Gay Uncles

For This Gay Couple, Being a "Guncle" Means Setting a Good Example for the Next Generation

Gay Uncles Day is this Sunday! To celebrate, we're bringing you inspiring stories of gay men and the important role they play in the lives of their nieces and nephews.

Matt Sinclair and Clay Jackson are newlyweds, sharing their special day with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. They met online almost four years ago, but lived three and a half hours apart. Neither Matt nor Clay were ones to let distance stand in their way, so they decided to meet at a brewery halfway between their two locations. After four hours getting to know one another and tasting beers, they'd established a connection and a tradition. Now, everywhere they travel, you can find them sampling the local breweries as a throwback to when they first met and fell for one another.


Matt (left) and Clay


The couple are proud "guncles" to Clay's biological nephew and niece, 4-year-old Mason and 2-year-old Hannah. The best part of being an uncle, they say, is hearing the kids scream your name and insist on showing you their newest, most important toy.

"It's also amazing just seeing them grow and learn, from these adorable little bundles home from the hospital to the fearless toddlers they are now," Matt said. "They're just incredible kids."

The most unique aspect of being a gay uncle, Matt said, is knowing that his niece an nephew will grow up not thinking have an uncle who is gay is any different than having a straight aunt and uncle. Or two aunts.

"Mason was 3 months old when I first met him, and I held Hannah in my arms as soon as she was home from the hospital," Matt said. "So for them to grow up just knowing that we are their uncles and that it's perfectly normal is something I think will make our relationship so successful."

How about for the newlywed themselves? Do they hope to be more than an uncle one day? In short: yes. The husbands recently bought a house in Washington, DC, where they both currently live and work, and are focusing on their careers before growing their family. Their ideal timeframe for starting a family is in the next 3-5 years, once they're set up financially and their home can handle more than just the two of them.

Both adoption and surrogacy are Matt and Clay's preferred paths to fatherhood, but if price wasn't a factor, they would like to do surrogacy. "Growing up, neither of us thought we'd even be able to marry, let alone have our own biological children," shared Matt. "So knowing that there is a way for us to grow our family in that way, and for us to get a glimpse into how we were as children would make us feel more connected to each other."

"To look at our child and be able to point out to my husband, 'they have my chin, or yep that's my stubborn attitude coming out' would just be so rewarding for us," added Clay.

But fatherhood comes with its own set of worries, as the two men elaborated. "We do worry about bullying or teasing because our child or children have two dads," said Matt. "I would also be concerned with making sure they knew that just because they don't have a 'traditional' family that doesn't mean that they are loved less or looked at less by anybody else."

In addition to the fear of bullying, Matt and Clay share the same anxieties as any parent - having a life so completely dependent on them, looking to them for guidance. "The thought of knowing that this life is completely dependent on you and that it is our responsibility to raise them into being a respectful and responsible member of society is daunting," said Clay.

But these fears are heavily outnumbered by the sheer excitement of becoming dads. Matt and Clay are proud guncles with Matt sharing that his niece has his heart, and he loves her to pieces. "The first time I would hold [my child] in my arms... I'm probably going to be a sobbing mess of happy tears when that happens, but I will feel as though my life has truly come to have more meaning," said Matt.

"I would be so excited for all of the "firsts," from first time crawling to first word all the way to them getting their first car or relationship; I would be excited as to seeing who they become and knowing where they had come from to get there," added Clay, "But let's get real for a minute, who wouldn't be the most excited for the first time your child looked at you, and actually knowing who you were when they say 'da-da?'"

Even though these dads-to-be might not be considered a "traditional family" by some, their hopes and dreams for their future kids are true of any loving family. We're excited to follow these fabulous guncles as their story unfolds.

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Gay Uncles

Gay Uncles are an Essential Part of This Gay Dad Family's Village

It takes a village to raise a child, and this village includes many gay uncles

In November last year, Ottawa-based husbands Matt Ottaviani and Rej Gareau (whose story we shared in July) became first-time dads through surrogacy. They were overjoyed to welcome their daughter Andy and become a family of three.

