gratitude

A Gay Dad’s Letter to His Younger Self

December 2, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF

Dear Younger Gay Self
Dear Younger Me,

Well, it looks like same-sex marriage is about to be legal in the entire U.S. And although it seems like it’s taken an eternity for all 50 states to come around, it’s pretty amazing when I stop and think about it. But you probably have no idea what I’m even talking about, do you? That’s why I’m writing you — to let you know how things will be when you’re an adult, so you can be encouraged and have hope and just hang in there. I’m also writing to remind myself how lucky I am and how far I’ve come.

Remember when you were about seven years old, and you started having thoughts that made you think you were different, not quite right, broken? And how you inherently knew you were doing something wrong, even though you weren’t doing anything but being yourself? And then you started looking in the index of every Bible you ever came across for mention of the word “homosexual” — hoping above all hope for an answer to what was going on inside your head and heart. I’m sorry you had to go through all that.

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What I Know This Thanksgiving

November 26, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF

Over the last couple of days I’ve stopped and started writing several times about Ferguson and Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and toy guns, race and violence. But I had to stop because my mind was a snarl of thoughts and feelings, tangled even more by the words and pictures from external sources. I just don’t know what to say. Or what to feel or to think. I just don’t know.

Late last night I was doing Jon’s lunch note, and I was at a loss as well. I couldn’t bring myself to do a superhero or a Power Ranger or Transformer or anything else that even hinted at violence. Even if the fight was for good, I just needed a break.

Jon doesn’t know what’s going on in the world, and for me right now, that’s okay. I’ve read about other parents talking to their children of similar age about race and children being killed for their skin color by police of a different skin color, and that’s all well and good for them. But not for me and mine — not just yet. My boy likes to play guns (even though he doesn’t own one) and likes to “shoot the bad guys in the face” (even though he has no idea what that really means). He also doesn’t describe people based on skin color. The closest he’s come is to say Cyborg (a Black superhero) looks like his friend Charlie from school.

So instead of writing about things I don’t know or words I don’t know how to say or am not ready to say, I will write what I do know.

I know that I’m thankful. I’m thankful for my life and my family, imperfect as it is. I’m thankful that my son has two fathers who love him with all their heart. And even though we’re getting older and grayer and slower as he’s getting faster and stronger, we’re here for him. We’re his and he’s ours.

I know I’m thankful that my son doesn’t have to grow up fearing for his life or where his next meal will come from or where he will sleep each night. But I’m thankful that his Papa and I are able to teach him that there are kids and families that do — and that hopefully it will help shape him into a loving, compassionate, generous man. And that by helping to raise a loving, compassionate, generous man, there will be fewer dead children or abused women or bullied queer kids.

A photo posted by Brent Almond (@superlunchnotes) on

Lastly, I know I’m thankful my 5-year-old is still young enough to crawl into my lap or be kissed goodnight or hugged for a good long hug. And when we do talk about how some people are treated differently because of their skin color, their gender, who they love or how they became a family, he’ll have stored up enough hugs and kisses and love so those things sink in and have an impact, but don’t crush his spirit.

Wishing everyone a happy, safe, hug-filled Thanksgiving.

Much love,
Brent

Fridge Wisdom: Same-Sex Marriage in the U.S., Over Halfway There!

October 10, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF

Are you having trouble keeping score? Yeah, me too. But this is a good trouble to have. So that’s 27 states and the District of Columbia — 55.3% of the US population — lives where same-sex marriage is now legal.

Here’s the play-by-play from another watershed week in marriage equality… On Monday, the Supreme Court declined to re-visit decisions from lower courts, thus granting marriage equality in Indiana, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Utah and Virginia. Colorado lifted its ban on same-sex marriage on Tuesday. Similar actions followed on Wednesday in Nevada and West Virginia.

It looked like Idaho was in the green (see map below) for a while, but on Wednesday Justice Kennedy implemented a temporary stay. I feel bad for the couples in Idaho wanting to get married, but maybe this will give me time to find someone that has an Idaho fridge magnet. Even a magnet of a potato would be fine!
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Same-sex marriage in Nevada and West Virginia

Nevada and West Virginia: same-sex marriage legal, effective October 9, 2014.

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Fridge Wisdom: Five More States Allow Same-Sex Marriage

October 7, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF

Oklahoma Wisconsin Utah Virginia Indiana same-sex marriage
Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Utah, Virginia
and Indiana: same-sex marriage becomes legal October 6, 2014.

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I’ll leave it to the political junkies and legal analysts to dissect the ramifications of yesterday’s Supreme Court non-decision. But to summarize, five states now join the ranks of those legalizing same-sex marriage in the United States.

