He Gave Thanks for His 2 Dads, Louis and Joshua van Amstel. His Teacher Condemned Gay Couples.

The substitute teacher was fired from a Utah public school. One of the boy’s parents, Louis van Amstel of “Dancing With the Stars,” wondered how she had become a teacher in the first place.

A substitute teacher at a Utah public school asked members of a fifth-grade class what they were thankful for before they left for Thanksgiving break.van Amstel

When one of the students answered that he was “thankful for finally being adopted by my two dads,” the teacher retorted that “homosexuality is wrong,” one of the boy’s parents said in a video that has gotten widespread attention on social media. The teacher then told the student that it was sinful for two men to live together, the father said.

The substitute teacher was fired soon after, according to the staffing company that had placed the woman at the school, Deerfield Elementary in Cedar Hills, Utah.

The father, Louis van Amstel, who is known for his role on “Dancing With the Stars,” wrote on Twitter and Facebook that his son, Daniel, 11, had been bullied by the teacher.

“It shouldn’t matter if you’re gay, straight, bisexual, black and white,” Mr. van Amstel said in an interview on Sunday. “If you’re adopting a child and if that child goes to a public school, that teacher should not share her opinion about what she thinks we do in our private life.”

Mr. van Amstel, 47, credited three girls in the class with alerting the principal about the teacher’s actions and with speaking up on behalf of his son, who he said didn’t want the teacher to get in trouble.

“The woman, even when the principal said, ‘Well, you’re fired,’ and escorted her out the door, tried to blame Daniel for what she said,’” Mr. van Amstel said.

NYTimes.com, December 2, 2019 by Neil Vigdor

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“This is Quite Gay” – Gay Shame

Social media has become a space where my own family and friends have turned into censors, denigrating me for being gay from thousands of miles away casting gay shame.

On the quiet, promising first morning of June, I received a text message from my brother in Abuja, Nigeria. “Please, refrain from all these shameful acts,” he wrote.  Gay shame.   “Everyone is tired of you. Mummy is crying, Daddy is crying. If you don’t value relationships, we do!”gay shame

My brother had written after I had posted a picture on Facebook that showed me hugging a male friend. A mixture of anger, sadness and fatigue erupted in my body. “Block me if you are tired of my shameful acts,” I replied. “I won’t be the first or last person to be rejected by his family.”

I had the audacity to start a queer publication in Nigeria and was disowned by my country as a gay man, writer and activist. After a vicious homophobic attack in Akwanga, my hometown in central Nigeria, I moved to the United States and sought asylum here in the summer of 2018.

In a certain public rendering I could come across as a brave activist. But I have lived with intense private pain and discomfort after homophobic shaming from people like my own brother.

Social media can be a delightful way to connect with loved ones far away, but for me it has also become a space where my own family and friends have turned into censors, distorting my life, denigrating my being gay from thousands of miles away.

In Nigeria, I lived with the knowledge that my secret life as a gay man would eventually crumble under the weight of parental expectations. I could see clearly how it would pan out: After turning 30, I would have to marry a woman who might know I am gay but would prefer marrying me to being unmarried at a certain age. We would have three children in quick succession, as procreation is a duty I would be expected to fulfill promptly, duty being the bedrock of familial relationships.

My wife and I would suffer dutifully and receive the blessings of our parents. On seeing my wife and me in matching outfits, my father’s expressionless face would break into a rare, full smile. He would present us to his friends and colleagues at parties. My mother would carry around my children and make her friends, whose children were yet to bear them grandchildren, look on in envy.

But I walked out the door. I chose safety and freedom over years of pain and trauma that would come with such societal and parental approval. In Washington, where I live on the little that is left of my savings, the homophobia of my home and family follows me through social media, through emails and text messages.

There are days when I forget I am gay; those days are my happiest. I hang out with friends, not as a gay man hanging out with other gay men, but as friends having a good time. I return to my apartment with beautiful pictures in my phone.

Yet when I am about to post my pictures on social media, I examine them through the searching eyes of my staunchly evangelical Christian parents, through the prying eyes of my childhood friends who still remember me as the boy who would recite chapters of the Bible. I swipe through my pictures. “This is very gay!” “This is super gay!” “This is quite gay!” I judge my own images and delete the pictures. I am my own censor.

