stereotypes

Real Men Stop and Smell the Roses

February 27, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DADDY LIKE, WHAT ABOUT DAD?


The Bouqs - Premium Farm Direct Flowers

I still remember the first time I got flowers. It was my first serious relationship, and they were delivered to the graphic design studio where I was working—my first job in DC. It was an open air setup (with glass walls, cubicles and such) so everyone could see when they arrived. It was Valentine’s Day, and my boyfriend had sent me a huge arrangement in a vase, which sat on the shelf in my cube for about a week, attracting non-stop Oohs and Awws from my female co-workers and comments like “You must have really put out” from the men. I was a wee bit embarrassed for being on the spot, but mostly loved the attention, and especially the thoughtfulness of my guy.

Just after this past Valentine’s Day, I asked a bunch of guys if they’d ever received flowers—if they liked it or not, if it made them feel embarrassed or emasculated, etc. Here are some of my favorite answers—which of course all support my philosophy that Real Men Stop and Smell the Roses.

“Good flowers, the ones that live longer than a mayfly, are great to give and greater to get. The closest thing I have to a spouse right now is John, who sent me a vaseful when I was in the hospital last fall. It was perfect.”
Doug, former WWE wrestler, stunt double for John Cena*

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Is Being a Dad Turning Me Straight?

February 25, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LEARNING CURVES, WHAT ABOUT DAD?

It’s late February, and once again there’s ice and snow on the ground. And once again I’m hauling my kid to the mall to burn off energy (and preserve my sanity) in that germ-infested swarm known as the Play Area. As soon as we step off the bottom step to the mall’s lower level, JJ immediately charges in the direction of the indoor plastic playground. Out of instinct—and fear of him running headfirst into an adult crotch—I start the awkward walk-jog of an exhausted, out-of-shape dad in hopes of snatching him from the jaws of danger or a lawsuit. I haven’t shaved or bathed (it’s Sunday – when cleanliness is far from godliness), and I’m wearing a slight variation of the clothes I’d worn the previous day. I’m blending in quite nicely with the other beleaguered parents, walk-jogging through the mall like suburban zombies.

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We’ve Got Your Back: Impressions of Dad 2.0 Summit

February 3, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LEARNING CURVES, WHAT ABOUT DAD?

I’m ending my long weekend the way I began it — hanging out in an airport for 4+ hours. Different airports — Baltimore on Thursday, New Orleans on Sunday — but they both have the same unsettling mixture of being simultaneously busy, anxious and lonely. Or maybe that was just me. I’ll spare you the details of my traveling travails, but between the Polar Vortex and my own absentmindedness, it was a wonder I got anywhere I was trying to. And I’m not even on my plane home yet.

I had considered waiting until I’d had a chance to “decompress,” catch up on work, and generally give myself a chance to create something more brilliant and insightful. But I’m taking this time in limbo to journal my impressions of Dad 2.0 Summit while they’re still fresh.

As my arrival in New Orleans was 6 hours later than planned, I missed the conference’s opening party. I had to force myself not to imagine all the hugging and backslapping and toasting going on as my network of dad blogging pals reconnected or (as in many cases) met in person for the first time. My tireless and generous friend Don left said party to pick me up from the airport (it was his fourth trip of the day) and as I trudged wearily into the lobby of the hotel, several of the men I’d become closest to came bounding out of the bar to greet me with all that hugging and backslapping I’d not been dwelling on. As I made my way through the lobby and up to my room, I was met with cheers of “Brent!” from even more of my until-then virtual friends. I felt like a rock star. Or at least Norm. It was already shaping up to be a pretty stupendous time.

aaron

After a very late dinner of bourbon and beer (and more meeting and backslapping and hugging), I called it an early night.

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Chasing After Batman: An Introverted Parent Raising An Extroverted Child

November 11, 2013 | By Brent Almond | LEARNING CURVES

chasingbatman2

Recently I found myself, yet again, frantically trailing after my son as he ran on ahead of me, weaving in and out and through the crowd like a pint-sized quarterback. This time we were at his preschool, attending a Halloween-themed fair, where each classroom offered a different adventure in which JJ would embark and then move on to the next as quick as he’d gotten the requisite prize. His little black cape swooped around with an extra amount of drama — the Velcro closure was itchy around his neck, so he wore his cowl unfastened and scooted up on top of his head so he could plow ahead, unencumbered.

He — being 4 years old and nimble, and me— about a parent-and-a-half in size, made this chase an exercise in futility. So I followed close enough to appear somewhat in control to concerned onlookers, and where he could hear my voice without me having to shout. But I allowed a bit of distance because otherwise we’d be butting heads all night, or I’d be plowing half the hallway down. Or both.

