Gay Dad Life

#GWKThenAndNow: Bill, J.R., Mary and Nora

This week's #GWKThenAndNow is Bill, one of our first gay dad bloggers, and his husband J.R. The two met in New York City in September 1997 when they were playing for different teams in the same gay bowling league. They flirted for a few weeks until it was time for their teams to play each other; by the end of the night they made plans for their first date two days later.

High school photos of J.R. and Bill, 1983 and 1985 respectively

Follow their journey from high school to 1997 to 2015, and along the way meet their two gorgeous daughters, whom they co-parent with a lesbian couple.

Christmas 1997: Bill (l) and J.R. in the first photo ever taken of them together

Bill and J.R. have visited the altar together three times: The first was a commitment ceremony in May of 1999, for which Bill shares, "At that time the thought of ever being legally married didn't seem possible. We held our ceremony strictly out of wanting to declare our commitment to each other in front of our friends and families."; a "Civil Disobedience Wedding" in San Francisco in 2004; and a legal wedding in 2008 during the brief window of time before Prop. 8 was passed.

Images clockwise: The top image with their daughter, Mary, is from the legal wedding in ’08; J.R. is carrying Bill in the Civil Disobedience wedding; the Commitment Ceremony in ‘99.

Following their commitment ceremony, they honeymooned in San Francisco. After only 24 hours, the two decided that's where they wanted to live. So they moved there in February 2001 and three years later were married in a mass "Civil Disobedience" ceremony held during San Francisco's Winter of Love weddings.

Enjoying a beer in Amsterdam, 2003

2006: AIDS Lifecycle

J.R. and Bill both wanted kids, but they also knew that they lived in one of the most expensive cities in the world and had no extended family living nearby for support. They did their research, and determined that co-parenting with two moms was their best approach. This created an instant support network in addition to easing the financial burden. Bill and J.R. met their future co-parents, a lesbian couple, though a monthly prospective parents brunch. They spent two years getting acquainted before having Mary, their first daughter, in November 2006.

J.R. and Bill with Mary, 2006

On October 9, 2008, the 11th anniversary of their first date, J.R. and Bill were legally married in California. That wedding was made extra-special thanks to the participation of their eldest daughter, Mary, as flower girl. In December 2009, J.R. and Bill became dads again, welcoming their second daughter Nora.

January 2010: J.R. with Norah

Through co-parenting J.R. and Bill have been able to have the best of both worlds; children and all that they bring to their lives, while also maintaining a non-child-centric social life. They're especially thankful for their group of friends, who adore the dads' two daughters and include them whenever possible.

2014: AbFab Family

March 2014: J.R. photo bombing Nora

If Bill had to describe his family in one word it would be "silly" and we think these photos reflect a wonderfully loving family who certainly have lots of fun together. Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos with us!

San Francisco Pride, 2014

September 2015: Castro Street Fair, San Francisco

If you'd like to be one of our featured families for #GWKThenAndNow, please email Brian at and share your story with us!

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Gay Dad Life

Gong Hei Fat Choy! Happy Chinese New Year!

As we usher in the year of rat, we asked some of our dads how they honor this special time.

Today we're celebrating, alongside our families, the Chinese New Year! As we usher in the year of rat, we asked some of our dads how they honor this special time, what they do to celebrate, and how they're instilling these traditions in their kids. Here are some of their responses.

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Gay Dad Life

A Gay Dad Wonders: What Will the 'Roaring Twenties' Bring?

Jim Joseph says he's looking forward to "moving forward in 2020" and in the decade to come!

The Roaring Twenties are upon us, and with the new decade comes great anticipation.

I remember as a kid that whenever a new decade came, it felt like "out with the old and in with the new." It seemed like pop culture and the way of doing things suddenly shifted. Witness 1979 into 1980 and the dawn of a new era in music, fashion, entertainment, and culture. Same with 1989 into 1990. Bam!

As I got older and started my own journey of growth, I started tracking decades by the milestones I had hit during each of the ten-year increments.

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Gay Dad Life

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Miami Tourism Board Releases Vacation Guide for LGBTQ Families

Miami isn't just about circuit parties! The LGBTQ Family-Friendly Miami Vacation Guide showcases many options for queer parents, too.

