Change the World

A Year of "Dadvocacy" with Dove Men+Care

This past year, Gays With Kids has partnered with Dove Men+Care to fight for paid paternity leave for *ALL* dads.

Throughout 2019, we've been advocating alongside our partners Dove Men+Care for paid paternity leave for *ALL* dads. We've encouraged our community of gay, bi, and trans dads, along with our allies, to sign the Pledge for Paternity Leave, and we've been part of the Dove Men+Care and PL+US Day of Action on Capitol Hill as a group of Dadvocates, lead by Alexis Ohanian, spoke with lawmakers and shared their paternity leave stories.

We created six videos of dads in our community sharing their paternity leave stories, numerous social posts, and over eight articles on the topic. We've helped collect close to 40,000 signatures for this vital cause, but the fight continues.

We sat down with one of the Dadvocates who played a huge role in organizing the Day of Action, Vice President / General Manager at Unilever, Skin Cleansing & Baby Care USA Nick Soukas, for a Q&A on his thoughts on and experiences of the day itself.


The Dadvocates Day of Action on Capitol Hill - October 22, Washington, D.C.

Gays With Kids: How would you describe the Day of Action?

Nick Soukas: The Dove Men+Care Dads Day of Action was one of the most inspiring days of my career. Our ongoing commitment to paternity leave came to life with the help of our NGO partner PL+US and a team of Dadvocates, including Alexis Ohanian, Unilever leadership and eight real dads from across the country, all of whom are deeply passionate about affecting policy change in Washington, D.C. Paid Family Leave is a bipartisan issue, that impacts all American families, and while conversations around the issue have been increasing in both culture and politics, it is still not a priority issue for many of our politicians. The powerful stories of the Dadvocates, real fathers who have suffered without access to paid paternity leave, were moving and sparked conversations among politicians across the aisle. Seeing politicians post on social media about the Dadvocates and the meetings we had with them was a clear indicator of how truly impactful these stories were, and how effective they were at placing faces and names to an issue.

GWK: What were some of your personal highlights, most rewarding moments from the day?

NS: The most rewarding part of the day was seeing dads and allies from different backgrounds come together to advocate for a common cause. Everyone involved had a key role to play, and those roles fit together to create a compelling movement that resonated with the Members of Congress we met. It was also extremely powerful to see Dadvocates – some of whom stood side-by-side with their partners and children – candidly sharing their personal stories to these legislators. Coming in as a brand representative, it became clear that we have a powerful role to play in amplifying the millions of voices of real dads who use and trust our brand every day. We sometimes underestimate the role that brands and business with purpose have to affect real societal change.

GWK: What do you think were the main achievements of the day?

NS: The main achievement of the day was the number of intimate meetings we had with key legislators from both sides of the aisle. We ended up meeting with 23 legislators in total, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Sen. Bill Cassidy and more. It was powerful and effective to bring our Dadvocates to D.C., leading the meetings with their personal stories – it was clear that these stories, especially those coming from constituents, had a lasting emotional impact on the people sitting in the room.

Nick Soukas speaking on Capitol Hill, alongside PL+US's Founder and Executive Director Katie Bethell, and Reddit Founder Alexis Ohanian

GWK: What are Dove Men+Care's next steps to continue advocating for paternity leave?

NS: Our plan is to continue to build support of the Pledge for Paternity Leave until federally mandated policy becomes a reality for all American parents. We saw the Dads Day of Action as an important step in the journey towards this goal. In 2020, we hope to continue connecting with key legislators at both the Federal and Local levels, and inspire individuals, communities and businesses to become advocates for the cause and take action however they can.

GWK: What should our community continue to do regarding next steps? How can folks keep advocating and pushing for change?

NS: The Gays with Kids community adds a valuable voice to the paid leave conversation, as GBT dads and LGBTQ parents are often not brought to the forefront when the issue is addressed by our legislators. For all communities, it is so important to remain active and engaged – actively keeping eyes and ears open about the issue, and taking action however they see fit. There is strength in numbers.

GWK: Looking back on 2019, where and how do you think Dove Men+Care's campaign was most impactful?

NS: Overall, it is clear that the Pledge for Paternity Leave tapped into a barrier that is truly affecting men and their ability to care for others. With nearly 40,000 Pledge signatures to date, the community has created a strong foundation for a movement fighting for paid paternity leave and paid leave policies overall. We continue to foster and engage this community through our Facebook group – Advocates for Paternity Leave – where we will sustain growth in advocacy by providing valuable tools and resources needed to take action. I think the most impactful part of our campaign is in this community, and in their authentic stories. As such, we feel the Pledge has begun to generate the social proof necessary for people to feel comfortable talking about the issue, and feel inspired to take action for change.

