gratitude

Happy Mother’s Day to the Women Who Made Me the Dad I Am Today

May 8, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

Mother's Day

As a family with two dads, Mother’s Day can be challenging. It brings up questions from our son and can at times make him — and us — feel like an outsider. Yet even though he doesn’t have a mom, our son has inherited so much compassion, wisdom, and love from generations of great women.

One of these women was my maternal grandmother, Louise McCullough.

The photo above is of my grandmother, my mom, me and Jon from November 2010. Grandma Louise (or, more informally, Grandma Mac) had been in poor health, having undergone multiple stomach surgeries. She was in her mid 80’s and increasingly feeble, but continued to remain the strong, caring, opinionated matriarch she’d always been.

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Remembering Prince and How His Music Helped Save My Life

April 30, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF, POP CULTURE

Remembering Prince & How He Helped Save My Life

In the summer of 1984 I turned 16. I had a year of high school behind me and was living on a tropical island in the middle of the Pacific. My dad was a military chaplain, and we’d moved to Okinawa, Japan the previous summer. For several months we lived in a house in Okinawa City, and the top floor consisted only of my bedroom and a wraparound balcony with a view of the ocean. Aside from the occasional gecko scurrying across the ceiling, it was a sanctuary of solitude for this eldest of four boys.

I had a pretty good first year of high school, as years of high school go. My grades were good, I made the tennis team, and had a solid group of friends. I’d even been voted “Cutest Couple” with a girl who I happened to be dating when the votes were cast, though soon after reverting to friend status.

By the summer of this story, we’d moved onto Kadena Air Force Base. Military housing is typically bland, but here was accented with island flavor: a clay tile roof, palm trees growing from the patio, poinsettia bushes along the side of the house. I hadn’t yet attained high school party-attendee status, so weekend nights were spent walking to the movies or bowling alley, days at one of the beaches scattered around the island.

At the end of that June, I bought Purple Rain at the BX. Over the course of the summer and into my sophomore year, Prince’s magnum opus was the soundtrack of our collective youth. Blasting from cars and boom boxes, on every Walkman, every track (and some B-sides) played nonstop at school dances.

Like Thriller the year before, Purple Rain crossed lines of gender, race, and genre. But it went even further, delving into and mixing sex and spirituality. This was exemplified most in the album’s two biggest hits. “When Doves Cry” dripped with sensuality, while “Let’s Go Crazy” sang of the afterlife with raucous, unpious fervor. The latter was a revelation for this preacher’s kid struggling not only with faith, but also with my sexuality… and what that meant for my own afterlife.

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‘American Girl’ Amaya Receives Family Equality Council Impact Award

March 22, 2016 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF

The “fallout” from the boycott of American Girl just keeps getting sweeter. In November, right-wing fringe group One Million Moms called for a boycott against the American Girl company for featuring an 11-year-old girl with two fathers in their magazine. As Amaya and her dads are friends of our family, it frustrated and saddened me to see them attacked. However, the controversy gave the family an amazing platform to share their story and the amazing work they do through their charity, Comfort Cases. In an ironic twist, the flurry of media coverage resulted in a banner year for Comfort Cases, with a 65% increase in goods delivered to children in the foster care system, and a 300% increase in donations.

So how could it get any sweeter than that?

Dads Rob and Reece, Amaya, and her three brothers were recently honored at Family Equality Council’s 2016 Impact Awards! The family was flown cross country to LA, where they got to walk the red carpet, hob-knob with celebs, and be recognized for their advocacy, their generosity, and for being such an inspiration to us all.

For both Rob and Reece, the most memorable part of the evening were the two standing ovations the family received from the crowd of over 500 celebrities, corporate sponsors, and activist. They were the only ovations of the night!

