on the constant lookout for the next available bathroom or calming emotions because we could buy one unicorn costume and not every unicorn costume. We had a day without kids.

Yes, Pride has become commercialized. Some companies want my gay money, but others march and have a presence because one gay voice spoke up and asked why the company hasn't marched. I marched in the parade with my employer – who marched for the first time this year – because I started the conversation about why we hadn't marched before. My husband and I were present. We honored Stonewall. And praised Nina West. And we did it without carrying a bag with extra panties and a couple sippy cups.

Believe me, I get sharing the day with your children. With your family. But in my house, we live Pride every day. Two white dads caring for two black kids makes us walking billboards for equality, love, and acceptance. I don't need a day to celebrate my family with my children. We do it in the grocery store. We do it at preschool. We recognize our uniqueness and celebrate it. My children don't need a meltdown and a long walk to tell them about their history and their fathers' connection to the past.

Instead of worrying about where we would find lunch and, again, where the closest bathroom was, I saw beauty that took me by surprise – and I was able to be in the moment with it. Trans men waking boldly and bravely around only wearing only their bindings. Watching high school kids sitting in the grass, wearing crop tops and eating french fries, literally carefree looking up at the clouds. We experienced a community that was free and uninhibited, if just for one afternoon, where who you are isn't odd or something to be hidden. But rather something that is a definition of you and should be your reality 365 days a year.

I know that being gay and having kids can be overwhelming at times. We ask ourselves if we're representing our community adequately (or have we become too heteronormative?). If we have children of a different race, are we giving them the experiences they need to know who they are, as well as navigate that world with gay parents? Are we so embraced at school functions because of our contributions to community or are we a token family? And yes, I'll ask it, are we good enough for acceptance by all gay families, who as if we're single again, judge each other on wealth, looks, and status? No family is better than any other, and gay parents certainly have opportunities to be better towards one another.

Our Pride ended in a small fight while walking to the car, like all good Pride's should. But it wasn't about kids bickering, or kids getting upset they didn't get the right treat. It was about us centering ourselves in a community that isn't exactly welcoming in certain spaces to gay families other times of the year. It was about us catching up with our past while also seeing our collective future.

And the kids didn't seem to mind. They had fun with a babysitter and lived their Pride out loud when they shopped for daddy and papa gifts for Father's Day. That's our Pride. Maybe when the kids are older, and really get the meaning of Pride, we'll start marching together in solidarity. But for right now, daddies needed a little time alone to reconnect with their LGBT family. And while there may be too many beer ads and not enough voter registration tables, we celebrate visibility and love. And my husband and I had time together, reminding us of who we are, who our original family was, and how we will connect who we are now, and our children, with that family as it grows.

At the end of the day, we're all in it together. And my children will be enriched by the experience. Just not this year. This year, we fertilized our roots so that our branches can grow.

Antwon and Nate became dads through the foster care system. Nine months after becoming licensed, they received a call on a Tuesday, and two days later, their daughter moved in. "It was very quick," said Nate. "Honestly, it was more just shock and nervousness for me."

As new parents, Nate took unpaid leave for two weeks, before going back to work part-time. Antwon didn't receive any leave.

"It's definitely important to have time off to bond, but it's also important to be financially stable when you do it," said Antwon. "I don't think you should have to choose between staying financially afloat or showing your kid love... and I don't think anyone should have to make that choice."

Only 15% of dads in the U.S. have access to paid paternity leave. We want to change this.

Watch Nate and Antwon's video to find out how:

Sign the pledge: www.dovemencare.com/pledge

Like Antwon and Nate, we're helping Dove Men+Care advocate for paid paternity leave for *ALL* dads! Over the next three months, we will be sharing stories of gay dad families and their paternity leave experience. Our goal is to get 100,000 folks to sign the Paternity Leave Pledge.

Dove Men+Care has collected over 30,000 signatures on the Pledge for Paternity Leave in three short months, in a mission to champion and support new legislation for federally mandated paid leave laws in the U.S. With the conversation growing on Capitol Hill, Dove Men+Care will target key legislators to drive urgency behind paid paternity leave policy and provide a social proof in the form of real dad testimonials, expert research and signature support from families across the country.

Our goal is to help Dove Men+Care bring 100,000 signatures to key policymakers in Washington, D.C. for their Day of Action on the Hill, and drive urgency behind this issue.

If you believe *ALL* dads should receive paid paternity leave, sign the Paternity Leave Pledge.

Surrogacy for Gay Men

What Professionals Will I Work With on a Surrogacy Journey?

There will be LOTS of people involved in your surrogacy journey. Kristin Marsoli of Circle Surrogacy breaks down the team of people you can expect to work with.

A surrogacy journey, while monumental, is also a complex process with multiple milestones, many of which are new territory for intended parents. You will likely form the strongest relationships with your egg donor and surrogate, however there are many other professionals who you'll encounter on your journey who will educate and support you on your way to parenthood.

