Gay Dad Life

Haunted Houses: GWK Rounds up the Best Scares This Halloween Season

“Nobody comes up and goes ‘Grr!’” Michael Jubie tells GWK. “People expect Hollywood quality, and that’s what we give ‘em.”

And how, because incoming terror-junkies from Germany, Australia, and the Chinese Travel Channel have their standards. Tapping the “alone in the woods” nightmare nerve, Jubie runs Headless Horseman Hayrides and Haunted Houses, a world-renowned gore fest for the ages set across 65 acres of whispering Hudson Valley forest in Ulster Park, two hours north of New York City.

“We are not in a warehouse or a strip mall,” he says proudly, noting how a darkened timberland is the perfect co-star to 10 ghoulish attractions including Glutton's Diner & Slaughter House, Dark Harvest Corn Maze, and Dahlia Blood's Manor. He is quick to highlight a Tiny Taste of Terror, a bona fide children’s day where all the monsters that tried to fricassee you the night before show off their anger-management skills with games, magic, and wildlife demos.

Shoving the thrills of Halloween all up in your face, haunted houses are for neither little kids nor big babies. Rather, a good ghost-fest is for kids too old for trick-or-treating and desiring more mature festivities, and at the same time still be something that can be done as a family without the dreaded tween eye-roll (or sticker-shock). Here are a few other top-of-the-line monster-mashes that are sure to give you a few gray hairs that have nothing to do with the “dating years.”

Headless Horseman, courtesy of Michael Jubie

Salem, Massachusetts: Night of the Witch

True story: the Salem witches were not burned at the stake. Rather, hanging was the go-to, or, if you were having a particularly bad day, you were “pressed,” where stones were piled on your chest until you could no longer breathe. Either way, you died.

If there is a city with a hammerlock on Halloween, my bet is on the one with the most notorious witch trials in history. So synonymous is Salem with the spirit world that ghost tours run all summer into fall, but for the month of October, the claws really come out. Sometimes literally.

But of them all, the accolades heap at the putrified feet of Chambers of Terror, an old-school scare-house that most definitely keeps with the times. Split into a short, daytime Terror Tour (eight minutes, tops), and the much longer nighttime Halloween Horror Show, visitors are subjected to “demons, ghouls, psychos, creatures of the dark … and one very evil clown.” Suffice it to say, whatever was hiding in your closet or under your bed, Chambers of Terror has it somewhere. Adding to the fun is your very own Ghoulish Guide, a maître d’horreur who may or may not be so trustworthy a chaperon.

Chamber of Terror, Salem: courtesy of Chambers of Terror

Philadelphia: Behind Bars

With its solid stone ramparts and watch towers, the Eastern State Penitentiary looks more like a medieval fortress fell out of the sky into modern Philadelphia. Opened in 1829, “ESP” had by 1971 become so dilapidated that city officials simply closed it down and threw away the key. Frozen in time, the wards and cellblocks sat quietly neglected while an intrepid band of preservationists fought to save to save the complex. In 1991, a haunted tour idea was floated.

And took off like a rocket: Terror Behind the Walls has gone from a local soiree to one of the best and biggest Halloween fright-nights in the country, with an array of actors and special effects to scare the pants off you. Crazed mutants? Sure! Mad scientists? Why not? Tortured prisoners? Duh! Six attractions lurk in the old wards, and with names like Lock Down and Quarantine, it is safe to say the lunatics have taken over the asylum; when you have a crumbling prison as a stage — the penitentiary is kept in a state of “maintained disrepair” — the world is your cannibalistic oyster.

Running to November 7, the theme of the event changes yearly and includes six separate sections of scares, suspense, and suited-up actors who are not above grabbing you from the dark for maximum jolt. For those faint of heart, the ravenous hordes will retreat back whence they came if you yell “Monsters be good!” Don’t worry; it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Quarantine, Philadelphia: courtesy of the Eastern State Penitentiary/Terror Behind the Walls

Austin: Texas Torment

When the movie that started the whole crazy-psycho-chainsaw-mass-murderer phenomenon has your state’s name in it, you are branded for life.

Happily, Texans can rest easy that the pasty-faced zombies of Austin’s House of Torment never leave the grounds. Actually a trio of scares, BuzzFeed heralds this freak show as one of the most “terrifying haunted houses you should experience before you die,” and visitors can choose their fate with the three “houses” they wish to experience and in what order: Dead End District (mutated undead apocalypse), Hex of the Harvest (witches and pagan blood sacrifice), and Laughterhouse (killer clowns).

House of Torment lasts until November 7, but for the ultimate post-season cold sweat, check out the “Blackout” nights on November 13 and 14. Patrons must brave the creepy-crawlies with a single glow stick per group as the sole source of light. And if you loose it, or it is pilfered — because these things happen — well, good luck. Mwa-ha-ha…

Cursed Hex of the Harvest and Laughterhouse Clown, Austin: courtesy of House of Torment

Long Beach, California: Queen of the Damned

Twice the size of Titanic, the Queen Mary was the premier ocean liner of her Art Deco day. Having hosted glitterati including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and Clark Gable, the grande dame of the seas now cozies up harborside in Long Beach, California, as a hotel-cum-window to the past … and to another world, come Halloween.