Family Equality Council Impact Awards
(L) Amaya, Reece, Greyson, (R) Tristan, Makai, and Rob on the red carpet at the 2016 Impact Awards. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images)

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Reader Response: Growing up with Gay Dads

March 11, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF

I wanted to share a particularly sweet note I received from a reader recently. I’ve only done this once or twice before, but this message made me feel extra warm and tingly, as it speaks to the “mission” of my blog, and my life as a dad in general.

It comes from a woman who was raised by two fathers in the 1980s — an extremely rare occurrence at that time. She lost one of her dads to AIDS when she was just a teenager, and sent this message (and awesome photo) to me on the 20th anniversary of his death.

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Growing up with gay dads, 80s style

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“This is a picture of my dad (right) and his partner back in the 80’s (note the awesome handlebar mustache).

We lost Paul 20 years ago today due to an AIDS-related illness. I wanted to post here and say that growing up with gay dads was so amazing, but back then it wasn’t easy.

I wanted to thank you for your blog and for your openness in sharing your story. I wish that I had known even one other family with gay dads, because there were times I felt very alone. It’s amazing how far we’ve come but there’s still work to do.

And when people like you continue to normalize gay families, it goes a long way.”

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The next time someone asks me why it’s important if there’s a gay character in Star Wars, or why I need to label myself a “gay dad,” or whether advocating for more laws protecting LGBT parents and their families really matter, I’ll point them to this.

“Normalize” doesn’t mean trying to become “normal,” or trying to mimic or be accepted by the status quo. It means living our lives and sharing our story in whatever form that takes — whether it’s writing a blog, joining the PTA, or befriending a neighbor. It means being out and proud in the everyday, in the difficult and painful, as well as the bright and joyful. And it means doing all we can to ensure none of us ever feels alone.

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So if you send me a particularly sweet (or sassy) note, you may very well make my day…and I might publish it. You’ve been warned.

Be sure to visit and like Designer Daddy on Facebook.

A Deaf Husband Learns He’s Going to Be a Dad, and It’s a Beautiful Thing

December 31, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF

The skeptic in me grows weary from the barrage of über-personal things shared on social media (which I realize is ironic, coming from a blogger). However, I don’t have a problem with birth announcements, proposals, etc. themselves — my skepticism stems mainly from so many of these e-moments seeming staged or insincere.

This video, however, is truly beautiful, amazing, and full of real emotion. As a deaf man (David Welch) learns from his partner that she’s pregnant, in the span of a few seconds you witness his curiosity, realization, shock, fear, joy, and love. Without any words, we have the privilege of watching a man’s life change forever.

I don’t know David or what his life has been like, but I imagine anyone who has to try a little harder at life appreciates the “normalcy” of something like fatherhood a bit more.

I’m still amazed sometimes that I’m a father, but not because of the atypical ways I had to go about it. I spent my whole life wanting to be a dad, even picturing myself as such — yet because I also knew from a very young age that I was “different,” I never really believed I could wear the mantle of fatherhood. Eventually I came to accept myself, society evolved a bit, and I met and fell in love with a man who also wanted to be a father. And the impossible became possible.

So thank you, David, stranger from the Internet, for reminding me that the impossible is possible, that real men bare their souls, and that being a father is a beautiful, wonderful, emotional thing.

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If you’re not seeing the ASL translation, adjust the settings in YouTube to see the captions.

Join me over on the Designer Daddy Facebook page for all the fun, family and foolishness you could ever want.

Are You Tough Enough to Tutu?

October 12, 2015 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and A.C. Moore Arts & Crafts is sponsoring a campaign to raise both awareness and funds for breast cancer research. And to see how many of you are tough enough to wear a tutu.

breast cancer awareness month

Courtesy of Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington DC. Photo by Ward Morrison.

As you can see, this challenge is not a huge stretch for me. However, as a tutu-wearing advocate, I want to encourage as many of you as possible to participate in this fun way to give a little — a way that doesn’t involve getting doused in a bucket of ice water.

