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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Tom Daley on becoming a dad and why UK surrogacy laws need to change

Tom Daley is sitting on a sofa in a central London hotel suite with his husband, Dustin Lance Black, while their seven-week-old baby, Robbie Ray, snoozes peacefully beside them – and it’s clear the new fathers (both dressed in baby blue) are entirely besotted with their son.

“We don’t ever turn on a TV anymore, we just stare at the little one,” Tom Daley, 24, tells The Independent. “It’s been so crazy. It feels kind of surreal still, the fact that we have a…”

He stops mid-sentence to coo at baby Robbie, which I soon realise is to become a regular occurrence during our interview.surrogate lawyers, surrogate lawyer, surrogate attorney, legal surrogate, surrogate legal

“But he’s brought so much love and joy to the family,” Daley continues.

Born to a surrogate in June, Robbie is apparently a very well-behaved newborn. “He’s a great baby,” says Black, 44. “I think we got a starter baby, I think we got the best baby on the planet.”

“But we might be biased,” adds Daley.

The Olympic diver and his Oscar-winning screenwriter husband met in 2013, married in 2017 and revealed they were going to be fathers in 2018 – an announcement which wasn’t met entirely positively by the public.

“I think that’s why we want to help educate people because I think a lot of them were under the impression that the baby was going to be ripped from his mother’s arms,” says Daley. “People will have their opinions and that’s fine. All we want is what’s best for the little one.”

The couple had their son through surrogacy but admit they didn’t know a great deal about the options open to them as a same-sex couple beforehand. “It was an education, we had to learn,” says Black. 

By Rachel Hosie, theindependent.co.uk, August 22, 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.”

Over The Rainbow

“I’m over the rainbow.” When a friend said this, I didn’t understand at first.  My traditional understanding of this phrase is one of ecstatic happiness. 

You know, “I was over the rainbow about…”  However, my friend meant something else entirely. He was speaking from a feeling that I can only refer to as the gay malaise.

Gay Pride, with all its attendant celebrations and festivities, is here.  You can see the influx of out-of-towners and the feel the atmosphere changing like the seasons.  I live in the West Village, ground zero of pride, and each year my husband Gary and I negotiate through the throngs of partiers, going blocks out of our way to cross the street, in order to simply leave or return to our apartment.  Many of our neighbors leave town to avoid this traffic jam of love.divide chores

It is hard to believe, living in the City as we do, that many of those rainbow-clad people who clog the streets have only this one day to live truly in their skin.  We take for granted the luxury of living in a community that supports, or at least tolerates, our ability to “live out loud.” Don’t get me wrong, I know homophobia exists and, even in New York, there are those who refuse to accept that gay people are part of the human condition, much less same-sex marriage as part of its natural progression.  But on Gay Pride Sunday, those people only show their face behind protective police barriers, their numbers dwindling with each successive year.

Even from behind those barriers, those people can’t help but see something amazing: the eclectic diversity of our community.  Different sizes, shapes, colors, gender identifications, butch factors and levels of self-acceptance abound.  You see everything on Gay Pride Sunday and there is nothing more reassuring to me. But to those who are over the rainbow, Pride Sunday holds a different meaning.

The very thing that charges me, repulses many, and not just among our detractors.  Many gay people, for incredibly personal reasons I’m sure, have little tolerance for those on the outer fringes of our community.  Many believe that those who are fearlessly themselves, even in the face of open ridicule, are somehow making the LGBTI community’s journey to societal acceptance harder.

Society, gay and non-gay, is fickle.  When images of perfection become our personal roadmap, tolerance for those on the side of the road lessens, or disappears, and the gay malaise sets in.  I have heard many say that the fight for marriage equality, now family equality, isn’t their battle; it isn’t on their map.  That’s fine with me, there is room at the table for everyone. But what I believe hinders societal understanding and acceptance is our own lack of tolerance for our own.

Having an “all one world” view of life is threatening to many, even trite.  But “society” starts at home, as does acceptance, and once we come to terms with who we are as individuals in this world, regardless of sexual orientation, we move one step closer to embracing the diversity that is our community, showing the world by example how to accept us.

June is the perfect month for self-reflection.  The promise of the Summer gives us all a new opportunity to shed whatever kept us warm in the Winter and live on our own fringe.

So if you find yourself this Gay Pride experiencing gay malaise, if you catch yourself judging another person because of how they look, what they sound like or who they represent to you, take a deep breath, remember that you are as much a part of this world as they are and Get Over It Mary!  Happy Pride!

by Anthony M. Brown www.timeforfamilies.com, Originally Written June 2016

Why we need to break the silence around domestic violence in LGBTQ families

In seventh-grade health class we watched a movie about alcoholic parents.

It was the first time I saw anything that resembled my family in a movie — the same yelling, crying and sporadic violence — except my parents never drank. I knew something was terribly wrong, but I didn’t know what it was. It would be three more years before I’d learn that the problems in my family resulted from mental illness. My mother’s partner had bipolar disorder.lgbt domestic violence

There was no health-class movie about bipolar parents, no helpline to call back in the 1980s. Even if there were one, I couldn’t have called it. My family was in the closet — my mother was a lesbian, and if people found out, she or her partner could lose their jobs. If they lost their jobs, we’d lose the house, and my biological father would have a very large weapon if he decided to fight for custody. There was another layer to the problem, too. There were so few visible lesbian families that I knew that confessing my family problems would reflect negatively on the whole queer community, people who were constantly struggling to be seen as equal to their heterosexual counterparts.

