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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Politics

Colorado Republicans Try and Fail to Outlaw LGBTQ Marriage and Adoption Rights

A bill introduced by four Republican state legislators in Colorado that would outlaw same-sex marriage and adoption rights was voted down.

The "Colorado Natural Marriage and Adoption Act," which would have outlawed gay marriage and adoption in the state of Colorado, was voted down in the state legislature this week. The bill was sponsored by Republican Rep. Stephen Humphrey and three of his conservative colleagues: Dave Williams, Shane Sandridge and Mark Baisley.

If enacted, the bill would have enforced "state law that marriage is between one man and one woman" and restrict "adoption of children by spouses in a marriage ... that consist of one man and one woman."

The bill, which had little chance of success, particularly in Colorado which has trended more progressive over the past several election cycles, was mostly symbolic, according to Sanridrge. "We all know this bill isn't gonna pass in this current left-wing environment," he told Colorado Public Radio. "It's to remind everyone, this is the ultimate way to conceive a child."

In a sign of how far we've come on the issue of LGBTQ marriage and parenting rights, most Republican legislators in the state did not endorse the bill.

Though the bill had little chance of passage, LGBTQ advocacy groups in the state are taking the threats seriously nonetheless. Daniel Ramos, director of the LGBTQ group One Colorado, told LGBTQ Nation that the bills were an attempt to return Colorado to its "hate status" of the 1990s, adding the aggressiveness of the measures were "a bit surprising."

Change the World

Your Marriage Should Be Gayer, Says the New York Times

In an op-ed for the New York Times, Stephanie Coontz, author of "Marriage: a History," lists the many insights LGBTQ marriages can offer straight ones.

According to a fascinating op-ed in the New York Times this week by Stephanie Coontz, author of "Marriage: a History," turns out the people convinced marriage equality — legal across the United States for five years now — would usher in the complete breakdown of civil society should be more worried about the health of their own marriages.

In the article, Coontz details the results of research that followed 756 "midlife" straight marriages, and 378 gay marriages, and found same-sex couples reporting the lowest levels of physiological distress — with male gay couples reporting the lowest. The reason for this, the author said, is pretty simple — misogyny. The idea that men and women should strive for parity in a relationship is still a fairly new idea, Coontz said, and traditional gender roles are still pervasive. Gay couples, meanwhile, are free from such presumptions, which often results in happier, healthier relationships.

The most interesting findings in the research relate to parenting. While gender norms tend to be even more emphasized among straight people once they have children, with the bulk of the childrearing falling to mothers, same-sex couples — once again freed from the stereotypes of the male/female divide — parent more equitably. As the author notes, "A 2015 survey found that almost half of dual-earner, same-sex couples shared laundry duties, compared with just under a third of different-sex couples. And a whopping 74 percent of same-sex couples shared routine child care, compared with only 38 percent of straight couples."

When it comes to time spent with children, men in straight marriages spent the least amount of time and the lowest proportion of "nonwork" time, with their children — while men in same-sex marriages spent just as much time with their children as women in a straight relationship. "The result?" Coontz writes, "Children living with same-sex parents experienced, on average, three and a half hours of parenting time per day, compared with two and a half for children living with a heterosexual couple."

Straight fathers devote the least amount of time — about 55 minutes a day — on their children, which includes things like physical needs, reading, playing, and homework. Gay mothers spent an additional 18 minutes each and straight mothers an additional 23 minutes. Gay fathers spent the most time with their children, the study found, an average of an additional 28 minutes a day.

Taken together, straight couples spend an average of 2 hours and 14 minutes on their children. Lesbian moms spend an additional 13 minutes, while gay men spend 33 more minutes than straight couples.

One factor, the author notes, that can help explain this difference is this: gay parents rarely end up with an unintended or unwanted child, whereas a full 45% percent of pregnancies in straight relationships in 2011 (the last year data is available) were unintended, and 18% were unwanted.

But right. Gay people shouldn't be parents.

Change the World

Uber Driver Accuses Gay Dads of Child Trafficking

An Uber driver in San Diego reportedly accused two gay dads of child trafficking because their child "didn't have a mother."

[An update on this story as of February 17, 2020: Uber Support has still yet to respond to James Moed and his multiple requests from further comment. The driver who falsely accused the gay dads of kidnaping their own child, in fact, continues to "drive around with a "Pro Diamond" status with a 4.93 rating," James said in a recent Tweet.]

On January 29 of this year, James Moed took an Uber with his husband, and their newborn son, to the Marriott Marina hotel in the San Diego area. As their newborn son cried in the backseat of the car, the family's driver offered this piece of helpful advice:

The baby just needs his mother.

Any queer dad has been through this scenario a million times — the dreaded "Where's the Mommy?" question. But even when the dads explained that their son had two fathers, not a mother, the driver "didn't back down," Moed said via Twitter.

Little did the couple realize just how perplexed the driver actually was. At 1:30am in the morning, the couple was greeted by a loud knock on their hotel door. Officers from the Port of San Diego Harbor Police Department were on the other side, demanding to see the couple's identification — and their son's.


"It turns out the Uber driver who had taken us to the hotel had called the cops – accusing us of child trafficking? Endangerment?" Moed wrote on Twitter. Though the situation was quickly resolved, the couple was nonetheless — and understandably — "freaked out."

"What if we hadn't had his passport?" Moed wrote. "Where can my queer family travel safely?"