And when you think about it, wearing a tutu (or doing a walk or giving money) involves very little bravery when compared to those living with and fighting breast cancer. I’ll wager there are very few people who read this who haven’t been affected by breast cancer, whether it’s a family member, friend, coworker, or yourself.
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HOW TO PARTICIPATE:

1. Take a photo of yourself in a tutu.

Don’t have one lying around? Head to your closest A.C. Moore, where they sell a tutu-making kit, just for this occasion! For you crafty types, you can make your own using this short tutorial from A.C. Moore’s web site.

2. Share the photo on social media with #‎Not2Tough2Tutu‬.

And if you knew my late friend Oren, add a #Dads4Oren to it, too. While Oren didn’t have breast cancer,  he had it pretty much everywhere else — and his life and death continue to motivate me to get more involved, to give back, and to live life to the fullest.

3. Tag 3 friends to join the challenge.

Call them out. Triple-dog-dare them. Throw down the frilly, tulle gauntlet. It can be anyone — man, woman or child. Big, hairy dudes are of course the funniest, but please don’t limit yourself to that.
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HOW THIS MAKES A DIFFERENCE:

In addition to putting a smile (or a giggle) on everyone’s face who sees it, for every post on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, the AC Moore Foundation will donate $1 to the American Cancer Society.

As an added bonus, I’m matching that by donating an additional $1 for every social media post that also tags me. (DesignerDaddy on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) If you don’t have the time or inclination to don a tutu, please consider making a donation to the American Cancer Society anyway.
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Got questions? Shoot me a message, leave a comment, or check out the official press release from A.C. Moore. It also explains their inspiration and motivation for the #Not2Tough2Tutu campaign.

And finally, here’s the original challenge video, from A.C. Moore’s CEO (and fellow fat, hairy dude), Pepe Piperno:

#Not2Tough2TutuOur CEO Pepe Piperno is #Not2Tough2Tutu, are you? A.C. Moore will donate $1, up to $25,000, to American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer for every picture we see. So put on the tutu, post a pic, use the hashtag, and prove you aren’t too tough to tutu!

Posted by A.C. Moore on Thursday, October 1, 2015

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To learn more about the American Cancer Society, or to make a donation directly, visit Cancer.org.

To see me in (yet another) pink tutu (minus the makeup and wig, sorry), follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Loving Your Kid Is Easy. Liking? Not so Much

July 13, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF

Of course I love my son. However, I find it nearly impossible to like him sometimes. If you’re a parent (and honest), you’ve been through this, too — times when you look at your child and wonder what the hell you’re going to do to survive the next 10-15 years. The next 10-15 minutes.

I was going through one of these unlikable times recently. Then one evening as I tucked my 5-year-old in bed, I thought about how much I treasure this particular part of being a parent — this brief but precious moment of connectedness. It reminded me that in merely surviving between crises, I had neglected to focus on what I enjoy about being a dad…and what I like about my son.

So as an exercise in restoring some sanity and peace to my head and household, I spent some time considering the best parts of being this boy’s dad. And instead of attempting to churn out a long, impressive list, I picked a few to mull, ponder, and let sink in.

Here are five things I like about my kid:

5 Things I Like About My Kid

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A Thank You Note to Straight People

July 6, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF

The Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage couldn’t have happened without straight people — and not just the five Supreme Court justices that voted in favor of it…

Thank you Straight People, Love, A Gay Dad

Dear Straight People,

Thank you. Thank you for cheering right alongside us as we in the LGBT community celebrate a newfound, long-overdue measure of equality. Thank you for the endless sea of rainbow-colored photos. Thank you for voting. Thank you for teaching your children (and sometimes your parents) that not every family is the same, yet deserving of the same respect. Thank you for telling them that whether they grow up to love the opposite gender or their own, you will still love them. Thank you for encouraging them to be whoever they were meant to be. Thank you for trying to understand and to learn. Thank you for asking questions, even if you don’t always have the right words. Thank you for being fair and equal in your schools, your jobs, your churches, and your neighborhoods. Thank you for defending us in a fight, even when we’re not around. Especially when we’re not around.

