Two years ago, on August 14, 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. The social media sensation was all in good fun, of course, and we're supportive of any holiday that leads Olympic bobsledder Simon Dunn to post this picture on his Instagram, but it's worth noting that not every gay uncle felt celebrated that day:
"If only I was allowed to have a relationship with my either of my sister's kids," said
Tristan Michel Sauvageau last year, a gay man with a large list of friends on Facebook. "I bet it's nice being a gay uncle. I guess I'll never know."
For many gay men, National Gay Uncles Day was just another silly social media antic. But for others like Tristan, the hashtag contained a message that was at best aspirational and at worst a reminder of how far we have yet to go. So, in an effort to remind the world of the wonderful, important and inspiring influence gay men can have on children, we proudly celebrate this made-up holiday with pictures of these "guncles" and their nieces and nephews.
Luis Lemec Morales, Santa Marta, Colombia
Luis has one 4-year-old nephew whom he's been close with since he was born. Luis' nephew always greets him with an enthusiastic shout and a big hug. They have a lot of fun together.
"The best part of being an uncle is to have my amazing nephew anytime I want and being able to give him back when he drains my energy," said Luis. "So it feels a little bit like having a kid without the 24 hours responsibility."
Luis's nephew has met his boyfriend and already knows more about drag queens than Luis did at his age. "He is just amazing and I hope to be a part of his life forever."
Alex Parsons, Austin, Texas
Alex not only adores being an "guncle" to niece Parker, but he also loves seeing how his brother and sister-in-law have taken so naturally to parenting. "Seeing two people come together so selflessly and immeasurably love someone as beautiful as Parker is the best part about being a 'guncle!'" shared Alex.
Coming from a Southern Baptist family, Alex feels as though not all his family understands him, but they love him all the same. As a "guncle" he hopes to set a foundation for Parker than she finds value in every human, no matter what. Although, watching her parents this past year makes him think that won't be an issue.
"I do want children someday," said Alex, talking about his own plans for fatherhood. "I know for a fact there is no greater act of love than choosing to bring someone into a family, and I will do that some day through adoption."
David Gardoni, Seattle, Washington
For David, one of the best parts of being a "guncle" has been watching his eleven nieces and nephews grow over the years. "They never stop to amaze me," said David. And, of course, being witness to the hilarious things the kids say and do.
David would love to have kids of his own, too, but wants to wait till he's a little older, possibly married, and financially stable. He thinks surrogacy would be the path he'd like to follow, but David wants to make sure that he can provide for his children because, as we all know, kids are expensive.
As a "guncle," David appreciates that he is able to give a different perspective to his nieces and nephews.
"The unique connection they have with me is that they know I am different and they are so fascinated by that," shared David. "I remember when I told a few of them that I have a boyfriend and they just had so many questions or they couldn't wait to meet the new guy in my life."
Brett David, Lubbock, Texas
Brett and his boyfriend Devin are proud "guncles" and can't wait to have their own kids one day. They're considering either surrogacy or adoption, just as long as they can share their love.
"Our connection with our niece and nephews is something that amazes us ... to show our love and how they love us as a couple."
Brett and David utilize their role as gay uncles to teach their nieces and nephews that LGBT relationships are not a negative thing, and to show how much love they have for one another.
Thomas Freeman, Atlanta, Georgia
Thomas is definitely the fun and energetic uncle! "The best part of being a "guncle" is getting the chance to get my niece and nephew all sugared up and spoil them with whatever they want because once the sugar hits they can slide back in with their parents."
Thomas grew up in a very conservative part of the country and leads a very different life to his niece and nephew. He feels as though it's his job to show them that there is a huge world filled with all kinds of people.
"I have a very different life from my niece and nephew; they live in the Deep South while Guncle Bubba lives in a more progressive city," shared Thomas. "The ability to hang out with them and expose them to people and words and sentiments they aren't seeing everyday is what makes our relationship one of mutual learning because I've lived where they do."
One day, Thomas would love his own tiny humans to wake him up too early on a Saturday. He and his partner Cody have spoken about becoming parents and are in agreement that adoption is their preferred path. "We think there are too many kids out there who need love to just keep our lives just between us," explained Thomas. "Between the two of us, Cody and I have the opportunity to raise the most amazingly caring humans. The thought of it makes me happy."