GWK: Congratulations on recently becoming a dad! How have you found fatherhood so far and what was your paternity leave experience?

NS: Fatherhood is a unique and personal journey for every dad and my journey was no exception. I was fortunate to have the opportunity from Unilever to take paid leave and I took the full time I was given. Those early moments are so critical in forming a bond with your child, but it's also an important period for parents to build their confidence. Parenting isn't something that you naturally fall into and become an expert in, it requires quality time with your child and your partner. Through my own experience with paternity leave, and through the work we are doing at Dove Men+Care, I want to make sure that no dad has to choose between their job and their family.


Show Comments ()
News

Gay Dads Show Up at Boston Event to Drown Out Anti-Trans Protesters

When Trystan Reese found out protesters were planning to show up to an event in Boston he was presenting at, he put out a call to his community for help — and gay dads showed up.

A couple months ago, Trystan Reese, a gay, trans dad based in Portland, Oregon, took to Instagram to share a moving, if incredibly concerning, experience. Reese, who works with Family Equality Council, was speaking at an event in Boston, and learned before his appearance that a group of protesters were planning to attend.

"As a trans person, I was terrified to be targeted by anti-LGBTQ people and experienced genuine fear for my own safety," Trystan wrote. In response, he did what many LGBTQ people would do in a similar situation — reach out to his community in Boston, and ask for their support. "And they came," he wrote. But it wasn't just anyone within the LGBTQ community that came to his defense, he emphasized — "you know who came? Gay men. Gay dads, to be exact. They came, ready to block people from coming in, ready to call building security, ready to protect me so I could lead my event. They did it without question and without reward. They did it because it was the right thing to do."

Keep reading...
Change the World

"Dadvocates" Gather in D.C. to Demand Paid Family Leave for ALL Parents

"Dadvocate" and new gay dad Rudy Segovia joined others in D.C. recently to educate lawmakers on the need for paid family leave for ALL parents

On Tuesday October 22, Dove Men+Care and PL+US (Paid Leave for the United States) led the Dads' Day of Action on Capitol Hill. A group of over 40 dads and "dadvocates" from across the states lobbied key member of Congress on the issue of paid paternity leave for *ALL* dads. They shared stories of their struggles to take time off when welcoming new family members and the challenges dads face with no paid paternity leave.

Keep reading...
Personal Essays by Gay Dads

This Love Story Starts in Provincetown and Ends in Parenthood

Joe Burke explains how his beautiful family of three came to be via a surrogacy journey

Guest post written by new dad, Joe Burke

In typical gay, New England fashion, Peter Stanieich and I met down in Provincetown the day after July Fourth. While there was an undeniable spark between the two of us, it's probably safe to assume that neither one of us expected things to progress the way it did so quickly. Both living in Boston at the time, we ended up regrouping in the city a few days after meeting in Provincetown for a couple drinks. We had so much fun that we spent almost every day and/or night together for the following two weeks.

Keep reading...
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.

Keep reading...
Diary of a Newly Out Gay Dad

A Gay Chiropractor Explains Why He Came Out to His Patients

After Cameron Call, a chiropractor, came out to his family this past year, he knew he had one more step to take — he had to come out to his patients

Fear is an interesting thing. It motivates when it shouldn't, shows at inconvenient times, and is the author of stories that do nothing but hold us back. I would argue though, too, that fear has some good qualities. I believe it helps us to feel. And I think it can be a great teacher as we learn to recognize and face it.

For years fear prevented me from embracing my truth and accepting a large part of who I am. I know I am not alone in that regard. But for so long my fear convinced me that I was. Fear is what kept me from ever telling my parents or anyone growing up that I am gay. Fear mingled with strong religious teachings, embraced at a young age, which led me to believe that I could cure myself of my attractions to the same gender. And fear is a part of what kept me in my marriage to a woman for over ten years.

Keep reading...
Personal Essays by Gay Dads

A Gay Dad Gains Clarity After a Health Scare

A recent health scare helped give Erik Alexander clarity.

Sometimes fear can cripple the mind and hinder ones judgement. Having children of my own, I have come to grips with accepting the things I cannot change and learned to take action when there is no other choice. When it comes to my own personal health, the future and well being of my family gives me all the clarity I need to make the right decision about any kind of health scare.

This episode is dedicated to all the parents out there that are going through or have gone through similar situations.

Keep reading...
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."

Keep reading...

Fatherhood, the gay way

Get the latest from Gays With Kids delivered to your inbox!

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse