Two British dads are hosting the UK’s first LGBTQ+ exclusive family planning event in a bid to normalise same-sex and trans-parenting
The Modern Family Show, announced this month in honour of Pride, is dedicated solely to the LGBTQ+ community, focusing on exploring the physical and emotional possibilities and realities of becoming an LGBTQ+ parent. It will host talks and debates on the opportunities within co-parenting, fostering, adoption, and solo parenting.
Hosts Michael and Wes Johnson-Ellis are parenting and surrogacy bloggers, who met eight years ago at Birmingham Pride and were keen to start a family. There are a variety of different options available to having children, but some are not always welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community, which left Michael and Wes feeling confused and unsupported.
“In my twenties I thought being a gay dad wasn’t an option – I don’t want that for anyone else.”
A 2018 study by non-profit organisation Family Equality, found that 63% of LGBTQ Millennials (aged 18-35) are considering expanding their families, either becoming parents for the first time, or by having more children. So Michael and Wes were certainly not alone in their desire for a family, but lack of knowledge and support meant they spent months and months of heavy research, not really knowing where to start.
Which is how the pair’s blog, TwoDads.uk, started; to educate and support fellow LGBTQ+ parents, and now their event is an extension of their blogging work. Attendees of the Modern Family Show can access expert medical advice and seminars on surrogacy, IUI/IVF, sperm or egg donation, as well as trans-parenting and fertility preservation.
Michael and Wes finally settled on surrogacy, enabling them to have biological children. Michael said, "We decided on surrogacy because we knew we wanted our own biological children. People do question it as to why we didn't go for adoption, but that just wasn't for us.
"We knew people at the time who tried adoption but had bad experiences with homophobic social workers. The process was daunting enough without the worry of further prejudice, we’d both spent most of our twenties thinking having a family as a gay man wouldn’t be an option."
The couple now have two children, daughter Talulah and son Duke, and strive to normalise LGBTQ+ parenting by creating a safe space for others who are taking the first steps.
Michael noted, “We still get questions that can feel intrusive or questions about ‘taking the baby away from the mother’. But this is our fight – we want to normalise LGBT parenting further and create a safe space for people in the community to ask questions, unjudged. Being two dads, two mums, or tran-parents shouldn’t be an issue as long as a child is loved.
"We started our blog to educate people on same-sex parenting and de-stigmatise surrogacy. The Modern Family Show is an extension of this, helping people learn the best way to start a family for them.”
The Modern Family Show will take place on 19 September, at 8 Northumberland Avenue in London. Tickets for the event are available via themodernfamilyshow.co.uk, which has partnered with LGBTQ+ charity Mermaids and LGBT+ Diversity Role Models.
A month of Pride events
Whilst September may feel like a while away, Pride isn’t over yet! If you’re still looking for events to celebrate, you can find a whole host listed on the Pride London website. Some of our favourites include:
Free on-demand dance workshops for over 60s. To kick off the celebrations, the first workshop was inspired by Indian classical dance and hosted by choreographer Seeta Patel. Watch on-demand via YouTube.
Let’s talk hair and make up - tutorials hosted live on Facebook until 30 June to give you tips and tricks on taming your locks to make you feel great.
If you’re a fan of yoga but don't feel represented in a conventional yoga space, yoga teacher Thania is hosting an online weekly LGBTQIA+ flow yoga class.
You can still meet wonderful, like-minded people this Pride, without having to leave your sofa! Held everyday from 7.30 - 9.30pm, book your space for online lesbian speed dating.
Online gay and bi LGBTQ+ men’s wellness support group takes place every other Friday from 3 July. The group provides a friendly, supportive space based on creative arts therapy. Email your interest to GayBiWellnessSupportfirstname.lastname@example.org.