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 ()
Entertainment

Take a Virtual Tour of The Homes of These Famous Gay Dads

Many famous gay dads — including Neil Patrick Harris, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Ricky Martin — have opened up their homes to fans on the pages of Architectural Digest.

In each issue, Architectural Digest offers a peak into the homes of different celebrities. In recent years, they've featured the homes of several famous gay dads. Check out the videos and stories the magazine pulled together on the beautiful homes of Neil Patrick Harris, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Ricky Martin below!

Keep reading... Show less
Children's Books

New LGBTQ-Inclusive Children's Book Asks: What Makes a Family?

A new children's book by Seamus Kirst follows a young girl's journey of emotional discovery after she is asked which of her two dads is her "real dad."

Editor's note: This is a guest post from Seamus Kirst, author of the new LGBTQ-inclusive children's book "Papa, Daddy, Riley."

Throughout my life, I have discovered that reading provides an almost miraculous way of changing the way I think.

There is no medium that better offers insight into the perceptions, feelings and humanity of someone who is different from us. Through reading we become empathetic. Through reading we evolve. I have often emerged from reading a book, and felt like I was changed. In that, even in this digital age, I know I am not alone.

As children, reading shapes how we see the world. The characters, places, and stories we come to love in our books inform us as to what life might offer us as we grow up, and our world begins to expand beyond our own backyards.

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Photo Essays

Interested in Foster Care? These Amazing Dads Have Some Advice

As National Foster Care Month comes to a close, we rounded up some amazing examples of gay men serving as foster care dads, helping provide kids with a bright future.

Every May in the United States, we celebrate National Foster Care Month. With over 437,000 children and youth in foster care, it's our honor to take a look at some of the awesome dads in our community who are opening their hearts and their homes, and providing these kids with a bright future.

Thinking about becoming a foster parent? Check out these resources here, and visit AdoptUSKids.

Meet the Foster Dads!

Keep reading... Show less
Transracial Families Series

This Transracial Family Relies on a 'Support Group' of African American Women

Puerto Rican dads Ferdinand and Manuel are raising a daughter of Jamaican descent — and love to find ways to celebrate their family's diversity

Our second feature in our transracial family series. Read the first one here.

Ferdinand Ortiz, 39, and his husband Manuel Gonzalez, 38, have been together for 7 years. In 2017, they became foster dads when they brought their daughter, Mia Valentina, home from the hospital. She was just three days old at the time. On December 13, 2018, her adoption was finalized.

Mia is of Jamaican and African American heritage, and her dads are both Puerto Rican. When Manuel and Ferdinand began their parenting journey through the foster care system, they received specific training on how to be the parents of a child whose race and culture was different from their own. "We learned that it's important to celebrate our child's culture and surround ourselves with people who can help her be proud of her culture." However, as helpful as this training was, the dads agreed that it would've been beneficial to hear from other transracial families and the type of challenges that they faced.

Keep reading... Show less
Personal Essays by Gay Dads

How the Shut Down Opened Me Up to Being a Better Dad

David Blacker's dad used to tell him to 'stop and smell the roses' — the shut down has led him to finally take the advice

"Stop and smell the roses." It was the thing my dad always said to me when I was growing up. But like many know-it-all kids, I didn't listen. I was determined to keep my eye on the prize. Whether it was getting good grades in school, getting my work published, scoring the next big promotion, buying a house or starting a family. For me, there was no such thing as resting on my laurels. It has always been about what's next and mapping out the exact course of action to get me there.

Then Covid.

Ten weeks ago, I — along with the rest of the world — was ordered to shelter-in-place... to stop thinking about what's next, and instead, focus on the here and the now. In many ways, the shut down made me shut off everything I thought I knew about being content and living a productive life. And so, for the first time in my 41 years, I have literally been forced to stop and smell the roses. The question is, would I like the way they smell?

Keep reading... Show less
Transracial Families Series

How This Transracial Family Creates a 'Safe Space' to Talk About Their Differences

Kevin and David know they can never understand what it's like growing up as a young black girl — but they strive to create a 'safe space' for their daughters to talk about the experience

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of ongoing posts exploring issues related to transracial families headed by gay, bi and trans men. Interested in being featured as part of the series? Email us at dads@gayswithkids.com

Is adopting a child whose race and culture is different from your own something that us queer dads need to talk about? Share our experiences? Learn from others? We've been hearing from our community, and the answer has been a resounding, "yes."

With over one-fifth (21.4%) of same-sex couples raising adopted children in the United States today (compared to 3% of different-sex couples), it's highly likely, at the very least, that those families are transcultural. According to April Dinwoodie, Chief Executive of The Donaldson Adoption Institute, Inc., all adoptive families are transcultural. "All, in my opinion, adoptions are transcultural because there are no two families' culture that is exactly the same, even if you went as far as to get very specific about the family of origin and the family of experience and almost make it cookie-cutter … no two families operate the same."

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Life

Movie Night: My Favorite Family Tradition

As his sons have gotten older, the movies have morphed away from cartoons and towards things blowing up — but movie night remains his favorite family tradition.

Editor's Note: This is the next in a series of excerpts from Joseph Sadusky's new book, Magic Lessons: Celebratory and Cautionary Tales about Life as a (Single, Gay, Transracially Adoptive) Dad. The book contains many stories about his life as a dad, as well as lessons learned, and we're excited to share several excerpts from the the book over the course of the next few months. Read previous installments here!

Of all of our traditions and rituals, probably the most consistent and longest-lasting one was movie night. Sure, we read the heck out of Harry Potter. But our capacity for watching Harry Potter? We're talking Quidditch World Cup here, folks.

In its early version, movie night looked like this: During the week, I would order a movie and a cartoon from Netflix—back when "Netflix" meant "mail." On Saturday night—and I mean, faithfully, every Saturday night—we would order a pepperoni pizza (which Mark faithfully took the meat off of—I'll get to food later) for delivery and then sit and watch our cartoon and movies while eating. The kids had a say in the movie, but I got to pick the cartoon. They watched enough of their own cartoons on the regular, and besides, this gave me a great opportunity to introduce them to the wonders of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Josie and the Pussycats.


Keep reading... Show less

Fatherhood, the gay way

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

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse