SPECIAL ISSUE | JUNE 2015
WISH YOU WERE HERE!
2 GAY DADS-TO-BE SHARE THEIR ADOPTION STORY
T N E R PA ! D O O H
THE GREAT FAMILY ESCAPE
BALTIMORE - NEW LGBT FRONTIER?
Join us for The Handsome Fatherâ€™s Day Brunch on Saturday, June 20, 2015, in Austin, Dallas or New York City to celebrate the commitment and dedication he makes to his children. Learn more at thehandsomefather.org/brunch.
LGBT PARENTS EDITION CONTRIBUTORS EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Manny Velasquez-Paredes CREATIVE DIRECTOR Xioger Sandoval FEATURED WRITERS David Duran CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Ross Christianson Dimmi David Perry Ali Polizzi Sarah Stanley-Evan JJ Vega Manny Velasquez-Paredes Read Connextions Magazine online: www.connextionsmagazine.com Write to us: Do you have a question or comment regarding this issue or future issues of Connextions Magazine? We would love to hear from you! E-mail responses and press releases are always welcomed. email@example.com All submissions become the property of Connextions Magazine. The views and opinions stated throughout this magazine are not necessarily the opinions of staff at Connextions Magazine. Connextions Magazine, LLC publishing office is located at: PO Box 242 Calverton, NY 11933 Connextions Magazine will not knowingly publish or advertise text which is fraudulent or misleading. The publisher reserves the right to edit, limit, revise, or reject any text without cause. Connextions Magazine assumes no financial responsibility for typographical errors. If any errors are found, please notify Connextions Magazine immediately. Materials in this publication may not be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher. ISSN 2160-4347 (print) ISSN 2160-4355 (online)
Connextions Magazine Special LGBT Parents Issue: The Parent-HOOD! The Parent-HOOD! is a great opportunity for LGBT parents and parents-to-be to find resources available to them, fun ideas and suggestions specifically geared to the LGBT community’s needs. As a Dad, who is gay, my main job is to provide my family with the love and support they need, as well as those wild and crazy fun things they want. As the LGBT Family Travel Writer, I often wonder if my kids feel that traveling and reviewing places is the ‘norm’ for all kids their age, but at the same time, I know I am providing them with an amazing opportunity to experience different cultures and people, and remind them that their personal input is always needed, because that is what makes our job such a big responsibility. If any member of my family does not feel at ease in any of the places we visit, I try to find out the cause of the feelings. If it happens to be something they heard, or lived, then my job as a Dad is to fix it right away, and as the LGBT Family Travel Writer, my job is to see whether those experiences are due to the fact that we are a two-Daddies family. If that is the case, then my responsibility is to get it fixed and to ensure it doesn’t happen again, so you don’t have to experience those issues. Rest assured that what you are reading are our experiences, which is what makes our magazine different - we provide you only with our personal experiences, so you may create some beautiful memories of your own - because it’s not just the destination that counts, it’s about the journey we take and the memories we make. MVP
Find us, Follow us, Like us, Tweet us, Pin us, Share us on all social media sites @ConnextionsMag #ConnextionsMag Connextions Magazine is a proud sponsor of the Human Rights Campaign family. Connextions Magazine is The Travel Media Sponsor of HRC Greater New York.
Connextions Magazine is a proud member of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association, the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association & National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
08 Travel Baltimore:
The New LGBT Family Frontier by: Ali Polizzi
12 Adoption Story:
Wish You Were Here by: Anthony Romeo
16 EnGAYged Weddings
The LGBT Wedding Professionals by: Manny Velasquez-Paredes
25 Movies for Families
9 Netflix Titles for Non-Traditional Families by: Brent Almond
28 Travel New York:
The Great Family Escape
by: Manny Velasquez-Paredes
18 The Handsome Father Story Editor In Chief
by: Andy Miller 5
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FRI EN D LY
IS BALTIMORE LGBT FAMILY FRIENDLY? By: Ali Polizzi
It’s a question that lured me and mine down there for a weekend over Spring Break.