Trent Morrison, Salt Lake City, Utah
Trent has been a "guncle" since he was 7 years old, and has twenty eight of what he calls "nibblings" (nieces and nephews of siblings). The eldest is 20, and the youngest was born a little over a week ago.) His favorite part of being an "guncle" has been watching them grow and seeing their unique personalities shine through.
Since coming out, Trent has felt an extra obligation as his nibblings' "guncle."
"As a gay man, I'm able to provide a safe space for expression, creativity, and love," said Trent. "When I came out, I made a commitment to live authentically and create spaces for others to do the same--including my nibblings."
And does Trent want to be a dad himself? Yes! And with being part of such a large family, each sibling has had to start claiming names for all their some-day kids! Trent would like to adopt two kids (hopefully twins) when he's found a partner (married or committed) in about 5-10 years.
"Ever since I could remember, I've wanted to be a dad. For me, having kids is important because I see the impact and expansion of love creating a family can have."
George, Bucharest, Romania
George lives in Bucharest, Romania, and although he is unable to marry or adopt a child in his home country, he knows for sure that one day he will be a dad. At the moment he is content being a "guncle" to his one nephew.
"When I'm with my nephew I feel like I'm on a long break where I can relax; I can be playfully, protective and responsible."
Ryan Tristan Jin, New York City, New York
These gay uncles take their responsibility for offering an important and unique perspective to their siblings' kids seriously.
"We hope that by leading through example, our unique connection as uncles helps instill joy, confidence, kindness and inclusiveness as they grow to become the best version of themselves."
Josh and Ryan cannot wait to start a family. But for now, they're content experiencing the world together, learning more about one another, and being the best "guncles" they can be. "Josh and I are both lucky to have parents and family that love us unconditionally, and we want nothing more than to continue to pass that infinite love to our nieces and nephews," said Ryan.
Tyler Ziola, Grands Rapids, Michigan
Some of Tyler's favorite things to do as "guncle" is to take his niece and nephew to the park, the zoo, and is looking forward to an upcoming trip to Disney World! "I love to go out and experience new things through their eyes," he shared.
"Being an uncle brings out a different side of me," said Tyler. "I never really engaged with kids before, assuming I probably wouldn't have my own I guess, but these two littles have already shown and taught me more than I thought about myself, family, and relationships."
Tyler is planning a move to Atlanta soon but will still be an engaged "guncle."
In terms of planning his own future and potential path to fatherhood, he's undecided. "I've considered adoption and surrogacy, but it will depend on how my (yet-to-be-named, inquire within LOL) future husband and I feel. My family knows I'm hesitant and currently love spoiling my niece and nephew."
Topher McNeil, Sacramento, California
Topher, who is currently finishing his PhD, is an attentive "guncle" to his seven nieces and nephews. He loves spending time with them; hiking, going to the beach, riding rollercoasters, you name it! "There's always something my nieces and nephews want to try," said Topher.
Although Topher is no longer a practicing Mormon, he comes from a Mormon family, and he's making it a point to teach his nieces and nephews that it's okay for people to be gay and different. "I get to be their introduction to a completely new and more progressive world view."
Right now, he's a ways off from having kids, but Topher can't wait to be a dad. His preferred path would be to foster or foster-adopt so he give children in need a loving home.
"Coming from a very close family, I want to give another generation the same love and support I received from my family."
Tyler and Phil, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom
Phil and Tyler cannot wait to have their own kids! Being "guncles" has filled their world with happiness but creating their own family is something they're very excited about.
Phil has two nieces and one nephew, and Tyler is "guncle" to his goddaughter, and they both take their roles of the gay uncle seriously while still having a lot of fun with the kids.
The couple are engaged and are getting married on October 18th this year. A couple of years after the celebrations, they plan to look into the different paths to fatherhood as they're open to both surrogacy and adoption. The thing that they're most excited about?
"Someone for you to love and hold like no other, someone to live beyond you and to feel grateful for being in this world."
Grant Gilmour, Glasgow, Scotland
At only 22, it's hard for Grant to think definitively about a path to fatherhood but he knows that he wants to be a dad one day. For now, he take great pride and joy in being the godfather and "guncle" to his best friend's daughter. With her own biological dad not in the picture, Grant is one of the most significant male guardians she has.
"The best thing about being a "guncle" is being able to love and support such a young beautiful little girl with as much love as I got from my parents growing up."
Grant feels honored to get a chance as her "guncle" to educate her on how wonderfully diverse the world is and that she can grow up to be whoever she wants to be.
In terms of his own future, Grant would consider both surrogacy and adoption to help create one big diverse, loving family.
