Turning Hatred into Love: One American Girl & Her Forever Family

November 5, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF

American Girl Amaya protested by One Million Moms

Five years ago today, a young girl named Amaya was legally adopted by her foster parents.

Two weeks ago, Amaya was featured in American Girl magazine. In her own words she shared the story of coming from the foster care system, becoming part of her permanent family, as well as the charity work she and her parents do in support of other foster kids.

Not long after the magazine was published, right-wing watchdogs One Million Moms called for a boycott of American Girl Doll and their magazine, warning parents against exposing their daughters to such a family.

And such a family it is.


3 Reasons We Need A Religious Freedom Restoration Act

April 1, 2015 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF
Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act LGBT

Indiana Governor Mike Pence, unintentional champion of equality

Disclaimer: This is not an April Fools’ post.

Less than six months after same-sex marriage became legal in Indiana, Governor Mike Pence passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act — a law that many believe will allow businesses to use their faith as a reason to deny service. Now Arkansas has followed suit, an almost identical bill passing through the state legislature and needing only Governor Asa Hutchinson’s signature to become law. These men are clearly threatened by the strides LGBT rights have made in recent years, and are using taxpayer dollars to legislate the equivalent of “My mom made me invite you over, but you can’t play with any of my toys.”

Yet these RFRAs are anything but child’s play. And neither are they meant to protect or restore anyone’s freedom, religious or otherwise. They instead reward ignorance and legalize hatred in a way this country hasn’t seen since the 1950s.

Are they really that worrisome? Hasn’t there been a national RFRA in place since 1993? Yes, but Garrett Epps explains in an article for The Atlantic that these laws are different in two important ways: with the Indiana version giving businesses the same rights of refusal as non-profits, and barring any business for ever being sued for refusing. Epps reassures that the uproar over this bill is warranted:

“The statute shows every sign of having been carefully designed to put new obstacles in the path of equality; and it has been publicly sold with deceptive claims that it is ‘nothing new.'”

So why would the LGBT community (or anyone, really) need these awful pieces of legislation?


Where Do Gay Dads Fit into ‘Amazon Mom’?

March 5, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF

#AmazonFamilyUS - Amazon Family Gay Dads

Everyone knows that The Gays love to shop. OK, maybe not all gays, but certainly a healthy percentage do. Stereotypes carry a measure of truth, after all.

Gay dads are no different. We still spend a lot of money on clothes, appliances and travel, it’s just that those clothes are now Onesies, the appliances are now Diaper Genies, and the travel is now to Disney World.

And just like the rest of the modern world, we do a ton of shopping on Amazon.

I’ve long been a subscriber to Amazon Prime, their frequent-shopper discount program. Then when Papa and I started stocking up for impending parenthood, Amazon began sending us emails and peppering us with ads about their family-focused program, Amazon Mom.

Being a two-dad family, it was a little annoying to see yet one more thing that made us feel invisible. However, we were still jumping through hoops to complete our adoption, and advocating in our home state to legalize same-sex marriage. We had more important battles to wage.


Similac’s Formula to End the Mommy Wars Falls a Bit Flat

January 26, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, POP CULTURE

A new video from Similac does a near-flawless job of illustrating — and then defusing — the so-called “Mommy Wars.” Yet by excluding half of all parents from the name of their campaign, they undo much of the goodwill built up during the ad.

Take a look, and be sure and watch all the way to the end.

Founded in human nature and fueled by the Internet, the Mommy Wars have been raging in full force for quite a few years. Mothers, physicians, psychologists, educators and all manner of experts and amateurs weigh in on all manner of parenting-related topics: circumcision, vaccinations, diet, working or homemaking, spanking or time-outs, “cry it out” or co-sleeping, attachment parenting, Tiger Moms, helicopter parents, etc., ad nauseam, ad infinitum. Often perched atop the list: breastfeeding vs. formula.

Similac, a primary purveyor of formula, tackles this titular issue (and several others from the list above) in their new spot, set within an initially humorous gang war between multiple parent posses. In addition to the bottle- vs. breast-feeders, you see baby carriers & stroller-pushers, stay-at-home-moms & corporate office moms, disposable & cloth diaperers – all posturing on the playground. A bunch of dads can even be found rocking baby carriers and (natch) manning the grill.



Tylenol Recreates Norman Rockwell Painting with Lesbian Moms

December 16, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF, POP CULTURE

A new campaign from Tylenol brings an iconic Norman Rockwell painting to life with more diverse depictions of family – including an Asian family, an African American family, and a family with lesbian mothers.

