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!!)
"I think the more we all connect the better" — Steve and Ben, with their son, Hudson
Dads Steve Smith and Ben Gaetanos live in Orlando, Florida, with their adopted son Hudson. "Instagram has been a great resource to connect with other gay dad families. We've met people through messages, seeing them on your feed, and from shared hashtags," said Steve. One of the families they connected with were local Orlando dads Ben and Aaron, and their adopted daughter Charlotte. The two families go on regular play-dates, and have enjoyed their shared experiences of being a two-dad family who have both adopted.
"I think the more we all connect and share our experiences the better," replied Steve when asked about if he'd recommend connecting with other families via Instagram. "Instagram is such great tool to showcase that our families are just the same as any other family. It's also nice as a parent to know that someone else out there is sharing in your experience. Parenting is such an amazing journey, and the more we can come together as a "village" to support each other the better!"
Another way this family utilizes Instagram is by setting up an account for their son - @littlemanhudson – so his birth-mom and her family can follow along as he grows up. "It's been such a great way for her to experience his milestones and feel included in all of his adventures."
"I reached out to another family when I saw their location wasn't far from us. It led to our first playdate." — Ricky, Jeffrey, and their kids
The Conways became parents through adoption and have found great success in the location tool on Instagram for finding other dads in their area, Upland, California. "I reached out to one of the families when I saw that their location was not far from us. I just messaged with a hello and started friendly conversations," said Ricky. "Eventually they lead to planning our first play date."
The dads say having a chance to connect with other families that look like their own has bee invaluable. "Being able to connect on a personal level and being able to talk about issues in our family dynamics that you couldn't really get through other families who are not going through the same experience."
Ricky and Jeffrey have made a real connection with fellow Instagrammers Drew and JJ who live nearby and share a passion for all things Disney like the Conways.
"Through the Gays With Kids Instagram, we found gay parents we can connect with almost every day" —Ben, Andy, and their twin daughters
Ben Smith and Andy Armbruster live in St. Louis, Missouri. Though their path to fatherhood was many years in the making, it gave them their twin daughters, Wren and Kit, through surrogacy.
Ben and Andy didn't have a large community of gay friends in St. Louis, and almost none were parents. And when they found out they were expecting twins, this only heightened their desire to connect with others who were either gay dads and had had or were expecting twins. "We didn't know how to find them in person so we created our @TwinLifeDads account on Instagram to try and connect with them," shared Ben. "We knew they were out there, we just didn't know where! We searched hashtags that included things like #fathers #dads #gaydads #husbands #fathersoftwins, etc. We've followed Gays With Kids online and through social media ever since we started thinking about having a family and found the Instagram account the most beneficial."
The dads-to-be (at the time) saw a few posts about gay men who had recently become dads, and so they reached out to a few via direct messages on Instagram, or through some posts that we liked. They ended up finding an incredibly supportive community! "One thing led to another and through the Gays With Kids account and through individual accounts we found same-sex parents that we could contact almost everyday and have honest conversation. It finally made sense to us what social media was all about!"
"We always look out for other Australian families on Gays With Kids," —Tim, Nic, and Dylan
Tim Wang and Nic Cher live in Brisbane, Australia, and became dads through surrogacy in the United States. (Read their story here.)
Tim and Nic have found Instagram to be an incredible tool to meet, connect (or reconnect in some cases) and share a bond with other same-sex families. They've found the recommended accounts on Instagram helpful, and they always keep an eye out for Australian families featured on Gays With Kids. From connecting with two-dad families whilst waiting in line at Disney World – then later realizing they were already friends on Instagram – to in-person meetups with other families.
After a few comments on their photos, and then messages, Tim and Nic met up with Simon of @champagnedadstyle, his husband Holt and their daughter Olivia earlier this year. "They were very welcoming," said Tim. "Simon and Holt fed us, showed us their gorgeous property, and took us on a tour of the grounds to see his three cows (they're super cute). And of course, Olivia, their daughter was just amazing with our little boy. The two played really well together."
They also reconnected with old friends – Gabin and Nathan (@gabinwu) – via Instagram and managed to visit them again on recent trip to the states.
This Australian family's next goal: to get to Family Week in Provincetown one year, and connect with even more dads in person!