The couple took their complaints to Uber. In response — they were refunded $10. "Keep your $10," Moed wrote. "We want proof you keep your LGBTQ riders safe."

After Pink News requested further comment from Uber, the company gave the following canned response:

"As soon as we learned of this incident we launched an investigation. Our Community Guidelines make clear that we do not tolerate discrimination."

The dads, however, are keeping up the fights, demanding evidence of some sort of LGBTQ sensitivity training their drivers must undergo. We'll keep you posted as we learn more.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

'A Gay Man's Wife': One Couple's Co-Parenting Journey

The podcast 'A Gay Man's Wife,' explores how one woman makes her marriage to a gay man work for her — and their family.

Guest post written by Michael and Tawyne, hosts of A Gay Man's Wife

Michael: Growing up, I always knew I was different. I knew that what my family perceived as normal wasn't who I was. Only when I hit a certain maturity in my teenage years did I understand that I was gay. Still, I didn't know what that meant for me at the time. When I was 16 I met Tawyne (15) and immediately felt something that I didn't quite understand. She was wild like a tornado and captivated me. Throughout the first year of our friendship we fell in love.

Keep reading...
Politics

Supreme Court to Hear Major Case Concerning LGBTQ Foster Care Parents

The Supreme Court agreed to decide whether cities are allowed to exclude tax-funded adoption agencies from foster care systems if they refuse to work with gay couples.

In 2018, city officials in Philadelphia decided to exclude Catholic Social Services, which refuses to work with LGBTQ couples, from participating in its foster-care system. The agency sued, claiming religious discrimination, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit unanimously ruled against the agency, citing the need to comply with nondiscrimination policies.

The case, Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, follows a 2018 Supreme Court decision regarding a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. In that case, the court narrowly ruled that the baker bad been discriminated against, on religious grounds, by the state's civil rights commission. It did not decide the broader issue: whether an entity can be exempt from local non-discrimination ordinances on the basis of religious freedom.

The court — whose ideological center has shifted to the right since the addition of Justice Brett Kavanaugh in fall 2018 — may choose to do so now. Advocates quickly called on the court to consider the potential impact on the more than 400,000 children currently in the foster care system:

"We already have a severe shortage of foster families willing and able to open their hearts and homes to these children," said Leslie Cooper, deputy director of the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project. "Allowing foster care agencies to exclude qualified families based on religious requirements that have nothing to do with the ability to care for a child such as their sexual orientation or faith would make it even worse. We can't afford to have loving families turned away or deterred by the risk of discrimination."

"It is unconscionable to turn away prospective foster and adoptive families because they are LGBTQ, religious minorities, or for any other reason unrelated to their capacity to love and care for children," said HRC President Alphonso David. "We reject the suggestion that taxpayer-funded child welfare services should be allowed to put discrimination over a child's best interest. This case could also have implications for religious refusals that go far beyond child welfare. The Supreme Court must make it clear that freedom of religion does not include using taxpayer funds to further marginalize vulnerable communities."

The court may choose to override a 1990 decision, Employment Division v. Smith, which created the current standard for carving out religious exemptions. In that case, the court ruled that laws that target a specific faith, or express hostility towards certain beliefs, are unconstitutional — but this standard has long been abhorred by religious conservatives, who think it doesn't offer enough protections for religions. If the court does overrule Smith, it could have far-ranging consequences. " As noted on Slate, "it would allow anyone to demand a carve-out from laws that go against their religion, unless those laws are 'narrowly tailored' to serve a 'compelling government interest.'"

The four members of the court's conservative wing — Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh —have all signaled an openness to reconsider Smith. The ruling's fate, then, likely rests in the hands of the court's new swing vote, Chief Justice Roberts.

For more, read the full article on Slate.

Gay Dad Life

Dads Tell Us Their 'Gayest Moment Ever' as Parents

We may be dads — but we're still gay, dammit! And these "gayest moments ever," sent to us from our Instagram community, prove it.

Did your child know all the lyrics to Madonna songs by age 3? Do your kids critique all the red carpet lewks from the Tony Awards? Do you often have baby food, diapers, sparkling white wine, gourmet appetizer, and fresh cut flowers in your shopping cart — all in one trip? If you answered 'yes' to any of the above, you just might be... a gay dad.

We asked the dads in our Instagram community to share their gayest moments as a dad, ever, and their responses were just as hilarious as they were relatable.

Here's a great way to start the week...

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News

What's it Like to Be a Child of the 'Gayby Boom'?

Tosca Langbert, who grew up with two dads, writes a piece for the Harvard Business Review about what it's like being among the first children of the "Gayby Boom" to come of age.

We've previously written about the pressure on LGBTQ parents to appear perfect, given that so many in the United States still feel out families shouldn't exist in the first place. And we know this pressure trickles down to our kids. But In an article for the Harvard Business Review titled 'The Gayby Boom Is Here to Stay," author Tosca Langbert eloquently writes, from her perspective, about the experience of beingone of the first children to come of age during an era when LGBTQ parenthood is far more commonplace. She and her two siblings, she notes, "were raised in a family that was an impossibility only decades ago."

In the article, Langbert said she knew from a young age that her family was different from those of most of her peers, who had one a father and a mother. But otherwise, she writes, she didn't feel like her family differed much. "Like any other parents, Dad sat in the carpool lane after school and taught us how to ride our bikes," she writes, "while Papa took us to the movies on the weekends and separated the whites from the colors."

Keep reading...

Fatherhood, the gay way

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