Upcoming DC Surrogacy Conference

FTSlogoThere’s been a lot of negative press about surrogacy lately, and it makes me really sad, because, as I say here all the time, surrogacy changed my life, and everyone involved in our case feels like they gained something wonderful out of the process. I also say all the time that surrogacy is not for everyone, and there are a lot of unscrupulous people out there engaged in the practice. So if you’re considering surrogacy, either as a potential surrogate or intended parent, you really need to educate yourself to make sure you’re doing it the safest and most ethical way possible. 

The upcoming Families Through Surrogacy conference in Alexandria, Virginia on September 13, 2014 promises to be a great resource on the topic. They’ve lined up some fantastic speakers for the event, including me! This is the same group that organized the San Francisco conference I appeared in back in March, and they will answer any questions you have, whether you’re gay or straight and whether you’re considering domestic or international surrogacy options. (I’m heavily biased toward domestic and will be happy to share why, but there will also be people who’ve gone the international route on hand to share their experiences.)

If you’re in the DC area, I’d love to see you there, and I’ll have copies of my book on hand to sell and sign. You can get more information here.

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My First Video: What to Expect When You’re Expecting… And Gay!

I was very honored to be asked to contribute to a recent surrogacy conference in Australia, held by the group Families Through Surrogacy, who also invited me to their San Francisco conference back in March. I’ll be speaking again at their upcoming event in Alexandria, Virginia on September 13, 2014, so if that’s in your neighborhood, come on down!

If you don’t live near any of those places, you’re still in luck, because I’m posting a video of my presentation here for you. This is my first attempt at producing a YouTube video, so don’t expect any technical wizardry, but if you’re looking for information on surrogacy or becoming a gay dad or just a glimpse of yours truly yakking away, then this is for you!

My Appearance on the Larry Flick Show

jerrymahoneysirius“Did you guys hear what they said just now? On the radio?”

“They said Jerry Mahoney!”

“Right. And who’s that?”

“That’s you!”

“YES!!!”

For a minute, my kids were impressed. As I was driving them to school, Larry Flick of SiriusXM OutQ announced I’d be in his studio later that morning. I was going there to promote my book, Mommy Man, but for all my kids knew I would be showing up to drop my new jam featuring Juicy J. In their eyes, Daddy was Katy Perry, and it felt awesome.

It was a lot of fun being on the air. Larry and his crew were very nice, and I got to plug the book, which was the whole point, I guess.

But I NEVER should’ve told Larry right before we went on the air that Drew was a big fan of his show.

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So What If My Kids Are Gay?

ourfamilyI forget sometimes what outdated attitudes still linger outside of this nice little gay-friendly bubble in which I spend most of my life. Earlier this week, I recorded a podcast called Dadsaster. The topic was Gay Dads, and I was the gay dad they interviewed. I was a little surprised to discover that after interviewing me, the hosts were set to question a member of the anti-gay Family Research Council, as if “Gay Dads” was a topic that required a pro-and-con debate.

To me, the only thing anyone needs to ask the FRC is, “Why can’t you lay off gay dads, you obsessive creeps?” Maybe that was on their question list. I’m not sure.

What really surprised me was when the hosts, two straight dads — who were very polite and respectful, I should point out — said, “One of the questions people have is, are your kids more likely to be gay because they’re being raised by gay parents?”

It’s a question you hear all the time, which is what’s so maddening about it, because it’s a very easily answered question. Plenty of gays before me have explained very patiently and intelligently that they grew up with straight parents, but they still turned out gay, so why would anyone assume that my kids are going to be gay just because their parents are? That’s exactly the answer I found myself giving, yet I’m sure there are still plenty of people who will willfully choose to ignore that logic.

So now, with two days’ distance from the discussion, I’d like to offer another, more decisive answer to the question of whether my kids are more likely to turn out gay.

So what if they are?

The host prefaced his question by saying, “I don’t think it’s homophobic to suggest this.”

Wrong.

That’s exactly what it is, because the implication behind it is that it’s somehow bad or undesirable if your kids turn out gay. As a kid who turned out gay, I refuse to accept that.

Let’s say, despite all common sense, that gay parents were more likely to raise gay kids. So does that mean we shouldn’t be allowed to have families? Because the world would have — gasp — more gay people as a result? Nevermind that these would be happy, well-adjusted gay people raised by loving families. Just the fact that they were gay would suggest to some people that they weren’t parented properly.

And that’s not a homophobic position?

If we’re ever going to move beyond homophobia, we need to get over the notion that parents can or should steer their children in one direction or the other. We also need to stop making LGBTQ people prove their worth as parents. I initially asked the hosts if I could stick around and ask the FRC representative a few questions of my own. They declined, but when I thought about it, I didn’t really have anything to say to him or her anyway.

