Gay Dad Family Stories

These Dads Chose to Raise Their Kids in Philly for the City's Diversity

These foster dads say Philly is "actively protecting, serving, and supporting their queer families."

Are you a Philadelphia gay dad family? Ivory Tree Portraits is hosting a special Gay Dad Family Day and offering all the attendees a complimentary photoshoot and digital print! Put May 4th in your diary, meet other local gay dads and their kids; make memories and keep them forever in the form of a digital print of your beautiful family. Click here for more details.

We're working in partnership with Ivory Tree Portraits to bring you the stories of some of their gay dad clients. The dads had this to say about their experiences in the studio: "At Ivory Tree photos, Marcy worked until she got the shot that she knew would make us happy and beyond," said Greg Yorgey-Girdy. "Marcy had the kids pose certain ways, but also let them be themselves. It was a wonderful experience. Even though we didn't have the pleasure of meeting Lara in person, she reached out via email to ensure our photo session was a positive and fun experience. We absolutely recommend Ivory Tree to anyone looking for a great photo studio who has a talented photographer, responsive, friendly, and extremely professional."

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Paul and Greg Yorgey-Girdy have been together for over 12 years and married since March 19, 2014. Paul, a Philly local, was born and raised in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, and Greg came to Philadelphia to attend law school. They met in a bar rather serendipitously. "Paul happened to have on a Texas t-shirt, and I'm a big Longhorn fan," said Greg. "So I approached him and asked him did he go to University of Texas, and he said "no" … didn't even know he had a Texas t-shirt on; he said it just matched his shoes."

Paul and Greg are dads to three kids through the foster care system – Bella, Xander and Trevor. They also recently became guardians to eldest son, Raymond, who joined the family in 2018.


(You can watch Greg and Paul's family video here.)

Both dads have chosen to raise their kids in Philly because of its diversity. "We love being advocates for the community to facilitate positive changes and to ensure that life is better for all families," says Greg. The husbands both feel that the city is committed to actively protecting, serving, and supporting their queer families and community. The became dads thanks in part of to Christian Johnson, who is based in Philadelphia. "She has single handedly provided opportunities to create our beautifully diverse family when others dismissed us as two gay guys."

Greg is currently on the Philadelphia Family Pride (PFP) Board and their family has been active with PFP for approximately 6 years. [PFP is an inclusive community for LGBTQ+ prospective parents and families to engage in social events, education and advocacy.] "We strive to create a fun, reflective and supportive environment where our diverse identities are valued and nurtured while working to promote a more just world." Other Philly dads, take note: there's an annual family trip to Wolf Lodge being organized by the PFP right now!

Greg says that he has found being a gay dad in Philly definitely easier that being a gay dad family in Texas or even in other parts of Pennsylvania, but admits that being a gay dad family anywhere can have its challenges. "I feel that folks question our ability as a two-dad family to raise a girl," he said. "I usually respond by saying the same way a single parent raises his / her kid – with love."

Greg and Paul believe visibility is the one the most important things they can do as a family to change prejudice. They're active on their Instagram account and share their story in their own words via their blog.

This family is proud to call Philly home.


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Gay Dad Family Stories

These Gay Dads Lost Everything After Hurricane Dorian — Except Hope

The couple, who live in "Hope Town" in the Bahamas, lost everything after suffering a direct hit from Hurricane Dorian this past summer.

Max Bethel-Jones, 52, had traveled to more than 120 countries over the last 30 years working with the United Nations, but had never been to the Bahamas — in 2015, he decided to apply for a private teaching job as a special needs teacher in Freeport on the island of Grand Bahama.

Just weeks after his arrival, he'd get a whole lot more than another pin in his map of visited countries when he attended a social event at Freeport Rugby. "My object was to ogle the local male talent but several women had other ideas," he said. One woman was particularly insistent, he said, but after a couple of drinks she got the hint that he batted for the other rugby team. "She promptly told me there was someone I should meet."

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Gay Dad Family Stories

One Dad's Plan to 'Co-Parent Like Crazy' with His Future Husband and Ex-Wife

"I see my daughter being raised in such a loving home," said Nick. "She'll understand equality and love, and I hope I will instill those qualities in her so that she spreads it to others."

When we asked 30-year-old Nick from Fort Worth, Texas, about his path to fatherhood, he told us it was a long story and to get ready. Nick became a dad through a previous straight relationship and only came out a few years ago, but a lot has happened since then.

Growing up, Nick was raised with the belief that he should, one day, become a dad and have a family. He was brought up Catholic, and was taught that his only option to have a family was with a woman.

At first, he didn't question this belief, but he distinctly remembers the first moment when he realized he was attracted to men.