Less than 3 hours from New York’s Penn Station, Baltimore offered a new environment in a convenient radius of NYC with a few added degrees taking the edge off our long winter. Our home base was the beautiful Hotel Monaco, housed in the old B&O Railroad building you literally know from the Monopoly board. The Hotel Monaco is nice! High ceilings, gas-lit fireplaces, and marble staircases all helped to shape a feeling of modernity meets historical elegance and class. LGBT friendly? You could say that. Not only was the “No H8” campaign shooting there, but those of us with furry children are welcome too. The rooms are luxurious and fun with double chrome headed stand up showers, to bunk beds and free Xboxes in the kids’ room. The staff were instinctively friendly, and the restaurant, while pricey, served the best crab cakes I’ve ever eaten as well as ribs that melt off the bone! Everyone was always willing to go the extra mile even though it was only a short walk to everything. The Baltimore Harbor A few blocks away is the harbor, a busy, buzzing plethora of flavorful foods, people and music. There you find one of the most incredible aquatic tanks at the National Aquarium of Baltimore: 335,000-gallon, 13-foot-deep exhibit houses more than 500 exotic fish. From sharks, eels, to giant sea turtles, you always have an awesome view. Our favorite was through the concave window underneath, where my little one could practically feel the turtles wake as it passed right over him! We were guided by uniquely informed guide telling us all about what really would have happened if mom died in Finding Nemo, and that story took us from sex changes to an incestuous relationship between Marlin and Nemo! This part was quite unexpected - even for our group!
The New LGBT Family Frontier The harbor is the hub. There’s a water taxi that takes you to Fell’s point where you can eat, drink, learn how to be a pirate, eat pretty decent oysters on the street for a buck each, and shop.
Anybody who has been to Baltimore seems to have been to the harbor, but has everyone seen Micheal Rossman, knife/fire juggling unicycle comedian extraordinaire? Originally we were just looking for an excuse to sit, rest and enjoy the atmosphere, but this guy puts on quite a show! From the kilt to the four year old snarky firefighter, we were laughing and gasping simultaneously! Michael is a one-man show who relies heavily on his audience so it’s fun to watch as the kid charged with the extinguishing deliberately pours out the water meant to squelch lost lit fire balls, and the unknowing passerbys find themselves head deep up a man’s dress within minutes! If you stop by to see Michael Rossman, don’t neglect Ripley’s Believe It or Not. There are lots of unexpected treasures in there including a hall of mirrors, which is fun for kids of all ages. Remember, don’t stop until you find the room of stars! The Maryland Zoo Lunch
Photos provided by: Ali Polizzi
Our group consisted of LGBT families, and we were given a quick tour of the Maryland Zoo, which I found a beautifully landscaped aromatic trail located in the middle of Druid Hill Park where you have plenty of free parking and frequent tram rides. But my oldest son was much more interested in the tram ride. Once there, we met Tails, an 11 year old penguin, for lunch. However no touching and please do not feed the animals. I didn’t say we all had lunch! The penguin exhibit is impressive. I’ve never seen people so into penguins before. There were 60 penguins in all, and as this species becomes more endangered, the importance of displays like these becomes apparent. Every couple minutes a barrel dumps a long cascade over a glass enclosure, you and your little ones can stand under and feel the excitement. We saw flamingos, zebras and a very old rhinoceros. The chimpanzees had a large area but all looked a little sad or listless. I really liked the proximity we had to the lions. Working across the street from the Bronx Zoo makes me a frequent visitor and I can tell you, I’d never been this close before. www.connextionsmagazine.com
Baltimore actually houses the 1st Washington Monument which is being renovated and opening on July 4th of this year in beautiful Mount Vernon. But the highlight, according to my kids, was the Port Discovery Children’s Museum. Rated one of the top 12 in the country, my kids’ eyes lit up at the sight of the three-story maze in the middle of the structure. I have to say, however that the several entrances and exits on all different floors is a design all our parents found flawed. While adults are welcomed to accompany their little ones throughout the structure, many of the nooks and crannies are less than easy to navigate even for the smallest human beings. One slide begins on a totally different side and level from where it ends. However, Jack at the door eased my mind by explaining how no child escapes without his/her adult escort (according to the matching wristbands you enter with.) My favorite part of the weekend however, was meeting Rebecca Alban Hoffberger. The American Visionary Art Museum’s exhibition called The Visionary Experience Saint Francis to Finster ending August, 2015 is an eclectic selection of the most inspiring moments in the most inspiring people’s lives. Built in and around an old whiskey warehouse (complete with a wall of original barrels), you’ll encounter beauty in the most creative places. We saw a working wind mill made out of old recycled street signs, an entire mural of the solar system made by neighborhood kids, and a welcome mat of toothbrushes! This is where art is not just seen; it’s experienced! Inside you’re visually stimulated by pictures and sculptures, inspirational quotes and interesting stories contextualizing the art on display. Outside, you’re invited to connect with ideas and people through a space that appears boundless. During July-August they show movies on a screen they hang from a giant hand for all on the lawn outside. We happened to be leaving the same day the late Freddie Gray was apprehended, and our hearts broke to see all the chaos and destruction in that wake. But it certainly isn’t indicative of the people we met while there. Most people seemed very happy and enthusiastic. The only thing that appeared to upset the locals was praise for the other team.
