Change the World

Talking With the Gay Dads of the World-Famous Birth Pics

Talking with the Toronto dads from the birth photos seen around the world


It was the baby photo seen round the world.

On June 27, dads BJ Barone and Frank Nelson welcomed their baby son Milo into the world. It was a magical moment they shared with an intimate few in a Kingston, Ontario hospital room: with surrogate mom Kathy, of course, with caregivers, and with birth photographer Lindsay Foster.

But it was a few days later, when Foster received permission from the dads to upload some of the photos to her Facebook account, when the real sharing began. Foster’s post spread like wildfire across the social media website: nearly 10K shares of her original update alone, plus countless reposts branching off from that. It was picked up by web behemoth BuzzFeed, which offered the headline “These Photos of Two Dads Meeting Their New Baby Will Make You Cry Happy Tears.” (About 1.9 million views so far.) Twitter was flooded with the images of Frank and BJ, their faces overcome with emotion as they embraced each other and Milo. Local news stations came calling to interview the dads. Their story had gone viral, giving millions of viewers a glimpse of raw, honest emotion that is not often show by mass media: two dads in love, and in love with their son.

The photo that went viral. Pure fatherly love The photo that went viral capturing a moment of pure fatherly love.

Many millions, it seems, wanted to share in the joy of that moment. Which was, in a way, revolutionary.

“It’s incredible that just sharing who we are as a family has resonated with so many people,” says BJ. It’s not lost on the couple that Milo’s birth – and the resultant social media splash – coincided with World Pride 2014 in Toronto, where they both work as teachers. Pride’s theme, poignantly enough, was “Rise Up”: a call for LGBT visibility.

“That it coincided with World Pride is a special factor,” says BJ. “We’re standing up for ourselves and saying, ‘This is normal.’” He recalls a special note that he and Frank shared with viewers on Foster’s Facebook: “This picture represents everything Pride is about. Love has no colour nor gender nor sexual preference. Love is unconditional.”

And they’ve certainly been feeling the love from strangers in cyber-space who have taken it upon themselves to comment on the photos or reach out directly. For the most part, the response has been hugely positive, says the couple – especially from younger generations, where same-sex headed families are increasingly seen as simply part of the cultural fabric. “I’ve received private messages from some of my students, and those have been the most special to me,” says Frank. It is heartening, he says, to feel that tides of love and acceptance have turned so dramatically. “It makes me so hopeful that one day our son and others his age will look at this photo and wonder what all the hoopla was.”

“I got one message from this guy in the States, saying, ‘I’m a redneck opposed to same-sex marriage, but this really opened and changed my heart.’ That one made me cry,” adds BJ.

It’s not only strangers who have reached out with more open arms. The photos have also opened doors to dialogue with some members of BJ’s family in Italy, with whom his sexuality has been an issue. (Oh yeah, their story made the Italian newspapers too.) “My Italian family comes from a small town, and I’ve received messages from them before that what I do is wrong, that I should be ashamed of myself. Asking me how I could do this to my parents. But I just got a message from my cousin the other day; he wrote saying, ‘Congratulations, the baby’s beautiful. Hopefully you can come together to Italy.’”

“Sometimes people are just afraid of the unknown. They’re afraid of how people will react,” continues BJ. “Having this opportunity has allowed my family to see that we’re in stable relationship and receiving love and support from around the world. It’s opened their eyes: if so many strangers can accept this, why wouldn’t they?”

The couple admits that there has been some backlash. There are still the few who choose to leave hurtful and ignorant comments on even the most joy-filled photos. But those have been in the minority, they say, and much of the negative reaction has focused on a specific element: that the dads are shirtless in the photos. “When the midwife told us we were going to be shirtless, I was like, ‘What?’” laughs Frank. They were encouraged to doff their shirts to establish skin-to-skin contact with Milo; many baby experts recommend it to release oxytocin, often referred to as the “attachment chemical.” Of course, if a mother had brought the child to her breast, it’s hard to imagine there would be much outcry. That so many were fixated on the shirtless element shows that there’s a long way to go to educating people about the experiences of dads, gay and straight, in the delivery room. “Once you explain it,” says Frank, “it seems completely natural.”

And now the dads are adjusting to the other natural new aspects of life: from feeding times to sleeping schedules. The media hubbub will soon die down, though they’re considering starting a baby blog to update Milo’s new worldwide fans. And maybe one day, they’ll grow their family again; they have embryos frozen for five more years, and haven’t ruled out returning to the delivery room.

