Feature Stories

Gay Dads Tell Us the Meaning of Their Tattoos

We've noticed a trend on our Gays With Kids Instagram account: a good chunk of the gay dads we know have some pretty amazing ink! We got in touch with a bunch of these dads to ask them what special significance (if any) their tattoos have for them. Be sure to go through the entire collection; it's worth the effort!


Jason and David with Scout and Gus from New York, New York

Jason (bottom right) has a whale tattoo on his upper arm and an X on his forearm with the initials of his kids' first and middle names in each quadrant. He shares that his kids like his tattoos and they enjoy teasing him about his increasingly white beard. (Jason and David are the two men in the feature image of this article.) @jasonoranzo @davidfate

Michael and Norman with Caleb, Jonah, Zechariah and Levi from Stockton, California

Tattoos have a special significance for Norman (wearing red cap). The phoenix reminds him of the new life he began when he came out five years ago; the word Famiglia refers to his family; and Valdez, his family name, is tattooed on his forearm. He also has a cross tattoo. Michael (wearing blue cap) has four stars on his upper arm, one for each of his sons. @angelomichael_ @jessevaljr

Ewerton and Jonathan with Matheus from Natal, Brazil

Ewerton's leg tattoo consists of Maori symbols of balance and protection. His shoulder tattoo has no particular meaning; he just chose it for aesthetic reasons. Their son Matheus says he'll get a tattoo when he's a grown-up. @ewertonwilliambrito

Brian and Tyral with their daughters from Denver, Colorado

Brian (with dark hair) and Tyral both have similar tattoos of peacocks on their left forearms, which they chose because the birds are so full of life and character. Tyral also has a Leo (his sign) on one shoulder blade and Virgo (Brian's sign) on the other. The dads share that their three girls love their ink a lot!

Stephen with Birdie from Portland, Maine

Stephen's daughter Birdie likes to point to his tattoos of nautical stars and an anchor, but her favorite is his mermaid tattoo. @papabear_81

Michael and Jon with Georgia from Lake Oswego, Oregon

Michael's tattoos, which are the beginning of a sleeve, show tree silhouettes, natural elements that speak to his Native American heritage: He's part Nez Perce on his mom's side. @mjamesd

Rocco and Corey with Forge from Mamaroneck, New York

Rocco' son Forge and husband Corey love his tattoos, three of which have particular meaning for Rocco: those of his son, his husband and his first dog. @bigdognyc

David with his son and daughter from Palm Springs, California

David's favorite tattoo is his autism tattoo, which honors his son. He also relishes the Phoenix tattoo on his forearm, which represents his own rebirth after coming out. “When I came out, my entire life changed and so did the kids'. For the better!" @lifebydstephens

Anthony and Dom with Gabe from Old Bridge, New Jersey

Anthony's tattoos all have special meaning for him: his ice hockey number, lyrics from the “Rent" song “No Day But Today" and a giant octopus half-sleeve, because, as Anthony explains it, ink is the only way his skin gets any color beyond the occasional summertime sunburn. @devnewjersey

D.J. and John with twins Gregory and William and younger twins Mathew and Violet from New Canaan, Connecticut

D.J.'s tattoos include an anchor and a violet to celebrate his children. He looks forward to adding to his tattoo collection. @douglasjk

Tim and Addison with their daughter from Parker, Texas

Tim and Addison's tattoos are a collaborative effort as they've been together to get every one of them. In response to Addison's “I Love You" tattoo, Tim got one that reads “I Love You Most." Addison's sleeve is full of his favorite things from nature: flowers, birds and butterflies. @addisonabshire @johnsnit

Photo credit: facebook.com/WhitneyRogersPhotography/

Cheron with Antoinette from Fresno, California

Cheron has several tattoos, including one of roses, which honor his grandmother, and a crown, symbolizing royalty for his daughter (Marie) Antoinette. Two of his tattoos cover up the names of exes!

Davide and Thomas with Evelyn from New York, New York

Davide's daughter Evelyn includes tattoos in all of her coloring of him. Davide explains that his tattoos show his love for graphic design and sailing; many of them are traditional sailor tattoos. His left arm includes his family tree with names and birthdays. #dbfiori

Alfredo and Mitchell with Jasper from Dallas, Texas

Mitchell (in the V-neck) and Alfredo's tattoos are unique and carry special meaning for them.

Keith and Jovanny with their two daughters from Miami, Florida

Keith and Jovanny each have many tattoos, and the girls often ask about the meaning behind them. The dads agree that their most special tattoo (top right) is the one designed by Keith on the occasion of their wedding. Watch their wedding highlights video. @triguykeith @gio1ofakind

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Coming Out

How Three Gay Dads Found Peace With Their Ex-Wives After Coming Out

Making amends with an ex-wive is not always an easy or short road for many gay dads. Here's how three gay men and their ex-wives managed to find themselves at peace after a coming out process.