The New LGBT Family Frontier
According to Visit Baltimore, the group who invited our group of LGBT Families, of all the families invited to experience Baltimore’s “Family Friendliness,” only LGBT families wanted to bring their whole families. Coincidence? We value our time with our children. And I’m not insinuating that straight people do not. But when you have to go through whatever we do - when you have to spend as much time and energy exploring options, involving outsiders, navigating legalities, soul searching for timing, resources, in addition to succumbing to chance; just to have a family, you don’t want to ever waste a moment of those precious family years! Is Baltimore LGBT family friendly? Honestly, we thought so. Is the city safe and family orientated? Yes, there are many family attractions. Economically sound for families? LGBT friendly? It’s a learning curve. Most everyone in Baltimore was super nice to us. It has a kind of small-town pleasantry mixed with an equally pleasant anonymity. I exchanged more strong warm hugs with only recent acquaintances in one weekend there than I have all year long in NYC. We were cast as “different” only once by a corner christian augur who took one look and professed her repetitive anthem “Change your ways! Be generous” a bit louder and with a more pointed intention than before as we walked by. Alas, it was punctuated with a smile and passed placidly over my kids’ heads. As long as that’s the extent of it, I was fairly comfortable. Ali Polizzi, is a writer and blogger. Follow her LGBT Family blog: “Family Life Through Rainbow Windows” http://www.alirothlizzi.blogspot.com www.connextionsmagazine.com 11
A TALE OF TWO DADDIES-TO-BE By: Anthony Romeo
My husband Dominic and I have had the exceptional privilege of
being able to travel together. We’ve run a Half Marathon through Cinderella’s Castle in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, paddle-boarded past multi-million dollar homes in Huntington Beach, and been caught in a blizzard while walking through the icy streets of a blustery Montreal winter. But even with the thousands of miles we’ve traveled, we had no idea what would lie in store for us when we jumped on the most incredible and daunting adventure of our lives: the road to first-time parenthood. Ours is a story, and a love, not unlike many of yours. We met almost a decade ago, adopted a cat, and got married. We have been part of the fight for marriage equality, alongside thousands of other brave couples, part of a story much larger than our own. I canvassed for marriage equality on the sidewalks of Manhattan, fund raised in Boston, in Washington DC, in Baltimore. We watched Proposition 8 come and go, saw constitutional amendments rise and fall. I testified in the State House about the ways in which our civil union was less equal than our neighbor’s marriage. The road to marriage was, let’s say, bumpy, with lots of pit stops. So, when we were finally able to tie the knot in New York state, we did so with the knowledge that we had earned it through hard work and determination, confident that love had and would continue to win. A year later, our marriage won legal recognition in our home state of New Jersey. Finally, our cat had two daddies. And there was nothing Chris Christie could do about it! After a few years of marriage, Dom and I decided it was the appropriate time to begin our family planning. Try though we might, neither one of us could get pregnant. There were birds and there were bees, but there was no baby. We researched surrogacy, foster programs, and adoption. Eventually, we decided that adoption represented the most financially plausible and appropriate program for us. The ego of needing to pass along our own biology had passed, and surrogacy was far too expensive. Adoption, then, made perfect sense, because it meant giving a child a forever home, and would enable us to become first-time dads. As a teacher, my husband has dedicated over a third of his life to taking care of other people’s children; I often remind him that it’s okay to finally want a child of our own. Photos provided by: Anthony Romeo
Wish You Were Here!
We have worked hard to manage our own expectations, knowing that it was entirely possible that we might not be placed with a child. We submitted ourselves to background checks, fingerprinting, asked friends and colleagues for references on our perceived ability to parent, completed an enormous questionnaire from the state, wrote autobiographical essays about our parenting styles and family histories. We wrote a check for a thousand dollars to the adoption agency, and then waited to hear if we would be approved to become parents. If the adoption process was a vacation, the home study would be the equivalent of gassing up the car and pulling out of the driveway. But gas is expensive, $20,000 to become parents. Now, every parent has ‘The Talk’ with their child at some point; for me and Dom, our conversation won’t just be about the biology behind reproduction, but will also include a “how you came to us” story. We decided that there was a way for us to make this process financially palatable, to plot a road map for other parents on the road to adoption, and to create a network of love and support that our child could trace back, person by person, later in life. We launched an official crowd-funding campaign to help us climb that mountain of twenty thousand gleaming gold coins. We were flooded with support from friends, family, and complete strangers who had read our story through my contributions at the Huffington Post and GaysWithKids. In an effort to put our singular focus on becoming first-time dads, the vacations stopped, which means, despite my very vocal protestations, no more Disney trips until there is a child to bring along with us, it means trading airplane seats for car seats, and swapping sandy beaches for dirty diapers. But our fellow travelers have reminded us frequently, once we get where we’re going, every sacrifice we’ve made will be worth it.
