Change the World

Halloween Cupcakes

Darkness falls across the land


The midnight hour is close at hand

Creatures crawl in search of blood

To terrorize your neighborhood…

Who doesn't love Halloween, right?! Apart from the scary movies and costumes, spooky baking is my favorite Halloween tradition. I've created five fearfully frightful designs to decorate a moist chocolate cupcake. Give all five a go, or just take one or two designs to decorate your dozen.

Cupcakes

1 cup plain flour

¼ cup of unsweetened good quality cocoa powder

½ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp of salt

¼ cup of unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp of instant coffee dissolved in 2 tsp of water

1 tsp vanilla essence

2/3 cup of buttermilk

Line muffin tray with cupcake liners and turn oven to 350°F.

Put flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a medium sized bowl and stir quickly with a whisk until all lumps have disappeared. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together with an electric beater for 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, until each eggs in fully incorporated with the mixture.

Add the vanilla and dissolved coffee and beat for two minutes.

On a low speed, add half the flour mixture, then add the buttermilk. Add the rest of the flour mixture until just combined and the batter should look smooth.

Using an ice-cream scoop, fill the cupcake liners to a ½ inch below the top. I actually had enough mixture for a 13th cupcake, which worked out well as a good tester-cupcake.

Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Leave cupcakes to cool on a wire rack.

If you are to try tackling all five designs, follow the below instructions. If you are just sticking to one, such as the pumpkin cupcakes, just make the orange icing and follow the below instructions.

Icing

¾ cups of butter

3 cups of sifted confectioners' sugar

¾ tsp of clear vanilla extract

2 tbsp. of whole milk

2 heaped tbsps. of good quality unsweetened cocoa

Orange and green food coloring (or yellow, red and blue to mix to make the appropriate colors)

Cream butter with an electric mixer, then add vanilla. Gradually add one cup of confectioners' sugar at a time, beating well on a medium speed. Make sure all sugar is incorporated by scraping the sides of the bowl regularly. Omit or add the milk to make your perfect consistency.

Divide into three bowls – one for the chocolate, one for the orange and one for the green icing. Sift the cocoa into one bowl until fully combined, then put aside. Make the other two bowls your approved shades of orange and green using the food colouring.

Now, if you REALLY like icing, you may want to double this recipe. Sure, there will be some left over, but I've known people to spread icing on toast before, when they thought that no one was looking.

Spider Cupcake

Spider Cupcakes

Chocolate icing

Black licorice rope

Mini marshmallows

Chocolate sprinkles

Melted chocolate chips (heated up in the microwave in 15 second increments so as to not burn)

Cover cupcake with chocolate icing, spreading with a warm knife to coat evenly. Pour chocolate sprinkles into a dish and dip the cupcake in to cover. Roll around gently in saucer to cover completely.

Cut mini marshmallows in half, and using a homemade piping bag*, dot melted chocolate on the mini marshmallow halves for pupils.

Also with the melted chocolate, pipe two small 1 and a half inch smile lines, about a half inch apart. Then stick the eyeballs in a row onto the lines of chocolate, that way when they harden, they will keep the eyes in place.

Cut the licorice into 3.5 inch pieces and stick 4 in each side of the spider cupcake. If the “leg" sticks out, pinch the top of the leg protruding from the cupcake and curl the legs under as required.

*You can use a small plastic sandwich bag and cut the corner to make a small hole. If you have an icing head, cut a slightly bigger hole and squeeze the head into the hole in the bag.

Jack-o'-Lantern Cupcakes

Jack-o'-Lantern Cupcakes

Orange icing

Melted chocolate chips (heated up in the microwave in 15 second increments so as to not burn)

Green sprinkles

Cover cupcake with orange icing, spreading with a warm knife to coat evenly. Pipe a jack-o-lantern expression with the melted chocolate in a piping bag*. Dust the very top of the pumpkin with green sprinkles.