Who cares what those people think? They’re not going to stop me from having kids, and I’m damn sure not going to let my kids experience their bigotry as anything other than an amusing sideshow to our perfectly content lives. In a world that increasingly recognizes the anti-gay family brigade for the lunatics they are, they’re just fighting for relevance on whatever podcast or Fox News show will still have them on, so let them spew their hate. I’ll just continue to change the channel.

Before our kids were born, Drew and I speculated a lot about what they would be like. One day, Drew surprised me by saying he hoped they wouldn’t be gay. He was worried life would be harder for them — the same thing many straight parents say when speculating about their kids — and that if we raised a gay kid, it’d somehow lend credence to people’s fears about LGBTQ parents.

I know he doesn’t feel that way anymore, in part because our kids aren’t hypothetical anymore. They’re Bennett and Sutton, and they’re going to be who they are, and our job as parents is to make them happy, not to make them fit some notion of what the Family Research Council thinks kids should be.

Personally, I think it’d be fantastic if my kids were gay. You know what else would be fantastic? If they’re straight. Or bi. Or trans. Or jocks. Or bookworms. Or bookish jocks. Or whoever they happen to be, because whoever they are, Drew and I are going to do everything we can to make sure they’re comfortable with themselves and to let them know that their dads love them precisely because of who they are, not in spite of it.

Are gay parents more likely to raise gay kids? I don’t think so.

Kids who feel loved and supported, though? In a lot of cases, you bet they are.

UPDATE: The Dadsaster podcast is now up. You can listen to it here. It sounds like the FRC rep bailed on them, which is all for the best. In addition to me, they also interview Scout Masterson, one of the Guncles from “Tori & Dean.” It’s a good show. You should check it out.

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Thanks for making it to the end of my rant. If you like it, please share it! And if you haven’t already, please subscribe to this blog, like me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter. And, I don’t know, if you see me on the street, give a friendly wave maybe? That’d be nice.

Another (Link to a) Video of Me on TV!

Jerry Mahoney, Raising America, HLN, Kyra Phillips, Mommy ManThanks to my friend Janice Browne, I have the image above to post of my latest appearance on Raising America with Kyra Phillips on HLN. (12pm weekdays! Check it out!)

Some people said my backdrop was a little blah last time. (A plain white wall? What could be blah about that?) So this time, I livened it up with works from two of my favorite artists. For those of you art critics out there, these were produced with mixed media (crayons and fingerpaint). Bennett’s (on the left) is titled “Fireworks” and Sutton’s (on the right) is titled “My Beautiful Picture”. Bids will be accepted in the comments section below. Proceeds go to charity (i.e., their college funds).

As for the video, well, the wonderful Kelly of Are You Finished Yet graciously put her technically-challenged head together with mine and made a valiant effort to help me embed it here. Unfortunately, we came up as blank as last week’s wall. So instead of an embed, I’ll direct you again to HLN’s site or my Facebook page (where you can also like me!). This week, I defend straight dads’ right to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and applaud Willow Smith for not wanting to make a hip-hop Annie movie.

If anyone tech savvier than me and Kelly wants to take a stab at helping me embed the next one or put it on YouTube, I’ll graciously reward you with your own moderate-quality reprint of either “Fireworks” or “My Beautiful Picture”, your choice.

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My Unexpected TV Debut

It’s appropriate that I used a Newhart episode to talk about my experience with the new HLN TV show Raising America with Kyra Phillips, because that episode was about a guest filling in at the last-minute on a TV show.

Well, guess how I made my first appearance on Raising America? Yes, somebody cancelled, and I took their place. This Jerry has something in common with the Unbelievable Jerry on Vermont Today.

Thankfully, Kyra handled the switcheroo with much more grace than Dick Loudon, and no one got called any names.

I apologize to everyone who was expecting to see me this Friday, because I won’t be on then after all. This is the world of live TV, I guess. The good news is I was on the air. I raised America. Kyra was delightful, my sparring partner ArmyWife101 was terrific and decidedly not a weenie, and most importantly, I didn’t embarrass myself. I don’t think so, at least. You be the judge.

You can watch video of the segment on the HLN site here or on my Facebook page here. (OK, I’m linking the FB page because I’m shamelessly hoping you’ll “Like” the page while you’re there. You thought TV would class me up maybe? Ha, fools! Seriously, though, if you’re interested in my appearances, you’ll get much more up-to-date info from my FB and Twitter than from the blog.)

Technical geekery footnote: Ideally, I’d be embedding the video right here, but unless I’m mistaken, WordPress only allows video embeds from certain sites, and HLN isn’t one of them. (If anyone geekier than me knows better, feel free to give me some tips in the comments.)