As a child of lesbian parents, I felt like I needed to be normal, well adjusted and heterosexual. My parents told me that many people thought gay people were perverts who wanted to hurt children or turn them gay. I understood that it was imperative not to throw my family like chum into the shark-infested water; doing so would be risky not only for our family but for all other queer families.

When I talk about the problems in my family, some people — usually heterosexual ones — are quick to point out that it’s important for me to clarify that not all lesbian families are like mine. But this should be a given. If a friend has a bipolar or alcoholic father, I don’t assume that all heterosexual men are alcoholics or suffer from mental illness. One family should never be singled out as a representative of their entire culture, but with so few visible gay families, it’s hard not to be treated as a voice for the movement.

by Lara Lillibridge, The Washington Post, May 8, 2018

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Some L.G.B.T. Parents Reject the Names ‘Mommy’ and ‘Daddy’

When Amanda Davidson, a 42-year-old Los Angeles-based artist and writer, welcomed her firstborn child in December — a boy named Felix — with her partner Isaac Schankler, 39, a composer, she chafed at the assumptions the medical staff members made about how the pair wanted to identify themselves as parents.

“‘Hi, Mommy! Where’s Daddy? Mommy needs to know this, but so does Daddy,’” she said with a big laugh. The binary clashed so much with how the couple sees themselves and exists in the world — she’s queer-identified, and her partner goes by pronouns they/their/them and uses the gender-neutral title Mx. — she refrained from calling herself anything vis-à-vis Felix for the first two weeks of his life.

She eventually settled on Mama. “I was racking my brain for a mama-alternate, but it feels right for the moment,” she said, adding that in her universe, “identity wiggles around,” and she’s open to other possibilities.estate planning

Mx. Schankler remembers reading the queer writer Andrea Lawlor’s essay on identifying as “Baba” (as opposed to some iteration of mother) in Mutha magazine and thinking that “dad” or “daddy” wouldn’t work for them either, so they opted for “Abba.” It means “dad” in Hebrew, providing a link to their Jewish heritage: “It does feel more gender-neutral, or at least doesn’t have quite the same baggage that dad and daddy have,” Mx. Schankler said.

Naming is particularly important to the pair as a means of signaling their queerness, since they “pass” as a straight couple. “We don’t look visibly queer,” Ms. Davidson said, “So in some ways, our choice of names helps us affirm our identities.”

The duo’s ambivalence about traditional monikers is reflected in a study, currently under peer review, on the naming practices in same-sex adoptive families. The study, by Abbie E. Goldberg, Clark University’s pioneering L.G.B.T. family scholar; Melissa Manley, a doctoral student, and Emma Frank, a recent Clark graduate, is one of the few on the topic. It found that of 80 participants — 20 lesbian couples and 20 gay couples — recruited from adoption agencies across the United States, including cities with high concentrations of lesbian and gay populations, all opted for derivatives of mother and father.

A quarter of them, however — 20 percent of the lesbian couples and 5 percent of the gay couples — participated in some version of “undoing gender.” Many do this by taking parental names from their native cultures or religions that strip away the binary in this cultural context, collapsing the dichotomy between terms by merging them, such as “Mather,” a fusion of mother and father, or creating nicknames (“Muzzie,” in one instance).

Ellen Kahn, the director of the Children, Youth & Families Program at the Human Rights Campaign, said the gender binary that underlies “mother” and “father” doesn’t jibe with some parents’ self-understanding and self-presentation: “For queer parents who don’t think of themselves as gender conforming, ‘mommy’ and ‘daddy’ may be a little discordant with the way they think about themselves.”

Both Dr. Goldberg and Ms. Kahn surmise that the couples who are using new terminologies are willing to do so because of the hard-won rights L.G.B.T. people have secured, particularly the right to marry. “Now there’s more willingness to push some of those boundaries,” Dr. Goldberg said, “because of greater legal recognition and acceptance.”

by Stephanie Fairyington – New York Times April 26, 2018

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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

Coming Out in the Trump Era

National Coming Out Day. More important than ever.

Our country feels very different than it did a year ago on the last National Coming Out Day, when the prospect of an LGBTQ-friendly president was still possible. Now, however, the day feels even more like a time for activism and resistance.adoption and surroagcy

As Harvey Milk said, “Coming out is the most political thing you can do.” It is also, of course, one of the most personal. And while some of us may be out to a degree that lets us feel comfortable joining resistance marches, calling our elected officials, or writing op-eds to our local papers, others of us may not. As parents, we may fear the loss of a job that feeds our kids or worry that our kids will be bullied or harassed because of their parents. We may worry about being turned away by child service agencies. Personal and family safety and security is vital, and I cannot tell anyone to ignore that.

Mombian.com, by Dana Rudolph – October 11, 2017

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