Pumpkin Patch Cupcake

Pumpkin Patch Cupcakes

Green icing

Pretzel sticks

Melted chocolate chips (heated up in the microwave in 15 second increments so as to not burn)

Candy pumpkins

Wilton's icing head #233

To make the fence, take five pretzel sticks for each pumpkin cupcake; three for the fence posts and two for the cross bars. Use the melted chocolate chips to glue the sticks together. Use quite a lot on one side to ensure they stick properly.

Use either a bought or homemade piping bag* and attach icing head 223. Pipe green icing onto the top of each cupcake, squeezing the bag gently at a 90 degree angle and pulling away to make the icing appear like blades of grass.

Place 3 candy pumpkins on each cupcake. Once pretzel fences are dry, stick into the cupcake behind the pumpkins to appear like a fence.

Spider Cobweb Cupcakes

Spider Cobweb Cupcakes

Chocolate icing

Melted white chocolate chips (heated up in the microwave in 15 second increments so as to not burn)

Small board covered in foil

Put melted white icing into a piping bag* and drizzle a cobweb shape onto the small board covered in foil. See pictures of cobweb for design. Put in fridge for 30 minutes or until hardened. Place atop of chocolate cupcake.

Graveyard Cupcakes

Graveyard Cupcakes

Chocolate icing

Green icing (for grass)

Chocolate sprinkles

Melted white chocolate chips (heated up in the microwave in 15 second increments so as to not burn)

Wilton's icing head #233

Using a sharp knife, cut off the very top of the cupcake. Then, halve the top and stick the two halves back to back using the melted white chocolate to form a half circle. Pipe RIP with the white chocolate from a piping bag*. Using the back of a warm spoon, put a line of chocolate icing down the middle of the cupcake and place the tombstone near the back. Cover the chocolate icing with the sprinkles to give the appearance of dirt.

Use the same technique for the grass icing as the pumpkin patch cupcake, create grass around the tombstone to cover the rest of the cupcake.

And grisly ghouls from every tomb

Are closing in to seal your doom

And though you fight to stay alive

Your body starts to shiver

For no mere mortal can resist

The evil of the Thriller…

Enjoy – mwhahahaha!

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Change the World

4 Tips for Using Instagram to Connect with Gay Dads Offline

We asked gay dads who have successfully met up with other LGBTQ families offline for some of their tips

Last week, we ran a story about several gay dads who did the unthinkable: meet other gay dads IRL after connecting on Instagram! We get MANY questions from gay dads wondering how they can meet up with others in their area, so we decided to dig a bit deeper this week to get their advice. What can gay dads do to meet others off the 'gram?

1. Be kind — share others' excitement in parenting!


From @twinlifedads Ben and Andy:

"Be kind. That is absolutely it. Be kind to each other and don't be afraid to reach out. Respond to each other when you can. Share in excitement for each other. There is no reason to bring someone else down who might be excited about how they are parenting."

2. Drop a couple comments and likes before reaching out!

From @brisvegasdad Tim and Nic:

"I think drop comments now and then on their posts and instastories and see where things land. Chances are, if you're commenting on a post and it is a heartfelt response, they'll click through to your account, look at your photos and connect with you. And that's when the magic happens - you can introduce yourself, talk about your lives and how things are being a parent... and after a while, if you're in the same neighbourhood, you meet up and grow your friendship organically. That being said, I'm obsessed with Bobby Berk from Queer Eye and his husband Dewey Do - if they ever had kids, I'd probably be completely unsubtle and leave strange awkward comments on their instaposts saying, 'GAY DADS MEET UPSSSSS'."

3. Go in with no expectations

From @stevecsmith Steve and Ben:

"I always try to reach out without any expectations – mostly just to provide a positive comment. I like to leave it up to the other parents to comment or message back before suggesting meeting up or a playdate. Every family is different, so how each person is going to respond is different too."

