Nov 30

Gay Fatherhood Films: Stream at Home

Gay portrayed in the following “oldies” you can stream at home. (Check with Amazon Prime, among other sources.)

I. In the Family (2012)

From IMDB about Patrick Wang‘s In the Family:

In the town of Martin, Tennessee, Chip Hines, a precocious six year old, has only known life with his two dads, Cody and Joey. And a good life it is. When Cody dies suddenly in a car accident, Joey and Chip struggle to find their footing again. Just as they begin to, Cody’s will reveals that he named his sister as Chip’s guardian. The years of Joey’s acceptance into the family unravel as Chip is taken away from him. In his now solitary home life, Joey searches for a solution. The law is not on his side, but friends are. Armed with their comfort and inspired by memories of Cody, Joey finds a path to peace with the family and closer to his son.

In most of the following unusual trailer, while seeing the various characters interact, what we hear is a voiceover from Joey’s new lawyer:

Roger Ebert: “What a courageous first feature this is, a film that sidesteps shopworn stereotypes and tells a quiet, firm, deeply humanist story about doing the right thing. It is a film that avoids any message or statement and simply shows us, with infinite sympathy, how the life of a completely original character can help us lead our own.”

II. Any Day Now (2012)

Any Day Now, inspired by real events involving gay fatherhood, was written by director Travis Fine and George Arthur Bloom. From the website’s description:

Winner of 10 Audience Awards at film festivals around the country…ANY DAY NOW is a powerful tale of love, acceptance and family. When a teenager with Down syndrome (Isaac Leyva) is abandoned by his mother, a gay couple (Alan Cumming and Garret Dillahunt) takes him in and becomes the loving family he’s never had. But when their unconventional living arrangement is discovered by authorities, the men are forced to fight a biased legal system to save the life of the child they have come to love as their own.

Selected Reviews

Frank ScheckHollywood Reporter: “Powerful! Superb! Depictions of custody battles have become a cinematic staple, but few register with the heartfelt emotion of Any Day Now.”

Ella Taylor, NPR:

It would take a heart of stone — or zero tolerance for soap — to resist Any Day Now, a full-throttle weepie about a West Hollywood gay couple trying to adopt a neglected boy with Down syndrome.

Melissa AndersonVillage Voice:

Straining for ‘teachable moments,’ the film has one noteworthy, unintentional function: to remind us that though LGBT rights are continually evolving, the laws of kitsch remain immutable.

So…Kitschy or not so kitschy? Here’s the trailer:

III. Beginners (2011)

The semi-autobiographical (written and directed by Mike Mills) and award-winning dramedy Beginners is the sweet story of a 38-year-old man named Oliver (Ewan McGregor) who’s dealing with both the recent death of his father (Christopher Plummer in a highly praised performance) and the difficulties of finding romantic love that lasts.


  • Oliver gets a fresh chance to try romance again when, dressed as a Freud lookalike at a costume party, he meets Anna (Mélanie Laurent), who becomes his mock “patient.”
  • Oliver takes in Arthur, his father’s adorable Jack Russell terrier who’s enchantingly capable of revealing some of his thoughts to us.
  • Hal, Oliver’s dad, is seen in flashbacks coming out as gay at the age of 75, after his wife has died. A restart of sorts for both him and his son.

Below, the trailer:

David Edelstein, New York Magazine: “Mike Mills’s marvelously inventive romantic comedy Beginners is pickled in sadness, loss, and the belief that humans (especially when they mate) are stunted by their parents’ buried secrets, their own genetic makeup, and our sometimes-sociopathic social norms.”

Jun 13

Gay Dads: “Fairyland” by Alysia Abbott

This weekend some gay dads will be honored for Fathers Day. Among these are the out gay partners á la TV’s now-cancelled The New Normal who jointly opt for parenthood together and there are the dads who, maybe not knowing they’re gay when they start to raise kids, do eventually come out.

Alysia Abbott‘s new memoir Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father, chronicles a lifestyle in the 1970’s that included frequent moves, a lack of structure, and an artsy father, Steve, who battled drug and alcohol dependence and picked male partners who weren’t good for him. Meanwhile, Alysia believed it was her dad’s grief over the loss of her mom in a car accident that had made him “turn gay.”

