When I was a gay teenager growing up in the nineties (sidenote: flannel shirts are making a comeback), I never imagined a future where I’d one day be able to have a child of my own. It just wasn’t a thing back then. Truth be told, being openly gay wasn’t really a thing back then either. At least not in my high school. The thought of coming out during that time was, quite frankly, dangerous. With anti-gay politics sweeping the nation and very few nondiscrimination protections in place… it was hard out here for a pimp-ly kid.
Luckily there were glimmers of hope for boys like me. MTV’s Real World introduced us to courageous, likeable gay men like NYC’s artsy Norman, New Orleans’ adorable Danny and San Francisco’s unforgettable Pedro. From there, little by little, more trailblazers like Ellen, Elton, Melissa Etheridge, KD Lang and George Michael began opening the door for many brave souls to follow.
Though, during this time period, no major out gay celebrity had children of their own. Like I said, it just wasn’t a thing back then. So I didn’t believe it would be a thing for me.
Cut to 25 years later.
We are making up for lost time. Same-sex couples can now legally get married and adopt children in all 50 states, and there’s a growing number of states in favor of laws regarding surrogacy for gay dads. In other words, we’ve come a long way, baby.
Today’s generation of impressionable teens now have their pick of gay celebrity dads to follow on social media, read about on newsstands and be inspired by on big and small screens. Thankfully, kids of today have what so many of us lacked when we were their age—hope that the dream of starting a family can one day become a reality.
Here are ten inspiring examples of beautiful gay dad families in the public eye that are doing a wonderful job normalizing the concept of fatherhood for the world to see! To these men, and countless others willing to go public with their family journeys, thank you for your visibility and for your inspiration. Because of you, gay people of all ages see what’s possible for themselves.
Jesse Tyler Ferguson & Justin Mikita
President Elect (man, I love saying that), Joe Biden, once credited Will and Grace as having done more to shift public perception on the issue of gay marriage than anything else. I’d argue that Modern Family has had a similar impact in shifting people’s perception of what a loving two-dad family looks like. But Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s legacy didn’t stop there. He and his handsome husband, Justin Mikita (lawyer and Tony-winning Broadway producer) welcomed their first child—Beckett Mercer Ferguson-Mikita—this year showing us what a modern family looks like off script. And if you ask me, the role of Daddy fits these two very well.
I’ve been following Anderson Cooper’s impressive career since he was a brunette fox journalist-in-training on Channel 1’s in-school broadcasts when I was in middle school. I had the privilege of meeting Anderson a couple of years ago, and I told him that having read his terrific, sensitive memoir, Dispatches from the Edge, I thought he’d make an incredible father someday. Turns out, he was secretly in the process of planning to have a baby via surrogacy. He welcomed a beautiful baby boy, Wyatt Morgan Cooper, this year. Named after Anderson’s late father, Wyatt is co-parented with Anderson’s close friend and former partner, Benjamin Maisani. What are the chances Wyatt inherits his father’s adorable uncontrollable giggle?
One can’t talk about Anderson Cooper, without showing some love to his BFF, the other famous AC, Andy Cohen. In 2019, the Real Housewives wrangler welcomed his son, Benjamin, to the world via surrogacy and he’s raising the child on his own, which speaks volumes to how much Andy wanted a family. Check out Andy on the ‘gram (@bravoandy) to enjoy all the NYC shananigians Andy and Benjamin get themselves into. The Watch What Happens Live star is a triple threat: He’s charming, successful, and a wonderful hands-on father. Bravo, indeed!
Nate Berkus & Jeremiah Brent
I was inspired to come out to my family after watching interior design guru Nate Berkus share the harrowing story of losing his then partner, Fernando, when the two were vacationing in Sri Lanka during the devastating tsunami in 2004. Back then, I remember thinking, I sure hope he finds true love again. Not only has he found love—and marriage—with fellow designer and TV host Jeremiah Brent, but they went on to welcome two beautiful children via surrogacy, 6-year old Poppy and 3-year old, Oskar. Nate and Jeremiah’s instagram accounts (@nateberkus & @jeremiahbrent) are the perfect blend of adorable family photos and stunning design inspiration, as if we need another reason to stan this stylish duo.
