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."



Photo credit: Ivory Tree Studios

Matthew met his husband-to-be Jason Wright-Conti via OKCupid while living in New York City. "We were both over the bar scene, and wanted to meet someone that was in the same place in life - someone who wanted the same things," said Matthew. Even on their first date, the two discussed having a family. Jason had always believed he'd become a dad through surrogacy, but Matthew wanted to adopt and was incredibly drawn to the idea. "We were both open and honest about what we wanted, and ended up deciding upon adoption."

The dads were married April 30, 2016, and later that year they moved to Philadelphia. "We both love the Philly vibe, and knew we wanted to be back here eventually," said Jason, who had gone to grad school in Philadelphia and Matthew was raised in the suburbs. "We wanted a support network close by because raising a kid truly takes a village!" In May 2017, they bought a house in the suburbs of the City of Brotherly Love.

On November 11, 2017, after working with Adoptions from the Heart in Wynwood, PA, Matthew and Jason became dads to Madelynn through open adoption. It was a long 10 days as the dads waited in Virginia during the revocation period, and they described it as "pure hell." But after that was up, the dads were allowed to celebrate and share their news. "We are so in love," the dads said via an Instagram post, "and every squeak, tweet and toot she does makes us beam!"

Photo credit: Ivory Tree Studios

Since settling into the groove of fatherhood, the dads can attest to their lives being turned upside down. But in a wonderful way! "EVERY. THING. HAS. CHANGED," said Matthew. "Maddie is teaching us both how to be more present. Children require constant interaction and attention, so it is super important to really be present with them" The couple whom once used to love being spontaneous have had to adjust to a more regimented lifestyle.

And the dads are excited to be able to share what their community has to offer with Maddie as she gets a little older. "Chester County Pride is very family friendly and we are excited to take our daughter to that this year," said Matthew. "Also, we cannot wait to take her to Drag Story Time - and Drag Bingo when she is old enough!"

Matthew and Jason are very happy to have chosen Philadelphia as their home and place to raise their family. "The honest and open nature of the people here and how welcoming the culture is. We feel at home everywhere we go, and want our daughter to grow up with that same comfortable feeling."

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Gay Dad Family Stories

These Adoptive Dads Gained an Extended Family Through Foster Care

Adoptive dads Edward and Andrew have maintained a close relationship with their twins' biological family.

Celebrating gay, bi and trans fatherhood is what we do on Gays With Kids. We rejoice in whatever paths our community took to become parents. But many of those journeys come with heartbreak, sometimes for the intended parents, and sometimes for the biological family from whom the adoption or foster placement occurs. With an open adoption, the adoptive and biological families come to an arrangement which best benefits the child, and that's when something truly beautiful can occur. This isn't always possible in every scenario, but when it does, we're exceedingly thankful. Can a child ever have too many family members loving them? Not likely. This was husbands of five years Edward and Andrew Senn's experience.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

'Fourth Time's a Charm' for This Foster Forever Family

It took four tries before Steven was united with his 'forever son' through foster care — and it was worth the wait.

On his path to becoming a dad, Steven Engle admits his biggest obstacle was himself at first. "In my mind, I had to be in a relationship or married to have a child," he said. Steven had wasted many years believing that simply as fact. "And yes, I realize how antiquated that is... I'm embarrassed to admit it." Then one day, he was out with a good friend who just said, "Why not do it on your own?" It was Steven's 'aha' moment. "Once I got past that, I was unstoppable."

Although Steven, who lives in Los Angeles, briefly considered adoption and surrogacy, he wanted to learn more about becoming a foster parent and adopting through the foster care system. Steven called up an old friend who had become a dad through a similar path to ask for advice and share his experience. His friend did so willingly and was happy to talk about adoption.

From there, Steven decided to attend an orientation at Extraordinary Families in Los Angeles. "I went in with a very open mind. I was very nervous and told myself that if something comes up and I realize it isn't a good fit, I would move on to another option, whatever that may be." After the orientation, Steven said that it felt so right that he started his training shortly thereafter. "I wanted to be certified ASAP. I knew that this was the road I was meant to be on."

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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."

***

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.

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Today is National Coming Out Day, and as we celebrate, we're sharing six coming out stories from dads in our community. Their personal stories are heartwarming, relatable, and empowering. Happy Coming Out Day, and remember, live your truth!