Some of these I’ve covered before, only to have them redacted. And it was beginning to look like it would be a while before I’d get to throw another magnet up on the old virtual Designer Daddy fridge. But once SCOTUS decided not to hear the arguments against same-sex marriage in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin, they defaulted to the lower courts’ decisions, making it legal. Ain’t justice grand?

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SuperLunchNotes: She-Hulk

July 23, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

Day 3 of Girl Power Week features a one-two punch of green goodness.

First up is SHE-HULK! Not only is she built like a brick greenhouse, but she’s also a powerful attorney. In other words, leaps and bounds smarter than her crime-fighting cousin. She was also in the news recently when her brains and brawn were overshadowed by her bra size. A well-known comics writer dismissed her as a “big, green porn star” and referred to her as “chunky,” something many fans of her strength and smarts took offense to. The Internet hath no fury like a feminist comic book fan scorned.

SuperLunchNotes - She-Hulk

Check out She-Hulk’s current series from Marvel Comics. Gorgeous covers (and interiors), and a great example of an intelligent, powerful, statuesque, green woman. Quite smashing!

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25 MORE Reasons Having Gay Dads Is Awesome!

June 28, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

Due to popular demand (the original post was one of the most-viewed ever on this site), as well as an over-abundance of photos from awesome gay fathers, I had to do a sequel — which I’m hoping is as good as (or better) than the original. Think Empire Strikes Back, not Teen Wolf Too.

So as we wrap up Pride month, I wanted to share 25 more reasons having gay dads is uniquely, similarly, lovingly AWESOME!

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1. You’re always surrounded by love
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Gay Dads Are Awesome! - Andy Miller

Especially when you’re smooshed into a photo booth. [Photo courtesy of Andy Miller & Brian Stephens]
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Fridge Wisdom: Same-Sex Marriage Legal in Indiana

June 26, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF

same-sex marriage in Indiana
Indiana: Same-sex marriage legalized June 25, 2014. Folks gettin’ married the very same day.

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The birthplace of Letterman, Lincoln and Larry Bird — and now home to a whole lot more little pink houses* — Indiana joins 18 states and the District of Columbia in legalizing same-sex marriage! Just over a month after gay marriage became legal in Pennsylvania, equality wins out two states over as U.S. District Court Judge Richard L. Young declared Indiana’s ban on marriage equality unconstitutional.

In his ruling, Judge Young states,
“In time, Americans will look at the marriage of couples such as [the plaintiffs], and refer to it simply as a marriage — not a same-sex marriage. These couples, when gender and sexual orientation are taken away, are in all respects like the family down the street. The Constitution demands that we treat them as such.”

Until that time, congratulations to all the homo-Hoosiers who can finally get hitched! Indiana is the 11th state where a federal judge has struck down a marriage ban since SCOTUS overturned Prop8 and DOMA. We’re on a roll, baby!
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BUT WHAT ABOUT UTAH?
First it was legalized. Then it wasn’t. Then yesterday a judge overturned the ban. While I’m very glad for this step back in the right direction, the governor still plans on appealing the overturn of the denial of the freedom for the refusal of rights on the ban and… OH MY GOD I’M SO CONFUSED!!! So until same-sex marriage in Utah is a once-and-for-all done deal, signed in blood and toasted with Caffeine-Free Diet Coke, I’m holding off on putting their magnet up gain.

Since the next step my very well be the U.S. Supreme Court, when they do get around to appealing, the decision could be monumental — and hopefully turn my whole map green…
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SAME-SEX MARRIAGE IN THE UNITED STATES

as of 6.25.14

same-sex marriage map of the united states
Click to biggefy. Source: Wikipedia

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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 that of a reader. Take a look at some of my previous magnet posts.

For more maps and magnets (not really, but for sure a lot of fun), stop by the Designer Daddy Facebook page, or follow along on Twitter!

*In 2010, the song “Pink Houses” was used by NOM (a leading opponent to same-sex marriage) in an anti-gay rally. Songwriter/performer and Indiana native John Mellencamp sent them a Cease and STFU. Thanks Johnny Cougar, you R.O.C.K.!

Fathers and Sons

June 15, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

Father's Day - Grandpa - Dad

On June 1st my father preached his last sermon. To clarify, I’m sure he will continue to preach as long as he has breath — but this was his final sermon as pastor of the small Baptist church in Virginia where he’d been for the last 15 years. Prior to that he was a Chaplain in the US Air Force for over 20 years, and before that he pastored at churches in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Illinois.

