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Experience the Younger Vibe of Palm Springs

Palm Springs, one of three destinations to choose from if you win the Gays With Kids "Who Needs a Vacation?" contest,  is, if nothing else, a place of contrasts. Majestic mountains, some 10,000 feet high, shoot up from the flat valley floor. Tanned young muscular men relax poolside while 60-something golfers wander the course in the distance beyond. Green expanses of lawns and water fountains give way to a wildly beautiful dusty desert landscape at every turn. Modern resort hotels sit alongside quirky motels, awash in American charm.

PS Tram_LGBTThe Palm Springs area, located about 100 miles east of Los Angeles, is several communities strung together, including Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage and Cathedral City. The region has long been a draw for both Hollywood celebrities and gay men, and it is said to now have the fifth highest concentration of same-sex households in the United States.

Opportunities for entertainment abound in Palm Springs, whether you are looking for wild, mild, or somewhere in between. Here’s a look at just a sampling of what you can do.

Become one with nature

If you’ve never tried hot-air ballooning, Palm Springs is an incredible place to experience it for the first time. There are numerous operators in the valley, and the flights afford amazing views of both the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa mountain ranges. The feeling is completely different from an airplane flight or helicopter ride, because of the balloon's relaxing motion and total silence (aside from the occasional “whooshes” of the gas flame). Most tours occur in the early morning hours or just before sunset, when the winds are light and the light is gorgeous. You can choose between normally scheduled tours or arrange private tours with some operators.

One of the most popular area activities is taking the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway (it even rotates!) to the top, a height of 8,516 feet above sea level. Stunning vistas await visitors at the Mountain Station, a full 2 miles diagonally from where you boarded! The top also boasts a gift shop and a natural history museum.

If you still haven’t gotten enough of the great outdoors, you can also participate in open-air bus tours, horseback riding, or jeep tours to learn more, and get different vantage points of the area.

Sport it up!PS LGBT-Pool-Beach-Balls

The Coachella Valley has myriad options to get active and burn off some of those cocktails that you’re planning on consuming in the evening. Golf is huge in this part of California, with more courses here than any other part of the state—more than 100 in all! Hiking is another popular activity for visitors here, with nearby trails in Indian Canyon, on Mt. San Jacinto, the Coachella Valley Preserve, or even through Palm Canyon, which claims to feature the world’s largest palm fan oasis. A variety of terrain levels can be found for everyone from the casual walker to the dedicated hiker and even you rock climbers.

With Palm Springs’ year-round warm weather and nearly cloudless skies, it’s also a great place to get out and play tennis or go for a swim. Several area outfitters even rent ATVs for those adventurous enough to go for a spin on the sand dunes located 30 minutes east in the Mecca Hills area.

Pamper yourself

Your trip to this desert oasis doesn’t have to mean work — the area is a popular place to indulge in spa treatments, and plenty of local businesses, both stand-alone spas and those set within the larger resorts, are ready and willing to massage your cares away. Spend a day focusing on serene surroundings and get a manicure, pedicure, shave or haircut — or all of the above! After all, you deserve it, right?

Poolside lounging, swimming and sunbathing are all popular pastimes in this part of California, and there’s an abundance of eye candy to be enjoyed in between reading chapters of your book. The renowned warm, dry climate features more than 300 sunny days per year and a scant 5 inches of rain —about what Seattle sees in a mere three weeks in an average November!


The Palm Springs area has a thriving restaurant scene, and you’ll find a little bit of everything — Italian, Mexican, French, and traditional American fare. There is also a nice mix of brunch spots, seafood restaurants and cafés. If you’re more adventurous, you can also try Greek, Salvadoran, Japanese, Cuban, Hawaiian and Asian fusion places.

Get your gay on

Let’s not forget that Palm Springs is a huge draw for the LGBT community. You can easily immerse yourself in gayness here, from a night out to see the Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus to a great music or theater performance at the Annenberg Theater downtown. The area has quite a few clothing optional gay men’s resorts, as well. If you have other accommodations, you can still go check them out: some of the resorts offer day passes. There are drag shows year round and a bevy of gay clubs — a half dozen or more, depending on how you count — that cater to young and old, from twink to bear.

All in all, the Palm Springs has a huge selection of vacation choices for even the most discriminating gay dad. If you’re in need of a short weekend or an entire week away, it’s a great choice for a change of pace. The perfect gay oasis in the desert, whether you win the Gays With Kids contest or not!

NOTE: Photos Courtesy of Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism.

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World's First Sperm Bank Opens for HIV Positive Donors

Sperm Positive, started by three non-profits in New Zealand, hopes to end stigma surrounding HIV and parenthood

"Our donors have so much to give," say the promotional materials of a new sperm bank. "But they can't give you HIV."

The new sperm bank, Sperm Positive, launched on World Aids Day this year by three non-profits as a way to fight stigma surrounding HIV and parenthood. For years, scientists have known that those living with an undetectable level of HIV in their blood thanks to antiretroviral treatments can't transmit the virus through sex or childbirth. Yet discrimination and stigma persists.

The sperm bank exists online only, but will connect donors and those seeking donations with fertility banks once a connection is made on their site. Sperm Positive was started by three New Zealand non-profits — Body Positive, the New Zealand Aids Foundation and Positive Women Inc. — who hope the project will help disseminate science-backed education and information about HIV and parenthood.

Already, three HIV positive men have signed up to serve as donors, including Damien Rule-Neal who spoke to the NZ Herald about his reasons for getting involved in the project. "I want people to know life doesn't stop after being diagnosed with HIV and that it is safe to have children if you're on treatment," he told the Herald. "I've experienced a lot of stigma living with HIV, both at work and in my personal life that has come from people being misinformed about the virus."

We applaud the effort all around! To read more about our own efforts to end the stigma surround HIV and parenthood, check out our recent round-up of family profiles, resources, and expert advice that celebrate the experience of gay dads living with HIV here.

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'Homosexuality is Wrong' Utah Teacher Tells Boy Who Gave Thanks for His Two Adoptive Dads

The substitute teacher went on to say two men living together is "sinful." She was fired shortly after.

To anyone with a heart, the moment should have done nothing more than bring a tear to the eye. Last week, just before the Thanksgiving break, a substitute teacher in a fifth grade class in Cedar Hills, Utah — just south of Salt Lake City — asked her students to name something they were thankful for this holiday season.

"I'm thankful for finally being adopted by my two dads," said Daniel, one of the boys, when it was his turn.

Rather than grab a tissue to dab her eyes, or ask the classroom to join her in a hearty round of applause to celebrate Daniel finding his forever family, the teacher took it upon herself to impart her personal religious beliefs onto the young boy. "Homosexuality is wrong," the teacher said in front of the class, adding that it was "sinful" for two men to live together.

The teacher, fortunately, was fired from Kelly Services, the substitute staffing company that employed her, quickly after the incident, but the moment is nonetheless receiving widespread attention in the press — no doubt in part because one of the boy's dads, Louis van Amstel of "Dancing With the Stars," posted a video clip to his 76,000 Twitter followers with the title: "Our child was bullied."

"It shouldn't matter if you're gay, straight, bisexual, black and white," he said to the New York Times in a follow up interview. "If you're adopting a child and if that child goes to a public school, that teacher should not share her opinion about what she thinks we do in our private life."

Louis also revealed that the moment may not have come to light were it not for three of his son's classmates, who told the principal about the teacher's bigoted comments. His son, Daniel, didn't want to report the incident for fear of getting the teacher into trouble.

Louis expressed thanks that the staffing company responded as quickly as it did following the incident — and also stressed that his neighbors and community have rallied behind he and his family in the days afterward, offering support. He wanted to dispel stereotypes that Utah, because of its social conservatism and religiosity, was somehow inherently prejudiced.

"It doesn't mean that all of Utah is now bad," he told the Times. "This is one person."

It's also true that this type of prejudice is in no way limited to so-called red states, and incidents like these happen daily. LGBTQ parents and our children are subjected to homophobic and transphobic comments in schools, hospitals, stores, airlines and elsewhere as we simply go about living our lives. These moments so often fly under the radar — many classmates don't have the courage, as they fortunately did in this case, to report wrongdoing. Some administrators are far less responsive than they were here — and most of us don't have 76,000 Twitter followers to help make these moments of homophobia a national story.

All that aside, let's also get back to what should have been nothing more than a heartwarming moment — Daniel, a fifth grade boy, giving thanks to finally being legally adopted into a loving family.

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9 Stories That Celebrate the Experience of Gay Fathers Living with HIV

This World AIDS Day, we dug into our archives to find 9 stories that bring awareness to and celebrate the experience of gay dads living with HIV

December 1st is World AIDS Day — a day to unite in our collective fight to end the epidemic, remember those we've lost, and bring much needed attention and money to support those who continue to live with HIV and AIDS. For us at Gays With Kids, it's also a time to lift up and celebrate the experiences of fathers, so many of who never thought they'd see the day where they would be able to start families.