Greg Berlanti & Robbie Rogers
A lot of the progress we’ve made as a community is in part thanks to prolific TV producer, Greg Berlanti and his professional soccer playing husband turned TV producer, Robbie Rogers. Greg has been creating soulful LGBTQ+ stories long before it was the trendy thing to do. 20 years ago he wrote the first gay romantic dramedy, The Broken Hearts Club starring the then unknown Billy Porter. He also ran several seasons of Dawson’s Creek, Brothers and Sisters, and directed the charming and important John Hughes-esque Love, Simon. He’s been inspiring us with un-stereotypical gay characters for decades. Robbie, for his part, was the first brave athlete in pro sports to come out when he played for the LA Galaxy. Together, they share two adorable kids, Caleb (4) and Mia (1) who were born via surrogacy. And yes, the kids have inherited Greg’s cute smile and Robbie’s chic style.
Ricky Martin & Jwan Yosef
Pop singer and actor Ricky Martin wasn’t out publicly when he welcomed twin sons, Matteo and Valentino in 2008 via a surrogate. Two years later he acknowledged being gay on his official website and he’s been Livin’ la Vida Loca ever since. After marrying painter Jwan Yosel in 2017, the couple welcomed two more children into the brood: daughter Lucia in 2018, and son Renn in 2019. Ricky is quoted as saying he just wants his family to be seen as normal. Thanks to his visibility as a gay father with millions of fans all over the world, Ricky is doing more than he knows to help normalize the idea of gay parenting.
Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka
He sings. He acts. He does magic… but none of Neil Patrick Harris’ many talents compare to his role of father to 10-year old twins, Gideon and Harper. Whether they’re vacationing with Elton John’s family or winning the Internet with coordinating Halloween costumes, Neil and his handsome husband—professional chef and actor—David Burtka make being dads look like so much fun. Don’t believe me? Check out their family-friendly presence on social media (@nph). Want even more NPH? Check out his underrated performance in the 1988 film Clara’s Heart where he played opposite Whoopie Goldberg. A wonderful little gem of a movie.
Alec Mapa and Jamison Hebert
Funny man, Alec Mapa (Ugly Betty, Desperate Housewives) and his actor/producer husband, Jamison, created their picture-perfect family through foster adoption in 2010. As soon as they saw a picture of then 5-year old Zion, they knew he was their kid. Together, they chronicled their journey through the adoption process in the wonderfully funny and moving documentary Baby Daddy, in 2014. Follow Alec’s Instagram account (@alecmapa) for more laugh-out-loud family moments that are always relatable, extremely heartfelt, and a lot of bit extra.
Dan Bucatinsky & Don Roos
Actor/writer/producer Dan Bucantinsky (Scandal, The Comeback) and his writer/director husband, Don Roos (The Opposite Of Sex, Younger, This Is Us) are among Hollywood’s most talented power couples. With a long and impressive list of IMDB credits, becoming fathers to daughter Eliza (15) and son Jonah (12) is truly their best work yet. Dan chronicled their adoption journey in the laugh-out-loud, then cry-out-loud, then laugh-out-loud again memoir, Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight? Dan and Don were one of the first famous gay couples to start a family—their story went on to inspire me and my husband Alex to start our family shortly thereafter (our son Maxwell was born in 2010). So trust me when I say visibility matters.
Mario Lavandeira (aka Perez Hilton)
Celebrity blogger and reality star Perez Hilton wasn’t going to let finding Mr. Right delay the start of his family. Proudly on his own, he welcomed not one, not two, but three beautiful children with the help of a surrogate. Son Mario (7) and daughters Mia (5) and Myete (3) make up the lovely brood—their full house is rounded out by grandma Teresita, who’s always on hand to help with the kids. Mario has his hands full with three glorious kids, his popular entertainment blog, stints on reality TV, a wonderful children’s book about being yourself—The Boy With The Pink Hair—and his latest best-selling memoir, TMI: My Life in Scandal.