Modern Family Love

September 26, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF


We’ve been watching Modern Family since its debut in 2009, because A) It’s pretty darn funny and B) Mitch & Cam.

Papa and I have been compared to TV’s quintessential gay dads quite a few times over the years. (My trainer at the gym once told me “You’re like the big guy, because you’re so, um… funny!”) And their milestones have mirrored ours on many occasions. Like when Lily dropped the F-bomb. And when they thought she dropped the M-bomb. And when their adoption fell through.

The show’s fifth season premiere (“Suddenly, Last Summer”) began with a date stamp of “June 26, 2013,” then proceeded to weave the Supreme Court’s eventful decision of that day into a plot about Mitch and Cam each planning a surprise proposal to the other. Of course hilarity and calamity ensued, with both sets of romantic scenarios being botched. They ended up with a blowout in the Hollywood Hills, overlooking the light-filled city below and stars overhead. While replacing the tire, the couple reminisced about various mishaps and adventures they’d shared in their decade-long relationship. As they both knelt down (on one knee, natch) to attend to the tire, it dawned on them what each other had been plotting. They looked into each other’s eyes and simultaneously said, “Yes.”


And simultaneously, Papa and I both sniffled and said, “Awww.”

While the characters of Cam and Mitch are not without fault (they could certainly stand to be more affectionate), and stereotypes abound, I do appreciate the significance of this storyline on an Emmy-winning, Nielson chart-topping, major network show.

Yet what really made an impact was not just a gay couple proposing to one another, but the genuine portrayal of how this moment might play out between a couple that had been together for so long. A couple that would have gotten married much sooner (had it been legal), yet remained together and built their family their way. Not a lot of precedent for that on TV or in popular culture in general.

Like Mitch and Cam, Papa and I and many other same-sex couples have committed to one another for the long haul, forming our relationships and our families as best we knew how. Often without any support from government, church, family or society as a whole. These hindrances are swiftly falling away, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. And I’m thrilled for the new(er) couples that are meeting, falling in love, and able to get married just as God and Hollywood intended — while they’re still young and hot for each other.

So why is it significant that this TV couple has been together for so long? To the straight, married readers: can you imagine, having been with your partner for 10, 15, or 20 years, planning, hosting and paying for a wedding at this point in your life? Between work, paying bills, caring for a house and raising kids, just setting a date would be an achievement. Am I right?

So I really appreciated how Modern Family’s writers and producers showed this long-together couple — in the midst of a busy, chaotic, and deeply entrenched life — struggle and scheme to make this moment as historic and romantic as possible. And as would be in the real world, they had to take the time life gave them and make it their own, in their own way.

My partner/husband/Papa and I will have been together 17 years in October. (A common joke amongst gays might go, “That’s 34 in straight years!”) In the fall of 2003 we had a commitment ceremony in a lovely Unitarian church, nestled in some woods, surrounded by over 100 friends and family. It was the closest thing to a wedding available to same-sex couples at the time, and it was truly wonderful.

However, we are going to have a legal wedding (albeit much smaller this time around), come hell, high water, work, school schedules or extended family shenanigans. And why are we being wedding hoarders and having another ceremony? Because we can. And because we deserve to. And because the first time around we had family members who chose not to come, who are clamoring to be here this time around. And of course because of JJ. But mostly because we love each other. (And because we can.)

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14 responses to “Modern Family Love”

  1. Lisa says:

    This was so perfectly written and I think you should have as many weddings as you want! I’m so beyond happy for you, proud of you and in love with you and your fantastic family! You, Nick and JJ could not be more perfect for each other and we feel lucky to call you friends! Who knew in the midst of Hexagon 2007 I would meet such an amazing character and be lucky enough to keep in touch and share such wonderful events with! MWAH!

    • Brent Almond says:

      Oh Lisa, you’re gonna make me cry girl! So glad to call you a friend — and a super fabulous straight ally!

      Big bear hugs,

  2. You said that committed relationships in same sex couples are fostered and grow “Often without any support from government, church, family or society as a whole.” Yes.

    And, I am sorry for that Brent, not because I am a recovering homophobe or anything like that but, honestly, because I didn’t help, I didn’t encourage, I didn’t engage.

    I see now that that was wrong. Knowing deep committed love, knowing the love I have for my sons and you for yours, knowing you and other same sex couples has led me to a deeper understanding of marriage and commitment. Thanks. I’ll sing that song for you someday, I promise. With deep respect, congratulations!

    • Brent Almond says:

      Thanks Bill. Your words always hit home and hit the spot. 🙂

      I’m constantly amazed at the open-mindedness of children, particularly my own. And the heavy responsibility we bear as parents to be the main teacher these beings have for the first few years of their lives (and beyond if they’ll let us). Not sure where I’m going with that, other than I’m so glad to know you within the limited context that I do, and I’m so excited for your boys to grow up and contribute to an evermore open-minded and accepting and loving generation of men.


  3. You know, I’ve always been impressed that Modern Family has been able to stay on top of the Nielson charts having a gay couple as characters. I say that because it is quite difficult with all the ridicule that couples are having to go through with everything going on in the government and all. I give the show lots of Kudo’s for showing what it is really like for gay couples.

    • Brent Almond says:

      Sometimes is surprises me, too. And then it also makes me glad to know how many Americans are watching this, and it may — in its own silly, somewhat lighthearted way — changing people’s way of thinking. I think of the trainer at my gym who likened me to Cam. He had also told me he didn’t have any gay friends or family members, and I was the first gay person he’d really gotten to know. So thanks to Cam and “Modern Family” there was a funny way to break the ice and discuss the subject!


  4. Alan says:

    This was lovely.

    My wife and are are untraditional traditionalists — we had the kids post hetro courtship and marriage and just had our third. When you frame it that way, I can’t imagine planning a wedding right now.

    Good for you for having a wedding, now that you can. It’s been eight years, but I can run our wedding weekend through my mind from start to finish. All people in love should have that same opportunity.

    • Brent Almond says:

      We just learned about another couple (friends of ours) who’ve “beaten us to the altar” — not that it’s a race, but we’ve waited so long, it sometimes seems like it won’t ever happen. But then again, none of these other gay couples we know have kids. That gives me comfort… or something. 🙂

      Thanks for your kind words and your indirect, cosmic (and much-needed) hetero support. That’s how we win battles like this, together.


  5. teri says:

    Sorry. Don’t see you as cam. Maybe bc I know you too well. You are a different kind of doofus. 🙂 B3 now. He could be cam. His life is a dang slap stick comedy so much. Your writing never ceases to amaze me. It’s just not fair that you have been blessed with so much creativity. I am in awe. Of that and your ability to keep up with a toddler at your age. 🙂 Love you all bunches.

    • Brent Almond says:

      Yeah, I don’t see myself as him either. But I’m the bigger guy who dresses more colorfully, and Nick is shorter and an attorney. Other than that, we’re pretty different. 🙂

      And um THANKS for the “at your age” compliment. 😉 Yeah, I’m pretty amazed at times, too.

      Love to you too, and hugs to your “little” one.

  6. It’s impossible not to love every character on Modern Family, from Cam to Claire. The show has expertly avoided direct culture war battles while bringing three-dimensional situations into our lives. I’m straight so I can’t directly appreciate this storyline in a personal fashion, but I’ve enjoyed the arc of Cam and Mitchell and find them a refreshing couple with flaws to which we all can relate.

  7. […] earlier version of this piece appeared on Brent Almond’s personal blog, Designer Daddy. You can also find him on […]

  8. […] 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 […]

  9. […] 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 […]

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