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So… I Guess I May Actually Kinda Be On TV Sorta Soon

Newhart, Weenie, Vermont TodayI want to tell you a story about my favorite episode of Newhart, Bob Newhart’s second sitcom. In this series, Bob was a humble Vermont inkeeper named Dick Louden, who, as the show’s producers searched for sharks to jump, became a host of a local cable TV talk show. (They never jumped that shark, by the way. The best episodes came after Dick started his TV gig.)

Dick kept his show low-key and respectable, as PBS as possible, against the wishes of his cheesy, more FOX-like producer, Michael (my hero, Peter Scolari). Dick’s idol was newsman Edwin Newman, and in the episode I’m going to tell you about, he actually books Newman as a guest. But Newman cancels at the last minute, and the fill-in guest is a phony spoon-bending psychic from the mall. Grumpy about losing his A-list guest for this clown, Dick calls the psychic a “weenie” on air. In typical Bob Newhart style, this is the extent of him blowing his cool, and afterward, he’s mortified at his momentary breach of journalistic decorum.

To his surprise, though, ratings go through the roof, and before long, his producer is intentionally booking lunatic guests who will bait Dick into calling them “weenies”. They even add a peanut gallery of overhyped audience members chanting, “WEE-NIE! WEE-NIE! WEE-NIE!”

Dick gets caught up in the spectacle and basically morphs into Jerry Springer, though I should add that this was four years before Jerry Springer’s talk show debuted. This was satire at its finest, people.

Have I mentioned that I love this show?

Well, I always thought that I’d make terrible television because I’m not a weenie shouter. I’m more like Dick at the beginning of the episode — quiet, reserved and just a tad sarcastic. Somehow, though, a few weeks ago, I was approached to do weekly roundtable segments for a new show that’ll be airing on HLN (the former Headline News, CNN’s sister network) called Raising America with Kyra Phillips. The premise of the show is to report the news through a parent’s eye and with correspondents who are parents like me. Hey, I’m a parent like me! No wonder they picked me!

I didn’t announce my big news on this blog, because I was roughly 100+% convinced that, as soon as they saw me do some sort of rehearsal, they’d realize they made a terrible mistake and they’d find someone else to be their token “Dad blogger from a nontraditional family in the Northeast”.

Today was the rehearsal. A few minutes before I was scheduled to Skype in for my segment, a producer sent me a list of topics we might discuss, including this one, Snoop Lion to Educate Children on Smoking Weed. Here’s all you really need to read from that article:

The rapper said he would be happy to provide guidance to the eight and nine-year-olds he coaches at the Orange County Junior All America Football League on how to avoid irresponsible drug use.

‘It’s not that I would ever push weed on our kids,’ Snoop explained.

‘But if they wanted to, I would love to show them how. The right way, so that way they won’t get nothing put in their s*** or overdose or trying some s*** that ain’t clean.’

A great topic for discussion, but I could only imagine how a panel of parents would react. We’d all just be trying to out-shout each other with our condemnation of Mr. Lion. I figured my only way to stand out was to go a different route and play up the snarky cynicism. “I’m pretty sure if you read the rest of that quote, Kyra, it ends ‘and please be sure to mention my new album while condemning these views.'” I practiced my zinger a few times to get it just right, then dialed in for the session.

Because of how they setup their Skype connection, I couldn’t see who I was talking to, but there was a man and a woman on the panel with me. When Kyra raised the topic, the woman jumped right in with something like, “Well, pot is legal in Colorado now, so maybe Snoop has the right idea.”

Wait… what? She agrees with him?! I could hear a voice chanting softly in the back of my head… “Wee-nie! Wee-nie! Wee-nie!

The chant partially drowned out whatever the man said, but he didn’t challenge her premise. If I remember, he seemed to think kids smoking pot was inevitable, so why fight it?

Kyra could clearly tell I was bursting to say something. “Jerry, do you want to comment?”

“Yes, well, pot may be legal in some places,” I began, calmly, “but IT’S NOT LEGAL FOR 8 AND 9-YEAR-OLDS!!!!!!”

So I took the bait. I lost my cool. Here I was, against every instinct I had, arguing with people about current events on TV. (Granted, it was just a rehearsal, so I can’t show you the footage. The best I can give you is this.) “Anyway,” I went on. “I doubt even Snoop believes it. I’m pretty sure if you read the rest of his quote it said, ‘And by the way, my new album drops this fall!'”

It got a laugh. Zing! He shoots, he scores!

Cindy Brady, stage frightSuddenly, I’m starting to believe this may actually happen. I mean, I may still go all Cindy Brady when my big debut actually comes, but I think I’ve managed to trick the producers into thinking I can be interesting television for now.

So here it is, my official announcement and my plug for Raising America with Kyra Phillips, weekdays from 12PM-2PM on HLN, premiering Monday, February 4th.

My first segment is scheduled for Friday, February 8th, but I’ll be promoting it more as the date approaches.

Watch out, weenies! Here I come!