DDQ&A

Seeking out other designer daddies across the land

Honey Maid Redefines “Wholesome” to Include Gay Dads

March 13, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DADDY LIKE, DDQ&A, MY 2 DADS

Looks like the gay agenda is continuing to blaze its flaming path into more and more homes, this time via a commercial for…DAH DAH DUM!!! graham crackers.

But seriously, this is a seriously sweet ad. Not only does it depict doting, gay dads, but also a mixed race family, a single father, and a tattooed dad banging the drums as his little girl dances around the living room. The ad, the campaign and the company have gotten quite a bit of coverage, but I wanted to get the scoop on some of the thought behind the spot.

A representative from Honey Maid was kind enough to answer a few questions in the midst of what I’m sure is an extremely busy time for them.

READ FULL ARTICLE >>

DDQ&A: Khoi Vinh

January 24, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DDQ&A, DESIGNER DADDY

Of all the fellow designer dads I’ve interviewed,* Khoi Vinh is the one I’ve known the longest. We were together in the DC design trenches early in our careers, building up our portfolios and burning lots of midnight oil. While I can’t think of a designer whose style (and personality) is more different than mine, I’ve always respected and admired him and his work. As we’re both now dads of preschoolers, we finally have something more in common. Except that he also has twins, so I obviously have some catching up to do. I settled for catching up through this Q&A.

Q&A with designer dad Khoi Vinh
.

Tell me briefly about your design career: how long in the industry, what kinds of clients you have and/or work you specialize in.
I graduated from art school in 1993 with an illustration degree but have done some kind of design ever since. Jeebus. Twenty years. I started out in print media and switched to digital media in 1998.

DD note: Khoi’s being coy (sorry, had to do it) and leaving out lots of details. He was the design director for NYTimes.com from 2006-2010, created a photo collage app, is a published author, and has been blogging for over a decade at Subtraction.com. In 2011, Fast Company named him one of “The 50 Most Influential Designers in America.” Coy, indeed.

NYT

READ FULL ARTICLE >>

What If You Found Out Your Husband Is Gay?

October 11, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DDQ&A, LEARNING CURVES

gayhusband

For the last few weeks I’ve been lending my Dad-wisdom (limited as it is) to The Madness of Mommyhood Facebook page. Wednesdays are “Dear Dad Day” where readers from among the page’s 55k followers ask questions of myself and the other sage dad bloggers in our group. On occasion I’ll be posting my Q&A’s here. This one is quite heartbreaking…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Dear Dad,

I need advice from a man. I am hurting so bad inside. I am 37 and I have been with my husband for 19 years this November, and we have two children together. I never in a million years thought I would catch my husband cheating on me. But he did, and it was with another man. I am confused and hurt. He is a good man for the most part. He provides for us and he has stuck by me through a lot of health issues. Sexually I have been lacking in that area due to having endometriosis and cervical cancer. I had to have a partial hysterectomy. I know there are other ways of pleasing him, which I have tried — more than I can count. But after awhile — especially the last year or so — I am just not in the mood.

I didn’t know he had an account with Yahoo and one day he left it open. I had seen conversations that he has [had sex] with men. Also, in one conversation he and this person were talking about my kids, and how “wives snoop so don’t forget to get rid of everything.”

I confronted him and he admitted it and said sorry, and that he doesn’t know why [he did it], but that he loved me and wanted to work things out. I love him more than anything. Counseling he will not do — he says it is a waste of time. I am trying to forget but the trust is gone. I don’t know if I can get it back. I am burying myself in my work and my kids.

Please can you give me some advice? It’s 19 years of my life that I am not sure I can throw away. My family knows he cheated on me but they think it’s with a girl. I just can’t tell anyone it was with a man.

- Hurting

 

Dear Hurting:

I just want to say how much I feel for you. Yours is an incredibly painful and confusing position. And you have every right to be confused and hurt (and angry and a whole lot of other things).

I really wanted to take your question, because I’m gay. I know you may not want to hear from a gay man right now, but I do have personal insight — at least into what your husband might be feeling and thinking — which I hope will in turn help you.

First of all — his affair, lying to you, being attracted to men — it’s not your fault. AT ALL. Regardless of who it was with, he shouldn’t have cheated. And his attraction to men has absolutely nothing to do with you personally or how good you are in bed.

However your husband being gay is not HIS fault, either. All evidence (and my personal experience) suggests people are gay or straight from birth. But due to whatever pressures are in a person’s life (church, society, family) many still remain in the closet into adulthood, oftentimes getting married in hopes the feelings will go away. I’m certain he didn’t set out 19 years ago to marry you only to break your heart and become attracted to men. But he is clearly, in my mind, gay. And that is not going away.