In the luxurious yet slightly claustrophobic confines of the ship once called nicknamed the “Grey Ghost” – how’s that for prescience? – visitors take on the hungry specters of Dark Harbor — the baleful Captain, lovelorn Graceful Gale, impish Scary Mary among them – as they tease, cajole, and outright terrify visitors through a wicked wonderland of mazes, an Egyptian-themed paintball gallery, and a genuine sideshow. Sailor lore is fraught with restless dead, and a good chunk of them show their necrotic faces even as they try to eat off yours.

But thrill seekers beware! Dark Harbor continues until November 1, but the Queen Mary ups the phantasmal ante by already being haunted: from the Lady in White in the engine room to the shades of children lingering around the pool, Halloween is a 24/7/365 experience. Time Magazine heralded the old broad as one of the top 10 sites for paranormal activity in the USA.

Dark Harbor, Long Beach: courtesy of the Queen Mary/Dark Harbor

New York City: House of the Dead

Just so you know: “Blood Manor is not recommended for people with heart or back problems, pregnant women, people prone to seizures or anyone who has an affliction that is made worse by fear, anxiety or flashing lights.”

And if that doesn’t clue you in to what awaits in the premier freak fest of the Big Apple, I don’t know what will.

Pick your poison — monsters, morgues, clowns, charnel houses, a maze made out of bodies suspended from the ceiling, demonic strippers, re-animated brides, and how about an undead dominatrix? Finding themselves in a free-for-all of phobias, visitors leap from one deep-seated fear to the next in a series of themed rooms and corridors. Along the way, actors dressed in a rainbow of freak show leap out from unlit corners (and there are plenty) to keep the crowds moving. Designed more for a good ole’ fashioned suspenseful jolt than something to send you running to the therapist, Blood Manor can also lean a tad risqué, so parents should plan accordingly.

Jolt-seeking crowds can get their hit of gore until October 31, but can screw their courage to the sticking place November 6 and 7; all the lights are turned off and you are left alone in the dark…

Blood Manor, New York: courtesy of Blood Manor

Dead Reckoning

A perfect example of “anybody you can scare, we can scare MORE” one-upmanship, haunted houses both modest and extravagant are big business across the country; if the ones mentioned involve a commute as scary as the revenants they shelter, have no fear that one is near you (maybe too near you). HauntWorld is an excellent resource to make this Halloween one for the ages.

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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.

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Gay Dad Life

'NolaPapa' Launches YouTube Channel: Story of a Gay Dad

Check out Erik Alexander's new YouTune Channel: Story of a Gay Dad

When we first found out that our second daughter was African American I froze. Not because of her race, but because I knew NOTHING about African American hair. So I frantically tried to learn as much as I could while she was a newborn so I was ready to style it when she was a little older.

I decided to launch our YouTube channel Nolapapa: Story of a Gay Dad to focus on this very topic! Episodes 1-5 will solely be dedicated to learning how to wash, care for and styling African American hair. Afterwards, the content will shift towards personal & family situations, adoption, gay parenting questions and other great content! I'd love your support and become part of our little village as we launch this new project!

Sending Nola love to each of ya!

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Gay Dad Life

Encouraged by His Son, Single Dad Richard Started Dating Again — and Just Got Married!

After his 14 year relationship ended, Richard got a gentle push into the dating pool from an unexpected source — his son!

In 2014, Richard Rothman's relationship of 15 years ended, leaving him understandably reluctant to jump back into the world of dating as a single gay dad. But after spending one too many Friday nights at home, he got a gentle nudge from somebody unexpected —his teenaged son, Jonathan.

"Dad," Jonathan said. "Would you just get out of the house and go on a date already?" (You may remember wise-beyond-his-years Jonathan from this post that went viral of a tattoo he got commemorating his adoption day.)

On his son's encouragement, Richard started dipping a tentative toe back into the dating pool. In 2015, he met Kevin thanks to mutual friends that introduced them via social media. It took four months before Richard introduced Kevin to his son, who was a Sophomore in high school at the time.

On New Year's Eve in 2017, Kevin proposed while the couple was vacationing in Palm Springs. The city has an outdoor festival every year, he explained, which the couple attended. The band Plain White T's happened to be performing their hit "Hey There Delilah" as Kevin got down on one knee and proposed. "Now whenever I hear that song it brings back memories of that night," Richard said.

Richard and Kevin married on March 30, 2019 back at the scene of the crime — in Palm Springs, at the Frederick Loewe Estate. Jonathan was Richard's best man, and also walked him down the aisle (awwww.....). Kevin's brother Bobby served as his best man.

"As so many wonderful moments continue to happen for us in Palm Springs, we now own a home there in addition to our primary residence in Bentonville, Arkansas," said Richard.

Check out video from the couple's special day below!

And Jonathan is now an E4 Master-at-Arms in the US Navy.

Today is National Coming Out Day, and as we celebrate, we're sharing six coming out stories from dads in our community. Their personal stories are heartwarming, relatable, and empowering. Happy Coming Out Day, and remember, live your truth!

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Growing a Thicker Skin

Experiencing hateful and hurtful comments, Erik Alexander had to learn an important lesson: how to ignore the trolls.

Photo credit: BSA Photography

Twenty years ago when I came out, it was unbearably hard. As I have written before, I am from the Deep South. Anyone who dared to deviate from social norms was sure to be ostracized. It's not that these people were born hateful or mean; rather, it probably had more to do with them not being subjected to other lifestyles. Anything different from their own experiences sparked fear and confusion. Homosexuality, interracial relationships, religious differences – these were all unfamiliar territories to the average person I grew up around. Thus, growing up was particularly difficult.

I remember lying in bed at night when I was a little boy. I would pray and beg God to not let me be gay. Every single night I would end my prayers with "... and God, please don't let me have nightmares and please don't let me be gay." I remember crying myself to sleep many nights. I was embarrassed and ashamed. And I wanted God to cure me.

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10 Inspiring Coming Out Stories From Gay Dads

Happy National Coming Out Day! To celebrate, we've rounded up some of our recent stories about gay men with kids coming out to live their most authentic lives.

Happy National Coming Out Day! To celebrate, we've rounded up some of our best articles of gay dads coming out to live their authentic lives.

#1. Former NFL Player Jeff Rohrer, and Father of Two, Comes Out as Gay and Marries Longterm Partner

Jeff Rohrer, a father of two teenage boys via a previous relationship with a woman, is the first NFL player to marry another man. Read the article here.

#2. Coming Out to His Wife Was Painful, Says This Salt Lake-Based Dad of Four. But it Started Him on a Path of Authenticity

After Kyle came out to his wife, with whom he has four children, "she listened, she mourned and she loved," he said. Read the article here.

#3. Gay Dads Share Their Coming Out Stories for National Coming Out Day

We asked several gay dads to share their coming out stories in honor of National Coming Out Day, whose stories are heartwarming, instructive, and everything in between. Read the article here.

#4. Gay Muslim Single Dad Writes Op Ed on His Path to Self Acceptance

Maivon Wahid writes about the challenges of reconciling three separate, but equally important, identities in an opinion piece for Gay Star News. Read the article here.

#5. One Gay Dad's Path Towards Realizing Being Gay and Christian are Not Mutually Exclusive

Gay dads Matt and David Clark-Sally talk about coming out, parenting as gay men, and reconciling faith and sexuality. Read the article here.

#6. Republican Utah Lawmaker, and Dad of Two, Comes Out as Gay in Moving Video

Nathan Ivie has many important identities he's proud of: Mormon, Republican, Utahn, father of two... and gay. Read the article here.

#7. How Coming Out Helped This Gay Man Find the Strength to Be a Dad

Steven Kerr shares the moment he came out to his ex-girlfriend. "From that moment on," he writes, "my strength and purpose have grown." Read the article here.

#8. Ed Smart, Father of Kidnapping Victim Elizabeth Smart, Comes Out as Gay

In coming his coming out letter, Ed Smart, a Mormon, condemned the church for their "ridicule, shunning, rejection and outright humiliation" of LGBTQ individuals. Read the article here.

#9. The Best Part of Coming Out, Says This Gay Dad, Is Being an Out and Proud Role Model for His Daughter

"I couldn't face myself in the mirror and think that I could be a good dad and role model for my child when I was lying to myself every moment of every day," said Nate Wormington of his decision to come out. Read the article here.

#10. These Gay Dads Via Previous Marriages Have Adopted a Motto Since Coming Out and Finding Each Other: "United We Stand"

Vincent and Richard both had children in previous marriages with women; together, with their ex-wives, they are helping raise seven beautiful kids. Read the article here.

Gay Dad Family Stories

These Adoptive Dads Gained an Extended Family Through Foster Care

Adoptive dads Edward and Andrew have maintained a close relationship with their twins' biological family.

Celebrating gay, bi and trans fatherhood is what we do on Gays With Kids. We rejoice in whatever paths our community took to become parents. But many of those journeys come with heartbreak, sometimes for the intended parents, and sometimes for the biological family from whom the adoption or foster placement occurs. With an open adoption, the adoptive and biological families come to an arrangement which best benefits the child, and that's when something truly beautiful can occur. This isn't always possible in every scenario, but when it does, we're exceedingly thankful. Can a child ever have too many family members loving them? Not likely. This was husbands of five years Edward and Andrew Senn's experience.

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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