Barilla Wants to Share the Table, Even with Same-Sex Parents

April 14, 2014 | By Brent Almond | FRIDGE WISDOM, LEARNING CURVES

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Barilla, but opinions are my own.

In September of last year, the chairman of Barilla made the following statements in a radio interview:

“I would never do (a commercial) with a homosexual family, not for lack of respect
but because we don’t agree with them. Ours is a classic family where the woman plays
a fundamental role. … If [gays] don’t like it, they can go eat another brand.” 1

“I have no respect for adoption by gay families because this concerns a person who
is not able to choose.” 2

Like many others, I found Guido Barilla’s comments ignorant, insulting and infuriating. Our family is made up of two gay dads (one of whom is Italian) and an adopted son, all of us consumers of large amounts of pasta. I’m not sure there were any ways left to offend us. So like many others, our family made a conscious decision not to buy their products again.

While I’d heard of efforts on the part of Barilla to make amends, I paid them little mind. I was skeptical they could do anything to salvage a relationship with the LGBT community and our allies.

But then I was asked to take part in Barilla’s Share the Table campaign. And I was approached specifically because I’m a gay father. I learned they’d also enlisted other LGBT bloggers, including fellow parents Polly Pagenhart and Vikki Reich.

According to the materials I was given and my own research, Barilla has been making changes ever since the interview and subsequent boycott. They met with and received counsel from GLAAD; established a Diversity & Inclusion Board and appointed a Chief Diversity Officer; participated in HRC’s Corporate Equality Index; and as evidenced by this post, they want to partner with influencers in the LGBT community as part of Share the Table, to ensure families of all kinds are included.

We’ve all heard plenty of corporate apologies, yet this invitation resonated because it was made directly to me. And as I read more about Barilla’s inclusiveness in regards to the importance of family meal time, I was immediately reminded of our trip to Italy two years ago.

Barilla #ShareTheTable Italy family dinner

One of many long and wonderful meals around Nonna’s table


A Gay Man’s Tribute to Fred Phelps

March 21, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LEARNING CURVES, RASPBERRIES


My original idea for this illustration included a rough line drawing of an oft-seen photo of Fred Phelps. The intent was to depict the sheer evil of the man in pen and ink, superimposed over a collage of the disparate groups of people his hatred targeted. I scanned my drawing and began layering in images on the computer: Matthew Shepard and the iconic fence he was tied to; a scene from a production of The Laramie Project; the casket of an Iraq War veteran, draped in the American flag; paper angels representing the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and the interlocked bikers that protected their funerals; symbols representing Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Mormons and Catholics.

As I fine-tuned the design, I hid the layer that included Phelps’ face. I looked at all of these otherwise unconnected people and realized I’d been going about this all wrong.

Phelps is gone…and what is left behind?


Fridge Wisdom: Same-Sex Marriage in Scotland? Aye!

March 4, 2014 | By Brent Almond | FRIDGE WISDOM, LEARNING CURVES

With the recent barrage of news concerning LGBTQ rights, you may have missed (as I did) the latest addition to the list of nations legalizing same-sex marriage.

Somewhere between Michael Sam and Sochi, amidst a swirling stew of good news and bad, from all corners of the United States and around the globe, same-sex marriage became legal in Scotland.

scotlandScotland, legislation passed by Scottish Parliament February 2014; currently awaits Royal Assent. Same-sex marriages expected to begin Autumn 2014. McFabulous.


To Russia, With Friendship

February 5, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LEARNING CURVES

Me and “Viktor” on Lake Baikal, Siberia, July 4, 1993

I spent the summer of 1993 in southern Siberia.
The Berlin Wall had had been down for less than three years, and as with other Communist nations, Russia was opening up in ways unimaginable to the world less than a decade prior. The country celebrated Russia Day for the first time that summer on the 12th of June. This holiday marked Russia’s sovereignty from the USSR. It was also my 24th birthday.

This trip abroad was the “final exam” of the missionary training school I attended my first year out of college. Missionary training what now?!? That’s a story for another time… I’m here to talk about my friend “Viktor.”


Utah Presses Pause on Same Sex Marriage


Yesterday the Governor of Utah declared the 1,000+  same sex marriages in that state invalid. While this isn’t nearly as surprising as the federal court decision allowing the weddings, it’s certainly disheartening.