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Growing a Thicker Skin

Experiencing hateful and hurtful comments, Erik Alexander had to learn an important lesson: how to ignore the trolls.

Photo credit: BSA Photography

Twenty years ago when I came out, it was unbearably hard. As I have written before, I am from the Deep South. Anyone who dared to deviate from social norms was sure to be ostracized. It's not that these people were born hateful or mean; rather, it probably had more to do with them not being subjected to other lifestyles. Anything different from their own experiences sparked fear and confusion. Homosexuality, interracial relationships, religious differences – these were all unfamiliar territories to the average person I grew up around. Thus, growing up was particularly difficult.

I remember lying in bed at night when I was a little boy. I would pray and beg God to not let me be gay. Every single night I would end my prayers with "... and God, please don't let me have nightmares and please don't let me be gay." I remember crying myself to sleep many nights. I was embarrassed and ashamed. And I wanted God to cure me.

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Change the World

10 Inspiring Coming Out Stories From Gay Dads

Happy National Coming Out Day! To celebrate, we've rounded up some of our recent stories about gay men with kids coming out to live their most authentic lives.

Happy National Coming Out Day! To celebrate, we've rounded up some of our best articles of gay dads coming out to live their authentic lives.

#1. Former NFL Player Jeff Rohrer, and Father of Two, Comes Out as Gay and Marries Longterm Partner


Jeff Rohrer, a father of two teenage boys via a previous relationship with a woman, is the first NFL player to marry another man. Read the article here.

#2. Coming Out to His Wife Was Painful, Says This Salt Lake-Based Dad of Four. But it Started Him on a Path of Authenticity

After Kyle came out to his wife, with whom he has four children, "she listened, she mourned and she loved," he said. Read the article here.

#3. Gay Dads Share Their Coming Out Stories for National Coming Out Day

We asked several gay dads to share their coming out stories in honor of National Coming Out Day, whose stories are heartwarming, instructive, and everything in between. Read the article here.

#4. Gay Muslim Single Dad Writes Op Ed on His Path to Self Acceptance

Maivon Wahid writes about the challenges of reconciling three separate, but equally important, identities in an opinion piece for Gay Star News. Read the article here.

#5. One Gay Dad's Path Towards Realizing Being Gay and Christian are Not Mutually Exclusive

Gay dads Matt and David Clark-Sally talk about coming out, parenting as gay men, and reconciling faith and sexuality. Read the article here.

#6. Republican Utah Lawmaker, and Dad of Two, Comes Out as Gay in Moving Video

Nathan Ivie has many important identities he's proud of: Mormon, Republican, Utahn, father of two... and gay. Read the article here.

#7. How Coming Out Helped This Gay Man Find the Strength to Be a Dad

Steven Kerr shares the moment he came out to his ex-girlfriend. "From that moment on," he writes, "my strength and purpose have grown." Read the article here.

#8. Ed Smart, Father of Kidnapping Victim Elizabeth Smart, Comes Out as Gay

In coming his coming out letter, Ed Smart, a Mormon, condemned the church for their "ridicule, shunning, rejection and outright humiliation" of LGBTQ individuals. Read the article here.

#9. The Best Part of Coming Out, Says This Gay Dad, Is Being an Out and Proud Role Model for His Daughter

"I couldn't face myself in the mirror and think that I could be a good dad and role model for my child when I was lying to myself every moment of every day," said Nate Wormington of his decision to come out. Read the article here.

#10. These Gay Dads Via Previous Marriages Have Adopted a Motto Since Coming Out and Finding Each Other: "United We Stand"

Vincent and Richard both had children in previous marriages with women; together, with their ex-wives, they are helping raise seven beautiful kids. Read the article here.

Gay Dad Life

8 Ways for Dads to Find Work/Life Balance

Finding work/life balance is hard enough... but can be even harder for gay dads.

Having kids is an amazing part of life, and it should be fun. Life does tend to get in the way sometimes, and one huge aspect of that is work. Striking that balance between work and home life is tough. If you both work it's even harder.

And if you're a gay couple, it can have it's own set of problems above and beyond the standard work-life issues that people face. Recently, the Harvard Business Review conducted a study that focused specifically on the experiences of same-sex couples who wanted to make moves towards a work/life balance.

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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