I never married a woman, but I dated quite a few, each time hoping something would click, I’d fall in love and be physically attracted. I grew up in a religious home, so being gay was never an option. I know I broke the hearts of several women, though it never got as far as marriage or children. But I have many close friends who did get married, had kids, stayed with their wives as long as they possibly could, until it got to the point one or other in the marriage knew it was over. Some had affairs with men prior to divorce, some didn’t. Regardless of how your marriage ends up, you have the right to ask him to stop cheating on you. If that’s what you want, you tell him so. He needs to be a man, honor his wedding vows, and keep it in his pants while you figure out what to do next.

Regarding counseling: If you’re hoping it will change your husband’s attraction to other men, then he’s right — it’s a waste of time. Take it from someone who spent nearly 10 years in therapy in attempts to “fix” my sexuality. But if YOU need the counseling — to work through your emotions, ask the questions you want answers for, and to just be heard — then go. Whether he goes or not, YOU GO. I personally think he owes you some counseling, if for no other reason than to talk together with someone about what to do next.

I’m not going to say that there’s no way to save your marriage. I know of couples that have arrangements where they can have outside partners, as long as they come home to one another. Or they stay together “for the kids,” lying to them through it all. But I don’t advocate either of those scenarios, because they only keep the lies and deception going. And they continue to “throw away” your time and your life.

Someday I hope you’ll be able to see your marriage as more than a complete waste. Right now I imagine that’s not possible. Don’t worry about other relatives — you can tell them if and when you want to. But for your sake, your husband’s sake, and for the sake of your kids, you need to be honest with them and yourself. Get some counseling, seek out support groups for women married to gay men (there are many), find private groups on Facebook or Yahoo with women in similar positions. You may feel alone, but you’re not.

- Designer Daddy

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Visit Designer Daddy on Facebook for more light-hearted fare and the occasional adorable toddler photo.

Would You Protest A Transgender Student Using the Girls’ Bathroom?

September 30, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DDQ&A, LEARNING CURVES

trans-bathroom

For the last few weeks I’ve been lending my Dad-wisdom (limited as it is) to The Madness of Mommyhood Facebook page. Wednesdays are “Dear Dad Day” where readers from among the page’s 55k followers ask questions of myself and the other sage dad bloggers in our group. On occasion I’ll be posting my Q&A’s here. This first one’s a doozy, and garnered quite a few comments – not all of them supportive.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Dear Dad,

There is a male-to-female transgender kid in the high school where I live, who is allowed to use the female restroom for safety. Some fathers are outraged that a boy is allowed in the girls restroom. There are NO complaints on him, for harassment, sexual advances or anything like that. In fact the girls don’t seem to mind. I’ve read in a parenting group that some fathers are prepared to “beat his ass straight.”

My question for you is: Would you be so offended that you would demand this kid be thrown out of school or demand him not be allowed to use the girls’ restroom? Once again, I stress that he hasn’t hurt anyone, he hasn’t peeked over stalls to look at them, he hasn’t asked for or offered sexual favors. He urinates and goes on with his day. I’m so deeply saddened over the treatment of this kid.

- A Concerned Mom

 

Dear Concerned Mom:

I’m pretty sure I can speak for all of us in the Dads Day crew that we would NOT be offended by this student using the girls’ restroom. We would, however, be happy to talk with any of these ignorant d-bags you encountered online. Or “beat their asses smart,” if necessary. These stupid, scared men have nothing to fear — not for their daughters, their sons, or themselves. I imagine this kid is trying to just survive high school — or at the very least, do her “business” like everyone else, and get to class. And if he’s truly identifying as a female, then she’s sitting down to use the bathroom, so no peeking, and nothing to peek at.

So to answer your question, no, I would not be offended or concerned over this, other than for the student’s continued safety. Yet I AM concerned for what harm these dads may be doing to their own kids, passing down such dumbfuckery.

But I’ve got a couple of questions for you. This parenting group where you read the violent comments — is it officially associated with the school? If so, this kind of hate speech should be monitored and dealt with immediately.

Does the school have an anti-bullying policy, and counselors and/or administrators trained to deal with issues relating to gender identity? Letting her use the correct restroom is a good start, but there’s more to it than that.

My advice to YOU is to keep being open-minded and concerned. Share these views with your kids and their friends. Be as vocal (or more so) than the ones spreading the lies and stupidity.

Keep fighting the good fight! We in the LGBT community need and appreciate each and every one of you, our awesome straight allies!

- Designer Daddy

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Come check out Designer Daddy on Facebook, for lots more style, sass & sentiment. And funny pictures.