A few days after the exchange with my brother, a cousin sent me a message: “Jesus loves you, bro! Come back to him. He is ready to forgive you and take you back as his lovely child.”

I climbed back in bed and rolled myself into a ball as my heart sank into the hollow of my gut. My stomach gave a loud, nervous growl. I longed for death. These messages pull me back to the existential orbit I am always trying to escape. I ask myself, “Is this really worth losing loved ones over? ”  All this gay shame.

I should relish the freedom America offers me, but it feels like I am running in the middle of a busy highway or breathing under water. Hiding in the closet is all I have known.

Some days ago, I was at a pride event for gay Africans in Washington, in a West African basement restaurant. I was chatting with a few Nigerians when a charming photographer raised his camera toward us. They instinctively ducked as if dodging a bullet. “You can never tell where those pictures will end up,” someone said. I nodded in agreement.

NYTimes.com, July 6, 2019 by Richard Akuson

Click here to read the entire article.

David Strah Shares His Experiences Raising a Trans Son on Latest Episode of Daddy Square

Author David Strah sat down with the Daddy Square guys to talk about fatherhood, his book, and experiences raising a trans son.

Here’s a fact: gay parents are much more attentive to their kids’ gender expressions than heterosexual parents. Just from the nature of growing up different, sometimes in an unwelcoming environment, we don’t want our kids to suffer the emotional pain that we went through.David Strah

This is a partial explanation for an amazing growing phenomenon, where gay couples step forward and adopt transgender youth who were thrown out of their homes. In this episode of Daddy Squared we brought on David Strah, a family therapist from Los Angeles who specializes in LGBTQ issues. David is also a father of a transgender boy, and shares from his own personal experience.

“It’s sort of a myth that trans people or trans kids come out and say ‘this is the way I am’ at age 2,” David explains. “There are normally a few things that happen or that show up, and sometimes it means that they are going to be trans and sometimes it doesn’t, and sometimes it means that they’re going to be somewhere in the middle. I think it’s about educating ourselves, about being sensitive, about creating a household that’s trans friendly, talking about things, really getting in front of the issues, talking about the gender spectrum – all the differences, and how it is a spectrum and you don’t have to be one way or the other. You can be somewhere in between or you can lean towards being a boy or lean towards being a girl and then another day you can decide to do something different.”

David thinks it’s really important to listen to our kids and if they’re saying something very clearly, to really respond to that and cooperate with them.

“I think that when my younger son, when he was a girl, probably at around 5 or 6, he definitely wanted to wear boys underwear, briefs,” David shares. “So we went out to the Gap and bought boys’ briefs and we were absolutely fine with that. We didn’t really know what it meant but we felt that he was directing that and that’s something he wanted to do so we did it, and at that time, to be perfectly honest, we thought, well, he’s got two dads and a big brother so he probably wants to wear underwear like he sees on other people in his family.

“There was another time, around Rosh Hashanah, and she needed a new dress. She absolutely refused to wear a dress, she wanted a suit, so we said okay, and went to J. Crew and bought a suit and we said ‘but you have to wear a flower on the lapelle – which was kinda silly in retrospect on our part—but that was a compromise, she was very happy and she looked very chic.”

Click here to listen to the Daddy Squared Podcast.

GaysWithKids.com by Yanir Dekel, May 29, 2019

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Desperately Seeking a Black Sperm Donor

Nikki and I did something often considered too good to be true. We stumbled across each other in a humid, dark, loud nightclub in West Hollywood during the 2014 Los Angeles Pride weekend; it was love at first sight. 

anonymous sperm donorsFast forward to 2018, when we got married and bought a house within the same week. But our dream wouldn’t be complete without one more miracle: motherhood. The medical recommendation is that women have children before the age of 35, so we decided that Nikki should carry first since she’s 33 and I’m 28. But like many folks who seek out fertility help, we had no idea how difficult it would be to find the perfect sperm donor, let alone a black sperm donor.

Nikki is an extrovert who works as a global partnership senior manager for a top technology company. If her perfect smile and big hair don’t blow you away, her optimism and ambition will take you around the universe and back. Nikki would describe me as a super creative, solutions-oriented introvert. I’m the person everyone comes to for advice, but I was at a loss when it came to finding a suitable sperm donor for our needs.