4. Keep trying!

From @theconways13 Ricky and Jeff:

"Reach out to other families, start a light friendly conversation. Get to know each other and let conversations happen organically. If they lead to a play date great! Our first experience in meeting another lgbt family (not through ig/gwk) was very awkward cause there wasn't a whole lot of conversation happening before hand. The conversations leading up to the play date will help make the first play date with the family go a lot smoother and fun. Don't be afraid of not connecting with the other families. If it isn't successful the first time, continue reaching out to to other families- don't let it deter you from reaching out to others."

Change the World

How Gay Dads Are Using Instagram to Connect

Meet the gay dads from around the world who are using our Gays With Kids Instagram account to connect with other gay dad families!

It can be easy to dismiss Instagram as nothing more than a place for us to pretend our lives our perfect — smiling families, exotic vacations, maybe a FaceTuned pic or two — but for gay dads, it's more than that. Sure, we share our perfect family pics, too. But for LGBTQ families, who still face discrimination all across the country and world, sharing a picture of two gay dads, smiling happily and proudly with their kids, is also a political act. And it provides us an opportunity to lift up and support one another, wherever our families are, in cities and towns big and small.

And we're proud to provide an avenue for these families to meet and connect via our Instagram page (which just reached over 100,000 followers!!)

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Change the World

Judge's Decision in NY 'Compassionate Surrogacy' Case Involving Gay Dad Overturned

Though compensated surrogacy remains illegal in New York State, "compassionate surrogacy" arrangements are remain legal

Last week, an unanimous four-judge panel, part of the New York Appellate Division in Brooklyn, New York, revived a gay dad's petition to adopt his son born via surrogacy. The dad, identified as "Joseph P." in court documents, had earlier been denied his petition to adopt by a Queens County Family Court Judge, John M. Hunt. The Queens judge denied the petition because compensated surrogacy contracts are illegal in New York. However, the child born to Joseph was born via "compassionate surrogacy," meaning his gestational surrogate was not compensated.

The Appellate court's decision, written by Justice Alan D. Scheinkmanm called Hunt's decision "clearly erroneous," and held that a new Family Court judge should re-hear the case.

Judge Hunt's decision is all the more confusing since Joseph had actually already become a father via surrogacy in New York—three times over. In each instance, he used donor eggs and a friend serving, voluntarily, as the gestational surrogate. He had his first child in 2012, and then twins the following year. In all three instances, a Family Court judge granted Joseph's adoption petition, given that each child was conceived via "compassionate surrogacy," meaning no money changes hands in the course of a surrogacy journey between carrier an intended parent. This type of surrogacy arrangement is not illegal under to New York law. The social worker in Joseph's latest attempt to adopt, Gay City News noted, also gave him a favorable review, calling him "a mature, stable, and caring person who intentionally created a family of himself, the twins, and John."

Gay City News notes: "Justice Scheinkman provided a careful description of the laws governing surrogacy in New York. The Legislature provided that surrogacy contracts are unenforceable and treated as void. However, the only surrogacy contracts actually outlawed are those where the surrogate is compensated. It was clear to the Appellate Division that the Legislature did not mean to outlaw voluntary surrogacy arrangements, merely to make them unenforceable in the courts. Those who enter into a compensated surrogacy agreement face a small monetary fine and people who act as brokers to arrange such agreements are liable for a larger penalty. There is no penalty for voluntary, uncompensated surrogacy arrangements."

Read the full article here.

Politics

Utah Court Rules Gay Couples Can't Be Excluded From Surrogacy Contracts

The Utah Supreme Court found in favor of a gay couple attempting to enter into a surrogacy contract.

DRAKE BUSATH/ UTCOURTS.GOV

Earlier this month, the Utah Supreme Court ruled that a same-sex couples can't be excluded from entering into enforceable surrogacy contracts, and sent a case concerning a gay male couple back to trial court to approve their petition for a surrogacy arrangement.

As reported in Gay City News, the case concerns Utah's 2005 law on surrogacy, which was enacted prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state. As a result, the content of the law is gendered, saying that surrogacy contracts should only be enforceable if the "intended mother" is unable to bear a child. When a gay couple approached District Judge Jeffrey C. Wilcox to enter into a surrogacy arrangement, he denied them, arguing that the state's law only concerned opposite sex couples.