His father was also a minister. Dad preached his first sermon when he was 18 at his father’s small Baptist church in Arkansas. I know very little about my dad’s dad. I know in addition to preaching he also repaired air conditioners and other electronics. I know he was 6’8″ tall (Dad is 6’5″). I know he neither showed little affection nor talked very much to his son, thus raising Dad to do likewise. I know he held a lot of things in, some that were devastating when unearthed later. I know he died of cancer two years before I was born. I know Grandma remarried to the man I called “Pappaw;” her first husband I’ve only ever called “Russell.”

I don’t say these things to disparage my biological grandfather or to drudge up any of the pain Dad still carries regarding this relationship. I say them because Russell Almond was such a stark contrast to who Johnny Almond, my father, has become.

I know he has shown me affection every day of my life, hugging and kissing me even through the most awkward of my teen years. I know he loves to talk (when given the chance by his 4 verbose sons), and has taught me everything I know about crafting the perfect groan-inducing pun. I know he was always patient with me, even at my most impatient and distant and resentful. I know that he tried to play ball with me and take me golfing and other father-son activities that I hated and told him so, and yet he still showed me patience and kindness and love. I know that after each time he punished me, he always returned to remind me how much he loved me. I know he instilled in me the importance of being compassionate — not by telling me so, but by being the most compassionate man I’ve ever met. I know that he loves and respects my husband, and has said publicly that he is “the kindest man I’ve ever met.” I know he loves and cherishes my son as much as he’s ever loved any of his children or grandchildren, and that my son dearly loves his Grandpa.

During the four and-a-half years that I’ve been a father, I have come to understand the unending joy and deep heartache I must have brought to my dad over the years. I have come to appreciate his commitment to love me, even when I exhibited impatience or embarrassment or hatred towards him; even when I was religiously overzealous and thought his beliefs not strident enough; even when I blamed him for contributing to my being gay; even when I embraced my homosexuality, and he struggled to reconcile this with his lifelong beliefs.

I don’t say these things to embarrass him or to highlight the struggles of our relationship. I say them because my father has done so much to overcome the deficits in his own father/son relationship. I say them so he knows how much I love and appreciate him, though for much of my youth my actions said otherwise. I say them to celebrate what a loving patriarch he has become to his four sons, two daughters-in-law, one son-in-law (and another eventual one), three grandsons and two granddaughters. I say them to wish him a Happy Father’s Day.

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are sinful, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” Luke 11:11-13

Father's Day - Dad - Me

Top photo: Russell Almond, behind the pulpit at his church in Arkansas.

I’ve always attributed my drawing skills to the many years I spent doodling on the back of the church bulletin during my father’s sermons. The above sketch was done during his final sermon as a full-time minister. And don’t worry, Dad — I was also listening.

Bottom photo: Dad, Mom & me, November 1970 / Me, Papa & Jon, April 2014

25 Reasons Having Gay Dads Is Awesome!

June 11, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

As we approach Father’s Day, there have been some pretty cool lists about dads floating around the Internet. So of course I had to make a list of my own, ensuring families with double daddies (or one great gay dad) are represented.

I originally intended to intro my list with lots of statistics showing how more and more Americans are in favor of same-sex marriage and adoption. Or how same-sex couples will be counted as families by the U.S. Census for the first time. Or that gay dads have turned up in all manner of commercials and top-ranked TV shows. Or how I belong to a Facebook group of over 3,000 gay fathers.*

But instead let’s just celebrate what makes gay dads unique, as well as what makes them as equally awesome as all the other active, engaged and loving fathers out there.

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1. You’re raised to be caring & compassionate
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father's day - gay dads - compassion

And you learn how to put your compassion into action… and be all cute and matchy-matchy while doing it. [Photo courtesy of Andy Miller]
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R.I.P. M.A.

May 28, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF

RIP-MA Rest In Peace Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou 1928-2014  Rest In Peace

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I initially published this drawing without words. How is it possible to honor someone so eloquent with any language of my own? But as I thought about Maya Angelou, I recalled a special memory I wanted to share.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was published the year I was born, and from my earliest memories it sat on my parents’ vast bookshelves amongst my minister Father’s religious books, my English professor Mother’s literature, the World Book Encyclopedias. Long before I read Caged Bird, I remember asking my Mother about it, as the title (and cover) intrigued my young mind. She painted only the broadest strokes of the plot, but in the process I received my first lesson about racism.

The book is set in Arkansas, birthplace of Ms. Angelou, as well as both my parents, and home to nearly all my relatives. I lived there between the ages of 2 and 7, and one of my frequent playground pals was Felicia, a black girl. Racism was confusing when my Mother explained it then, and I dread the confused look on my son’s face when I explain it to him.

I’m thankful to Maya Angelou for finding beauty in the midst of horrible humanity, and for teaching generations (and generations to come) what it means to have hope.

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