I perpetually cringed as he barely missed bumping into a child in a wheelchair or tripping the teacher carrying a large box of cupcakes, bobbing and weaving with such disregard and joyous abandon. The only way I was able to keep up at all was because every few seconds he would stop, plant himself in front of someone and declare,“I’m Batman!” Then off he dashed to vanquish the next foe and add another trinket or treat to his plastic pumpkin.

And I found myself, yet again, thinking “Is this normal? Is he okay? Am I being too uptight? Am I doing this right? Will he ever slow down?”

You see, I’m an introvert raising an extroverted child, and I’m way out of my depth.

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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.

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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

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

Dad Socks: A Fashion Statement

August 29, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DESIGNER DADDY, WHAT ABOUT DAD?

Though many folks are now in total “Back to school” mode, Labor Day weekend brings the final warm breath of summer. So in honor of the season’s passing, I thought I’d share my summer-long Instagram project, #DADSOCKS. Yes, pictures of my socks. Let me explain…

Shortly after JJ was born, a friend complimented me on a new jacket. It was a spiffy argyle design that made me feel particularly dad-like, without being too boring or conservative. It’s still one of my favorite things to wear. I responded to their compliment, “Thanks! It’s part of my ‘Dad Drag.’” To which they replied, “It’s not drag anymore. You’re an actual dad, dude.”

I realized I’d been seeing myself as “playing dressup” to a degree — that I didn’t yet see myself as a full-on father. Or maybe I was still enjoying the newness of parenthood, like a new jacket. It fit me well, improved my appearance, but was still in the process of becoming a part of my regular wardrobe identity.

Fast-forward a couple of years; I’m deep in the trenches of toddlerdom. There’s no question in my mind I’m a dad, and that most people see me that way. Which suits me fine. I’ve fully embraced the role, which includes the wardrobe. Yet dressing like a dad can be an unattractive undertaking. Comfort is key, as is flexibility. And lots of pockets. The ability to carry several bags, push carts and strollers and sometimes carry a kid, all at the same time, is key — so no skintight, hipster, layering nonsense.

Men in general — and dads in particular — have fewer wardrobe choices with which to express themselves. Being not only a gay dad, but a designer dad… the whole black hoodie/gray sweats/white sneakers combo just ain’t gonna cut it. Which is where #DADSOCKS comes in.

When someone says “dad socks” you’re likely picturing a guy wearing dark socks with sneakers. Or perhaps dress shoes & socks with shorts. Maybe white tube socks with sandals. Whatever the scenario, it’s not pretty. So this summer I took that tired and true look and amped it up, pairing my loudest socks with sneakers, but doing it with confidence and style. I got quite a few compliments, and more than a few odd looks, particularly when I was photographing my feet. But it was fun! And on more than one occasion, I found myself getting impatient with JJ for one thing or another and I’d look down, see what I was wearing and think, “I can’t be that grumpy, scowling dad — look at what fun socks I have!”

Maybe you think I’m delusional. Or perhaps color blind. I don’t care. I’m a dad, dammit! I will wear what I want, be comfortable, and look good doing it!

Now please enjoy these photos of my socks.

MY TOP 10 FAVORITES:

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My Two Daddies (Can Beat Up Your One) – The Single!

May 22, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DADDY DJ, MY 2 DADS

This post has been a long time in the making, but I’m super stoked to finally introduce “My Two Daddies (Can Beat Up Your One)” — the single, the finished product, the labor of love. And oh yeah, the fundraiser…

Y’see, I had such a blast writing, performing and recording this — yet I know it’s not going Platinum or winning any Grammies (CMA award, maybe?). It’s pretty much a vanity project wrapped in a love letter to my son (with a smidge of me working through my insecurities as a father). But I figured while I’m sharing it with the universe, I’d try to raise some money for a good cause. And I’ve found no better cause that supports other families with Two Daddies (or Two Mommies) than Family Equality Council.

But before I prattle on too much about my own benevolence… THE SONG!

I originally wrote the lyrics as part of a copywriting workshop. I was attending a design conference in the Texas hill country, and our assignment was to write a country song using our own life as the subject. JJ was about 18 months old at the time, and already I was pondering worrying what trials he might face as the adopted son of two gay men. I pictured our little fella getting picked on by some mustachioed, homophobic toddler (I know, my imagination runneth over) and in response, JJ puffs out his chest, chubby fists on his be-daipered hips, the theme from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly playing in the background…

…and thus was born “My Two Daddies” — the mock battle cry of a picked-on kid who’s unequivocally proud of who he is, where he comes from, and that he’s dang lucky to have “the two best daddies that you’ve ever seen.”

mytwodaddies_largeWFW

Click to hear a snippet

NOW ABOUT THAT FUNDRAISING BIT…
All the profits from song sales will go to Family Equality Council, so please mosey over to iTunes or Amazon and pony up your 99 cents. Our family (and others like ours) sure appreciates your contribution!