However, my brother Bryan — who lives in Utah, and who I wrote about when the ruling happened in December — wrote very poignantly about it on his Facebook page. I couldn’t have said it better, or more personally…

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“At the end of the day, after the legal atrocities and discrimination of a church with too much money and the ignorance of a state that doesn’t understand its separation from that church, I am incredibly lucky to have such a lovely partner and lucky to have the love I do. I will never take that for granted and that is something that the USA, Utah, the Mormons, the Christians, the Muslims, the hicks, the ignorant, and the scared will never ever be able to take away from me. Time and history are on my side, and I truly believe this will happen in my lifetime. Karma is wonderful, love is better, and both are charging head on toward Utah. I already have both of mine, and my hope is the same for my amazing friends and second family here (many of whom I consider married even if the law doesn’t). I wish a good night to the end of an ugly day. It does and will get better. XOX”

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So if he’s hopeful, I can be hopeful. The wedding march has already begun in Utah, so I’ll just press the pause button on this one:


Designer Daddy’s Greatest Hits of 2013



2013 was a pretty monumental year, both personally and blogally(?). So for all of the awesome, new readers I’ve met recently — as well as longtime loyalists — here’s a recap of my favorite posts from the last 12 months!


Fridge Wisdom: Utah Legalizes Same Sex Marriage

December 25, 2013 | By Brent Almond | FRIDGE WISDOM, LEARNING CURVES


Utah: same-sex marriage legalized/first marriages performed, December 20, 2013 (Magnet courtesy of Bryan Almond & Jonathan Bailey. Fridge courtesy of Johnny & Beverly Almond)

Hot on the heels of New Mexico (which was hot on the heels of Hawaii), one of the bastions of conservatism in the United States has out-of-nowhere legalized same-sex marriage. I’m sure my post from a couple of weeks ago on Hawaii had something to do with it, where I (not really) predicted this outcome:

Yet same-sex marriage is becoming such a common occurrence that many media outlets don’t deem it sensational enough to cover. Perhaps they’re holding out for Utah or a Carolina or the Grand Wizard of all conservative states (that would be Texas, y’all) to change its right-wing ways before making marriage equality front page news again.*

Much has already been written about what Utah’s district court decision means for the rest of the states, for the country as a whole, for those opposed to marriage equality, who’s happy about it, who’s not happy, who’s surprised by it, who’s not… well, probably not that last one. Of course I was shocked, too. And for about a minute I considered a snarky headline like “Big Gay Love” or “Hasa Diga Homophobes”.

Yet this has a more personal connection for me. In addition to being the Mormon Mecca, it’s the adopted home of my younger (and also gay) brother. While he’s shared with me some of the ways having an older gay brother has been helpful, I know it’s also been a hindrance at times. He had to go through his own struggle and discovery, all within the shadow of a brother who was already in a long-term, committed relationship. Every relationship he had would be compared to Papa (already well-entrenched in the family); every decision, every step out of the closet compared to mine. While not entirely true, that’s how it felt to him a lot of the time.

And my journey — while over 10 years long — began in Texas and ended when I moved to DC, Bryan’s has taken him all over the country and the world, always hoping to find a place to call his own. And when he ended up in Salt Lake City, I was skeptical of how it would turn out. I worried that it could only mean more struggles and more disappointment. But it’s grown on him, and he, it. He loves many things about his new city and state, has a great new job, and has made many friends who accept him for who he is. And he’s been dating a really nice guy (Big Brother Approved!); they plan to move in together in the spring.**


So this post is dedicated to my little brother Bryan, as well as all of the LGBT Utahans, their loved ones and supporters. Thank you for sticking it out, staying true to yourselves, and for giving us all such a wonderful Christmas surprise.

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*Texas and the Carolinas, we’re coming for you!

**I’ve already warned him I’d kill him if he got married now. A) He hasn’t been with his boyfriend all that long, and B) there’s no way in hell he’s getting legally married before me!

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Every time a country or US state legalizes same-sex marriage, I post a photo of a magnet from either my fridge or from that of a reader. Why a fridge magnet? Good question — I’ll think about that one and get back to you. In the mean time, take a look at the previous magnet posts.


Fridge Wisdom: New Mexico Legalizes Same Sex Marriage

December 20, 2013 | By Brent Almond | FRIDGE WISDOM, LEARNING CURVES

Congratulations to New Mexico for becoming the 17th state (and DC) to legalize same-sex marriage!