Becoming a dad may not be the item of most importance for some men, but for me and my husband, it is the single greatest adventure of our lives, both individually and as a pair. It has been bumpy, not without its potholes, for sure, but it will provide the two of us, and eventually a very tiny third, with the most incredible postcard we could possibly send back to friends and family, one that I’m sure you’ve all seen in countless gift shops in your travels. And the message scrawled on millions of postcards, shoved next to Hawaiian dancing bobbleheads, buried next to novelty t-shirts, nestled in next to the collectible spoons, that message is the same one we share with you, and with our future child, out there somewhere in the world waiting for two dads with open arms. Wish you were here! Boy oh boy, baby, isn’t that the truth. Read more about Anthony & Dom’s adoption journey Visit: www.gayswithkids.com/anthony- romeo Video: www.gofundme.com/ababyfordomandant www.connextionsmagazine.com
LGBT FAMILY TRIP
JUNE 26, 2016 JULY 2, 2016 OPEN T0 FAMILIES WITH CHILREN 4 OR OLDER PREFERRED. ONLY 10 SPOTS LEFT.
SEPTEMBER 4, 2016 SEPTEMBER 10, 2016 DESIGNED FOR PEOPLE WITHOUT CHILDREN. ONLY 14 SPOTS LEFT.
SPEND A WEEK IN TUSCANY, LEARNING TO COOK, SIPPING WINE, ROAMING THE BEAUTIFUL CITY & MORE ON OUR FIRST LGBT EXCURSION. WE INVITE OUR READERS ON THIS GREAT ADVENTURE, CREATE MEMORIES TO LAST YOU A LIFETIME. WITH THE HELP OF OUR FRIENDS “COOK IN TUSCANY” YOUR ENTIRE WEEK WILL BE PLANNED WITH PLENTY PLEN OF LEISURE TIME TO EXPLORE ON YOUR OWN.
FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT:
Photos provided by: Steven Rosen
The LGBT Weddings Professionals By: Manny Velasquez-Paredes
“We are a family that has overcome great adversity despite multiple trials, tribulations, and all odds stacked against us. At the beginning of our courtship, Chelsey, my fiance, was shunned by her family because they disapproved of our relationship. Not only are we a lesbian couple, but we are an interracial lesbian couple living in the south. This was difficult for her family and society to accept,” wrote Val describing her relationship, in an effort to win a wedding package worth over $30,000.00.
After almost two years of engagement, EnGAYgedWeddings.com, sponsors of the EnGAYged Weddings Expo at The Original LGBT Expo in NYC provided Val and Chelsey, with their dream wedding, gathering a dream wedding package from trusted vendors. The couple, alongside thousands of other couples, entered the contest. The finalists were announced in early 2015, and the website’s visitors voted through different social media channels. Among the prizes included in the EnGAYgedWeddings.com Dream Wedding Package were: • A Wedding Ceremony Stage at The Original LGBT EXPO, performed by Reverend Will Mercer • 3 Nights stay in Manhattan at the Intercontinental Times Square in a corner king guest room with sky view featuring 2 floor to ceiling windows offering expansive views of New York City • Round trip airfare to and from New York City for the couple, • Luxury transportation in New York City provided by Perfect Limo Service • Wedding photography package provided by Steven Rosen Photography, including an engagement session, coverage on wedding day, prints or an album, and all images in digital format • 2 - 14k white wedding bands custom engraved with the couples’ fingerprints by Brent and Jess • An original wedding cake provided by Haute So Sweet • Flowers provided by NYC Flower Project • A romantic 4 nights honeymoon at Los Altos de Eros in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, a 5-Star Costa Rica boutique hotel & spa resting on a 27 acre estate atop a small mountain with stunning views to the Pacific Ocean, private airport transfers, breakfast and lunch daily, Chef prepared dinner nightly, transportation to beaches and towns, complimentary beverages, and a lot more! EnGAYgedWeddings.com is the pioneer of online LGBT wedding directories, specializing in bringing loving, committed same-sex couples with top of the line wedding vendors who are thrilled to support and work with them. It was created at a time when couples were desperately seeking for vendors who wanted to work with same-sex couples. Now that marriage equality is legal in the USA, their job has increased because they make sure that vendors are providing only the best. What sets them apart from wedding directories, is that each vendor is personally interviewed and approved by the owners of EnGAYged Weddings, and each wedding business is guaranteed to be either LGBT friendly, operated or owned. The EnGAYgedWeddings.com seal of approval has become a very sought after commodity, as it quickly became the trusted source within the LGBT community working tirelessly to insure that ALL vendors are “Gay Friendly.” They have created the largest personally verified gay wedding planning directory for Lesbian and Gay Weddings, Commitment Ceremonies, Civil Union Ceremonies, Holy Unions, Domestic Partnerships, and Reciprocal Beneficiary Rights on the Internet. Couples from all over the world, can trust and rely on EnGAYgedWeddings.com to help in the creation of their most special day. To begin planning your dream wedding visit: http://www.engaygedweddings.com www.connextionsmagazine.com 17
The Handsome Father Story
The Handsome Father Story
CONNEXTING GAY, BI & TRANS DADS Editorial by: Andy Miller
The Handsome Father is a 501 (c)(3) organization that aims to build a community of support
for gay, bi and trans fathers no matter their path to fatherhood: foster care, adoption, surrogacy, co-parenting with a woman, or biological children from a heterosexual relationship. It really doesnâ€™t matter. Dads are dads! We can help fathers-to-be understand their own unique options for becoming a dad and how to be a great one! We strive to make the path to fatherhood easy to access and simple to understand. And once you become a dad, we foster a community of support to help you connect to other men who can understand and appreciate what it means to be a gay dad. The Desire to Connect When Andy Miller and Brian Stephens (pictured below with their son Clark) set out to become parents, there were very few examples to follow. While they were extremely grateful for the guidance and mentorship of the few gay fathers they knew, they often spoke about the need for access to more robust information and varied experiences to help them make decisions. In addition, they felt a strong desire to connect with other gay dads as they found their support network was drastically changing.