As gay people, it can be difficult to find vacation spots that are LGBTQ-friendly out of the normal travel "fruit loop" — New York, Mykonos, San Francisco; repeat. For those of us with kids, the Venn diagram of destinations that are both queer and kid friendly can seem practically non-existent.

Fortunately, that's starting to change as the tourism industry realizes that LGBTQ families are a growing segment of vacationers. One city to quickly pick up on this trend is Miami. While the gays have long flocked to Miami for party weekends, the city has also recently noticed an uptick in the number of LGBTQ visitors who are parents. In response, Miami's tourism board release a guide, LGBTQ Family-Friendly Miami Vacation Guide, that includes loads of options for queer parents and their kids. Amid Miami's legendary circuit parties, it turns out, are tons of family friendly things to do — like the Museum of Science, an eco-adventure theme park, and other kid-focused events all year long.

Who knew?

"When I came onboard as Director of LGBTQ Marketing a little over a year ago, I found that our LGBTQ messaging was centered around our annual events," said Dan Rios, who works with the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau. Massive parties like the White Party and Aqua Girl are a central part of the city's LGBTQ offerings, he said, but he was also worried the city was "developing a reputation solely as a party destination. "I want to diversify that message to highlight everything else that Greater Miami has to offer."

Hence the city's family-friendly guide that includes offerings within "art and culture, dining, beaches, fitness," Dan said. "We have unique and amazing family attractions that we had been promoting to our general audiences for decades. I saw this as an opportunity; an opportunity to introduce our attractions to LGBTQ families, and an opportunity to further promote our attractions -- it was a win-win."

Dan said the Bureau is also in the midst of a campaign that will prominently feature LGBTQ parents within different travel destinations throughout the city, which will be featured throughout both LGBTQ and mainstream websites, publications and advertising.

We applaud the effort to reach out to LGBTQ families, and hope more cities follow Miami's lead! Be sure to check out the guide here.


Indiana Court Says Couples Using Sperm Donors​ Can Both Be Listed on Birth Certificate — But Ruling Excludes Male Couples

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in the case, a major victory for LGBTQ parents — but the Attorney General may appeal to the Supreme Court.

On Friday, a US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling from a lower court that said that both parents in a same-sex relationship are entitled to be listed on the birth certificate — previously, the state of Indiana had required the non-biological parent within a same-sex relationship using assisted reproductive technologies to adopt their child after the birth in order to get her or his name listed on the birth certificate, a lengthy and expensive process not required of straight couples in the same situation.

It's a double standard LGBTQ parents have long been subjected to in many states across the country. So this represent a major win. As reported by CNN, this ruling "takes a lot of weight off" the shoulders of LGBTQ parents, said Karen Celestino-Horseman, a lawyer representing one of the couples in the case. "They've been living as families and wondering if this was going to tear them apart."

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals deliberated the case, according to CNN, for more than two and a half years, which is one of the longest in the court's history.

However, because all the plaintiffs in the case involved female same-sex couples using sperm donors, the ruling left open the similar question of parenting rights with respect to male couples. Indiana's Attorney General, moreover, may also appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

We'll be following the case closely and be sure to keep you up to date. For more on this recent decision, read CNN's article here.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

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As LGBT parents, we have all lived through some sort of trauma in our lives. For many it is the rejection of our family, being bullied, or abuse. We learn to be vigilant of our surroundings and often are very cautious of who we trust. As adults, we start to become watchful of how much we share and we look for "red flags" around every corner.

So, what effect does this have on our children? Does it unintentionally cause us to be more jaded with our interactions involving others? For some the answer may be a resounding "no." But as we look deeper into the situation, we often find that through survival our interactions with others have changed and we may not even realize exactly how much we are projecting on those around us.

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For years fear prevented me from embracing my truth and accepting a large part of who I am. I know I am not alone in that regard. But for so long my fear convinced me that I was. Fear is what kept me from ever telling my parents or anyone growing up that I am gay. Fear mingled with strong religious teachings, embraced at a young age, which led me to believe that I could cure myself of my attractions to the same gender. And fear is a part of what kept me in my marriage to a woman for over ten years.

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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