But as many of us know, raising a child isn't always just about the nuclear family. The African proverb "it takes a village to raise a child" is a commonly repeated phrase, and rings very true for many families. Matt and Rej are no different, and when they shared their story last month, one thing jumped out to us: the important role Andy's guncles play in her and her dads' lives.

In honor of Gay Uncles Day today, we reached out to Andy's many guncles to learn first-hand how their relationship with the family affects their lives. Here's what they had to say.

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Popular

Happy Gay Uncles Day! Hug the 'Guncle' in Your Life Today

Yes, Gay Uncles Day is a silly, made up holiday — but underneath all the smiling photos of gay men with their nieces and nephews is an important message.

It all started three years ago in August: the Internet lit up with the hashtag #GayUnclesDay, accompanied by countless adorable pictures of gay men beaming for the camera alongside their nieces and nephews. And just like that, another fake holiday was born.

But National Gay Uncles Day is not just another silly social media antic — beneath all the smiling pictures is a message that is at best aspirational — from gay men who dream of parenthood but haven't been able to make it happen for themselves —and at worst, for the many gay men not allowed in the lives of their siblings' children, a reminder of how far we have yet to go.

So yes, it's a silly, made up holiday — but one we're more than happy to support. So a very happy Gay Uncles Day to us all!

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Popular

This Gay Uncle is on a Mission to Provide His Nieces and Nephews With as Much Culture as Possible

Mike Adank isn't a dad (yet!) but that isn't stopping him from introducing his nieces and nephews to all New York City has to offer.

Mike Adank, who lives in New York City, has been a "guncle" for 19 years to Dylan (19), Emma (17), Laura (12), Alex (8), Katie (6), and Lizzie (3). His Instagram account reveals him to be a fun uncle who thinks the world of his nieces and nephews, and someone eager to share with them his life and passions. He's attentive, enthusiastic, and, dare we say, probably the favorite uncle.

Last year for "Gay Uncles Day" he shared the post below on Instagram with his niece and nephew, with a caption that read: "who needs your own kids when you can just borrow your siblings'?!"

As much as Mike loves being an uncle, however, this message was a bit tongue and cheek: he's begun thinking about having his own family one day in the maybe not-so-distant future.

Mike is the manager of VIP guest experiences at Jujamcyn Theaters, a major Broadway landlord and producer. He lives and breathes Broadway, loves adventures and is a proud New Yorker.

Mike takes his status as a "guncle" seriously and has played a large role in his nieces and nephews lives since they were born. Although they live far away in Wisconsin, Mike travels back two or three times a year, and they make the most of their time together: hiking, camping, gossiping and eating. He also makes sure they see the annual summer musical in their hometown, and plans to give each of them a paid for ticket to New York upon their graduation from high school. "I want them to be well rounded and provide them with as much culture as possible," he said.

As a gay man, Mike also feels it's his responsibility to teach them about tolerance and respect. "Or at least demonstrate it and be an example of how successful you can be if you stay true to yourself and follow your dreams." Recently, he was an even prouder uncle when his niece stood up to a teacher who was allowing hate in the classroom.

Mike has been seeing someone whom he meet via Chappy for the past four months, and although everything is going very well, it's still too early to bring up the conversation of kids. But Mike has begun researching regardless as he's still open to being a single dad if he hasn't found someone who shares the same dream.

In terms of a choosing a path, Mike is keeping his options open even though he's very keen to become a foster dad."Fostering is at the top of my list," said Mike. "I love the idea of sharing my love and life with a child that may be experiencing some rough times, or may not have been as fortunate this far in their life. Everyone deserves to find that one person they can count on, look up to, learn from, and feel safe with, [when] they need it most." Ideally Mike would like to foster to adopt, but he'd also be happy just fostering those in need.