Photos provided by: The Handsome Father
On one hand, they were enjoying closer connections to family and straight parents, but they also felt increasingly cut-off from the larger gay community. Other gay parents, especially gay fathers, were especially rare and those they found also often expressed desire for more connections to gay parents who could relate to their daily lives and challenges. Six years following the birth of their son, Clark, and in the midst of the increasing momentum of the marriage equality movement, Andy and Brian left successful careers in the non-profit community to begin their own consulting practice and create the space in their lives to found The Handsome Father. It was their hope to create a sustainable organization that would provide access to comprehensive information to gay men wanting to become fathers and connect them to the resources and services that could help them. They also wanted to elevate stories of gay fathers and their lives and help them connect to one another in order to provide greater support and reduce the isolation many reported feeling. Finally, they wanted to ensure that no man sacrifices his dreams of fatherhood simply because he is gay and understood that being an out, gay father was a “handsome” proposition. In the process, they have also built connections to straight, bi and trans men and fathers and The Handsome Father will be a place where their issues and needs are also explored and resources are identified. The Handsome Father will challenge the myths and stereotypes about gay men, their relationship with children, and outdated views on what it means to be a father. Most of all, The Handsome Father will be a community of support for fathers, no matter who they are or who they love. Where did the name come from? Did you know that the word “handsome” by definition means pleasing, dignified, generous, appropriate, fitting, ample, graceful, bountiful, and yes, attractive? We believe fatherhood is handsome in every respect of the word. When someone commits his life to raise a child and takes the steps a gay man must to create his family, we call that “handsome.” Why choose the penguin for the logo? Taking inspiration from the children’s book, And Tango Makes Three (one of our favorite books), we chose a proud father penguin standing protectively over his chick. And to make him even more handsome, he sports a stylish necktie (c’mon, what symbolizes fatherhood more than a necktie), complete with a nod towards equality for all fathers regardless of who they are or who they love. We have three main goals: •
To connect fathers with one another for support.
To equip men with the resources they need to grow and nurture their families.
To inspire men with stories about others who have become fathers and the realities of parenting.
To that end, we have created several programs and initiatives.
The Handsome Father Story Mentor Program
Deciding to build your family can feel scary and overwhelming. There are so many options to consider and questions to ask. Along the way, many of us have wished we could have asked other gay men who became fathers how they did it and what it was like. What lessons did they learn that might make someone elseâ€™s journey a little easier, or at least help them prepare for what was to come? Maybe you are the only one in your social circle who is choosing fatherhood and you are struggling to find someone to talk to? Through our mentor program, we strive to connect you with other gay men who are willing to share their experiences and insights in both becoming fathers and raising children. Our mentors are not meant to be considered experts in adoption, surrogacy or parenting, rather they can lend an ear and provide you with practical wisdom and support as someone who has walked in your shoes. The Handsome Father not only recruits seasoned dads as mentors, but we connect them one-onone to those gay, bi and trans men looking to become fathers one day. The #HandsomeFamilyPhoto Project The Handsome Father is traveling the country capturing real-life stories and candid expressions of gay dads and dads-to-be, and their families. The Handsome Father hosts open photo shoots in major metropolitan areas across the country featuring acclaimed photographer Michael Thad Carter. Youâ€™ll receive your photos for sending and sharing with family and friends. In addition, Picture People, our official corporate partner, is also the official portrait studio for your #HandsomeFamilyPhoto. With hundreds of studios nationwide, thereâ€™s likely a Picture People studio conveniently located in a shopping center near you. Each week, we share a new family story that shows the beauty and diversity in our families and how they were created. We also have a very active blog where fathers from all walks of life share stories about their lives, current events, and tips for building and raising a family.