"This opinion is an important contribution to the growing body of cases adopting a broad construction of the precedent created by Obergefell v. Hodges and the Supreme Court's subsequent decision in Pavan v. Smith," according to GCN. "It's also worth noting that same-sex couples in Utah now enjoy a right denied them here in New York, where compensated gestational surrogacy contracts remain illegal for all couples."

Read the full article here.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Thoughts and Prayers Aren't Working:​ One Father's Plea for Gun Reform

One gay dad's plea to our leaders to enact sensible gun control

My articles on GaysWithKids aspire to be lighthearted, helpful and humorous. This one won't be any of those things. Because I'm feeling heavyhearted, helpless and sad. Last week I woke up to news of yet another mass shooting. This time at a family-friendly Garlic Festival in northern California. I don't know if it's because this one hit so close to home, or if it's because the headline included a picture of the innocent 6-year old who was among those killed, but I am overcome with emotion. But mostly I am angry. And I don't know what to do with my anger.

Then, just a few days later came two additional horrific mass shootings that stole the lives of at least 32 more innocent people, many of them children. And then there's the "everyday" gun violence that plagues American cities like Chicago, where guns injured another 46 people this past weekend alone… creating so much turmoil, a hospital had to briefly stop taking patients.

How does one verbalize the collective sadness felt around the world? One can't. And that's why I am asking everyone reading this article to commit to getting involved in some way, to help end this epidemic once and for all. Even though the solution is so obvious, we can't allow ourselves to become numb to mass shootings. Because becoming numb isn't going to save anyone.

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Gay Russian Dads Forced to Flee Moscow

Fearing the Russian government might take their adopted kids into custody because of their sexual orientation, Andrei Vaganov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev fled Moscow

A married couple in Russia, with two adopted children, were just forced the flee their home in Moscow for fear that the authorities would take their children away, according to German news site Deutsche Welle.

Trouble started last month after investigators in Russia opened a criminal inquiry into the proceedings that had allowed the gay couple, Andrei Vaganov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev, to legally adopt the two boys —adoption by LGBTQ people in Russia has typically not been recognized. The government became aware of the adoption proceedings after the gay couple brought their 12-year-old son to the hospital, who was complaining of a stomachache. The boy was fine, but after he mentioned offhand that he was adopted and lived with two fathers, the doctor called the police.

Andrei and Yevgeny granted an interview with Deutsche Welle after escaping Moscow, but on the advice of their lawyers have yet to disclose where they are currently located. Here is a quick recap of that conversation:

"In connection with the 'propaganda of non-traditional values,' the state representatives are accused of having neglected their duty of supervision," Andrei said, when asked to explain on what basis the Russian government might take his children into custody. "This means that lesbian couples could even have their biological children taken away because, through their lifestyle choices, they propagate "certain values."

Yevgeny also explained the events that led to the couple's harrowing escape "I was alone in Moscow at that time. A week after Andrei and the children had left the country, there was a knock on my door, but nobody called 'police, open up.' After half an hour the violent knocking stopped. My parents' home was searched. They were looking for the children and our Danish marriage certificate because we got married in Denmark in 2016. My friends then got me out of the country."

Read the full interview here.

Gay Dad Family Stories

This Couple is Using 'Wheel of Fortune' Winnings to Help Fund Their Adoption

Need to raise money for your adoption fund? Why not try your luck on Wheel of Fortune like these guys!

Doug and Nick Roberts connected three and a half years ago via a dating app, and on their first date, the two immediately felt a connection. Doug, a psychologist, and Nick, a neuroscientist, were married 18 months later. Today the couple live in the suburbs of Philadelphia, and they're ready to start their next exciting adventure together: fatherhood.

The husbands would like to have children, and Nick has always wanted to adopt. "We considered surrogacy, and may consider it in the future as we expand our family," said Doug, "but right now, it is cost-prohibitive. Adoption was easily the right choice for us as we begin to grow our family.

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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