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.
One Dad's Message to Others Living with HIV: You Can Be a Parent, Too
The first article was written by our co-founder, Brian Rosenberg, for Worlds Aids Day in 2006 with a powerful message for others living with HIV: yes, you can become a parent. Brian writes:
"I've been living with HIV for close to 30 years. I don't need to wait until World AIDS Day to reflect on the tremendous impact HIV and AIDS have had on my life.
I received confirmation of my HIV status in January of 1991, though I know I became positive in March or April of 1988. It was my first year out of college, and I decided to celebrate my birthday by finally acting upon the incredible urges that had been building inside of me slowly but steadily for several years. Truth is, by then my desire to be with a man filled my thoughts just about every waking hour.
A Brief History of Gay Times
Our second article shares the perspective of our other co-founder Ferd Van Gameren:
"In 1994, my then-boyfriend Brian and I drove to New York City for Gay Pride.
We had met the year before at Mike's Gym, an almost exclusively gay gym in Boston's South End. A friend of Brian's somehow knew I was from Holland; that's how I believe my nickname Tulip came about.
(Come to think of it: Brian used to say that he'd prefer tulips on his organ to a rose on his piano.)
Sperm Washing: What Every HIV-Positive Gay Man Should Know
Next up is an important round-up of information on sperm washing — a process that allows men living with HIV to become biological dads:
"Thanks to a procedure known as sperm washing, HIV-positive gay men can now safely reproduce, via surrogacy or other means, without passing the virus on to their gestational carrier or offspring. Here are the answers to five common questions HIV-positive gay men often ask about the procedure."
On World AIDS Day, Gay Dads Talk About Being HIV Positive
Next up is our "World AIDS Day" feature story from the first year Gays With Kids opened its doors — 2014:
"They didn't think that they could do it.
The barriers were too high, the paths impossible to navigate. But they tried anyway. They are a special group: gay, HIV-positive dads. And these are their stories.
Forming a family as part of a same-sex couple or as as a single gay man is fraught with obstacles to begin with. But this group faces challenges far more daunting than navigating the adoption process, or finding a suitable surrogate, or working with the foster care system. These men are also dealing with a life-changing disease.
In honor of World AIDS Day, we're highlighting the stories of six gay dads who also have dealt with this singular health challenge. (The interviews were done in partnership with TheBody.com, a comprehensive online resource for people living with HIV/AIDS.)
While all of the dads' stories are different, the focus today is on their similarities. And there are many."
In 2015, we brought you the stories of several gay HIV positive dads — along with some advice for others living with HIV thinking of starting families.
"Aslan1 always believed he would be a father—if not with a partner, then by teaming up with one of his straight, single female friends. But "at the age of 36, I became infected with the [HIV] virus," he said. "I thought my whole world collapsed. Everything crashed with that. I believed that there would be no child." He was gay and single, living in a cosmopolitan city in his southern European country, when a female friend asked him to pair up to make a baby. He had heard that it could be done safely, but when he told her his HIV status, her reaction, he said somewhat morosely, was "very naturally, not very brave." Unwilling to face that rejection again, he spent years trying to bury his profound desire to parent."
Family Spotlight: Rick, an HIV+ Gay Dad, and His Four Kids
In our founding year we also brought you the story of Rick Nadan — a gay man living with HIV who became a father through surrogacy.
"Rick Nadan went into the surrogacy process much like the average hopeful parent: financially prepared, emotionally ready and physically healthy.
But soon after he learned the gestational carrier who would carry his children was pregnant, the hopeful father learned he was HIV positive.
He had tested negative at the routine tests required for surrogacy in early December 2006. Weeks later, with pregnancy underway, he visited his doctor. "I felt really sick and it wasn't going away," he says. "I went to the doctor and he suggested doing a routine HIV test."
LGBT+ UK Parenting Organization Has a Message for HIV Positive Individuals
Next is an article detailing the "Proud Parenting" campaign, a UK-based LGBTQ parenting organization that serves as a resource for HIV positive people hoping to become parents.
"Today is World AIDS Day. In honor of the day, P3, a UK LGBT+ parenting organization (Proud Professional Parents), are launching their "Proud Parenting" campaign which provides HIV positive individuals who wish to become parents with a package of educational materials about the many possibilities available to them - from traditional conception to adoption.
One Surrogate's Experience Carrying Twins for Gay and HIV+ Intended Parents
Next is a post written by a surrogate from Circle Surrogacy who carried twins for an HIV positive intended dad and his husband as part of the Special Program for Assisted Reproduction (SPAR) program.
"I came to surrogacy because I have been drawn to help others my whole life. Because of a medical condition, my sister is unable to have her own children. I witnessed first-hand the painful questions young women are asked all too often: "When are you going to have kids?" Hearing my sister reply, "I won't be" helped shape me into who I am today, and my decision to become a surrogate.
I was looking for something exceptional in my surrogacy, but I didn't know exactly what that was. When I applied to be a surrogate, I had never thought of all the different walks of life waiting and hoping for someone to come along and help create a family for them."