Personal Essays by Gay Dads

"Two Daddies" Are Fighting to Make the U.K.'s Surrogacy Laws Modern and Safe

Surrogacy in the U.K. is bound by a law created in 1985.... and it badly in need of a makeover, say "Two Daddies"

We've had a busy old few months. Talulah recently turned 2 in October, and Katie made the big 14. Life in the Johnson-Ellis household has been far from dull.

Rewind to August and we receive an email asking us to give evidence at one of their "surrogacy evidence sessions," in view of the Surrogacy Law Reform. For those that aren't fully up to speed the UK currently is bound by the 1985 Surrogacy Act, which is in desperate need of a make over to say the least. So there's currently a group of people that come from a varied background - they may be surrogates, Intended Parents (IP's), Lawyers, Clinicians and other surrogacy experts from all corners of the globe. All with one one goal; to hopefully help drive forward and allow the UK Government to review the current laws, challenge them with a view to make the UK a more current and modern environment to create families without risk or challenge.


Obviously we acknowledged the email immediately, to help shape the future for other IP's is something we've always felt passionately about. Our role was to provide the MP's (members of parliament) and the APPG (All Party Parliamentary Group) our 'lived experience' as two fathers using the UK for our altruistic surrogacy journey, the challenges and obstacles. As we're also embarking on the journey again (and we're newly pregnant!) this was obviously of interest.

The purpose of the day was to give our account of our journey, the challenges and the positives, and also in the room were other parents, surrogates and professionals all keen to share their thoughts on UK surrogacy and the law reform. Tom Daley even gave his account as fathers through US surrogacy and where the laws differ. We had never been to the Houses of Parliament before, so this in itself was a real eye opener, to say we were excited was obviously an understatement. Just getting this far felt an honour and a privilege.

The mood inside the room was positive and friendly, we even met followers of our page that wanted to say 'hi' which was amazing. It was chaired by the MP Andrew Percy along with other MP's, and as you can understand the full details of the agenda are not allowed to be discussed. Whilst our group only had an hour, we covered a variety of topics and gave some heartfelt true accounts. Immediately after our session was another, all set to give true accounts of their experiences. My understanding was the day was a success, if only there was more time for that particular day.

So what happens next? I'd like to think that this will accelerate and the law reform will be debated in no time at all, and all the changes suggested will be auctioned, however realistically the UK is currently battling with a Brexit issue, and this is more than likely taking priority. That said, this year has been very active in terms of setting up this discussion groups and Andrew Percy seems very keen on championing change. The great news is that on 10th December High Court ruled that single persons are now able to obtain a parental order, just one of the over due changes needed in the UK. Therefore more change is surely on the horizon; it has to be.

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Gay Dad Life

Gong Hei Fat Choy! Happy Chinese New Year!

As we usher in the year of rat, we asked some of our dads how they honor this special time.

Today we're celebrating, alongside our families, the Chinese New Year! As we usher in the year of rat, we asked some of our dads how they honor this special time, what they do to celebrate, and how they're instilling these traditions in their kids. Here are some of their responses.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

This European Couple Became Dads Through a U.K.-Based Surrogacy Program

Janno, from Estonia, and Matthias, from Belgium, were accepted into the "Childlessness Overcome Through Surrogacy" Program.

Janno Talu, an accountant, and Matthias Nijs, an art gallery director, were born in different parts of Europe. Janno, 39, is from Estonia, and Matthias, 28, is from Belgium. Their paths crossed when the two moved to London, each from their different corners of the European Union.

Janno relocated to London earlier than Matthias, when he was 24, and his main reason for the move was his sexuality. "Although Estonia is considered one of the more progressive countries in Eastern Europe, when it comes to gay rights, it is still decades behind Western society in terms of tolerance," said Janno. "And things are not moving in the right direction." In 2016, same-sex civil union became legal, but the junior party in the current coalition government is seeking to repeal the same-sex partnership bill. "In addition," Janno continued, "they wish to include the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman in the country's constitution. Even today, there are people in Estonia who liken homosexuality to pedophilia, which is why I decided to start a new life in the UK, where I could finally be myself."

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

A Gay Dad Asks: Is Destroying an Embryo Similar to Abortion?

It's a question many LGBTQ parents using advanced fertility treatments will need to face — what to do with "left over" embryos.

Let me start off by saying that I have always been pro choice and support all laws that allow people to have full reproductive rights including safe and legal abortions. This is a complicated subject and not one that I ever thought I would really have to deal with on a personal level, especially being a gay man.