"At around age 14, I remember getting in trouble in class and was sent to sit in the hallway and this guy came walking down the hallway and I thought, 'Oh, he's cute.'" After pondering that thought for a while, Nick began to look at other guys and soon realized that he was attracted to guys. "I never asked my parents, or any religious figures from church, about these thoughts that were rapidly swimming around my head—even when I was supposed to confess my sins in confession at church. I was terrified that the Father of the church would tell my parents and I'd be exiled or forced into being straight."

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Gay Dad Family Stories

These Gay Dads Chose to Make the Philly Suburbs Home

Check out this profile of one of Ivory Tree Portraits many gay dad clients!

Are you a Philadelphia gay dad family? Ivory Tree Portraits is hosting a special Gay Dad Family Day and offering all the attendees a complimentary photoshoot and digital print! Put May 4th in your diary, meet other local gay dads and their kids; make memories and keep them forever in the form of a digital print of your beautiful family. Click here for more details.

We're working in partnership with Ivory Tree Portraits to bring you the stories of some of their gay dad clients. The dads had this to say about their experiences in the studio. "Ivory Tree is amazing!" said Matthew Wright-Conti. "It is a total curated experience that made us feel relaxed, comfortable and confident in who we are. They have a ton of experience with children, and it shows. Maddie tends to be a bit shy and she warmed up right away! Highly recommend them for ALL families."

***

Growing up in the 90's and realizing he was gay, Matthew Wright-Conti wasn't sure if fatherhood would be part of his future. "After all, it wasn't until I was in my late 20's that gay marriage was even nationally legalized," said Matthew. When he was 19, Matthew came out to his family.

Matthew remembers being on the beach for a family vacation before he'd met his husband, watching his nephew run and play in the sand; his dad turned to him and started a sentence with, "One day when you have kids of your own…" (Matthew had been out to his family for 7 years by this point.) "He didn't realize how much those words meant to me," explained Matthew. "It was that type of support that really helped me believe becoming a father was possible."

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What to Buy

A Gift Guide for LGBTQ Inclusive Children's Books

Need some ideas for good LGBTQ-inclusive children's books? Look no further than our gift guide!

Every year we see more books released that feature our families, and we're here for it! We're especially excited for the day when diverse and LGBTQ+ inclusive books are less of "the odd one out" and rather considered part of every kids' everyday literacy.

To help us reach that day, we need to keep supporting our community and allies who write these stories. So here's a list of some of the great books that need to be in your library, and gifts to the other kids in your lives.

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Gay Dad Life

Broadway Performer's Surrogacy Journey Briefly Sidetracked — for One Very 'Wicked' Reason

"Broadway Husbands" Stephen and Bret explain the exciting reasons they had to hit pause on their surrogacy journey — but don't worry, they're back on track!

In the latest video of the Broadway Husbands sharing their path to fatherhood, Stephen and Bret explain their hiatus for the past 4 months. The couple have big news to share including a relocation, a job announcement, and the fact that they're getting ready to restart their journey (which they had to take a brief pause from since September).

Watch their video to find out their latest news.

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News

Gay Dads Told One Must Identify as 'Mother' to Enroll in Daycare

The Israeli gay dads told one must identify as mother — like a "normal couple" — in order to receive financial assistance for daycare.

Israeli dads Guy Sadak Shoham and Chai Aviv Shoham were trying to enroll their two-year-old twins in daycare when they were told by a government official that one would need to identify as the "mother" in order to be cleared.

According to Out Magazine, the couple was attempting to apply for financial aid to help pay for the costs of preschool when a government bureaucrat called them to discuss their eligibility.

"I understand that you are both fathers and understand that you both run a shared household, but there is always the one who is more dominant, who is more the mother," the government said, according to an interview on the Israel site Ynet (translated by Out Magazine). "I am just asking for a written statement in your hand which of you is the mother. From the point of view of the work, which works less than the father. Like a normal couple."

The official, apparently, said she was beholden to rules set for in the Ministry of Economy.

"It is mostly sad and a little disturbing," one of the dads told Ynet. "These are concepts that we consider the past. We do not necessarily come up with allegations against this representative, she is ultimately subject to the guidelines and as she said, they are the state. It is also sad that the state's definition of a mother is someone who works less and is at home with the children, and that we must choose which of us meets that definition."

The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, fortunately, issued an apology following the incident, and promised to update its protocols. "We will emphasize that the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs practices explicitly treat all types of families and grant equal rights to all," the ministry wrote in a statement, an apology that was called "insufficient" by Ohad Hizki, the director-general of the National LGBT Task Force.

"The Ministry of Labor and Welfare must sharpen its procedures immediately to prevent recurrence of cases of this kind, as other public organizations have been able to do," he said.

Read more about this story on Out Magazine.

News

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.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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