Wallace Pacheco, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Wallace loves his nephew and feels like his big brother. Even though he's not biologically related to him (he's the nephew of his boyfriend), he's embraced his role as "guncle" and loves him like his own.
"The best part of being a "guncle" is that I can be completely myself without weird eyes looking at me."
Although Wallace would like to be a dad one day, he's concerned about how to become one. He's afraid that if he had kids with his partner, they might encounter prejudice in the future, or have a child with a woman. But, he believes he still has time to consider his options, and is also considering adoption. The first step for Wallace is to buy a home and get a good job.
CJ Oliver, Syracuse, New York
CJ is a music teacher and his favorite thing to do with his newborn niece is sing to her while he cuddles her close. "What makes it great is the song I sang to her the first day she was born, I sing now and she smiles knowing it me," CJ shared. He feels a very special bond as her "guncle" and can't wait for more moments like that as she gets older.
As the first gay male in his family, CJ feel like his connection with his niece will be unique.
"The reality of her being able to grow up with someone in the family who is gay, gives her a special understanding to the world around her and more tolerance," said CJ. "That this idea will be seen as normal and not as unusual; it's a beautiful gift to the world of acceptance and love."
CJ very much sees kids in his own future and can't wait for that dream to be realized, but in the meantime, he'll settle for his "kids" to be the students he teaches. "The care I am able to show them is just the same as when I someday will have my own family," said CJ "What I look forward to is when these two worlds will collide and become one."
Kevin and Adam Hillyer-McHugh, Tampa, Florida
Kevin and Adam adore being "guncles" to both a little brother and their nieces and a nephew. They love the laughs they have and even more so, the unconditional love they receive and give in return. enjoy the laughs they have with their kiddos the most. "Love is in their little hearts from the time they enter the world and nothing makes you feel more important than those little arms reaching out for you because you're all they need in that moment."
As "guncles," Kevin and Adam utilize this opportunity to also be gay role models.
"The most unique thing about our connection to our nieces and nephew as gay men is unknown to them entirely, but so deeply meaningful to us. They offer unconditional acceptance which is something not all in our community get to feel and yet so simply innate for a child to give."
The husbands would love kids of their own one day, but are currently struggling with how to create their family. An amazing and selfless sister has offered to donate her eggs so they're considering surrogacy but the attached expense currently seems insurmountable and frustrating. "But know that what is meant to be, will be and in the mean time we have amazing little guys and girls in our lives to love."
Cody Goehring, Dallas, Texas
Cody has one niece whom he loves seeing grow and spoil her without rules and consequences. "I get to leave the dirty work to her parents!" said Cody. "Not to mention the unconditional love that children give is just good for anyone's soul!"
Being gay hasn't influenced Cody's relationship with his niece as she sees him just as her uncle, no matter what. " I am blessed with a family that excepts me as who I am and that is all that matters," shared Cody.
One day, Cody would love to have his own kids but he's not ready for a few more years. At the moment, when he looks towards the future, he'd prefer to be in a relationship so they could raise their kids together, but he also knows his feelings could change. He's open to both adoption and surrogacy.
"I think kids are a great blessing to the world and I would love to have the connection that I have with my parents and I see my brother and his wife have with my niece."
Cole Jenkins and Brendan Talbot, Auckland, New Zealand
Cole and Brendan are getting married next year, and will then start looking into the different ways to create their own family, but for now, they're proud "guncles" to their nephews.
"Being "guncles' brings us so much joy and happiness. Our nephews are always so excited to see us which is the most amazing feeling in the world."
As "guncles," Cole and Brendan are teaching their nephews from a young age that love exists in many different forms. "To have them know that their Gungles are in a loving relationship together and be positive queer role models for them."
Family has always been important to the fiancés and raising and nurturing a child has always been a shared dream of theirs. When the times is right, they'll be excited to begin their own journey to fatherhood.
Mark Pincock, Salt Lake City, Utah
Mark has always wanted to be a dad. "During the time in my life when I was struggling the most with depression, anxiety and even battling suicidal ideation, it was the dream of having a family that gave me hope and kept me going." That dream seemed to be further complicated when Mark accepted his sexuality, but as he's gotten older, he's realized that being gay doesn't prevent him from creating his own family.
It may not happen in the way that he originally envisioned for himself, but Mark's still looking forward to one day having his own kids.
And in the meantime, Mark is getting tons of practice with his 24 nieces and nephews!