The Resource Directory
Men need help building their families, plain and simple. We can’t do it on our own. We need the help from birth-mothers, surrogates, egg donors, clinics, doctors, social workers, adoption agencies, foster care services, attorneys, judges, and the list goes on and on. But one big question sits at the front of that assistance, “Will they help me build my family if they know I am gay, bi or trans?” Our resource directory aims to answer that question up front. Only professionals, services, organization and agencies that are LGBT-friendly and have affirmed they WANT to work with our community are included in our resource directory. We never want any man to hear the words, “I’m sorry. We can’t help you,” when seeking help to have children. We have over 100 resources across the United State currently listed and are always adding more. With the media consumed with stories of people asserting their rights NOT to serve the LGBT community, The Handsome Father has been pleased with the number of affirming professionals and agencies willing to help our community. The Father’s Day Brunches To celebrate all fathers and bring together a community of support on a very special day, Father’s Day, we hold an annual Father’s Day Brunch that not only generates financial resources to sustain our mission, it also serves to provide a community event where fathers, fathers-to-be, and our supporters can come together. We started in 2014 in Austin, TX and in 2015, expanded to Austin, Dallas, and New York City. The goal is to add 1-2 cities each year until we are blanketing the U.S. with Handsome Father’s Day Brunches each year! Are you parenting with anyone? We are! In addition to our #HandsomeFamilyPhoto partner, Picture People, we are also working with City Dads Group to leverage their in-person meet up groups for modern dads and ensure gay, bi and trans fathers have a welcoming and accepting local group that they can connect to for support and family-friendly social activities. So far, we are in 18 www.connextionsmagazine.com
The Handsome Father Story
cities across the U.S. and new cities are coming online all the time. We are also thrilled to be working with Connextions Magazine as a communications partner to highlight gay family travel and experiences so that men understand that once you have a family, the fun doesnâ€™t stop! Lastly, we are so fortunate to have dozens of corporate sponsors, from Dove Men+Care to Ketel One, ensuring that we are able to continue this work. We also love that many of these sponsors are so willing to be visible in their support of our families and send the message that we are valued.
How can I get more involved? We would love for families to share their stories with us, become mentors, and become supporting members of The Handsome Father and help us continue to grow. We donâ€™t want any man to sacrifice his dreams of fatherhood simply because of who he is or who he loves. Get involved at www.thehandsomefather.org
Photos provided by: The Handsome Father
Movies for Families
9 Netflix Titles for Non-Traditional Families By: Brent Almond
Article was originally published as part of the Netflix #StreamTeam in the http://DesignerDaddy.com website.
As part of what is often labeled a “non-traditional family,” (or NTF) I strive
to fill our son’s life with people, experiences, and stories that reinforce that there’s a place in the world for everyone, regardless of their age, gender, skin color, or how their family is made — including an adopted boy with two gay dads. While our family may be atypical in it’s makeup, we are extremely typical (boringly so) in that we have the same worries as so many other parents. “How will our son do well in school?” “Will he ever eat his vegetables?” “Who will his friends be?” Yet add to that list “Will he be treated differently for having two dads and being adopted?” and we’re back in non-traditional territory. And as any NTF parent can attest, finding books, toys, TV shows, and movies that represent your family can be challenging. One great resource I’ve found is something we already had — our Netflix subscription. As a long-time Netflixer, I consider myself an expert at finding the perfect show to appease or distract my energetic 5-year-old – or even provide some occasional downtime for his two dads. Below is a list of nine great Netflix titles that provide just the right mix of entertainment, encouragement and empowerment for our little NTF. KEY Topics addressed: ADP (Adoption) • NTF (non-traditional families) • SSP (same-sex parents) Suggested viewing age: PRE (preschoolers, 2-5 yo) • KID (grade school, 6-12 yo) • TNS (teens & up) Availability on Netflix: STR (available for live-streaming) • DVD (available on dvd) Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood - NTF • PRE • STR/DVD (Rated TV-Y, 40 episodes) A spin-off of sorts, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood features next generation characters from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, this gives it some definite nostalgic appeal for Dad. An early favorite of my son’s, Daniel Tiger includes some of the most diverse families on any show, kids’ programming or otherwise. Katarina Pussycat lives with her mom, Henrietta; O the Owl cares for his nephew, X; Lady Elaine (who is white) and Music Man Stan (who is black) are parents to the precocious Miss Elaina. The show tackles basic pre-k concepts like sharing and forgiving, while also addressing potentially scary experiences like starting school, visiting the doctor, or getting a younger sibling. www.connextionsmagazine.com