I remember a very heated discussion on abortion in my biology class back in university. I was young, idealistic and had very strong convictions about abortion. I was debating with a female classmate who was pro life. She felt there was no reason for an abortion ever, not even if raped by your own parent or sibling. I could not really understand her position, then or now. Don't get me wrong, I still don't agree with her, but now that I'm older and wiser, and also a parent, I have come to respect and accept opinions other than mine.

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Change the World

Apply for a Paid Internship at Gays With Kids!

Are you a student who is passionate about journalism, new media, and supporting the LGBTQ community? Apply for a (paid!) internship with Gays With Kids and join the largest community for gay, bit and trans dads and dads to be!

We are excited to announce that Gays With Kids will be hiring two student interns to help support our rapidly expanding work as the largest online magazine and resource for gay, bi and trans dads and dads to be! At the moment, we have two paid positions available.

  • Our Journalism and Editorial Intern should be interested in journalism, editing, and the daily process of running and maintaining a major website. This is a New York-based position, who will work closely with our Editor in Chief, David Dodge.

  • Our Social and Community Intern should be interested in supporting and expanding our vibrate online community across multiple social media channels and will work closely with Rosalind Lonsdale, our Social and Community Manager.

Please see below for more information and how to apply!

Journalism and Editorial Intern — New York, NY 

Paid $15 p/h || 15-20 hours per week || Immediate start || New York City, NY


Gays With Kids is seeking an energetic, organized, and socially conscious Journalism and Editorial intern with an immediate start date. This is a paid position and the intern will be expected to work 15-20 hours a week. Position is ongoing but possible end dates will be discussed in the interview process.

About us: Gays With Kids is the world's premier website and social network dedicated exclusively to helping gay, bi and trans men become dads, and to helping queer dads navigate fatherhood.

We launched in 2015 and we're very excited to refresh our website in the next couple of months with a stronger and more clear focus on the different paths to fatherhood available to our community. We currently have close to 250,000 followers on social media, and our community is extremely engaged. You should be proud to be part of a small, but passionate and dedicated team that's making a meaningful impact nationally and globally.

Check us out: https://www.facebook.com/GaysWithKids/ / https://www.instagram.com/gays_with_kids/ / https://www.youtube.com/user/GaysWithKids

Much of this work can be undertaken at the intern's own residence but, at least initially, you will be required to meet and work closely with our Executive Editor, located in New York City.

Learning opportunities include:

  • Write blog posts, articles, and other pieces of content for the website as needed.
  • Identify and interview experts within various paths to parenthood for gay, bi and trans men, including: surrogacy, adoption, foster care, co-parenting partnerships and more.
  • Refresh and reimagine current content on the Gays With Kids website.
  • Support engaging and dynamic social media content across external channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest)
  • Assist with migration of current website to a new platform


Requirements:

  • Interest in journalism, particularly as it relates to the LGBTQ+ community
  • Interest and activism in equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community
  • Crucial skills: highly organized, good at multitasking, a strong problem solver, and a willingness to learn new skills and abilities.
  • Experience managing social media platforms, specifically Instagram and Facebook
  • Knowledge of Google Docs, iMovie, Canva, Trello, are a plus
    Proficient in MS Office Suite with excellent writing / communication skills
  • Interest in learning digital communications including social media management platforms and SEO skills

To apply, pleas send a resume and two writing samples to David Dodge, Executive Editor, at David.Dodge@gayswithkids.com

Social and Community Intern

Paid $15 p/h || 15-20 hours per week || Immediate start || Philadelphia, PA


Gays With Kids is seeking an energetic, organized, and socially conscious Social and Community intern with an immediate start date. This is a paid position and the intern will be expected to work 15-20 hours a week. Position is ongoing but possible end dates will be discussed in the interview process.

About us: Gays With Kids is the world's premier website and social network dedicated exclusively to helping gay, bi and trans men become dads, and to helping queer dads navigate fatherhood.

We launched in 2015 and we're very excited to refresh our website in the next couple of months with a stronger and more clear focus on the different paths to fatherhood available to our community. We currently have close to 250,000 followers on social media, and our community is extremely engaged…especially on Instagram. You should be proud to be part of a small, but passionate and dedicated team that's making a meaningful impact nationally and globally. As our social and community intern, you will have plenty of opportunity to engage with our community.

Check us out: https://www.facebook.com/GaysWithKids/ / https://www.instagram.com/gays_with_kids/ / https://www.youtube.com/user/GaysWithKids

Much of this work can be undertaken at the intern's own residence but, at least initially, you will be required to meet and work closely with our Social and Community manager, located in Philadelphia.

Learning opportunities include:

  • Support engaging and dynamic social media content across external channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest)
  • Write blog posts, articles, and other content for the website
  • Assist with migration of current website to a new platform


Requirements:

  • Interest and activism in equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community
  • Crucial skills: highly organized, good at multitasking, a strong problem solver, and a willingness to learn new skills and abilities.
  • Experience managing social media platforms, specifically Instagram and Facebook
  • Knowledge of Google Docs, iMovie, Canva, Trello, are a plus
  • Proficient in MS Office Suite with excellent writing / communication skills
  • Interest in learning digital communications including social media management platforms and SEO skills

All inquiries should be addressed to Rosalind Lonsdale, Social and Community Manager, rosalind@gayswithkids.com

Change the World

Miami Tourism Board Releases Vacation Guide for LGBTQ Families

Miami isn't just about circuit parties! The LGBTQ Family-Friendly Miami Vacation Guide showcases many options for queer parents, too.

As gay people, it can be difficult to find vacation spots that are LGBTQ-friendly out of the normal travel "fruit loop" — New York, Mykonos, San Francisco; repeat. For those of us with kids, the Venn diagram of destinations that are both queer and kid friendly can seem practically non-existent.

Fortunately, that's starting to change as the tourism industry realizes that LGBTQ families are a growing segment of vacationers. One city to quickly pick up on this trend is Miami. While the gays have long flocked to Miami for party weekends, the city has also recently noticed an uptick in the number of LGBTQ visitors who are parents. In response, Miami's tourism board release a guide, LGBTQ Family-Friendly Miami Vacation Guide, that includes loads of options for queer parents and their kids. Amid Miami's legendary circuit parties, it turns out, are tons of family friendly things to do — like the Museum of Science, an eco-adventure theme park, and other kid-focused events all year long.

Who knew?

"When I came onboard as Director of LGBTQ Marketing a little over a year ago, I found that our LGBTQ messaging was centered around our annual events," said Dan Rios, who works with the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau. Massive parties like the White Party and Aqua Girl are a central part of the city's LGBTQ offerings, he said, but he was also worried the city was "developing a reputation solely as a party destination. "I want to diversify that message to highlight everything else that Greater Miami has to offer."

Hence the city's family-friendly guide that includes offerings within "art and culture, dining, beaches, fitness," Dan said. "We have unique and amazing family attractions that we had been promoting to our general audiences for decades. I saw this as an opportunity; an opportunity to introduce our attractions to LGBTQ families, and an opportunity to further promote our attractions -- it was a win-win."

Dan said the Bureau is also in the midst of a campaign that will prominently feature LGBTQ parents within different travel destinations throughout the city, which will be featured throughout both LGBTQ and mainstream websites, publications and advertising.

We applaud the effort to reach out to LGBTQ families, and hope more cities follow Miami's lead! Be sure to check out the guide here.

News

Indiana Court Says Couples Using Sperm Donors​ Can Both Be Listed on Birth Certificate — But Ruling Excludes Male Couples

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in the case, a major victory for LGBTQ parents — but the Attorney General may appeal to the Supreme Court.

On Friday, a US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling from a lower court that said that both parents in a same-sex relationship are entitled to be listed on the birth certificate — previously, the state of Indiana had required the non-biological parent within a same-sex relationship using assisted reproductive technologies to adopt their child after the birth in order to get her or his name listed on the birth certificate, a lengthy and expensive process not required of straight couples in the same situation.

It's a double standard LGBTQ parents have long been subjected to in many states across the country. So this represent a major win. As reported by CNN, this ruling "takes a lot of weight off" the shoulders of LGBTQ parents, said Karen Celestino-Horseman, a lawyer representing one of the couples in the case. "They've been living as families and wondering if this was going to tear them apart."

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals deliberated the case, according to CNN, for more than two and a half years, which is one of the longest in the court's history.

However, because all the plaintiffs in the case involved female same-sex couples using sperm donors, the ruling left open the similar question of parenting rights with respect to male couples. Indiana's Attorney General, moreover, may also appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

We'll be following the case closely and be sure to keep you up to date. For more on this recent decision, read CNN's article here.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

As a Gay Dad, What's the Impact of Letting My Son Perform Drag?

Michael Duncan was excited when his 10-year-old son asked if he could perform in drag for charity — but he also felt fear and anxiety.

As LGBT parents, we have all lived through some sort of trauma in our lives. For many it is the rejection of our family, being bullied, or abuse. We learn to be vigilant of our surroundings and often are very cautious of who we trust. As adults, we start to become watchful of how much we share and we look for "red flags" around every corner.

So, what effect does this have on our children? Does it unintentionally cause us to be more jaded with our interactions involving others? For some the answer may be a resounding "no." But as we look deeper into the situation, we often find that through survival our interactions with others have changed and we may not even realize exactly how much we are projecting on those around us.

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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