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“Take it back!"

You'll often hear those three words come from the mouth of a child. Usually they're in response to a playground tease, the common kind of slander — four eyes! metal mouth! — that kids get over fast. But when California dad Steve sat his three sons on the living room couch, the news he had to share was of much greater consequence. So when his 11-year old middle son burst into tears and shrieked those three words, the reaction pierced his dad's already-anxious heart.

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"When I am painting, it's like a different dimension I'm living. Your focus is entirely on what you are creating, where you enter this 'artworld' and that is your focus," says painter Oscar Dotter of his method. "Now, I find myself painting what she is influencing me to paint. I just let things go. It is more whimsical, a little more fun, not as political, not as angry, definitely brighter in colors. More of reflective of how I'm feeling now that I have children."

The "she" his is talking about is Finlee, one of Oscar's two daughters who, along with sister Bowie, he raises with husband-to-be Nick. Unlike in other professions, artists are in a unique position to manifest incorporeal concepts into something relatable and are renowned for radical changes in their styles before and after certain events. But it is not like Nick, who works in the much more rigid financial industry, was immune; in fact, Oscar and Nick both see their lives as "BK/AK" — "Before Kids" and "After Kids."

"It was like a totally different life that we had before we had our daughters," says Nick. "I spent a lot of time at work. That was a large part of my identity; it was a large part of my professional ambition."

Both parties admit that the transformation of the Angry Young Man and the Wall Street Workaholic was not without its paradigm shifts; aside from their established careers, the two were together for nearly 10 years before Finn showed up 2013 and Bowie in 2016, plenty of time for the duet routine to put down roots. However, what that routine actually set was the firm groundwork for the additions to their family that were to come, and Oscar and Nick consider their years as a twosome as time well spent. And that, in fact, is one of the biggest pieces of advice they give.

Like many prospective parents, Oscar, 43, and Nick, 39, asked around, seeking the assorted do's and don'ts, tales from the trenches, and other assorted nuggets of wisdom of parenthood from people already on the journey. A recurrent theme was the importance of creating strong foundations, of all sorts, before children are even a topic for discussion.

"Some of parents were younger, some older, but a lot of them had voiced they wished they had waited a couple more years because parenthood really changed things, emotionally and financially, for them," recalls Oscar.

But once they made up their minds to become fathers, it was full steam ahead. Opting for surrogacy, however, ushered in a very modern conversation that all the advice in the world would do no good: Of the two of them, who is the better genetic option to father a child?

Oscar gives the straightforward answer: "Nick's family has a better genetic history than I do, concerning cancer and heart disease. His genetic strand, in terms of having children being at less risk, looked more promising than mine."

If you think this sounds eerily like eugenics, think again. Genetic history is just one of many factors even run-of-the-mill sperm banks (and egg donation facilities) take into consideration when it comes to donors. One company requests men be at least 5'7'', others push that number to 5'9''. All require donors have at least a bachelor's degree, and have an age limit. Mental illness, a high prevalence of cancer in the family, and even myopia can knock a sperm donor out of the running. The now-defunct Repository for Germinal Choice was founded with the idea of accepting only those donors with Nobel Prizes to their name. With the advent of DNA testing, science gained a strong say in the baby-making biz, and as societally uncomfortable it is to say this or that person's genes are "better," medical technology reached a level where parents can actively try to minimize gene-based disorders being passed on to their children. And let there be no doubt: outside the scientific sphere, people have been choosing potential mates based on certain characteristics for...well, ever (even if those relationships never result in the birth of a child).


"We were very fortunate; our surrogacy journey was pretty smooth," says Nick. "But we know a lot of other couples who had failed IVF attempts once or twice or even three times in a row. It is truly a multi-year process. It can be a very emotionally draining."

And if the conception was hard, to say nothing of the birth, just you wait till the parenting starts.

"But it is the best thing to happen to us," Oscar says. "Nothing is more rewarding going to pick them up, them recognizing me and saying "hello" and "I love you" before they go to bed. It doesn't matter how challenging it is, at the end of the day, for me, it's the best thing in the world."

Given the girls' ages, the "where's mommy" question has yet to surface, although Finlee, now in pre-school, has sometimes said the mothers she sees in her cartoons are her own. While Nick predicts the subject will be broached "formally" in a year or so, Oscar noticed she is already tuned-in to the fact that she has two fathers and will identify them as such.

"We're not big disciplinarians or anything like that," admits Oscar, going on to say how the responsibilities of fatherhood, and Finlee, now three, and Bowie, nine months, are experiencing it, is an organic process. "It's OK for them to figure things out with us. We're figuring it out, and they're with us on it. We're learning, they're learning. I think that is the best thing for our family."

