Gay Dad Life

Mother's Day the Gay Dad Way

While Mother's Day may be a holiday made up by the greeting card industry, it's here, it's not particularly queer, and everyone is certainly used to it. Each year moms across the country are celebrated with flowers and gifts. Children are encouraged to write letters at school celebrating women who raised them, and mothers who parent children are afforded their due respect.

However, not all children have mothers in their lives. So we set out to talk to gay dads to see how they would be recognizing the holiday. It turns out that as the modern definition of family morphs, so do traditions associated with honoring it.

In San Diego, partners Bryan Heers and Liberty Bock-Heers who are raising three adopted sons were initially nervous about Mother's Day. “It hadn't been that long since they saw their mom in prison," Heers said, recalling the first Mother's Day his sons spent with their family.

“We had my mother come and stay for Mother's Day so they could celebrate with her and have that. In school they honestly dedicate like a week to building cute little things for mom and grandma or whoever and we wanted to make sure they had an outlet to give all those cute little projects to," Heers said, explaining that his mother loves getting gifts from Marcus, 5, Oscar, 11, and Gonzalo, who is 14.The children currently have no contact with their birth mother. Heers and Bock-Heers have determined it's not a good idea for a variety of reasons. “Before we adopted the boys, we said we would be open to contact, but once we dived into it more…it was pretty clear it was an unhealthy relationship for them and it wasn't that hard of a decision on our end," Heers said.

The boys underwent counseling to help understand why they were never going to live with their mom again and to help acclimate them to their new home. Heers and Bock-Heers took attachment-parenting classes and stuck to the rules religiously.

Bock-Heers Family

Initially, there was a lot of testing, Heers said, explaining that middle son, Oscar, who is the most sentimental of the three, had a difficult time and often threw tantrums “saying the most horrible things he could think of." Heers and Bock-Heers, who have been together for eight years stayed strong: “Immediately we were telling them this is your forever home we are your parents for the rest of your life. You don't have to worry about ever where you're going from now on."

While the boys, who were adopted at ages 9, 7 and 5, took time adjusting to their new family, Heers said many of the challenges he and Bock-Heers now face as parents are very basic: whether the children are doing their homework or spending too much time online.

Bock-Heers Family

As for Mother's Day, “I would say we were more worried about it than we needed to be," Heers said. “Our youngest mentioned to us Mothers Day is coming up in two weeks and asked 'is grandma coming to stay?' Even though it's not celebrating their birth mom, it's still definitely an important holiday for them."

In Seattle, Rich Kocher and Brian Roth who adopted 2-year-old Emerson at birth through Open Adoption & Family Services, will be spending the holiday with Emerson's birth mother. She selected Kocher and Roth to parent her child and today they are all very close. “We also see her mother and father and her siblings. It almost feels like they adopted us into their family," Kocher said.

Roth and Kocher have always celebrated Mother's Day with Emerson and her birth mother, whom Emerson calls “Mommy."

“We sort of do a very traditional celebration—or as you can get in this arrangement," Kocher said. Initially, Kocher and Roth didn't know what type of relationship they would have with Emerson's birth mother, but everyone got along really well and they now spend significant time together. “Neither of us promised to see each other, but it just organically turned into this relationship," Kocher said, explaining that Emerson now has an extra set of grandparents. “They are great loving people," he said.

Kocher-Roth Family

As for the birth mother, Kocher said she's a college student and not Emerson's parent in a traditional sense, “but I hope she thinks that this is her day as well. This is a way that we can appreciate her selfless act in letting us raise her daughter."

Kocher said he hopes Emerson develops a bond with her mother that takes whatever shape the two of them decide upon. “It would be great if it could sort of be a Gilmore Girls situation," he said, laughing.

Kocher acknowledged that his family's situation was hardly typical. As a result, it's often challenging to find the perfect card to give Emerson's birth mother each year. “The card might say 'every day you support me' and that's a nice thing to say, but that's not really applicable," Kocher said, “Out of all the cards in CVS, there's not really a card that applies to our situation, so this year we are going to make our own card even though I am not super crafty. There's definitely a market out there if anyone's interested."Another way to turn Mother's Day into a positive experience for all parties is to do away with it all together. In one New Jersey school, the children will be celebrating Parents Day on May 25, a date between Mother's Day and Father's Day.

Kocher-Roth Family

Sean Gilligan and Joseph Adelantar are raising two-year-old Katherine in South Orange, New Jersey, and were surprised when a parent in their daughter's class suggested creating the new holiday to honor all families. “I didn't really expect the class to modify their Mother's Day plans and I wasn't really going to make an issue of it for anyone involved," said Gilligan, who is Katherine's primary caregiver.

“It was really touching," Adelantar said.

Many kids are raised by grandparents, single parents, two moms or two dads and may feel left out during either holiday so Parents Day affords a perfect solution. Katherine was conceived through compassionate surrogacy and while the surrogate remains a good family friend, she is not a parental figure in any traditional way, the couple explained.

Adelantar and Gilligan said Katherine is still too young to really understand what it means to have two dads, but when she started to go to school she began noticing that the other kids had mommies. “She would just sort of say 'oh so and so has a mommy and a daddy. Katherine has two daddies," Gilligan said.

They didn't want her to feel any different than other kids so Gilligan was going to come in to class had the school decided to do a traditional Mother's Day celebration, but thankfully Parents Day was created with them in mind. To mark Mother's Day they will give Katherine's surrogate Miki a card, and host a brunch at their house celebrating Katherine's grandmother, whose birthday falls around the holiday.

Adelantar-Gilligan Family

Gilligan, who is a psychotherapist, said he and Adelantar's families are conservative and were worried about how everything was going to work out before Katherine was born. “There was so much negative feedback," he said, “but once Katherine was a person, now both of our families could care less."

Initially the families worried about what Katherine would call their surrogate, Miki, whom they befriended while working at the Gap 19 years ago. “I was like 'let's wait to see what happens. And about a year ago, Katherine started calling her 'Mimi' and Katherine knows that her name is Miki and she can say that, but she calls her 'Mimi' anyway and Miki is happy with that," Gilligan said.

“We do still want to recognize moms, but you have to do what's right for you and what's comfortable for you and your family," Gilligan advised. “It should be about what makes you happy as a family so that's what we're doing."

Adelantar-Gilligan Family

Featured illustration by Simone Noronha.


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Gay Dad Life

How Canada's 'Gay Dollar' Helped This Gay Man Reflect on His Biggest Regret—Not Having Kids

Canada unveiled a 'gay dollar' coin earlier this year, helping Gregory Walters reflect on the progress the LGBTQ community has made—and his decision to forgo having children children

Earlier this year, Canada unveiled a rainbow-stripped coin dollar to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the country's decision to decriminalize homosexuality. With the coins now firmly in circulation, Gregory Walters, who lives in Vancouver, wrote a moving essay for the Globe and Mail, expressing joy for how far Canada has come on the issue of gay rights, but how the coin is also a symbolic representation of the "greatest regret" of his life—his decision not to adopt children.

Gregory writes that he had hoped to adopt a child ever since his early career working with persons with developmental disabilities. "Several children I worked with were wards of the State of Texas," he wrote. "Their parents having relinquished all rights either owing to egregious acts of abuse or a lack of desire to raise someone with so many needs. There were days when I felt, 'If I could just take you home and raise you.' I knew there was a need for adopting persons with special needs but my own internalized homophobia got in the way yet again. Despite what is probably my own gift in working with children, I never felt worthy enough to be a parent. I always felt that if I were a gay dad it would create more of a liability for the child."

Gregory decision to forgo having children, he says, is his "greatest regret." While he takes responsibility for some of this decision, he also adds: "society's view of homosexuals and its opinions regarding gay adoptions also played a major part."

To critics of Canada's coin, some of who have said its a cheap political pander to the LGBTQ community, Gregory concludes with this thought:

"I don't care if the indulged majority who never had to question marriage or raising children or being secure in a job may feel the coin is frivolous. The coin isn't for them in the first place. It's an acknowledgment for those of us who repressed our true selves and felt oppressed. It is for gays who never lived to see rights and protections enshrined in law. It is for younger LGBTQ people to learn more about how far we've come and to gain a deeper sense of gay pride. For these reasons, the coin has value so much greater than any monetary designation. The coin represents both empowerment and normalization."

Read Gregory's full essay here.

Gay Dad Life

8 Pics of Ricky Martin Being an Adorable Dad Because Why Not?

Here's some pics of Ricky Martin being an adorable dad because we've ALL had a long week and deserve this don't we??

Earlier this year, in January 2019, superstar Ricky Martin and his husband Jwan Yosef shared a post via Instagram announcing that they'd welcomed a baby girl named Lucia into their family. With twin 9-year-old sons in the house as well, Ricky and Jwan now have a very full casa. Fortunately, the dads are giving us a little glimpse into their chaotic but fun-filled home lives via Instagram. We rounded up 8 of our fav recent parenting pics by the popstar because we've all had long weeks and we deserve this don't we??

Enjoy!

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Gay Dad Life

17 T.V. Shows Featuring Gay Dad Characters

Gay dads are all the rage on the small screen these days... here are 17 shows that prominently feature gay dad characters!

The 2019-2020 TV season will soon be upon us! In recent years, gay dad characters have been all the rage... will we see more representation this fall? We sure hope so! But in the meantime, we'll be content reviewing this list of 17 shows that have (somewhat) prominently featured gay dad characters!

Also we KNOW we're missing some, so drop us a line in the comments to tell us what we should add!

1. Grace & Frankie

In this Netflix original series, Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston play gay dads who come out to their wives and children well past their primes. Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda play the ex-wives, rounding out the star-studded cast. Now in its fourth season, the show has been well received and sheds an interesting light on the complications involved with fathers who come out later in life.

Entertainment

How Fatherhood Has Impacted Tom Daley's Diving Career for the Better

British diver Tom Daley, and new-ish gay dad, is looking to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in South Korea.

British diver Tom Daley is currently in the running to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in South Korea, his fourth if he competes, at the young age of just 26.

But he also has another concern that most young gay men his age couldn't fathom—fatherhood. He and his husband, filmmaker Dustin Lance Black, recently welcomed Robbie Ray via surrogacy in June 2018.

In an interview with the Independent, Daley explained how fatherhood has changed his routine and training, which he says is often for the better.

"It has changed my life completely in all of the best ways possible," Daley said. "It has changed my perspective, the way I think about things. [My son] is the most important thing in my life, everything I do is for him, everything I think about he is at the forefront of everything."

With respect to his diving career, Daley continued, "if you have a bad day at training, or a good day, you are grounded immediately when you get home through the door because you are having cuddles or you are having to change a dirty nappy. It is the first time that I have been able to leave diving at the diving board and not think about what I need to the next day in the pool."

Whatever the challenges he faces while training, he said, "I can leave it there because you don't have time to think about diving when you are looking after a kid under one."

The strategy seems to be working in Daley's favor. He recently enjoyed his most successful FINA Diving World Series ever this past Spring in Canada, winning 12 medals across five events. And barring any major catastrophe, he is overwhelmingly expected to qualify for South Korea 2020.

And we can't wait to cheer the young dad on!

Change the World

One Gay Dad's Fight Against Hate in Superior, Nebraska

Brian Splater is refusing to let homophobic and transphobic elected officials in his town go unchecked

Millie B. Photography

Guest post written by Brian Splater

No one ever should feel they will have a very lonely and secluded life as a child. But that is something me and many other gay kids believe as they are growing up.

The truth of the matter is there are people who will try everything in their power to have our rights go back in time instead of forward. It is very disheartening when these people are elected officials, or they are people who use their place of employment to spread their disgust and hate.

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Politics

America's First Gay Dad Governor Heads Into the Lion's Den

Colorado Governor Jared Polis recently became the first elected Democrat to speak at the annual Western Conservative Summit in Denver

Last Friday, American's first gay dad Governor, Jared Polis, became the first elected Democrat to speak at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver, where he urged the Republican crowd to help him build a "Colorado for all."

"While we should never gloss over the things that divide us, there is a lot more that unites us," Polis said. "When we close ourselves off from discussion or debate, and we reject the possibility of hearing and understanding other perspectives, it threatens the fabric of our democracy."

If he was hoping for a Kumbaya moment, he didn't exactly get it. As he was called to the stage, he was greeted with a smattering of applause—while others booed and shouted for a "recall" of the Governor.

"It was almost unbearable for me to sit there to listen to his talk," Abby Johnson, one of the event's attendees, told the Denver Post. "And I'm going to tell you why. He kept talking about equality for all persons, yet we live in a society where 60 million innocent human beings have been slaughtered in the name of choice. Where is their justice? Where is their equal rights?"

Polis was also criticized from his left flank for attending the same event that refuses to let the Log Cabin Republicans, a group of gay GOP members, participate—and that featured Donald Trump Jr. as a speaker the same day. "To me it feels like vanity," Katie Farnan, a staffer with progressive group Indivisible, told the Denver Post. "He can go and be a hip Democratic governor who isn't afraid to go into GOP sanctuary. Or maybe it's recall insurance. But unless he was there to hold them accountable for their support for fascist and racist policies, what's the point?"

In response to the criticism from both sides of the political aisle, Polis told the Colorado Sun: "I think it's very important that Coloradans of different ideologies, different races, different geographies, different orientations and gender identities all really celebrate that we're all part of what makes Colorado great."

The event is hosted each year by Colorado Christian University to bring together conservatives from around the state, and the larger West.

What do you think, dads? Was Polis's decision to speak at the event a savvy political move or mere pandering?

Entertainment

Hate Group Boycotts 'Toy Story' for Featuring Lesbian Moms—Hilarity Ensues on Twitter

"One Million Moms" announced a boycott of the latest Toy Story movie for *very briefly* featuring lesbian moms. Twitter's response was swift and hilarious.

One Million Moms, which is affiliated with the anti-LGBTQ American Family Association, recently called for a boycott of Toy Story 4 for (very, very briefly) featuring (interracial!) lesbian moms in the animated film. The angry, hateful moms affiliated with this group must have watched the film VERY closely because you could easily blink and miss the moment that apparently "blindsided" viewers.

The Internet reacted with a collective facepalm to the ridiculous boycott. Here are some of our favorite hilarious Twitter reactions to the hateful group:

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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