Dinosaur Train - ADP • PRE • STR/DVD (Rated TV-G, 26 episodes) If you’ve got a kid who likes dinosaurs, showing them Dinosaur Train is a no-brainer. Each episode finds a family of dinos traveling by train to learn about the different species stomping, swimming, and flying around the prehistoric planet. What makes it unique is that the family consists of a Pteranodon mom and dad, their biological triplets, and adopted son, Buddy — a T. Rex. The plot is set up in the opening song, with no explanation given for how a T. Rex egg showed up in Mrs. Pteranodon’s nest — and none is needed. All aboard for some enlightened, educational fun! The Tigger Movie - NTF • PRE • STR/DVD (Rated G, 1hr 17m) This 2000 theatrical release features all your favorite Winnie the Pooh characters, but stars the eternally effervescent Tigger. Tigger has always boasted about being “the only one,” yet now he longs to find others like him — his family. Madcap adventures ensue, with Tigger eventually learning that his friends have always been his family, and he’s all the richer for it. Guess How Much I Love You - NTF • PRE • STR/DVD (Rated TV-Y, 26 episodes) Based on one of our family’s favorite books, Guess How Much I Love You follows Little Nutbrown Hare as he explores the fields and forests, meets new friends, and learns life lessons from his father (Big Nutbrown Hare, duh). The stories are sweet and simple, centered around the loving, straightforward depiction of this father/son relationship. Meet the Robinsons - ADP • KID • DVD (Rated G, 95 minutes) Lewis is an inventive child who’s grown up in an orphanage. Discouraged by countless failed interviews with potential parents, Lewis travels through time to find his birth mother to ask her the questions he’s always had. In the process he meets his quirky future family, follows his own advice of “keep moving forward” and decides he no longer needs to meet his birth mother, as it may endanger him ending up with this family he’s grown to love. With all the adoption interviews and time travel and searching for birth parents, be prepared for a lot of questions (we’re saving it until our son is 6 or so). But also be prepared for a fun movie to enjoy with your own “quirky” family. Despicable Me 2 - ADP • KID • DVD (Rated PG, 98 minutes) While the original film was loads of fun, its treatment of adoption was questionable at best, troubling to some. Yet in Despicable Me 2, antihero Gru has since learned a thing or two about parenting. During daughter Agnes’s birthday party, adoptive dad Gru learns the fairy princess he hired to entertain isn’t coming. So he does what any awesome parent would do — dons a pink tutu and wings and puts on the show himself. Powerpuff Girls - NTF • KID • STR/DVD (Rated TV-Y7, 6 seasons) The Powerpuff Girls weren’t so much adopted as they were a science experiment gone awry. Nonetheless, Professor Utonium quickly evolves into a caring parent to his power-packed triplets, Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup. Come for the mad scientist/doting single dad, stay for the non-stop girl power! Follow Brent’s blog (http://designerdaddy.com) for the writing stuff. Follow Brent on Instagram (https://instagram.com/superlunchnotes) for the doodling stuff.
Movies for Families
Superman: The Movie - ADP • KID • DVD (Rated PG, 151 minutes)
This movie had a lasting impact on my childhood, and it’s beyond thrilling to find new significance in it by sharing it with my son. In addition to being the most powerful person on Earth, Superman is also an outsider — an alien who will never truly feel like he belongs. Adopted by a loving couple, he nevertheless has an odd, mystical relationship with the floating head of his biological father. It’s not a huge part of the plot of this film (it’s more prevalent in Man of Steel, which my 5-year-old will have to wait a while to see), but it’s always nice to point to the super-est of heroes and say, “Superman was adopted, and he had two fathers!” PARENT TIME: The Fosters - ADP • KID • DVD (Rated PG, 151 minutes) If you’ve grown tired of the sweet-but-too-simplistic treatment of same-sex parents or adoption on comedies like Modern Family and Glee, The Fosters is a welcome dramatic alternative. Stef and Lena are an interracial lesbian couple raising a half-dozen or so kids (the number changes) who are a mix of biological, adopted, and foster. While it’s great to see well-developed same-sex parents on TV, I find myself relating to the everyday problems as much or more than those involving the characters’ sexuality or family makeup. Yet like most TV families, there is a never ending supply of drama — so hopefully you can’t relate too much!