What’s Got Designer Daddy Dancing? Baby Loves Disco!

September 10, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DADDY DJ, DDQ&A

03.10.13-Le-Poisson-Rouge-12-low

TRUE STORY: Several months ago I was daydreaming about how awesome it would be to have a club geared towards gay parents. A place where Daddy & Papa, Mommy & Mama and their broods could meet friends, drink (responsibly, of course) and swap recipes for organic mac & cheese. There’d be a rec area for the kids to stack Legos, watch their stories or generally just tumble about. It would have a chill room to feed, change or put youngsters down for a nap. And of course there would be DANCING.

Then a couple of weeks ago, a friend texted me a link to something called Baby Loves Disco. My head just about exploded. A dance party? In a club? That we can take our kids to?!? Somebody read my mind and invented The World’s First Club for Gay Dads: Baby Loves Disco! I quickly banged around the internet, contacted BLD, and scored an interview… and a giveaway! (see below)

To clarify, Baby Loves Disco isn’t really (or at all) just for gay dads. In fact it’s been around since 2004, and for a long while was primarily populated by moms and their kids. But still, the best kid-friendly thing to come along in a long while, I’d wager.

I know Papa and I grow weary trying to think of fun, creative — and most importantly — energy-burning activities for JJ. I’ll admit a lot of weekends we’re exhausted, out of ideas and default to the same worn-out options as a lot of parents. Playground… museum… zoo… mall… SNORE. So yeah, we’ve got tickets for our first Baby Loves Disco party locked down. Did I mention a giveaway? (see below)
.

BABY LOVES DISCO 101:

  • The “Original Family Dance Party” for parents and kids ages 6 months to 7 years
  • Held at top-notch nightclubs in six cities: New York, LA, San Francisco, Chicago, Philly and back in DC after a 3-year hiatus!
  • REAL DJs, REAL music* – from classic disco to modern Top 40 and dance music. No Barney, no Kidz Bop, no <shudder> Wiggles.
  • Not just dancing. There’s also dance contests, crafts, kid-friendly spa services, goody bags, healthy snacks and juice boxes for the kids, and a cash bar for the adults.
  • Chilled-out “crawl area” where the non-walkers can relax away from the all the dancing feet.
  • And of course, changing stations

Check out the NYC party in action:

.
THE GIVEAWAY:

Designer Daddy is here to HOOK. YOU. UP. I’m giving away a Family Pack of 4 Baby Loves Disco tickets, valued at $55! The tickets are good for any BLD party in any of the six cities listed above, for any remaining show in 2013. Visit BLD’s web site for dates and locations.

Date and location must be specified at time of winning notification. Contest ends Saturday, September 14 at midnight. NOTE: the first shows of the season are in DC and NYC on Sunday, September 15! But don’t worry, there are multiple shows in all cities. Now enter the Rafflecopter thingamajig below and dust off those boogie shoes!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

.
READ FULL ARTICLE >>

DDQ&A: Evan Spiridellis

July 10, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DADDY LIKE, DDQ&A, DESIGNER DADDY

Like most of the world, I was first introduced to the work of Evan Spiridellis (the designer half of the humor site, JibJab) through the still-hilarious lampoon of the 2004 presidential election, “This Land.” In 2011, he and brother Gregg launched StoryBots, an awesome online land of apps, videos, books and activities for kids (and parents). As a longtime fan, I was downright giddy Evan agreed to a DDQ&A!

Q&A with designer dad Evan Spiridellis
.

LOGOS

Tell me briefly about your design/illustration career.
My brother and I started JibJab back in 1999. Early on we supported the studio by doing service work for clients like Disney, Scholastic, Kraft and Sony — but the goal was always to build a new kind of entertainment company. So we would take on enough client work to pay the rent and our team, then we would turn down commercial projects until the coffers ran dangerously low. Nowadays, JibJab supports itself by selling our products directly to our audience without commercial interference. We much prefer this approach :) READ FULL ARTICLE >>

Designer Daddy Goes to Annapolis

February 16, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DDQ&A, LEARNING CURVES

On a recent Thursday I saw a post on Facebook from fellow dad blogger Oren Miller, saying he would be meeting with the governor of Maryland, thus was soliciting questions from fellow Marylanders to take with him. He mentioned he was part of a group of parent bloggers the Governor’s office had invited for an informal Q&A regarding issues important to Maryland families. My immediate question – of course – was, “Do you have a gay parent blogger yet?” Oren, being the connected and generous fellow that he is, passed along my info which resulted in an official invite for the meeting…which was happening the very next day.