Tylenol Norman Rockwell Lesbian Moms

Few would associate the word “modern” with Norman Rockwell. Many of his most recognized paintings are full of sentiment and nostalgia, rendered in an ultra realistic style — none of which earned him the respect of art critics. Yet as a young artist, I was fascinated not only by the detail of Rockwell’s work, but also how he portrayed America in the 40s and 50s. This was the world of my parents and grandparents, so I always felt a connection – as if I was looking through an old family photo album.

“Freedom From Want” is arguably Rockwell’s most well-known work. Part of a series for The Saturday Evening Post originally intended to promote patriotism, it has since become synonymous with the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays; epitomizing The American Family. Yet, like most of Rockwell’s early work, it focuses only on white (and straight) America — something that causes a decided disconnection for many today.


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!

Same-sex marriage in Nevada and West Virginia

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

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


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.

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

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?


The 7 Queerest Questions I’ve Been Asked as a Gay Dad

August 20, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF

7 Queerest Questions I've Been Asked As A Gay Dad - Designer Daddy

I always imagined myself as a father, but I never imagined being asked questions quite like these.

Perhaps you’re wondering why I went with queerest questions — other than the obvious alliteration and overall cleverness, that is. Because while some of the questions are offensive, some are annoying, and some are downright stupid, they’re not all offensive, annoying or stupid. But they are all queer — as in odd, strange, bizarre. Much like the entire experience of parenting.

Now, if we’re done questioning the queerness of my headline… on with the questions!


Dear Supporters of Same-Sex Marriage: Please Stop Raining On Our Parade*

August 11, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF

*LGBT community, I’m talking to you, too.

Same-Sex Marriage In The United States

I’ve been remiss in my duties as a same-sex marriage magnetic merry-maker.
I decided at some point (probably during the whole Utah kerfuffle, or perhaps Indiana flip-flopping) that I wasn’t going to fully celebrate a state legalizing same-sex marriage (with a magnet and blog post) UNTIL IT HAD FULLY LEGALIZED SAME-SEX MARRIAGE. The majority of recent court cases on marriage equality haven’t resulted in immediate (or lasting) positive results. I’m the kind of person that likes to wait to celebrate until the contract has been signed, the keys are in my hand, or the baby is in my arms. I’ve been burned a couple of times from premature revelry, so I’m particularly cautiously optimistic when it comes to this subject.

And it’s admittedly been confusing to keep track. Here’s the tally,** as of this writing:

  • 18 states and DC have legalized same-sex marriage
  • 2 states are in progress, with marriages set to start (or restart) later this month
  • 9 states are in flux or on pause. In most instances, a court ruling was made declaring a same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional… resulting in marriages being performed… and then a stay being put on the ruling while the opposition got out their red tape to cause some clusterf*ckery.

There are scads of people (my husband included) with more legal knowledge than me, that could use more official terms and offer more detailed explanations. But this is how I explain it to keep my brain from imploding from all the minutia and two-steps-forward-three-steps-backwardness of it all.

One important thing to be gleaned from the current state of same-sex marriage in the United States is that momentum is clearly in our favor. Every single case that has gone before a state court in 2014 has ruled for legalizing marriage equality. Our team’s win column is filled to overflowing.

But I have a bone to pick with “our team” — the LGBT community and our ever-increasing number of hetero allies: Please stop raining on the same-sex marriage parade.


Boys Kissing Boys

July 2, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, MAKING MEMORIES

Boys Kissing Boys

We were winding down from a particularly drama-filled play date. There had been sharing-related skirmishes; LEGO lay strewn about the playroom like carcasses on a battlefield; there had been tears. And after much cajoling and promises of future bounty, there had been an “I’m sowwy” from my little force of nature to his playmate and host. Jon can sometimes be like a giddy locomotive off its tracks. Full steam ahead, tooting its merry horn, nary a thought for the fact that it’s derailed and tearing through the countryside, mowing over everything and everyone in its path.

Yet while he may be full of drive and boundless energy, he’s always been very affectionate. Which, for me — his somewhat introverted and decidedly less adventurous Dad — makes it all manageable.

After we’d made our apologies and gathered our things to go, Jon approached his friend — 6 years old to Jon’s 4 and-a-half — to tell him thank you. He followed with one of his epic hugs — both arms flung out fully extended, not closing them until he’d fully enveloped the huggee. His friend seemed a little overwhelmed, but hugged back; then my son tilted his head, stretched up on his toes, and moved in to give his pal a smooch on the cheek.

The friend jerked his head away, reacting with an annoyed “WHAT THE…?!?” Jon just kind of shrugged and let go. But my heart broke a little.


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