Photos & artwork provided by: Brent Almond
Brent Almond is a graphic designer, writer, husband and father. He combines all of these on his blog Designer Daddy, where he writes about being a gay dad of an adopted son, chronicles the progress of same-sex marriage with fridge magnets, and shares the superhero doodles he puts in his 5-year-old’s lunchbox. More of Brent’s writing can be found on The Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, The Parents Project and Fandango Family. He was recently honored as one of the Voices of the Year at BlogHer 2014.
Travel New York
The Lake George Adventure By: Manny Velasquez-Paredes
Six Flags Great Escape Lodge and Indoor Water Park
in the Lake George area truly is a great escape for the entire family! The lodge has 200 rooms, where each can accommodate from 4 to 12 guests, extra guests can be accommodated for an extra fee per person. There are theme suites, such as the Klub Moose, which is an Adirondack themed suite. We experienced this suite during a visit, and my kids absolutely loved the idea of “camping” and “sleeping in a tent,” while the Daddies loved the comforts of electricity, comfy bed, cable tv and hot showers! Check-in is 4pm, early arrivals can take advantage of the spa, the arcade, or the indoor water park, where it is always 80 degrees. Guests of the lodge can access the water park and daily passes can be purchased by those who are staying elsewhere. With over 38,000 square feet of water rides, pools and slides, everyone will surely enjoy white-water rafting, indoor surfing, or a tree house full of slides and over 160 interactive water games. The little ones will love the swivel water rifles, hydro blasters, arch jets, and my kids’ favorite the pull-cords that splash showers. The 18 and over crowd can relax and hangout in the hot tubs. In addition, the 21+ crowd can savor the fruity flavored alcoholic frozen drinks! Be advised that in order to be served any alcoholic beverage, each person must be present and show their ID, otherwise, you will not be served. There are strict policies when it comes to drinking because it is a family establishment. This is a little difficult, because most people do not bring their wallets to the pool area. If you do, there are lockers available, which can be rented for a nominal fee. This way you are not concerned about leaving your wallet unattended while you are enjoying the water park. In case you are seeking bigger water thrills - The Great Escape & Splashwater Kingdom, located across the lodge,
The Great Family Escape
Photos provided by: Six Flags Great Escape
has an even bigger outside water park. There are rides for all ages and heights. Rides like the Mega Wedgie, which is where you go swirling into a 100-foot tunnel building up the speed and then launched like a hard tornado, pummeling down while getting sucked into a vortex of ocean-spiral dramatic motions - my kids lovingly referred to as a giant toilet, which they absolutely love - no sooner are we done with the spinning, when all you hear is “again, again!” Alpine Freefalls offers a high altitude slide experience that will take you six stories in the air, and not to mention the extra amount of courage needed to go down because you will have to climb into the Proslide Skybox launching capsule, think of this as a giant water gun, where you are sealed into a see-through launcher, as you stand precariously trying to maintain your nerves and look brave for your kids, the trap door at your feet suddenly opens and before you know it you are shot, like a bullet, down through the floor and into the slide. Your children will love the expression on your face! And if you want even more speed, Twisted Racer is a good bet, where you’ll race against three of your friends and family on a head first mat challenge that is only for the swift! If you’ve had enough of the water park, don’t forget to find more rides and thrills at The Great Escape, where you will find roller coasters for the entire family. If you are extra adventurous, then we recommend the Boomerang, which is also know as the pride of joy of Storytown. This 12-story mega-coaster will lift your spirits, and adventure level by taking you on a long, sleek train, backwards, up a 120-foot spike in the sky, after a second of ‘hanging’ out up there, you’ll be released powerfully forward down the track. First you’ll take on a courage-zapping double inversion cobra roll, flipped upside down, before flipping you over again. Just remember this ride is called The Boomerang for a reason - so just when you think it’s over - it isn’t! There are also plenty of kid-friendly and family-friendly rides, where everyone can join in on the fun. The park open in mid-may and stays open the entire summer. From September through November, the park only opens on the weekends and then closes until the following Spring. If you are seeking to avoid the masses of people, we recommend visiting the park during May or on weekdays, as most people tend to visit the park during the weekends. We attended in mid May and we didn’t have to wait in any lines! www.connextionsmagazine.com
LET’S STAND WITH AMERICA’S NEXT GENERATION, SO THEY CAN STAND ON THEIR OWN. In America, it is estimated that up to 1.6 million youth are homeless each year. Up to 40% of them identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). Yet, just 7% of the general youth population identifies as LGBT. The True Colors Fund is working to reduce that disproportionate percentage from 40% to none. Visit www.truecolorsfund.org to learn how you can make a difference.
The Parent-HOOD! is a great opportunity for LGBT parents and parents-to-be to find resources available to them, fun travel ideas and sugges...
Published on Jun 15, 2015
The Parent-HOOD! is a great opportunity for LGBT parents and parents-to-be to find resources available to them, fun travel ideas and sugges...