Gay Dad Life

In the Shadow of Leukemia, a Focus on the Little Things

Malaki was diagnosed with leukemia just two months after he arrived at his new Toronto home. Now, two years later, the family has never looked back.

It’s Saturday afternoon and Michael Went is helping his son Malaki put a final dusting of sparkles on a construction paper ornament at the 519 Community Centre’s December Children’s Party in Toronto. Later, the active 4-year-old, who loves karate, swimming and skating, will join his other father, Doug Kerr, a college instructor and non-profit management consultant, in a sing-along circle with about two dozen other children.

“I focus on him and what he wants, which is really quite micro,” Went says. “He wants a daddy to love him, he wants to be entertained sometimes, he wants food, maybe some TV. If I can focus on the moment then I don’t have to worry about the big stuff.”

“Big stuff” is a euphemism: Malaki is battling leukemia. He hadn’t even celebrated his second birthday when his fathers noticed that he had stopped walking. Went, a senior municipal financial advisor with Ontario’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, recalls trying to get Malaki back on his feet.

“I went to the playground and put him about two feet away from the swings,” Went recalls. He told Malaki that if he wanted to go on the swings, he would have to walk to them. Instead, he just lay on the ground, screaming in frustration. “That’s when I realized something was wrong,” Went says.

Doug, Malaki and Michael

A pediatrician first thought Malaki might have an infection, but grew more concerned when antibiotics failed. A blood test revealed Malaki had leukemia, the most common form of childhood cancer. “In an hour we were taking transit over to SickKids [as The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto is more commonly known], where we stayed overnight,” Went recalls. “Our lives changed forever.” It happened to be their wedding anniversary. “We call it crappyversary,” he says today.

Just two months before the diagnosis, Malaki arrived at Kerr and Went’s Toronto townhouse as a foster child “with a view to adopt,” meaning the Children’s Aid Society’s ultimate goal was to establish an adoption. As they weren’t yet Malaki’s legal guardians, Went and Kerr worked closely with a social worker who helped them land a judge’s permission for Malaki’s medical procedures.

Some prospective parents may have reconsidered moving forward with the adoption. “It never crossed our minds,” Kerr says without hesitation. “At that point we could have easily said to CAS [Children’s Aid Society] that we [didn't] want to go forward with the adoption, but we couldn’t. We were falling in love with him.”

The partners of 13 years took turns staying overnight in SickKids with Malaki while he underwent treatment. “Survival rates are fairly high, but you have to do a lot of chemo,” Kerr says. “He didn’t have major side effects but it’s not easy taking chemo. You are in the hospital a lot for the first six months. It is so complicated, the different drugs you have to take.” Malaki lost his hair but was spared the mouth sores that can make eating difficult for some kids who go through chemotherapy.

“The first few needles? They were hard!” Went remembers. “Really, really hard! But every couple weeks we’re doing it, he got used to it. Now when we go to the hospital the hardest part of it is not the needle, is not the entry of the hospital, it’s not the lack of food, because he has to go fasted; the hardest part is leaving because he is having such a good time. SickKids has such an amazing array of toys and people to entertain him.”

In addition to multiple playrooms, SickKids offers a weekly musical performance, craft days with the Brownies and Cubs, and a games room with TV, video games and pool. Malaki is just one of the 100,000 children who pass through SickKids annually.

Kerr and Went have explained Malaki’s condition to him in age-appropriate language. For example, he knows he has a “port” in his chest where doctors can take a quick blood sample and he uses words such as “emergency” and “stethoscope.” “I don’t know if he knows that he’s sick,” Kerr says, noting he has never used the word “leukemia.” “He knows now, but not really.”

Went suspects he might be a different kind of dad if Malaki’s health wasn’t a factor. “I think I would be a little bit less of a softie,” he speculates. “I will give in more often than not to his whims. One of the warnings that SickKids gave us is it’s a habit for parents to spoil their children, and I dare say I have veered in that direction. We give him a little too many cookies when we have coffee. When I compare to how my parents were, I didn’t have that many cookies!”

Together, Kerr and Went are a united front of positivity, focusing on the very good chance that Malaki will make a full recovery when he’ll finish his treatment in a year and not on the small possibility of a relapse. “The big stuff will happen and we will deal,” Went says. “But if I spend too much time worrying about all that big stuff then I’m going to get myself into a negative spiral, and it’s not helpful for Malaki or for me. My job is to make sure he is happy and safe and secure now.”