But right now they’re enjoying the bliss of life with baby. One they didn’t always know they would have.

“When I came out to my dad, he said what upset him the most was that I would never get to enjoy being a father,” recalls Frank. “Now, my parents have been so touched seeing the journey that we went through to get here.”

“I knew I was gay ever since I was a little kid, and I never thought I would find love, be married, or have kids. I thought I’d be alone or unhappy for the rest of my life,” remembers BJ. His voice breaks. “And now here I am. I have Frank. I’m a father.”

And the whole world is watching, loving them, hitting the share button.

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Change the World

Meet the Gay Dad Running For Common Council in South Bend, Indiana

Move over Mayor Pete Buttigieg! South Bend, Indiana may soon have another gay politico in the form of Alex Giorgio-Rubin, a dad of a 12-year-old adopted son.

You've probably heard of Pete Buttigieg, the young gay mayor running to be the Democratic nominee to challenge President Trump in 2020. But the town of South Bend, Indiana, may soon have another gay politico rising star in the form of Alex Giorgio-Rubin, a dad to a 12-year-old son.

Alex is running for a seat on South Bend's Common Council, in part, he says, to help make all families – including ones like his own – feel welcome.

As an out, married, gay dad, living in a Jewish household, raising a son who is on the Autism spectrum, Alex feels he can offer a unique perspective. "We come from the state that produced Mike Pence," said Alex. "We come from the state that made national headlines because of a bill that would allow businesses to discriminate based on sexual orientation; it's fair to say that the cards are stacked against my family, and many, many other families like mine."

Alex, who is currently a stay-at-home dad raising his adopted son, 12-year-old Joseph, is married to Joshua Giorgio-Rubin, a Senior English Lecturer at the Indiana University of South Bend. The two have been together for six years.

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Change the World

This British Olympian Is Retiring to Fight for the Rights of His Gay Dad

British gold medalist Callum Skinner says his "heart sunk" when his father offered to hide his sexuality from the media during the 2016 Rio Olympics

In a recent article, OutSports reported that British cyclist Callum Skinner is retiring from the sport in order to focus on fighting for the rights of his gay dad and the broader LGBTQ community.

Skinner, who is an Olympic gold medalist, had already been taking a break from racing due to some health complications, but said in a recent post on his website that he's excited to use this time to to be an ally to the LGBTQ community.

He wrote in part: "As some of you will know, I'm particularly passionate about giving back to sport, using my profile for good, whether that's in supporting the long overdue reform of sports governance, LGBT rights and encouraging people to get on their bikes. My focus and effort now lies in working in partnership with British Cycling to continue to make the athlete experience more human whilst still maintaining that performance mindset."

As OutSports reported, Skinner began talking more openly about his gay father in the lead up to the 2016 Rio Olympics, when his father offered to hide his sexuality to avoid any potential negative media attention.

"It was only around about the Games when my dad was signing up to the scheme with the [British Olympic Association], that he said to me, 'you know, I don't mind hiding the gay thing'" Skinner said. "It was at that point that my heart sunk. And then I thought, 'I've truly been hiding this'. So I decided that win, lose or draw, after the Games, this is something that I'm going to be more open about, because my dad shouldn't have to hide who he is."

Read the full article here.

Change the World

There's No "LGBT Way" to Change a Diaper, Says America's First Gay Dad Governor

Jared Polis, the first openly gay male Governor of a state, talks to POPSUGAR about how being a dad has impacted his policy priorities

Colorado Governor Jared Polis recently say down with POPSUGAR for an interview to talk politics, family life, and what it's like being the first openly gay man to ascend to a state's top executive role.

Though this is a historic moment for the LGBTQ community, and gay dads in particular, Governor Polis says the act of parenting his two children with a male partner, Marlon Reis, doesn't change all that much . Or, as he more succinctly put it, "there's no LGBT way to change a kid's diaper. Or dress your kid for school."

His experience as a parent, though, has impacted some of his policy priorities. "My vision for Colorado is about making Colorado more livable for all families," Polis told POPSUGAR. One of the primary ways he hopes to do so is through family-friendly education policies, like early childhood education.

"The data always pointed to the importance of early childhood education," he says in the interview. "But now as a father of a 7-year-old and a 4-year-old, I really see it in my own kids. I see the difference that preschool and kindergarten can make and how fortunate I am to have been able to afford that for my kids."

Governor Polis is also interested in enacting paid family leave policies that are more inclusive of dads. "We want our state to be the best state to raise a family," he said. "Part of that is making sure new parents can be with their kids in those precious first few weeks that you never get back."