Becoming a dad doesn't come without some fear on Mike's part. And those fears are tied up with his sexuality. "I'm a little scared of them not liking me because I'm gay; I don't want them to feel short changed." But on the flip-side of his concerns, Mike knows that his sexuality could also be a real asset, and help him educate his children on the importance of compassion and love.

As Mike gets closer to celebrating an exciting milestone - the big 4-0 - which is still a couple of years away, he's getting more and more excited about fatherhood, but still wants to be young enough to have fun his kids. The goal is in 5 years time to not only be a fabulous guncle, but also a loving and doting dad. We're excited to watch this space!

Mike with his nephew Dylan

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

A Gay Dad Gains Clarity After a Health Scare

A recent health scare helped give Erik Alexander clarity.

Sometimes fear can cripple the mind and hinder ones judgement. Having children of my own, I have come to grips with accepting the things I cannot change and learned to take action when there is no other choice. When it comes to my own personal health, the future and well being of my family gives me all the clarity I need to make the right decision about any kind of health scare.

This episode is dedicated to all the parents out there that are going through or have gone through similar situations.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

This European Couple Became Dads Through a U.K.-Based Surrogacy Program

Janno, from Estonia, and Matthias, from Belgium, were accepted into the "Childlessness Overcome Through Surrogacy" Program.

Janno Talu, an accountant, and Matthias Nijs, an art gallery director, were born in different parts of Europe. Janno, 39, is from Estonia, and Matthias, 28, is from Belgium. Their paths crossed when the two moved to London, each from their different corners of the European Union.

Janno relocated to London earlier than Matthias, when he was 24, and his main reason for the move was his sexuality. "Although Estonia is considered one of the more progressive countries in Eastern Europe, when it comes to gay rights, it is still decades behind Western society in terms of tolerance," said Janno. "And things are not moving in the right direction." In 2016, same-sex civil union became legal, but the junior party in the current coalition government is seeking to repeal the same-sex partnership bill. "In addition," Janno continued, "they wish to include the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman in the country's constitution. Even today, there are people in Estonia who liken homosexuality to pedophilia, which is why I decided to start a new life in the UK, where I could finally be myself."

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Surrogacy for Gay Men

Interested in Surrogacy? Check Out These Bay Area Events This Weekend

If you're in the Bay Area this weekend, two major events are happening that will be of interest for dads-to-be and surrogacy advocates: the Men Having Babies San Francisco Conference, and the SF Advocacy and Research Forum for Surrogacy and LGBT Parenting (ARF)

If you're in San Francisco or the surrounding area, clear your calendar this weekend. Two events are happening simultaneously that are significant for dads-to-be AND surrogacy advocates: the Men Having Babies San Francisco Conference, and the SF Advocacy and Research Forum for Surrogacy and LGBT Parenting (ARF). For an outlines of both events, check out below.

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News

Gay Dads Show Up at Boston Event to Drown Out Anti-Trans Protesters

When Trystan Reese found out protesters were planning to show up to an event in Boston he was presenting at, he put out a call to his community for help — and gay dads showed up.

A couple months ago, Trystan Reese, a gay, trans dad based in Portland, Oregon, took to Instagram to share a moving, if incredibly concerning, experience. Reese, who works with Family Equality Council, was speaking at an event in Boston, and learned before his appearance that a group of protesters were planning to attend.

"As a trans person, I was terrified to be targeted by anti-LGBTQ people and experienced genuine fear for my own safety," Trystan wrote. In response, he did what many LGBTQ people would do in a similar situation — reach out to his community in Boston, and ask for their support. "And they came," he wrote. But it wasn't just anyone within the LGBTQ community that came to his defense, he emphasized — "you know who came? Gay men. Gay dads, to be exact. They came, ready to block people from coming in, ready to call building security, ready to protect me so I could lead my event. They did it without question and without reward. They did it because it was the right thing to do."

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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