Doug, Malaki and Michael

Editor's note: Went and Kerr are extremely pleased with the level of care provided at SickKids, so we're showing our support by providing our readers with this link to help fund the hospital's life-saving mission with a donation: Donations help fund equipment, staff training, and research. Those living in the greater Toronto area can volunteer or participate in a SickKids fundraising event, visit

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Gay Uncles

Gay Uncles are an Essential Part of This Gay Dad Family's Village

It takes a village to raise a child, and this village includes many gay uncles

In November last year, Ottawa-based husbands Matt Ottaviani and Rej Gareau (whose story we shared in July) became first-time dads through surrogacy. They were overjoyed to welcome their daughter Andy and become a family of three.

But as many of us know, raising a child isn't always just about the nuclear family. The African proverb "it takes a village to raise a child" is a commonly repeated phrase, and rings very true for many families. Matt and Rej are no different, and when they shared their story last month, one thing jumped out to us: the important role Andy's guncles play in her and her dads' lives.

In honor of Gay Uncles Day today, we reached out to Andy's many guncles to learn first-hand how their relationship with the family affects their lives. Here's what they had to say.

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Gay Dad Life

Need a Sitter for Your Kids? Gays With Kids Reviews UrbanSitter

Back-to-school is already here for some of us, and if you're looking for a sitter to help out with school runs, after-school pick-ups, and the occasional date night, check out our review of UrbanSitter.

Instagram @davidcblacker

We moved from New York to Boston the summer of 2017. Along with the Manhattan skyline, our beloved Broadway, and late-night cookie deliveries, we also left behind our sitters — two sisters who had become more like family.

After settling for several months into our new home and neighborhood, we realized we hadn't had a dads' night out since our move. Our kids were still too young to leave alone at night, so I began what I presumed would be the tedious task of finding a sitter.

The first thing I did was to leave a post on our local parents' Facebook group. The dad of one of our daughters' classmates told me about UrbanSitter, a website and mobile app that he'd had success using to find last-minute sitters a few times. He also mentioned that within the app, I could see see babysitters and nannies recommended by parents at our kids' school in addition to local parenting groups.

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"We are so excited about The Bravest Knight, its values and our partnership with Hulu," said Shabnam Rezaei, the director of the series and co-founder of Big Bad Boo Studios. "They understand how to push the envelope with authentic storytelling."

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Errico's book was first realized as an animation when Hulu created a short film based upon his writing and were interested in exploring the concept of a full series. "I watched the eight minutes on Hulu and at the end the prince and the knight get married and I was in tears," says Rezaei. Rezaei then stepped in to create all new art work including new character design by Tim Linklater and backgrounds by Sarita Kolhatra. Together, they created a kickass bible and pitched the series to Hulu and were successful.

Diversity and inclusivity is celebrated throughout The Bravest Knight, reflected by its casting choices. Nia is played by Storm Reid, from "A Wrinkle in Time," and her dads Sir Cedric and Prince Andrew are voiced by T.R. Knight and Wilson Cruz respectively. The star studded cast also includes Wanda Sykes, Bobby Moynihan, RuPaul, Steven Weber, Teri Polo, AJ McLean, Jazz Jennings, Maz Jobrani and Christine Baranski as the formidable Red Dragon.

"With so many wonderful stories yet to be told, we hope that The Bravest Knight stands as an example of the undeniable strength in inclusivity, and the inherent joy in all forms of love and identity," said Errico, the author of the original book.

The first 5 episodes were released on June 21, and there are 8 more planned for release before the end of the year. Be sure to tune in!

This is the Main Title Song for Big Bad Boo's Hulu Original Series "The Bravest Knight". The song is performed by Justin Tranter and composed by Michael Plow...


Utah Court Rules Gay Couples Can't Be Excluded From Surrogacy Contracts

The Utah Supreme Court found in favor of a gay couple attempting to enter into a surrogacy contract.


Earlier this month, the Utah Supreme Court ruled that a same-sex couples can't be excluded from entering into enforceable surrogacy contracts, and sent a case concerning a gay male couple back to trial court to approve their petition for a surrogacy arrangement.

