They were a gay, interracial couple in an age of relentless bigotry. The two Harolds didn’t flinch.

Estate agent Verna Clayborne takes a seat in the dining room of an expansive 16th Street Heights home and sighs.

The two Harolds have tired her out.

It’s Clayborne’s job to get rid of the stuff of the deceased. The couple who lived in the house for more than half a century — Harold Herman, a white man who died in 2016 at 87, and Harold Mays, a black man who died almost exactly a year later at 81 — had a lot of it.Harold

These aren’t your typical finds in the home of retirees. Clayborne is sitting amid a pile of antiques and memorabilia — paintings, LPs, books, coins, stamps, personal correspondence — worth, she estimates, $500,000. These objects, curated lovingly by two collectors in love for over five decades, offer glimpses of what it was like to be black and gay in America when it was dangerous to be either.

“They knew how to live and lived well,” she said of the Harolds.

The Harolds met in New England before moving in together in post-integration, pre-riot Washington in 1965. One was a black Army veteran from St. Louis, the other a white college professor from Pennsylvania. Though family and acquaintances say they were a private couple, they could not help being pioneers.

They later ran Two Harolds Antiques in Alexandria for more than a decade and owned a collection of thousands of signed first editions so extensive that they kept an in-house card catalogue. The books are varied — works by gay raconteur Quentin Crisp amid Janet Evanovich thrillers.

Much of what’s left in the Harolds’ home doesn’t explicitly bear their mark. There’s large black-and-white prints of the last century’s black royalty: Harry Belafonte, Jesse Jackson, Lou Rawls, Cicely Tyson. Another photo includes two faces lesser known outside the Beltway in the 1960s and 1970s, but inescapable within it: Marion Barry and his first wife, Blantie Evans, on a beach.

But every collection reveals the collector, and in other ephemera the Harolds left behind, they come into sharper focus. One snapshot shows Mays shaking Belafonte’s hand at a Politics and Prose. Another shows their modest wedding, held in 2013 at what looks like a courthouse following the legalization of same-sex marriage — after they had already been a couple for almost 50 years.

By Justin Wm. Moyer, Washington Post, October 16, 2018

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They were gay and wanted a baby. She loved being pregnant. They made a deal.

Christina Fenn and her husband, Brian, have driven an hour and a half to this quaint coffee shop in Monroe, Conn. Fenn sips her morning latte, skittishly glancing out the window at the parking lot. “I’m nervous,” she says, grabbing her husband’s arm. “Nervous-excited, though.” He smiles back.

She’s wearing green, her lucky color. Green shirt and green jacket, green bracelets, green socks. She feels as if she needs all the luck she can get today.

“They’re here,” her husband says, standing to greet two men walking toward them.Hoylman

Bill Johnson and Kraig Wiedenfeld have been a couple for 18 years and married for four. Everyone embraces warmly.

They’re an unlikely foursome: two gay men from the Upper East Side of New York and a small-town husband and wife who met when they both were 20 at a Dunkin’ Donuts.

By lunchtime, if all goes as planned, Christina Fenn will be pregnant with Johnson and Wiedenfeld’s son. An embryo created from Wiedenfeld’s sperm and an egg from an anonymous donor will be thawed and transferred into Fenn’s uterus, and she will be considered “PUPO” — pregnant until proven otherwise.

“Let’s go have a baby!” says Wiedenfeld. They all smile nervously.

The couples drive in separate cars to CT Fertility, a clinic five minutes down the road.

This isn’t Fenn’s first time at the clinic. She has proudly carried three babies — including a set of twins — as a surrogate for two other same-sex couples. She heads to Exam Room 3, while Johnson and Wiedenfeld go to a waiting area until it’s time for the transfer.

“You have a beautiful embryo hatching,” says CT Fertility physician Melvin Thornton, sitting down with the dads-to-be.

by Sydney Page, Washington Post – September 8, 2018

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My Family’s Story

My husband Gary and I were able to share our family’s story with Robin and Jaimie of the hit podcast, If These Ovaries Could Talk.

 We spoke about being a known donor, having our son with a known egg donor and gestational carrier, as well as our commitment to inviting others to get to know us through honest question and answer.  Anthony Brown

This podcast is really important.  Not only are Jaimie and Robin helping others to have their families, they are demysifying the process and helping others to know that our families are just like theirs.

Go to www.ovariestalk.com for information and you can download their podcast on all podcast platforms.

Click here to listen to our episode, “They Met at the Disco.”

Parents get to learn the power of patience

Sister Lil is the assistant principal at Aidan’s school. For a woman who never had progeny, she sure does know children.

On one of my exasperated days, when I had actually calculated Aidan’s math homework, so I knew it was done, and I told him three times that he had to hand in the assignment and he still didn’t turn it in, she smiled and said, “Thirty.”Patience

“Thirty what?” I asked, terrified that this was either a fundraiser or a penance I had incurred and forgotten.