Towards that end, we've rounded up nine stories, family features and articles from our archives that celebrate the experience of gay fathers living with HIV — the struggles, triumphs and everything in between.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

How This Dad 'Redesigned' the Holidays After Coming Out of the Closet

Rick Clemons describes how he made the holidays work for him and his family again after coming out of the closet

What I'm about to describe to you, is something I am deeply ashamed of in hindsight. I was a jerk, still in a state of shock and confusion, and "in love" with a handsome Brit I'd only spent less than 24 hours with.

I was standing in the Ontario, California airport watching my wife walk with my two daughters to a different gate than mine. They were headed to my parents in the Napa Valley for Thanksgiving. I was headed to spend my Thanksgiving with the Brit in San Francisco. It was less than one month after I had come out of the closet and I was so caught up in my own freedom and new life that I didn't realize until everything went kaput with the Brit on New Year's Eve, that if I was ever going to manage the holidays with dignity and respect for me, my kids, and their Mom, I was going to have to kick myself in the pants and stop acting like a kid in the candy store when it came to men. Ok, nothing wrong with acting that way since I never got to date guys in high school and college because I was raised to believe – gay no way, was the way. But that's another article all together.

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What to Buy

Shop with a Purpose with Our 2019 Holiday Gift Guide

Want to find amazing gift ideas while *also* supporting LGBTQ-owned and allied businesses? Look no further than our 2019 holiday gift guide!

'Tis the season to show loved ones you care. And what better way to show you care, by also supported our LGBTQ+ community and allies whilst doing it! Shop (LGBTQ+) smart with these great suggestions below.

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Diary of a Newly Out Gay Dad

A Newly Out Gay Dad Feels 'Demoted' After Divorce

Cameron Call showed up to his first family Thanksgiving since coming out and getting a divorce — and struggles to find himself "stuck with the singles."

Cameron Call, who came out in summer 2019, has generously agreed to chronicle his coming out journey for Gays With Kids over the next several months — the highs, lows and everything in between. Read his first article here.

Denial is an interesting thing. It's easy to think you're potentially above it, avoiding it, assume it doesn't apply to you because you'd NEVER do that, or maybe you're just simply avoiding it altogether. After finally coming out, I liked to think that I was done denying anything from now on. But unfortunately that's not the case.

And this fact became very clear to me over Thanksgiving.

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New Report Details the 'Price of Parenthood' for LGBTQ People

A new report by the Family Equality Council takes a deep dive into the current state of cost for becoming a parent as an LGBTQ person

Parenthood is expensive. But parenthood while queer is still prohibitively costly for so many segments of the LGBTQ community interested in pursuing a family, according to a new repot by the Family Equality Council, titled, "Building LGBTQ+ Families: The Price of Parenthood."

Among the more interesting findings was this one: the cost of family planning is relatively similar for all LGBTQ people, regardless of income level. This shows "that the desire to have children exists regardless of financial security," the report's authors conclude.

Research for the report was conducted through an online survey of 500 LGBTQ adults over the age of 18, and was conducted between July 11-18, 2018. For comparison, the survey also included 1,004 adults who did not identify as LGBTQ.

Other interesting findings of the report include:

  • 29% of all LGBTQ+ respondents reported an annual household income under $25,000 compared to 22% of non-LGBTQ+ respondents.
  • 33% of black LGBTQ+ respondents, 32% of female-identified LGBTQ+ respondents, and 31% of trans/gender non-conforming LGBTQ+ respondents reported annual household incomes below $25,000.
  • Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have volunteered to participate in online surveys and polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to multiple sources of error, including, but not limited to sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, and error associated with question-wording and response options.29% of all LGBTQ+ respondents reported an annual household income under $25,000 compared to 22% of non-LGBTQ+ respondents.
  • 33% of black LGBTQ+ respondents, 32% of female-identified LGBTQ+ respondents, and 31% of trans/gender non-conforming LGBTQ+ respondents reported annual household incomes below $25,000.
  • Regardless of annual household income, 45-53% of LGBTQ+ millennials are planning to become parents for the first time or add another child to their family. Those making less than $25,000 a year are considering becoming parents at very similar rates as those making over $100,000.
  • Data from the Family Building Survey reveals that LGBTQ+ households making over $100,000 annually are considering the full range of paths to parenthood, from surrogacy and private adoption to foster care and IVF. The most popular options under consideration in this income bracket are private adoption (74% are considering), foster care (42%), and IVF or reciprocal IVF (21%). At the other end of the economic spectrum, for LGBTQ+ individuals in households making less than $25,000 annually, the most commonly considered paths to parenthood are intercourse (35% are considering), foster care (30%), and adoption (23%).

Fatherhood, the gay way

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