Entertainment

How Fatherhood Has Impacted Tom Daley's Diving Career for the Better

British diver Tom Daley, and new-ish gay dad, is looking to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in South Korea.

British diver Tom Daley is currently in the running to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in South Korea, his fourth if he competes, at the young age of just 26.

But he also has another concern that most young gay men his age couldn't fathom—fatherhood. He and his husband, filmmaker Dustin Lance Black, recently welcomed Robbie Ray via surrogacy in June 2018.

In an interview with the Independent, Daley explained how fatherhood has changed his routine and training, which he says is often for the better.

"It has changed my life completely in all of the best ways possible," Daley said. "It has changed my perspective, the way I think about things. [My son] is the most important thing in my life, everything I do is for him, everything I think about he is at the forefront of everything."

With respect to his diving career, Daley continued, "if you have a bad day at training, or a good day, you are grounded immediately when you get home through the door because you are having cuddles or you are having to change a dirty nappy. It is the first time that I have been able to leave diving at the diving board and not think about what I need to the next day in the pool."

Whatever the challenges he faces while training, he said, "I can leave it there because you don't have time to think about diving when you are looking after a kid under one."

The strategy seems to be working in Daley's favor. He recently enjoyed his most successful FINA Diving World Series ever this past Spring in Canada, winning 12 medals across five events. And barring any major catastrophe, he is overwhelmingly expected to qualify for South Korea 2020.

And we can't wait to cheer the young dad on!

Change the World

One Gay Dad's Fight Against Hate in Superior, Nebraska

Brian Splater is refusing to let homophobic and transphobic elected officials in his town go unchecked

Millie B. Photography

Guest post written by Brian Splater

No one ever should feel they will have a very lonely and secluded life as a child. But that is something me and many other gay kids believe as they are growing up.

The truth of the matter is there are people who will try everything in their power to have our rights go back in time instead of forward. It is very disheartening when these people are elected officials, or they are people who use their place of employment to spread their disgust and hate.

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Politics

America's First Gay Dad Governor Heads Into the Lion's Den

Colorado Governor Jared Polis recently became the first elected Democrat to speak at the annual Western Conservative Summit in Denver

Last Friday, American's first gay dad Governor, Jared Polis, became the first elected Democrat to speak at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver, where he urged the Republican crowd to help him build a "Colorado for all."

"While we should never gloss over the things that divide us, there is a lot more that unites us," Polis said. "When we close ourselves off from discussion or debate, and we reject the possibility of hearing and understanding other perspectives, it threatens the fabric of our democracy."

If he was hoping for a Kumbaya moment, he didn't exactly get it. As he was called to the stage, he was greeted with a smattering of applause—while others booed and shouted for a "recall" of the Governor.

"It was almost unbearable for me to sit there to listen to his talk," Abby Johnson, one of the event's attendees, told the Denver Post. "And I'm going to tell you why. He kept talking about equality for all persons, yet we live in a society where 60 million innocent human beings have been slaughtered in the name of choice. Where is their justice? Where is their equal rights?"

Polis was also criticized from his left flank for attending the same event that refuses to let the Log Cabin Republicans, a group of gay GOP members, participate—and that featured Donald Trump Jr. as a speaker the same day. "To me it feels like vanity," Katie Farnan, a staffer with progressive group Indivisible, told the Denver Post. "He can go and be a hip Democratic governor who isn't afraid to go into GOP sanctuary. Or maybe it's recall insurance. But unless he was there to hold them accountable for their support for fascist and racist policies, what's the point?"

In response to the criticism from both sides of the political aisle, Polis told the Colorado Sun: "I think it's very important that Coloradans of different ideologies, different races, different geographies, different orientations and gender identities all really celebrate that we're all part of what makes Colorado great."

The event is hosted each year by Colorado Christian University to bring together conservatives from around the state, and the larger West.

What do you think, dads? Was Polis's decision to speak at the event a savvy political move or mere pandering?

Entertainment

Hate Group Boycotts 'Toy Story' for Featuring Lesbian Moms—Hilarity Ensues on Twitter

"One Million Moms" announced a boycott of the latest Toy Story movie for *very briefly* featuring lesbian moms. Twitter's response was swift and hilarious.

One Million Moms, which is affiliated with the anti-LGBTQ American Family Association, recently called for a boycott of Toy Story 4 for (very, very briefly) featuring (interracial!) lesbian moms in the animated film. The angry, hateful moms affiliated with this group must have watched the film VERY closely because you could easily blink and miss the moment that apparently "blindsided" viewers.

The Internet reacted with a collective facepalm to the ridiculous boycott. Here are some of our favorite hilarious Twitter reactions to the hateful group:

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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