AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Two Austin men struggling with fatherhood as a gay couple launched a website and nonprofit designed to offer advice, assistance and support to other men in their situation.
Brian Stephens and Andy Miller launched The Handsome Father and its website, www.thehandsomefather.org, in April.
The idea was formed because Stephens and Miller often felt alone or like pioneers as they raised their 7-year-old son, Clark, surrounded by straight parents. Everything, including the adoption process, was an unknown. And even though the men had mentors to turn to, they still felt there were too many hurdles.
“You feel like you’re the only person in the world who’s done this,” Stephens told the Austin American-Statesman.
The website is meant to help others experiencing similar problems and includes stories about gay fatherhood, a blog, a mentorship program and suggestions for other sites, Twitter handles or support networks.
The nonprofit sustains itself through different levels of membership.
And already the response has been strong. Since April, the website has had 2,000 unique visitors and the Facebook page has about 1,200 followers. Every day, Stephens said, they hear from men about to embark on fatherhood.
“Just the fact that it’s out there, what a difference that makes,” Stephens said.
While gay women were making progress, gay men were dealing with the AIDS crisis, he said. Now about 20 years behind, the men are struggling to navigate the foster care and adoption systems, or they are learning the legalities of surrogate parenting or becoming the adoptive parent of a partner’s biological children, he said.
As these various experiences occur, the role of being a father is evolving, Stephens said.
“Just as women are crashing the glass ceiling, what it is to be a father has to change, too,” he added.