Here are the types of professionals you can expect to work with on your surrogacy journey working with an agency such as Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation:

Parent Outreach Team

When you start your research on surrogacy and surrogacy agencies, if you contact Circle Surrogacy, your first point of contact will be a member of our Parent Outreach Team. This person solely supports intended parents at the very beginning stages of their journeys, before they've signed on with an agency. The Parent Outreach Team is a wonderful resource to answer questions about the surrogacy process, surrogacy costs, how to choose an agency and more. At Circle, many of our Parent Outreach Associates are also parents through surrogacy, so they can share their experiences and understand exactly what it's like to be in your shoes. When you have your surrogacy consultation, you'll meet with a Parent Outreach Associate and a Lawyer to discuss your personal surrogacy needs and journey. Your Parent Outreach Team will support you through signing on with the agency.

Circle's Parent Outreach Team

Egg Donation Matching Coordinator

It's time to match with the first of two women who will be very important in your journey to parenthood: your egg donor! Selecting an egg donor may come easy to some, but others may take more time determining their perfect match. Our egg donor coordination team will help you find the right egg donor to meet your needs. They will help you navigate the egg donor database and coordinate your egg donor match.

IVF Doctor and Clinic Coordinators

You'll work closely with your IVF clinic professionals, including coordinators and, especially, your doctor. Your IVF doctor will advise you on your IVF journey and embryos, evaluate your egg donor and surrogate to determine they are ready for the process medically, and perform the egg retrieval and embryo transfer. Some intended parents come to surrogacy having already identified a clinic, others look for guidance in choosing a clinic that will best suit their needs.

Program Manager and Coordinator

Perhaps the professionals you will work the closest with will be your Program Manager (PM) and Program Coordinator (PC). As your journey support team, your PC and/or PM will be your day-to-day contact during your entire journey, from the moment you sign on with the agency, until the birth of your baby and beyond. Your PC and your PM ensure that you are meeting every milestone, having a smooth journey, and preparing for the arrival of your baby(ies).

Social Workers

Early on in your journey, you'll have an intended parent support call with one of the agency's social workers. During this call, you'll speak with the social worker about your upcoming journey, setting up expectations, talk about matching preferences and more. Social workers are also available to intended parents throughout their journey should they have a bump in the road, or if they need help navigating and talking through a situation.

L-R Alicia Abdella, Manager of Intended Parent Support and Social Worker, Jessica McCaffrey, Intended Parent Attorney and Scott Buckley, VP of Client Services

Lawyers (both at Circle and local attorneys)

During the surrogacy process you will work with a lawyer for the following milestones:

  • Drafting, negotiating and finalizing your surrogacy contracts
  • Establishing your parental rights
  • Safely returning home

Intended parents will be assigned a Circle attorney who will be part of the Coordination team. Parents can also expect to work with local counsel – lawyers who work out of the state from which their gestational carrier resides. Local counsel will help with establishing parental rights.

Surrogate Matching Team

A key milestone during your surrogacy journey is matching with your gestational carrier. At Circle, the Matching Manager – who is also a lawyer – presents intended parents with the profile of a gestational carrier whom she believes will be a great match. The match is based on a few criteria: legal fit, personality fit, geographic location and views on surrogacy. The Matching Team will help coordinate your first call with your potential surrogate, and work with you to find the most suitable match.

Trust Accountant Team

Each surrogacy operates a little differently; however if you work with a full-service agency such as Circle Surrogacy, a Trust Accountant will manage any outgoing payments to surrogates, egg donors and third parties. Upon matching, trust accountants keep intended parents informed of the monies needed to fund all expected expenses up until 6 months post delivery. They can also answer any financial questions intended parents may have.

Medical Billing Team

Intended parents will interact with the Medical Billing Team when they are matched with their gestational carrier. The team determines what intended parents can expect to pay for medical expenses from local monitoring, pregnancy and delivery, based on their specific case. The Medical Billing Team also reviews each medical bill from monitoring, physicians and the hospital prior to payment to ensure accuracy, and advocate for intended parents should medical facilities need to be called for any discrepancies.

Gestational Carrier's OBGYN

Around the 10th week of pregnancy, the IVF clinic will discharge your surrogate from their care and she will start seeing her OBGYN. Your surrogate will select her OBGYN that is local to her, and usually the same doctor she saw for her own pregnancies. Many intended parents attend the 20-week ultrasound with their surrogate, at which time they meet the OBGYN in person (in some cases, IPs have been "attended" ultrasound appointments via video on their surrogate's phone!).

The entire team at Circle

Hospital Staff

Your baby will be delivered at a hospital in your gestational carrier's home state; many times, it's the hospital where she delivered her own children. Circle recommends touring the Labor & Delivery section of your surrogate's hospital to help familiarize yourself with its staff and layout in advance. Many intended parents combine their visit for the 20-week ultrasound and the hospital tour. Touring the hospital with your surrogate enables you both to ask questions of the hospital staff and prepare for baby's delivery.

Embassy personnel (international intended parents)

International parents will work with their agency's legal team as well as local counsel to ensure they can return home safely. Some intended parents will need to travel to the embassy to secure travel documents for their baby(ies).

There are so many experienced professionals involved in a surrogacy and egg donation journey. It's important to understand with whom you'll be working throughout each milestone. While every agency operates differently – and an independent surrogacy journey will involve fewer agency professionals – these are the professionals intended parents can expect to work with on a journey with Circle Surrogacy. And because Circle is a full-service agency, many of the professionals mentioned above – outside of IVF clinics, local attorneys, hospital and embassy personnel – are all under one roof, making the management of your journey smooth and secure.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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