And if you’re feeling a might more generous, please consider making a donation directly to my fundraising page at Family Equality Council, where I’ll be tracking donations made from song sales as well as what’s contributed on the fundraising page. Since the month of June includes both Father’s Day and LGBT Pride celebrations (for many cities/states), my goal is to raise $500 by the end of the month.  But I’d be pleased as punch to raise and/or extend that… READ FULL ARTICLE >>

Am I a Helicopter Parent?

February 8, 2013 | By Brent Almond | LEARNING CURVES, RASPBERRIES

Helicopter Parenting: it’s totally annoying to hear about, yet I fear I may be one myself.
I’m a bit of a worrier anyway, and being a dad of a toddler has me spinning pretty closely sometimes, especially when it comes to impending crashes. I hope I’m not enough of a psycho, though, to call my son’s potential employers when he’s applying for his first job.

Sounds extreme, I know. But it’s not unheard of. READ FULL ARTICLE >>

What could a gay kid learn from the Boy Scouts anyway?

January 31, 2013 | By Brent Almond | LEARNING CURVES

  1. How to pitch a tent. (snicker)
  2. How to camp. (snap)
  3. How to tie knots. Lots and lots of knots.
  4. How to build a fire.
  5. How to cook dinner, wrapped in tin foil, over said fire.
  6. S’mores, s’chmores. How to bend a coat hanger to hold your Pop-Tart and toast it over said fire.
  7. Dirty jokes. Lots and lots of dirty jokes.
  8. CPR (No Scout-on-Scout mouth-to-mouth — with CPR Annie just like everyone else)
  9. Camping out in Central Illinois in mid-January is ball-shrivelingly cold.
  10. Sharing a sleeping bag with your Dad – while lame in theory – is quite beneficial when camping out in Central Illinois in mid-January.
  11. How to use a compass.
  12. How to read a map.
  13. How to survive overnight in the woods. Hint: don’t lose your bug spray.
  14. How to shit in the woods. How to clean up.
  15. Swear words. Lots and lots of swear words.
  16. How to carve, paint and race a car made of pine.
  17. How to rock some green shorts and a kerchief.
  18. How to sew. Badges, not ball gowns. (But badges onto a sash)
  19. How to dig a post hole… and what a post hole is.
  20. How to survive (in silence) doing manual labor, on minimal food and water for 2 days.
  21. You can make your parents proud for something other than drawing and good grades.
  22. If you make them really proud and get inducted into the Order of the Arrow, they’ll buy you a silver arrowhead necklace inlaid with turquoise.
  23. That Scouts, much like band and ROTC, are toxic to popularity.
  24. That Life is pretty cool, but Eagle is way better.
  25. That I should have stuck with it.

Earlier this week it was reported that the Boy Scouts may overturn their ban on allowing openly gay and lesbian scouts and leaders. While much of the motivation may come from loss of funding and declining membership, it’s still a positive sign that an organization as old and entrenched as the BSA — who very recently voted to keep the ban — is headed in the right direction.

I loathed much of my time as a Cub Scout and Boy Scout — I would have much rather stayed inside to work on my Superhero Drawing and TV-Watching Merit Badges — but I genuinely value the ways it tested me and got me out of my shell, if not out of the closet. Religious arguments aside, (please God, just this once?) many may wonder why a gay kid would want to be a Scout anyway, what with all the hiking and bad food and troops of straight people. But the same arguments have been used about the military. And professional sports. And marriage (okay, not as much hiking there). But this gay learned a lot from his experience in the Scouts. And while it may not have been my canteen of pond water, I deserved to experience the mastery and the misery just like every other red-blooded American kid. And I’m more trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent because of it.

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Any other LGBT former (or current) Scouts out there? What was your experience like? Please leave a comment and get your Blog Commenting Badge!

Slander on Sesame Street

November 14, 2012 | By Brent Almond | RASPBERRIES

Kevin Clash’s Accuser Calls “Take Backs”


As a follow up to my most recent post, I am happy — and honestly, quite amazed — to learn that the Kevin Clash sex scandal has gone away. Not amazed Clash is innocent, but that his accuser retracted the malicious statements about their supposed pre-legal relationship. Stories like this rarely end with the liars telling the truth or the suspicious being blameless. (I’m looking at you Petraeus. And Schwarzenegger. And Armstrong. You know this could go on forever…)

Perhaps the media cycle of scandals and supposed scandals is in such high turnover, the fact that the world learned of Clash’s homosexuality in the same breath as accusations of sex with minors will move along to the non-news aisle without a hitch. And keep fewer fools from continuing to relate the two. I’ll also be watching Sesame Workshop to see if they continue to stand by their man behind the Elmo.

So congrats, Mr. Clash! I hope before too long (after suing the pants off hell out of your ex) you’re back at work spreading love and joy and silliness to the kids of the world.

And if you wanna send some sexy emails, might I suggest a cell phone?
This one looks nice..