Read the entire interview here.


Gay Dad Life

Internet Conflicted About Advice Given to Closeted Gay Dad in the Guardian

Ok fellow gay dads: if you were the advice columnist at the Guardian, what would you have said?

Recently, in a post titled "I met my girlfriend's parents – and realized I once slept with her father," a man wrote into the advice column at the Guardian with the following predicament:

"Five years ago, I went through a bi phase and used to sleep around with pretty much everyone that came along, including other men. This changed when I fell in love with my new partner, who is everything to me. I recently met her parents and halfway through lunch realised that I had slept with her father. I was going to propose, but when my partner and her mother were away, he told me to end it with his daughter. I'm obviously in love – shall I just ignore him, or tell my partner?"

Pamela Stephenson, the Guardian's columnist, responded as follows:

"I am not sure you could ever have a comfortable future with your new partner. To tell the truth would be to court disaster: a probable break-up, plus the risk of a permanent rift between father and daughter and father and wife. Hiding the truth would lead to toxic secret-keeping that could be equally destructive in the long run. If this whole family was as open-minded and sexually open as you, it might be possible for you to become part of it. However, the father – your former lover – has made it clear that you will not be welcome. Walk away now, and avoid the massive pain that would otherwise be inflicted on your partner, her family and yourself."

Not all commenters agreed with Stephenson's advice.

"Assuming your girlfriend knows that you were bi until falling in love with her and that you slept with everybody in your path [which she deserved to know up front anyway] then you can give HER the option what to do with this bond, rather than leaving the choice to her dad," said one commenter.

Another said, "Walking away without explaining why would be callous and also allow the father to escape the possible consequences of his actions."

It's worth noting that none of these commenters, nor the columnist, are or will ever be gay dads, whose perspective on this bizarre situation may be uniquely valuable. Many gay dads have become fathers while still in the closet. And even those who became dads after coming out can still sympathize with the detrimental impacts of the closet on our lives and those of our families.

So what say you, gay dads, about this man's predicament?

Gay Dad Family Stories

This Women's History Month, Gay Men Honor the Gals Who Help Make Them Dads

Each and every man becomes a dad with the help of a woman. We asked gay dads to honor one who helped them along in their path to parenthood to help us celebrate women's history month.

Each and every one of us became (or will become) a dad with the help of a woman--more often than not, with the help of multiple women. So this Women's History Month, we choose to celebrate these women by asking you to tell us a bit about them. Enjoy these inspiring stories below. Want to honor a woman in your life who has helped you become a dad? Tell us about her at dads@gayswithkids.com

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Gay Dad Life

These Gay Dads Know How to Make Holidays Extra Super Special

Adam and Josh got engaged on Good Morning America on Valentines Day, and welcomed their Christmas miracle baby into their lives on December 26th

Picture this: Valentine's Day 2015, Adam and Josh Klocke were among 24 other couples ice skating in Bryant Park as part of a Good Morning America segment. Lara Spencer was hosting while Christina Perri sang "A Thousand Years" on top of a piano. Midway through, she stopped and Lara reported technical difficulties. This was the cue that the knowing members of each couple had been waiting for. They each dropped to one knee and asked for their partner's hand in marriage. Adam recalls, "It was such an amazing experience that we will never forget." 18 months later, they were married.

While their engagement was a life-changing experience, another for the husbands was welcoming their Christmas miracle, Baby K, via adoption on December 26, 2018. She was just two days old. Here's their story.

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Gay Dad Life

Gay Dad Settles Discrimination Suit Against LA-Based School

A single gay dad claims an LA-based school did not adequately protect his two daughters who were reportedly bullied on account of his sexual orientation.

According to MyNewsLA, a single gay dad settled his suit against an LA-based school, Pressman Academy of Temple Beth Am. The man, who is unidentified, alleged that his two daughters were discriminated against in the school on account of his sexual orientation.

Identified only as "John Doe" in the complaint, the single gay dad reportedly grew up in Israel and chose Pressman Academy for his daughters "because it is supposed to be the best school that would instill those same values in his children." The school apparently took issue, however, with John Doe's sexuality.

According to the suit, teachers and other staff members at the school repeatedly asked the sisters to bring a "woman figure" to the school's Mother's Day celebration, for instance. School staff also did not intervene to prevent bullying of the daughters, one of whom was reportedly called an "orphan" because she lacked a mother, and teased to the point of telling a school therapist that she was contemplating suicide.

The terms of the settlement were not made public but the girls, thankfully, now attend another school.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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