After Hawaii, I thought it was going to be until another election before I’d get to slap another state magnet on the Designer Daddy fridge. But then New Mexico’s supreme court up and unanimously votes to bring marriage equality to the Land of Enchantment.

I could have sworn we had some New Mexico magnets around our house, but turns out they were all Arizona. Oh well… Arizona, we got you covered, so get on the stick!

(Magnets courtesy of Christy Schejnin and Jonathan Elliott, respectively.)

New Mexico: Legislation passes December 19, 2013. Weddings begin December 19, 2013. New Mexico does NOT mess around!

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I’m posting photos of fridge magnets as new states and countries fall into the AWESOME column on the side of marriage equality! If anyone has magnets from any of the countries listed below, send me a photo of it and I’ll post it on the ole blog!

Magnets still needed: Belgium, Spain, South Africa, Mexico (City), Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and France.

An Open Letter to Photo Card Companies: LGBT Families Celebrate Christmas, Too



I want to preface by saying that I find articles titled “An open letter to…” a bit pompous and self-important. So with that, please enjoy this pompous, self-important open letter to the makers of holiday photo cards — in particular the four companies (un)fortunate enough to have me on their mailing lists.

One of my favorite and longest-running holiday traditions is designing our family’s holiday card. I first created a card for Papa and myself in 2001, and haven’t skipped a year since. With the onset of daddyhood, a requisite family photo has been incorporated into now dominates the design. However, a couple of years ago, I was forced to use <gasp!> an online photo card company. I was not a happy Designer Daddy. It’s like if Santa had to send all the presents FedEx. This was due to restrictions set by the photographer we used, yet it ended up being a relatively pleasant experience, even if I couldn’t claim it as an original DD creation.

As this year has had an above-normal level of stress, it crossed my mind to save some time and sanity and browse the photo card catalogs we’d received. Whenever I came across a layout I liked, I tried to picture our goofy mugs in place of the picture perfect families smiling back at me. But as I turned page after page after page, I found myself growing disheartened, searching in vain for a photo of a two dad or two mom family. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising, considering very few companies of any kind feature same-sex couples or LGBT parents in their marketing or advertising. Even the ones that are historically inclusive rarely show gays or lesbians outside of LGBT publications or broadcasts.

So I did a little experiment. I went back and scoured each of the catalogs I’d gotten, tallying up the families, couples and kids featured in all their glowing, photogenic glory, in order to get some concrete(ish) information. While I was at it, I also took a look at how people of color were represented.


Fridge Wisdom: Same Sex Marriage Passes in Hawaii

December 2, 2013 | By Brent Almond | FRIDGE WISDOM, LEARNING CURVES

The state that has given us several cool TV shows, a super catchy Christmas song, and the weirdest Disney movie to date, adds yet another dash of fabulous to our country. Today marks the day LGBT American can now get married in Hawaii.

Yet same-sex marriage is becoming such a common occurrence that many media outlets don’t deem it sensational enough to cover. Perhaps they’re holding out for Utah or a Carolina or the Grand Wizard of all conservative states (that would be Texas, y’all) to change its right-wing ways before making marriage equality front page news again.

But Hawaii deserves its day in the sun. The fight for same-sex marriage started in this loveliest of states in the early 1990′s when the Hawaii Supreme Court declared the state’s prohibition to be unconstitutional in Baehr v. Lewin.

So since our last state was the first in this epic journey, they’re getting THREE magnets. And also because I had two different people send me photos of theirs at the exact same moment I decided to break down and buy one myself.

Congratulations (Ho’omaika’i) to all of the new and future couples!

Contributed by Josh Misner, who sent me this photo while on vacation. He promised to go back next year and get me one with two guys on it.


Courtesy of Kristin Stork. Let the homosexual hulas and lesbian luaus begin!

, legislation passes November 13, weddings begin December 2, 2013. Just one question: Where are these couples going to honeymoon?

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I’m posting photos of fridge magnets as new states and countries fall into the AWESOME column on the side of marriage equality! If anyone has magnets from any of the countries listed below, send me a photo of it and I’ll post it on the ole blog!

Magnets still needed: Belgium, Spain, South Africa, Mexico (City), Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and France.