Even before we started looking, I was under the impression that there was a limited supply of black donors. Maybe that’s because I don’t know any black donors. Maybe it’s because buying sperm or conceiving a baby in this fashion isn’t considered a “black thing.” As it turns out, I was correct. Though private sperm banks are not required to share the ethnic origins of their donors publicly, as we started our search we found the number of black donors to be vanishingly small.

Below is a conversation between Nikki and me about the start of our journey to motherhood. It has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Nikki: I searched for a gay-friendly sperm bank, because I figured that sperm banks function like most institutions or companies.

B.A.: How do most institutions function? Are you saying that you expected sperm banks to be less prepared to assist customers who weren’t white, straight and married?

Nikki: Yes, potentially. So, I felt like I needed to specify gay-friendly sperm banks. I came across a blog that listed about 10 sperm banks with each bank’s contact information, a little blurb on why to choose that bank and how they accommodated LGBTQAI+ families. The bank we ultimately decided on offered extensive genetic testing and data, and the website had a little rainbow heart confirming their support for families like ours.

NYTimes.com, by B.A. Williams, May 6, 2019

Click here to read the entire article about seeking a black sperm donor.

Insanity Founder Shaun T Opens Up about Twin Life After 12 Pregnancy Attempts With 5 Surrogates

Shaun T

Aside from trying to get the world physically fit, Shaun T and Scott Blokker are raising baby twins. Easy, right?!

Six years ago, fitness trainer Shaun T, creator of the Insanity workout and the new Transform :20 program, was ready to start a family with his husband and business partner, Scott Blokker. But the journey wasn’t easy. “We went through all the things that couples struggling with fertility go through: tests, doubt, grief, not knowing, waiting,” Scott says.

Twelve attempts, six egg donors, five surrogates, two doctors, one miscarriage, and thousands of dollars later, their two adorable sons, Silas Rhys and Sander Vaughn, arrived. Though they share the same egg donor, Sander is from Shaun’s sperm and Silas is from Scott’s sperm. Their surrogate delivered them two minutes apart. “Ask all the questions you want,” Shaun says when people wonder how the boys came to be. Adds Scott, “It blows my mind how much I’ve learned.”

The boys turned 1 in November, and their dads could not be more proud, especially after all they’ve been through. The babies were born at 32 weeks and spent the first three weeks in the NICU. “On their last night there, we had no monitors, no nurses, just us,” says Shaun. “I remember thinking, ‘This will be a piece of cake.’ I was so wrong. They cried nonstop!”

Well, guys, welcome to parenthood! Scott and Shaun speak of the first four months of parenting twins as an almost comically dark time in their lives. “It was terrible,” says Shaun, laughing. “We got into more fights than we’d ever had in our entire relationship.” Scott adds, “I even questioned whether we’d ruined our marriage by having kids, but it wasn’t the kids. It was the not sleeping!”

Two preemies meant both parents doing every feeding around the clock. “No more than two hours of sleep at a time for weeks in a row is killer,” says Scott. Meanwhile, Sander wouldn’t eat, or if he did, he’d spit up. “We felt bad, but at 3 a.m. it was, ‘Okay, who wants Sander?’ ” Shaun says.

Eventually, the babies started to sleep through the night, and so did Shaun and Scott. Like magic, conflicts abated. They divided and conquered. Scott says he’s the family manager, while Shaun is the cruise director. “I do all the planning—babysitters, shopping, doctors—and Shaun brings the fun.”

Daddy Squared Podcast tells the story of the 14th annual Men Having Babies NYC conference

In this special episode, we flew to New York City to experience the annual Men Having Babies Conference. 

MHB provides unbiased surrogacy parenting advice and support for gay men worldwide. The Conference featured parenting options in the USA and Canada, in-depth panels — including on insurance, budgeting, and teen surrogacy children, and an Expo of surrogacy parenting info. In this episode we shed a light on the history and work of Men Having Babies, on the conference and on the Canadian surrogacy option.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

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

Click here to read the entire article.

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

Click here to read the entire article.

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

Click here to read the entire article.