“Thirty times. No matter what you want to teach a child, whether it be tying his shoes, or doing her homework or not burping in front of the nun. All children: boy/girl, black/white, special ed/gifted. You have to tell them 30 times. And on the 31st, they’ll learn it. And you know what you’ll learn in the meantime?

I shook my head.

“Patience.”

A deputy with whom I work walked into my office on Thursday, and let me know he needed to take some time off, as his only son had been diagnosed “on the autism spectrum.”

It’s hard to be grateful at times like this, but I started out with, “At least now you know.” For a long time, the Fisher-Paulsons didn’t know. We had confused ourselves with a normal family, only to find that there is no such thing as a normal family.

By Kevin Fisher-Paulson, San Francisco Chronicle – March 12, 2018

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Gay and in Love at an Evangelical College

These two gay papas are showing why gay surrogacy is beautiful

Full of adorable ‘first moments’ from baby steps to messy plates of spaghetti their Instagram is cute central

Meet Papas Manuel from Spain and Bud from New Jersey. Together they run the Two Gay Papas Instagram posting the most adorable family pictures with four-year-old Álvaro and two-year-old Carmen

With over 50K followers, we are not the only the only ones loving the adorable pictures they post.

Living in Spain where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2005, and the two dads have the kids through surrogacy.

The Two Gay Papas story starts as a blog in 2012 to chronicle their surrogacy journey. Now they use Instagram create positive stories about LGBT families with their day to day life.

Gay Star News caught up with the awesome Dads whose future dreams include opening a Paella restaurant together. Tuck in.

Because it is important that people see families like ours, that they become accustomed to seeing them, so it just becomes normal. We think this is the only way our kids will be able to live in a more tolerant society.

We have received many messages from people who had never seen a family with two dads before and then they see us and follow us on social media. And they congratulate us and thank us for showing them our children growing up happy even though they aren’t in a traditional type of family.

gaystarnews.com, September 8, 2017

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Two dads, two babies and a $150,000 journey

Some gifts inspire short-lived exultation, others polite nods. 

Then there are the gifts that take your breath away, rewarding years of self-doubt, financial hardship and agonizing choices. They help you realize that you, like your squirming preemies wrapped in tubes, are not fragile but a fighter.

For Jeffrey and Brian Bernstein, a gay married couple living in a sleepy Philadelphia suburb, the gift of life was not a happy accident.

Growing their family required foresight, patience, herculean coordination with egg donors, surrogate brokers, fertility specialists and lawyers, along with a $150,000 nest egg.surrogacy

One day, when the Berstein twins inevitably ask about their mother, they will hear about the 24-year-old, raven-haired outdoor enthusiast who pumped herself full of hormones and provided her eggs anonymously. Then they will learn about the 31-year-old stay-at-home mom with the blonde bob, “Aunt Ashly,” who also injected hormones, lent her uterus and underwent a C-section seven weeks early.

Both women live in Texas, where surrogacy laws are considered progressive. Neither wants to be called “mom.”

“It’s important that we bring our children up with the understanding that their family, while they may be different, is just as valid, loving and caring,” explains Jeffrey, a fitness coach. 

“There’s nothing shameful in how our family came together.”

STORY: A child’s journey to ‘truegender’

Surrogacy dates to Biblical times when Abraham’s barren wife, Sarah, loaned her handmaid, Hagar, to her husband to procreate.

In recent decades, the practice of a woman carrying the biological child of another individual or couple for payment has raised thorny questions from feminists and religious conservatives alike about the exploitation of women and commodification of children.

Today, most countries around the world, including developing nations, ban commercial surrogacy. But the practice is still legal in the U.S., which has emerged as an in vitro fertilization hub for prospective parents at home and abroad. In nearly every state, surrogacy operates legally or underground. 

by Margie Fishman, The News Journal, June 16, 2017

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MY KIDS MAY NOT HAVE A DAD, BUT PLEASE DON’T FEEL SORRY FOR THEM ON FATHER’S DAY

“Who pretended to be Eva’s dad today?”

This question was asked by my 6-year-old daughter’s best friend. While few things shock me these days, I was taken back by his question. Eva’s best friend is also 6 and has known her and our two-mom family for almost as long as he has been alive.

“Eva doesn’t have a dad. She has two moms. You know that.” Before I could process why he asked his question, I answered him a bit too bluntly. He wasn’t attacking me, but I felt under attack — and my initial response was not one that helped him process what he wanted to understand.

“I know,” he said. “But who came to school for Dads and Donuts?”Florist

Father’s Day. I forgot that, much like for Mother’s Day, the schoolkids would be creating artwork and poems to send home. I forgot that some classrooms would be hosting breakfast for dads, roasting and honoring them at the same time. I forgot because I haven’t talked to my own father in nearly 20 years and Father’s Day is not on my radar. I forgot because I am up to my ears in end-of-the-school-year events and summer camp prep. I forgot because my kids don’t celebrate Father’s Day.