From the book description:

As a child Alysia views her father as a loving playmate but as she gets older Alysia wants more than anything to fit in. The world, she learns, is hostile to difference.

In her teens, Steve’s friends—several of whom she befriended—fall ill as ‘the gay plague’ starts its rampage through their community. While Alysia is studying in New York and then France, her father comes to tell her it’s time to come home; He’s sick with AIDS. She must choose, as her father once did, whether to take on the responsibility of caring for him or to continue the independent life she worked so hard to create.

The memoir is written two decades after his death.

Selected Reviews

Kirkus Reviews: “What makes this story especially successful is the meticulous way the author uses letters and her father’s cartoons and journals to reconstruct the world she and her father inhabited. As she depicts the dynamics of a unique, occasionally fraught, gay parent–straight child relationship, Abbott offers unforgettable glimpses into a community that has since left an indelible mark on both the literary and social histories of one of America’s most colorful cities.”

Publishers Weekly: “…Abbott’s narrative balances idiosyncratic flourishes with universal emotions of anger, resentment, jealousy, and guilt. Decades after the fact, it is clear she continues to struggle with her failures as daughter and caregiver. Yet, her fragile resolution is more honest than a tidy, suggesting that the most’ outlandish’ parts of our stories—our own inadequacies—prove difficult to fully accept.”

Edmund White, author: “A vivid, sensitively written account of a complex but always loving relationship. This is not only a painfully honest autobiography but also a tribute to old-fashioned bohemian values in a world that is increasingly conformist and materialistic. I couldn’t put it down!”

Nov 19

“Far from the Tree” By Andrew Solomon

Andrew Solomon‘s new book Far from the Tree feels particularly pertinent this week, as many adults who began their lives falling “far from the tree” will see their families for Thanksgiving, and most of these families will probably deal in one way or another with the kinds of issues Solomon describes.

Already known for his award-winning personal account of living with a mood disorder, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, Solomon’s latest and lengthy contribution represents over 10 years of interviews with over 300 extraordinary families with exceptional children.

From publisher Scribner: “Solomon’s startling proposition is that diversity is what unites us all. He writes about families coping with deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, multiple severe disabilities, with children who are prodigies, who are conceived in rape, who become criminals, who are transgender. While each of these characteristics is potentially isolating, the experience of difference within families is universal, as are the triumphs of love Solomon documents in every chapter.”

But that’s not all. Solomon’s own childhood differences and subsequent adult developmental process also inform this book. Because a parent disapproved of his homosexuality, for example, he tried reparative therapy. Fast forward, though, to him being an out and proud gay man—and a parent himself.

Dwight Garner, The New York Times: “Mr. Solomon’s first chapter, entitled ‘Son,’ is as masterly a piece of writing as I’ve come across all year. It combines his own story with a taut and elegant précis of this book’s arguments. It is required reading.”

Publishers Weekly further describes that Solomon “relies on anecdotes to convey the herculean tasks facing parents and caregivers of special-needs children because ‘stories acknowledge chaos,’ and he takes great pains to probe the dark side of parental despair and anger, as well as ennobling efforts of resilience and strength. Sifting through arguments about nature versus nurture, Solomon finds some startling moments of discovery…”

Book critic Kathryn Schulz,, reaches the following ultimate conclusion:

I seldom cry at books, but I was moved to tears by Far From the Tree more times than I can count. What undid me, again and again, was the radical humanity of these parents, and their gratitude to and for children they never would have chosen. ‘If someone had said to me, Betty, how’d you like to give birth to a lesbian dwarf?, I wouldn’t have checked that box,’ one mother joked. Yet what once seemed alien and unwanted has become beloved beyond expression. A father of a child with Down syndrome says, ‘For ­David I’d cure it in an instant; but for us, I wouldn’t exchange these experiences for anything. They’ve made us who we are, and who we are is so much better than who we would have been.’ A mother of a deaf child says that she ‘can see no benefit whatsoever in Tom being deaf—for him. But the benefits for me were absolutely huge … I’d been brought up among very clever, high-pressure people. For the first time, through disability, I met people who were good.’ Solomon cites a poll in which parents of disabled children were asked to agree or disagree with a series of statements. One of them was ‘I have increased compassion for others due to my experience.’ One hundred percent of respondents agreed.