Giddy as all get-out, I quickly scrambled around, emailing, Facebooking and Tweeting (even LinkedIn-ing, I think) to get questions from friends and blog readers to take with me to Annapolis…so I wouldn’t look like a completely uninformed dolt. I ended up with a decent number, and narrowed it down to three priority questions to ask. I knew in a room full of bloggers my chances at getting a word in might be slim.

The next morning I sped through the nasty, wet traffic the nearly hour drive to Annapolis, eventually found parking, and trudged up the hill to the State House. Our meeting was in the Governor’s Reception Room — think the White House’s Roosevelt Room, only higher ceilings and more portraits of Maryland Governors. Our group consisted of 8 bloggers (5 moms, 3 dads), Governor O’Malley, and a few staffers.

The other guys in the group ribbed me for wearing a coat and tie and making them look bad. But in my research the night before, I’d been informed that O’Malley was not only the Governor of Maryland (home to the very recent Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens) but also a graduate of Gonzaga High School in DC. So my tie and my socks were purple (Designer Daddy’s got a rep to uphold) and I made sure to point that out when introducing myself to the Gov. I realized soon after though, that I was the only person NOT to specifically mention my child and how old he was. Smooth, huh?

The meeting was fairly informal, with Governor O’Malley talking a bit about the goals of the remainder of his term (which ends in 2014), using a projection of the office’s web site to illustrate certain points and show how citizens can keep track of the state’s goals and review progress in real time.

"Get a load of this guy in the purple tie."

Not surprisingly, the first blogger question was about education, as were many that followed. Education-related discussions included the quality of public schools vs. private; school meal programs and the overall issue of hunger; and the lack of mental health providers, among others. The issue of mental health inevitably led to the topic of gun control, at which point I was able to mention one of the questions on my list.

A store near our house sells toy trains and guns. It’s always seemed odd disturbing to me (and many others) to have a gun shop so near residential areas, within walking distance of several parks and schools. It was even broken into a few years ago — apparently the thieves weren’t into toy trains, as only guns were taken. I mentioned all this to the Governor in order to say, “I don’t know what the zoning laws are for gun shops, but it shouldn’t be on the way to walking my son to the park or preschool.”

My comment wasn’t addressed directly, but the topic of gun control was discussed in general. And in a follow up email we were invited to a rally in support of his Gun Violence Prevention Bill on March 1. Information on this bill and the rally are listed at the end of this post under Resources.

Somebody's not paying attention...

Our meeting was only an hour long, and by the time I’d gotten out one of my three points, we were already nearing the end. So at the close when the Governor asked if there were any further questions, I threw a Hail Mary to get in the comment I’d most wanted to:

“I just wanted to personally thank you. My partner and I moved to Maryland nine years ago, A) so we could afford to buy a house and because of the schools, and B) so we could adopt. I wanted to thank you for your support of the Same Sex Marriage Bill. It’s not a political issue for us; it’s our life, our family. We have a 3-year-old son, and I was excited the morning after the election to tell him that [his Daddy and Papa] were going to get married. He didn’t really understand what ‘ring bearer’ meant (laughter) — he thought it meant he was going to get to ring a bell. And I think since we already have rings, we’re just going to let him ring a big bell or something.” (More laughter)

(Pause) “So do you do weddings?” (More laughter)

Governor O’Malley’s reply, “I’ve never done a wedding. Technically I guess I’m allowed. I’ve never gone down that path, for fear that if I did one it would be impossible for me to justify saying no.” (Laughter)

He continued, “I think we found a broader way to communicate around that issue, by talking about the dignity of every child’s home. And I don’t think any of us agrees that’s it’s right or just that one child’s home would have lesser protections under the law than another child’s home depending on who their parents were.”

And with that, we wrapped things up, got a group photo in the Governor’s office, and said our final “thank yous” and goodbyes. As I was shaking O’Malley’s hand, I told him I’d mentioned to JJ the night before that I was going to meet the Governor, which didn’t register. I told him he was the President of Maryland, which seemed to impress him a bit. O’Malley got a chuckle out of that, then encouraged me to “Keep Kensington strong.” A very politician thing to say, but not a bad admonishment.

Gov. O'Malley with MD parent bloggers. I look like I just won a bodyguard reality show competition.

I realize this post isn’t very meaty with policy details. One thing I learned from this experience is that real politics — not the issues-driven sound bites that fuel most election year debates, but the statistics, dollars and logistics — boggles and numbs my mind. I have new appreciation for elected officials and those that work for and lobby them.

However, I did email all my questions to the Governor’s office. I’ll be sure and send answers to those that asked, as well as to anyone else who’d like to read them — just say so in the comments or a direct message. I’ve also included a Resources list below: links and documents provided by O’Malley’s office in reference to several of the topics we discussed in our meeting.

While there’s still much to be done to improve education and decrease hunger and gun violence, I came away from this experience hopeful for my state and the country as a whole. I was proud to have been able to thank the highest person in power that helped bring about marriage equality, and thrilled to have this as part of our family’s story. I imagine this will be one of those tales my son will grow weary of hearing as he (and I) grows older. Designer Daddy Goes to Annapolis

“Ugh, Dad’s telling the Governor story again!”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Resources:

State of Maryland 15 Strategic Goals: https://data.maryland.gov/goals

Legislative agenda this session: http://www.governor.maryland.gov/legislation2013.asp

FY2014 Budget (includes graphs showing education investments): http://www.governor.maryland.gov/BudgetFY2014.asp

Governor’s State of the State Address: http://www.governor.maryland.gov/stateofstate2013.asp

Gun Violence Prevention Bill Facts:
“We can reduce gun violence without infringing on law abiding gun owners’ rights” http://www.governor.maryland.gov/blog/?p=8133

Press release on bill: http://www.governor.maryland.gov/blog/?p=8020

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

EXTREMELY SILLY EPILOGUE:

My original intent on bringing up the Same Sex Marriage Bill was not only to thank the Governor for his support of it, but also to ask if there was something that had personally inspired him to be such a strong proponent on such a divisive and provocative issue. I never got to ask, but in researching afterwards I came across his bio on Wikipedia, and I think I found my answer…

Governor O’Malley is apparently a HUGE “Will & Grace” fan.
(Although I’m not sure what he’s got against Karen…)

New DMK: Enjoy the Cuteness

January 20, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DADDY DJ, DDQ&A, DESIGNER DADDY

Check out the latest homemade (and I use that term loosely — this is some expert stuff) video from Depeche Mode cover band and awesome family, DMK.

Designer Daddy is a huge fan, so as long as this creative clan keeps cranking it out, I’ll keep watching Dicken Schrader, and kids Milah and Korben, grow as performers… and aspiring to be even a fraction as cool.

Keep track of DMK on Facebook and YouTube.
Read my DDQ&A with Dicken.

Goth Daddy

July 2, 2012 | By Brent Almond | DADDY DJ, DDQ&A, DESIGNER DADDY

While most of us feel a sense of accomplishment when we teach our kids to ride a bike or say “fart,” overachieving dad Dicken Schrader and his two progeny have released their newest Depeche Mode video, a cover of 1987′s “Black Celebration.”

Looking goth—but definitely celebratory—Dicken, Milah and Korben (DMK) play it more low key this time around with darker clothes, lighting, etc. But you can tell they’re having fun, and of course continuing to be just about the coolest family I’ve ever seen.

Read my DDQ&A with Dicken from earlier this year.

DDQ&A: Steve Spatucci

June 24, 2012 | By Brent Almond | DDQ&A, DESIGNER DADDY

I was introduced to Mr. Spatucci by Rob Kelley (AKA: Keeper of The Aquaman Shrine), who noticed I was profiling various designer dads and thought his friend Steve would be a good guy to blog about. Hailing from the great state of New Jersey, Steve is a fellow comic book fan nerd and an awesome illustrator! He also has a darn-tootin’ cutie of a son. (Ask him to see pictures—he posts them weekly!)

Q&A with designer dad Steve Spatucci

Tell me briefly about your design business: how long in business, what kinds of clients you have and/or work you specialize in.
I started doing freelance illustration back in the early 90′s, after I’d graduated from college. In those pre-Internet days, I’d do sample black and white illustrations, which I’d make into little photocopied booklets. I’d look through magazines, local newspapers and publishers at Borders and Barnes & Noble, compiling my own contact list, then I’d mail the books out. My first professional job came from one of those mailings. The art director for a gem and jewelry magazine, Lapidary Journal, liked my style and hired me for an editorial illustration. I wound up working for them off and on for almost ten more years.

I got a website up in 1997, and started doing more freelance design (mostly for print) and logo work as well as illustration. As Flash developed, I started using it for animation, and by the early 2000′s I’d learned to program in ActionScript and started developing games and interactive demos. I also started doing more website design. I incorporated my business, Plasmic Studio L.L.C., in 2003. I continue to do all of those things – design for print and web, identity, illustration, animation, online demos and game development. I’ve also done voiceover work, music composition, video editing and writing. I love the variety of work, and I really love a project that lets me incorporate those multiple disciplines. I do a lot of work for startups now, but some work also comes from larger, more established businesses that might need an updated identity, an interactive demo or some other type of creative project.

READ FULL ARTICLE >>