Shortly before our daughter turned 3, we began to talk to her about how she was created through love, her mama’s egg, and a sperm donor. She, and our 4-year-old twins, will proudly and correctly tell you they came from an egg and sperm. We don’t get into the logistics of how those two things met (doctor-assisted intrauterine insemination using frozen sperm for those of you who are curious). But we openly and honestly talk about how our family was made. Our kids will also tell you about their brother and sisters who live in another state; they are donor siblings who were born from the same anonymous sperm and whose parents we met through the cryobank’s sibling registry.

We know our kids feel loved, and that they are as proud of their family as any other children who are more focused on their own needs and wants than on the reflection of sacrifices made by their loving parents. Yet, as much as our kids are like any other kids, their normal is not “normal.” At least, not to some people. And when our kids meet new friends who are unaware that they have two moms, or when Father’s Day rolls around each year, they are not just reminded that they don’t have a dad — but that society expects them to have one.

Once I realized the motivation behind my daughter’s friend’s question, I softened. “Ah! Your dad came to school for Father’s Day donuts. Eva’s class didn’t host a breakfast. But she may have made something for her Pop-Pop.”

We have always told our kids’ teachers that when Father’s Day projects are being made that it’s okay to acknowledge that they will not be making one for a father of their own. They can make one for my partner’s father, their amazing Pop-Pop. Or they can make one for any one of a number of amazing friends and dads who are in our life. Just because they don’t have a father doesn’t mean we don’t have good men in our lives and great dads to celebrate.

by Amber Leventry, babble.com

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HOW TWO DADS ARE SHATTERING THE STIGMA AROUND GAY PARENTING IN THE SOUTH

Parenting is a tough enough job on its own.

Add to that the challenge of being accepted for what kind of a parent you are, and the whole thing can feel insurmountable. But that hasn’t stopped two dads in New Orleans from being extraordinary parents to their little girl.

Husbands Erik and Douglas Alexander have taken to Instagram and their blog NolaPapa to help create visibility around what it means to be positive, loving gay dads. After adopting their daughter Allie Mae in 2015, they wanted an outlet to reach out to other LGBTQ families and document their own family’s journey.

In the process of sharing their story, Erik and Douglas have become a beacon of hope for gay parents in the South.

After dating for almost 11 years, Erik and Douglas married in 2015 when Louisiana legalized same-sex marriage. And despite an expected 3-5 year waiting period, they were able to adopt their daughter Allie Mae in only a month and a half. Suddenly, their small suburban world changed as more and more people noticed their growing family. Their town is close to New Orleans, which is considered to be a very liberal city. But, according to Erik, “The 10-15 minutes it takes to get here takes you back in time about 30 years.”

Babble.com, April 7, 2017 by Lindsay Wolf

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The Children of Gay Parents Speak for Themselves

For the past five years, Gabriela Herman has been photographing and interviewing people from all over the country with one or more LGBTQ parent.

“My mom is gay,” she explained. “But it took me a long time to say those words out loud.” For Herman, coming to terms with her mother’s identity was a “raw and difficult time.” She had never met another person who was raised by a gay parent. “The topic was taboo even within our otherwise tight-knit family,” she said. “My younger siblings were dealing with the same emotions, but meaningful conversation eluded us.” Eventually she connected with COLAGE (Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere) and found a community of people who shared a similar childhood: the juggling of silence and isolation, the defending of parents on the playground. In many ways, the images and interviews in Herman’s essay The Kids seeks to fill that silence. The children of gay parents aren’t “hypothetical”: They’re real and they’re ok.gay parents adoption

  1.  Hope, raised in New York City by her two dads: “I would see my friend’s families and my aunts and uncles and I knew that people had something called a mother that I didn’t necessarily have, but I didn’t really think that I was so much in the minority. I wondered about my birth family and my birth mother in particular, but in terms of my own development, I don’t feel like I suffered because of it. I think that my parents did a fantastic job of helping to raise me to be a strong woman, but in terms of that question piece about where did I come from—sometimes I still wonder that, and then other times it just kinda disappears in terms of its importance.”
  2. Allison, raised in Connecticut and Vermont by her mom and her mom’s partner: “As soon as I found out [my new school] had a gay-straight alliance I just—it was amazing, to know that there are other kids my age—to realize that they were supportive of LGBT people. I wasn’t the only one who knew gay people and it wasn’t this dark secret that I had to hide.”
  3. Kerry, raised in New Jersey by her dad and mom, who came out when she was 11: “I remember a conversation with my mom where she was talking about how she would like to marry another woman. When I was really little I wanted to marry my best friend so I was like, ‘Oh, it’s like me and Sarah?’ She was like, ‘No, not like you and Sarah.’”
  4. Zack, raised in upstate New York by his two moms: “Everyone in my family is adopted. I had less trouble with two moms and more issues with finding myself, you know, with race and ethnicity.”

by Emily Ann Epstein, The Atlantic – March 6, 2017

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