Gay Dad Life

A Gay Dad's Message to the Airlines: Put Kindness First

This week our family took to the the air and highways of the U.S. on a whirlwind trip to celebrate family.  In light of recent viral news pieces, as two dads traveling with our four-year-old son, I had my reservations about how things might unfold.

This in no way diminishes the way others feel they have been mistreated, but I’m happy to report that we enjoyed a most rewarding trip.  Our ground crew was efficient in boarding all passengers in a  respectful fashion with those who had physical needs first, those with children under 2 next, all active military after that, and because we planned ahead (and paid a small fee) we boarded with group one and took our seats.  We were greeted in a kind manner and those who could immediately tell that we were both parents to our child made friendly eye contact and regarded us with the unsaid camaraderie we all know when traveling with little ones.  We packed plenty of activities and made the most of things.  At the end of the flight our son was invited to stay behind for a visit to the flight deck and a hug from our flight attendant.  We did our part to make things smooth and they did theirs.

Throughout the boarding process our flight crew was jovial and kept their cool when other passengers were in clear violation of policy, such as one indignant passenger who walked her non-companion dog (aka: pet) onto the aircraft and unclipped the leash, allowing the dog to move about the cabin.  Certainly there were some terse negotiations among the flight and ground crews, but ultimately it was handled professionally.

During the taxi process as the crew was giving the required safety spiel, another passenger chose that time to unbuckle, stand up and rummage around his baggage in the now-open overhead bin.  Crisp instructions were given over the PA, interrupting the process of the safety talk.  We were about 20 seconds from having to have the aircraft stopped when the passenger finally complied.  These issues are completely avoidable, and this crew did their best to get us off the ground on time.  While I recognize that some recent issues with the airlines have been poorly handled, there are also so many good flights with decent people doing what they can to keep us safe at 30,000 feet.

In my opinion, the airline industry has been in dire need of a return to putting kindness first.  For far too long we, as passengers, have been made to feel like we are an imposition instead of the paying customers we are.  We book our expensive tickets, choose from ever-reducing routes, and plan for the challenges of navigating all the TSA regulations that seem to change on a daily basis.  We try to understand the ever changing landscape of how large is too large and how heavy is too heavy for our baggage, and what constitutes yet another fee.  We join airline clubs and pay a la carte for every little thing.  When we finally get into our seats we hope we will get off the ground in a timely manner.  And now we have to worry that someone will become agitated or an airline professional will begin a brawl.

It is time for passengers and crew to find a happy medium, and that means those who are beholden to shareholders understand that it really isn’t all about money, and that long-term success comes in the form of public perception and passenger loyalty.  We all need to bring humanity back to travel, and in this current political and social climate we are all a bit more on edge, worried that we are being singled out by others.  Perhaps we need to take a deep breath and see one another as people with hearts and families, and that we really all can just get along.  Maybe I’m being a bit naive, but I’ve seen the best of it and I’ve seen the worst, and I know it’s time for a change.

As we travel farm country in the middle of America this week, we are fortunate to be greeted as just another family and not challenged as some have been in recent weeks.  Perhaps we present ourselves in a welcoming manner and not expecting the worst from people, but I know we try to give others the benefit of the doubt before assuming they are against us.  If they prove me otherwise I will clearly protect my family, but I believe we will help bridge some of the misconceptions of how families like ours are just a family built on love. Life is good and we plan to keep making memories and including travel of all kinds in our future.  Here’s hoping the trend goes toward a kinder, more gentle experience.

This piece was penned by Dennis Wood, a dad whose family we have twice featured on our site. Read those articles here:

Gay Since the 1970s, Dad Dennis Has a Plan to Fight Back Against Injustice

Then & Now: Dennis, Jody & Sam

For more on the issues with the airlines, read:

United Airlines Detains Gay Dad for Having Hand “Too Close” to Son’s Genitals

Gay Dads Denied Family Boarding on Southwest


Show Comments ()
Gay Dad Life

The Suburban Gay Dad

Are you intimidated by the suburbs? This gay dad was — but then he moved there.

In a recent article for Yahoo! Lifestyle, Steve Jacobs says the thought of living in the suburbs as a gay dad "intimidated" him. But when he started fantasizing about garages, he began to question that notion. Any apprehension he had soon evaporated, he said, one winter morning while trying to navigate the snowy streets of New York City with a stroller.

While "pushing the stroller through snow banks and pools of slush with snowflakes stinging our faces," he wrote, "a vision came to me: I pictured us walking into a garage, hopping into a car, and arriving at a diner with 10 times less drama. This image planted the seed of moving to the 'burbs that I couldn't shake."

Soon, the family of four found a house in a town a half hour outside the city. "It had grass and a beautiful yard for our spirited kiddos. The schools were good. There were even good restaurants. The only red flag: Census data estimated only 0.1 percent of the population was gay male."

There were some "growing pains" while trying to make friends in this environment. "When we attended our first dinner party, within minutes the hostess went to the kitchen and the other wives followed her, while the husbands settled into the living room. Ira and I froze, looking at each other. In the city, our straight friends hadn't separated out like this for the evening. Should we stay with the dudes, exert our masculinity, and blow off the mom we liked? Or does one of us go with the wives and accept the personal branding that comes with that? We did a quick rock paper scissors in the foyer. Ira went with the wives."

But ultimately, "being a parent defined me more than I ever imagined it would," he wrote, and he settled in nicely to his new suburban life.

Have you had a similar adjustment, from city life to the suburbs? Tell us about it at for an upcoming piece!

Gay Dad Life

"Fridays with Fitz": A New Kid's Book Based Upon the Son of These Two Dads

Tracey Wimperly, author of the new children's book, said she hopes to give a more honest portrayal of the role grandparents play in the lives of children.

Guest post Tracey Wimperly

I've recently written a children's picture book (aimed at 2-4 year olds) called "Fridays with Fitz: Fitz Goes to the Pool." Every Friday - when his two dads go to work - Fitz and his grandparents (my husband, Steve and I) head off on an adventure. Through the eyes of a curious and energetic 3 year old, even ordinary adventures, like riding the bus or foraging for fungus in the forest can be fun and magical.

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Life

8 Ways for Dads to Find Work/Life Balance

Finding work/life balance is hard enough... but can be even harder for gay dads.

Having kids is an amazing part of life, and it should be fun. Life does tend to get in the way sometimes, and one huge aspect of that is work. Striking that balance between work and home life is tough. If you both work it's even harder.

And if you're a gay couple, it can have it's own set of problems above and beyond the standard work-life issues that people face. Recently, the Harvard Business Review conducted a study that focused specifically on the experiences of same-sex couples who wanted to make moves towards a work/life balance.

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Family Stories

David and Ben Met on the Dance Floor — and Are Now Grooving Their Way Through Fatherhood

David and Ben, who became fathers with the help of Northwest Surrogacy Center, live in Melbourne with their daughter, Maia.

In 2003, while both studying at Reading University in the UK, Ben Suter and David Cocks met after locking eyes on the dance floor and then being introduced by a mutual friend. Ben, a meteorologist and Operations Manager, and David, an Assistant Principal, have been together ever since. They moved to Australia together in 2010, seeking a different life, and an overall better work-life balance. The chose Cairns in Queensland as their new home, between the Great Barrier Reef and the tropical rainforest, "taking life a bit easier," said David. The couple were also married in June 2016, back home in England.

While David always wanted kids, Ben took a little convincing. So they started their parenting journey with a dog, Titan, who quickly became like their first born. From there, Ben came around rather quickly.

Keep reading... Show less
Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Single Gay Dad and the City

When Kyle decided to take his four kids, ages 6-11, to New York City on vacation, his friends thought he was crazy.

"You're crazy, Kyle."

"You can't be serious? A single dad taking four kids to the Big Apple? Think again."

"That's bold. There's no way I'd do that."

Those were a few of the responses I heard from my friends as I told them I was thinking of booking a trip to New York City with four kids, ages 11-6. My children's fall vacation from school was approaching and I wanted to get out of the house and explore. Was the Big Apple too much of an adventure?

Keep reading... Show less

National's Pitcher Cites Wife's Two Moms as Reason for Declining White House Invite

"I think that's an important part of allyship," Doolittle said of his wife's two moms.

Sean Doolittle, pitcher for the Washington Nationals, declined an invitation to the White House after his team won the World Series this year. In an interview with the Washington Post, he listed his numerous reasons for staying home — and a main consideration, he revealed, was his wife's two moms.

"I want to show support for them. I think that's an important part of allyship, and I don't want to turn my back on them," Doolittle said during the interview.

Trump's treatment of a minority groups, generally, factored into his decision as well. "I have a brother-in-law who has autism, and [Trump] is a guy that mocked a disabled reporter. How would I explain that to him that I hung out with somebody who mocked the way that he talked or the way that he moves his hands? I can't get past that stuff."

Doolitttle clarified that his decision had little to do with policy disagreements with the White House. "There's a lot of things, policies that I disagree with, but at the end of the day, it has more to do with the divisive rhetoric and the enabling of conspiracy theories and widening the divide in this country. My wife and I stand for inclusion and acceptance, and we've done work with refugees, people that come from, you know, the 'shithole countries.'"

He concluded by saying he respected his teammates decision to attend the White house ceremony. "I want people to know that I put thought into this, and at the end of the day, I just can't go."

Read more of the Washington Post interview here.


New York Will Fight 'Repugnant' Trump Rule on Adoption, Says Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York promises legal action of the Trump administration moves ahead with plans to allow discrimination against LGBTQ adoptive and foster parents

Last week, the Trump administration announced plans to allow adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate against prospective LGBTQ parents — but he may face a legal fight from (former) hometown. In a tweet, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York said the proposed move "isn't just discriminatory and repugnant to our values,— it's also heartless and dumb as it would deny countless children a loving family and a safe place to call home." If the proposal moves forward, he continued. "we'll take legal action to stop it.

Governor Cuomo's office followed up the tweet with a lengthier statement posted to their website:

Once again the Trump administration is attacking the hard-earned rights and protections of the LGBTQ community, this time proposing a new measure that would give foster care and adoption agencies license to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Trump's proposal isn't just discriminatory and repugnant to our values — it's also heartless and dumb as it would deny countless children a loving family and a safe place to call home. If he moves forward with this rule, we'll take legal action to stop it.

No matter what happens in Washington, New York State is and will continue to be a beacon of equality in this country. Our Human Rights Law and adoption regulations expressly prohibit discrimination against the LGBTQ community, including when it comes to adoption. I encourage any LGBTQ New Yorker who feels they are a victim of this discrimination to contact the State Division of Human Rights for assistance.

Our message to the Trump administration is simple: there is no place for hate in New York or in our nation, and we will not allow this noxious proposal to stop LGBTQ New Yorkers from becoming parents or providing care to children in need.

Fatherhood, the gay way

Get the latest from Gays With Kids delivered to your inbox!

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse