LGBT rights, issues & culture, same-sex parenting
In addition to Thanksgiving, November includes another opportunity to be grateful — National Adoption Month! Just a little over 13 years ago, we created our family through open adoption, and we couldn’t be more thankful for the joy and fulfillment our son has brought to our lives.
In honor of National Adoption Month, I recently helped give a presentation* about LGBTQ parents at one of my chorus rehearsals. Afterwards, I wanted a place to share the links and photos from our talk, so decided to pop it onto the blog. You know I never pass up an opportunity to celebrate queer families!
I sing with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington DC, and for our latest concert we’re performing the east coast premiere of Unbreakable, a musical chronicles LGBTQ history in the United States. It covers everything from the origin of the word “gay” to the Stonewall riots to the AIDS crisis and beyond. During rehearsals, chorus members have given presentations on the topics covered in the songs to educate and give context.
I volunteered to talk about Dr. Charles Socarides, who we sing about in ”Happy Homosexual.” Socarides was a psychiatrist from the 1970s, famous for saying “There is no such thing as a happy homosexual.” He espoused much of the harmful theories still used today in conversion therapy. Socarides believed that homosexuality was a neurotic adaptation in men caused by absent fathers and overly doting mothers. He also claimed to have helped over one third of his patients become heterosexual.
Socarides died in 2005, survived by four children from his four marriages. In a beautiful bit of irony, his oldest son, Richard, is openly gay, and served as senior advisor on gay and lesbian issues for the Clinton administration.
Unfortunately, Socarides’ legacy of harm lives on, as conversion therapy continues to deceive, traumatize, and kill generations of queer people.
I recently wrote my first piece for Parents, about the Parental Rights in Education Bill (aka the “Don’t Say Gay” bill). This measure seeks to ban sexuality and gender discussion in Florida schools.
As both an LGBTQ parent and the parent of a child that identifies as bi, it wasn’t difficult for me to imagine all the ways this could harm families like mine.
The legislation would essentially erase LGBTQ students and their families, as well as queer history and culture. It’s sad, enraging, and absurd all at once. Sad as I think of all of the young people it could suppress and ignore. Enraging as both a protective papa bear and as a child who grew up closeted and afraid. Absurd as I witness the equivalent of attempting to remove unwanted letters from the alphabet.
While I was only hired as a writer, the illustrator in me had more to express about this hate-fueled bill. Click on the image above for a closer look.
Be sure to check out the full article, where I explain more about the bill, as well as ways to combat similar legislation in your own town, county, or school district.
June is without a doubt my favorite month. In addition to kicking off summer, June contains my birthday, Father’s Day and Pride. Seriously, can this month get any more fun? Yes! In honor of this most fabulous of months, I’ve stirred up a rainbow of delicious summer cocktails — one for each color of the LGBTQ Pride flag.
To keep the festivities fun and safe, here are a few pointers courtesy of Responsibility.org:
- Measure your drinks and cocktail ingredients. Familiarize yourself with the go-to bar measuring tool, a jigger. You can also use this handy Virtual Bar to help manage your alcohol intake.
- Have water and non-alcoholic drinks available. I’ve included a couple of mocktail recipes in the list below!
- Provide food to guests, and make sure you snack as you imbibe/host.
- Check to make sure your guests have safe rides home.
- Take some time to talk to your kids about alcohol and underage drinking, especially if they’re going to present at your get-together.
Feel free to click and print individual recipes, or share on social media. Scroll down to the end for even more tips on making and enjoying these colorful cocktails!
I recently wrote a guest post on the City Dads blog, sharing some ways to be an ally to LGBTQ parents and families. That list could have been endless, but I know folks (especially other parents) don’t have time to read all day!
However, I couldn’t stop at that first dozen, so here are twelve more ways you can support, protect and advocate for queer families and parents. And while this list focuses on families, many of these actions can benefit anyone in the LGBTQ community.
As a gay dad, it should come as no surprise that I read LGBTQ children’s books to my son. But what about all of you awesome straight parents out there? How many kid’s books with LGBTQ characters or stories have you read to your children?
I asked this question in a Facebook group of 1,200+ parents, and was disappointed that the most common answer was none. Even more surprising was that many hadn’t even considered it. Further, the majority polled didn’t know what LGTBQ children’s books were available… or if they even existed at all.
Luckily, Designer Daddy is here to help!
The list below contains books that are about same-sex parents or LGBTQ people; others address gender expression or identity. Some simply include queer characters as part of the story, without directly focusing on them. All are valuable stories to help normalize LGBTQ people and to teach children (and parents!) empathy and acceptance. It also sends the message that should your child ever identify as LGBTQ, you will be there to celebrate and support them.
There are certainly more exhaustive lists to be found, but this one is unique in that it’s DESIGNER DADDY APPROVED™ — meaning the stories are great, but the pictures are also pretty fabulous. Happy reading!
As a gay dad of a 10 year-old boy, it’s important that I raise my son to be both educated and open-minded about sex, sexuality and gender. One resource that has helped me out with this is Amaze.
Amaze.org is a terrific place for parents and kids to learn about sex and relationships in an honest, positive way. Their videos are funny without being too silly; smart without being too clinical. They address the “mechanics” (like puberty), as well as more complex topics like gender identity, coming out, consent, etc.
Below are my top five most amazing Amaze videos. It was hard to narrow it down — they have so much great content!
As a gay dad, teaching my son to celebrate the LGBTQ community has been a top priority from the beginning. Doing so not only ensures he feels proud of his own family, but it also reinforces the compassion I want him to show to others, including those that are bullied or excluded because of who they are or who they love.
Once again, pop culture has proven to be a fun and creative tool to introduce my son to all manner of colorful, queer characters. Not surprisingly, they made their way onto quite a few of the notes I put in my kid’s lunchbox, which I’ve pulled together in this list of LGBTQ superheroes.
Some of these may come as a surprise, as they are depicted as LGBTQ in certain media but not in others. Unfortunately, few are clearly and consistently portrayed as queer, so I’ve provided context and resources when warranted.
A little over two years ago, I wrote about the rash of violent crimes being committed against the most vulnerable people in the LGBTQ community, trans women of color. The problem has not gone away, and was in fact recently labeled an epidemic by an official from the American Medical Association. In 2018, 24 trans people were murdered in the United States. In 2019, there have already been 10 trans lives taken. Two of those — including the most recent death — are from the DC area.
Earlier today, I received this email from Ruby Corado, founder of the DC LGBTQ community center, Casa Ruby.
Last week we lost one of our own Casa Ruby youth to a senseless act of violence and hate. 23 year old Zoe was shot to death in cold blood.
Zoe wanted to be a lawyer, and help Trans people like herself. But like many Trans women of color, she found herself in the margins of a society that didn’t provide the opportunity for gainful employment.
We really want to thank you for your support through these times. The messages, cards and calls we received give us hope that people care.
Not only does Casa Ruby provide services, we advocate. And we want you to advocate too. Please help us make people aware of the employment disparities Trans people have, and if you know of an employment opportunity let us know. Awareness is just one thing you can do, to help curb the rash of hate crimes in DC, that are growing in DC.
I do wish I could write you in better times, but I do want to thank you. Just making us visible and worthy can save a life.
Join us, and the community, for a vigil against violence, on Friday, June 21. We’ll be meeting at Dupont Circle at 7pm.
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If you can’t attend the vigil (and even if you can), please take a moment to learn more about Casa Ruby. These women need us, and you can help in a meaningful way.
Casa Ruby is a multicultural community center that provides life-saving services for the most vulnerable in the LGBTQ community: transgender, gender queer, and gender non-conforming GLB people. Created and directed by activist Ruby Corado, services include support groups, housing referrals, hot meals, clothing exchange, case management and legal counseling.
Ah, summer! Is there a three-month period more fraught with dissenting objectives between kids and parents? Moms and dads of course want their children to have fun, be outside, and all that other wonderful summertime stuff. But we also want to make sure they don’t lose every bit of knowledge, motivation, and discipline they gained during the school year.
The go-to solution for many parents is summer reading. But unless you have one of those magical make-believe children who LOVES to read every minute of every day, getting our kids to crack a book during summer break can be a challenge. And as the dad of a 9-year-old with ADHD and serious addictions to swimming, video games, scootering, and anything that’s not sitting still with a book, it can be downright excruciating.
In an effort to make story time more engaging — and less of a chore — this summer we’re trying out a new app called NOVEL EFFECT.