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Sharing History: A Gay Dad & His Son Take a Field Trip to SCOTUS

June 27, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

I’d been battling a summer cold and was giving my achy muscles a rest, when multiple alerts on my phone roused me from grogginess. At long last, the Supreme Court had ruled to uphold the legality of same-sex marriage! Friends and family were texting, emailing and posting in a celebratory barrage of beeps and tweets.

Yet my relief, excitement and pride were shortly muffled by throbbing sinuses, and I resigned myself to sitting this historic event out. I had been there when DOMA and Prop8 were overturned, we’d been legally married last year, my husband was out of town and I was exhausted from my solo-parenting stint — the reasons to stay in bed were all within easy reach. But something (the social media frenzy? live news reports on the TV in the background? guilt?) moved me to maneuver upright and out of bed, where my thoughts became clearer…

This isn’t about you, or about what you have or haven’t experienced. It’s not about living within reach of where it’s all taking place. This is an opportunity to share a moment with your son. A historic moment in the nation’s evolution. A moment relevant to him and his story.

After a shot of Mucinex, I somehow managed to pull it (snacks, water, metro cards, myself) together, picked Jon up from day camp, and we set out on our adventure.

I told my curious and excited 5-year-old we were going on a field trip to the Supreme Court Building. I told him we would get to ride the subway and a taxi, and that the building looked kind of like the Hall of Justice. He was already sold by the how and where, but I needed to explain the why.

Remember when Daddy and Papa got married, and how much fun that was? (Nods) Well, we were able to get married and be a family because it was legal in our state. But there were still a lot of families with two mommies or two daddies in other states that couldn’t get married because they weren’t allowed to. Because it wouldn’t count. (Look of concern) Until today. The Supreme Court is where they decide all the laws in the country, and they said that any two people can get married anywhere and be a family — and they said that was the law just today. So we’re going to celebrate!

Pauses. Mulls.

So, it’s gonna be… like a little party?

Our field trip to SCOTUS the day same-sex marriage became legal

A day of so many firsts, including Jon’s first time in a taxi.

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28 Reasons Being Legally Married Gay Dads Is Awesome!

June 18, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF

Marriage equality currently sits on the Supreme Court’s docket, awaiting a final ruling. Though not assured, all signs point to same-sex marriage finally being legalized in the entire United States by month’s end.

I’ve put a lot of words on this site about same-sex marriage — about mine and others’; about the depiction, support and condemnation of gay marriage in the media and politics; and about its slow progression to acceptance…one ponderous magnet at a time.

Waiting with hopeful anticipation, I’m (nearly) at a loss for words. But many others are not — men who have shared their stories and their families with me over the last few years. Many who have become friends in this herky-jerky journey of being a gay man and a father. I’ve pulled together a fraction of the tales that have paved the long, bumpy road to equality — and the reasons these dads love (or look forward to) being married.

So as we await SCOTUS’ decision, please join me in wishing these dads and their children a long-overdue, exceptionally, abundantly awesome (and legally married), Happy Fathers’ Day!

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1. Your Love Knows No Bounds…or Boundaries

Brian & Ferd, married 6/10/13, Toronto; moving back to New York City in July. [Photo courtesy of Brian Rosenberg]

28 Reasons Being Legally Married Gay Dads Is Awesome!

Brian and Ferd were married on their 20th anniversary as a couple. Several years earlier they had moved to Toronto from New York, as Ferd was coming on the end of his legal status in the US (he’s Dutch). Six days after their wedding in Canada, SCOTUS ruled that they could now get married in the US and both be eligible for federal benefits of marriage. Brian can now sponsor his husband for permanent residency, and the couple is moving back to New York next month. Welcome back, guys!
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