As reported in Gay City News, the case concerns Utah's 2005 law on surrogacy, which was enacted prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state. As a result, the content of the law is gendered, saying that surrogacy contracts should only be enforceable if the "intended mother" is unable to bear a child. When a gay couple approached District Judge Jeffrey C. Wilcox to enter into a surrogacy arrangement, he denied them, arguing that the state's law only concerned opposite sex couples.

"This opinion is an important contribution to the growing body of cases adopting a broad construction of the precedent created by Obergefell v. Hodges and the Supreme Court's subsequent decision in Pavan v. Smith," according to GCN. "It's also worth noting that same-sex couples in Utah now enjoy a right denied them here in New York, where compensated gestational surrogacy contracts remain illegal for all couples."

Read the full article here.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

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One gay dad's plea to our leaders to enact sensible gun control

My articles on GaysWithKids aspire to be lighthearted, helpful and humorous. This one won't be any of those things. Because I'm feeling heavyhearted, helpless and sad. Last week I woke up to news of yet another mass shooting. This time at a family-friendly Garlic Festival in northern California. I don't know if it's because this one hit so close to home, or if it's because the headline included a picture of the innocent 6-year old who was among those killed, but I am overcome with emotion. But mostly I am angry. And I don't know what to do with my anger.

Then, just a few days later came two additional horrific mass shootings that stole the lives of at least 32 more innocent people, many of them children. And then there's the "everyday" gun violence that plagues American cities like Chicago, where guns injured another 46 people this past weekend alone… creating so much turmoil, a hospital had to briefly stop taking patients.

How does one verbalize the collective sadness felt around the world? One can't. And that's why I am asking everyone reading this article to commit to getting involved in some way, to help end this epidemic once and for all. Even though the solution is so obvious, we can't allow ourselves to become numb to mass shootings. Because becoming numb isn't going to save anyone.

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Gay Russian Dads Forced to Flee Moscow

Fearing the Russian government might take their adopted kids into custody because of their sexual orientation, Andrei Vaganov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev fled Moscow

A married couple in Russia, with two adopted children, were just forced the flee their home in Moscow for fear that the authorities would take their children away, according to German news site Deutsche Welle.

Trouble started last month after investigators in Russia opened a criminal inquiry into the proceedings that had allowed the gay couple, Andrei Vaganov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev, to legally adopt the two boys —adoption by LGBTQ people in Russia has typically not been recognized. The government became aware of the adoption proceedings after the gay couple brought their 12-year-old son to the hospital, who was complaining of a stomachache. The boy was fine, but after he mentioned offhand that he was adopted and lived with two fathers, the doctor called the police.

Andrei and Yevgeny granted an interview with Deutsche Welle after escaping Moscow, but on the advice of their lawyers have yet to disclose where they are currently located. Here is a quick recap of that conversation:

"In connection with the 'propaganda of non-traditional values,' the state representatives are accused of having neglected their duty of supervision," Andrei said, when asked to explain on what basis the Russian government might take his children into custody. "This means that lesbian couples could even have their biological children taken away because, through their lifestyle choices, they propagate "certain values."

Yevgeny also explained the events that led to the couple's harrowing escape "I was alone in Moscow at that time. A week after Andrei and the children had left the country, there was a knock on my door, but nobody called 'police, open up.' After half an hour the violent knocking stopped. My parents' home was searched. They were looking for the children and our Danish marriage certificate because we got married in Denmark in 2016. My friends then got me out of the country."

Read the full interview here.

Gay Dad Family Stories

This Couple is Using 'Wheel of Fortune' Winnings to Help Fund Their Adoption

Need to raise money for your adoption fund? Why not try your luck on Wheel of Fortune like these guys!

Doug and Nick Roberts connected three and a half years ago via a dating app, and on their first date, the two immediately felt a connection. Doug, a psychologist, and Nick, a neuroscientist, were married 18 months later. Today the couple live in the suburbs of Philadelphia, and they're ready to start their next exciting adventure together: fatherhood.

The husbands would like to have children, and Nick has always wanted to adopt. "We considered surrogacy, and may consider it in the future as we expand our family," said Doug, "but right now, it is cost-prohibitive. Adoption was easily the right choice for us as we begin to grow our family.

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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