Cheyenne Jackson, best known for his roles on Glee and American Horror Story, has recently taken on one of his most challenging and rewarding roles yet: being a dad to twins, Willow and Ethan, along with his husband Jason Landau. We caught up with the talented actor and singer on the occasion of his twins' first birthday to learn a bit more about how life as a new dad is treating him.
Gays With Kids: Have you and Jason always wanted to be dads?
Cheyenne Jackson: I've wanted to be a dad as long as I can remember. Jason has said he didn't know if he wanted to have kids until he met me. And I didn't pay him to say that :).
GWK: How early on did you two discuss the idea of having kids?
CJ: Seems like it was right away. Our love was instant and undeniable and we saw a future with a family right away.
Cheyenne Jackson and Jason Landou on their wedding day
GWK: You and Jason used a gestational surrogate/egg donor, and implanted two embryos, one from each of you. Were you hoping to have twins?
CJ: We wanted a healthy baby and didn't want to hopefully go through the implantation process too many times. We were advised to up our chances of getting pregnant by implanting two. Obviously we knew that there was a small chance both would take and we would have twins. I kind of wanted one to begin with but Jason always wanted twins. Then when we implanted, both took on the first try. So we got used to the idea of twins pretty quickly!!!
GWK: How has it been in the last year going from a family of two to four over night?
CJ: Shocking. Beautiful. Exhausting. Jarring. Perfect.
GWK: What has been the best part about this first year of fatherhood for you and Jason?
CJ: No way to pick just one thing or part. Our whole lives have changed in every way. We have a tribe now. It's not just us anymore. It's deep and crazy and just so powerful.
GWK: What about the hardest part?
CJ: Lack of sleep and fatigue. For sure. It's otherworldly. Not for the faint of heart
GWK: The most surprising part?
CJ: How perfectly imperfect it all feels. You are not in control. Repeat as needed until the end of time!!!!
GWK: What was your/Jason's reaction when you found out you were having twins?
CJ: I had to take a moment and breathe and wrap my head around the idea. From zero babies to two babies? It's huge. Jason jumped up and down and we cried and hugged and told our family.
GWK: How are Willow and Ethan's personalities the same/different?
CJ: Willow came out first and was dominant from the get go. She also is very introspective and stares you down like she has been here many times before. Ethan is much more in awe of the world and surroundings. Very sensitive. Both love music, Willow dances and laughs constantly and Ethan is a ham. Basically they are both like both of us, lol.
One of the many adorable pics Cheyenne posts to his Instagram page
GWK: You've said previously that you took 6 months off to be a stay-at-home dad. How were those months at home with your kids?
CJ: Heaven. Best decision I ever made.
GWK: Now that you're back at work, what's it like maintaining your busy schedules as new dads?
CJ: It's an adjustment but we have a wonderful nanny who helps during the week when I'm at work and they come and visit on set whenever possible.
GWK: Have you had to spend much time away from your family?
CJ: I've only been away from them for 48 hours in a year.
GWK: Have you noticed people treating you and/or Jason any differently as dads on account of your sexuality?
CJ: A couple times I've heard comments or seen people staring in restaurants, trying to figure out where our wives are, etc. Some rude comments on social media sometimes, like "Where's their mom?" and " I feel sorry for those kids not having the female touch." And that's so preposterous that I don't even give it one second of my time. These kids are so loved and showered with affection and attention from everyone in their lives, most of which are women, by the way. So all is well.
GWK: What advice would you give to other gay men considering surrogacy?
CJ: It's an emotional intense beautiful expensive experience, but it is pure magic.
GWK: Have you had any advice/support from any of the few other out gay celebrities who are dads?
CJ: Oh sure. Lots of our friends are dads and we share our experiences and stories. It's the new normal. Ricky Martin gave me good twin advice and it's been so nice to share our lives with each other. We all learn from each other.
GWK: What do you have planned for the twins' first birthday this year?
CJ: Family and friends at the house and the kids will be having their first cake. And our dog will be eating most of it off the floor I'm sure.
GWK: Having a high profile example of a gay couple like you and Jason successfully raising kids is a powerful thing for the LGBTQ community. And fortunately for us, you provide your fans with an intimate (and adorable) peek into your family life each week on Instagram. Do you feel a sense of responsibility to maintain a degree of visibility on social media as a famous gay man raising kids?
CJ: I don't think of it in broad terms like that. I look at it this way. I share my family experience because I am so bombarded with love and joy on a daily basis that it's almost too much for us to take. Seriously. It's so profound. Sometimes we just sit and stare at them and cry because the love is so strong. so we want to share our love with others. People are invested in our story and our kids and we hear it every time we are out with them. It's nothing but love. What could be bad about that?
GWK: We're loving the current season of AHS, and know you've been working on a new project, American Woman, set to premier in 2018. Anything you'd like to say about that series, or any other projects you have coming up?
Thanks. Yes, I only work on shows with American in the title now, ha! Proud of my work in both of these shows and excited for the future. I'm just beginning!
GWK: Anything else you'd like to add?
CJ: The Book Baby Wise was our bible and made everything possible. Sleeping schedule is a must.
Many thanks to Cheyenne Jackson and his family for sharing his story with us on his twins birthday! Be sure to check out his Instagram page, which is loaded with ridiculously adorable photos of Willow and Ethan with their equally adorable dads. Check out some of our favorite Insta-pics below: