On Saturday, November 5, 80 men (and a few women) gathered at the JOY 94.9 studios in Melbourne for the eighth Surrogacy for Gay Men Community Forum.
Participants came from Melbourne, rural Victoria, Queensland, the ACT, New South Wales and from as far away as Singapore.
Some guys had already started the journey to fatherhood but most were just beginning and this forum was their first step on the road to becoming a dad. The forum has grown from a handful of gay men eight years ago to a room busting at the seams.
The forum is organised by the gay dad volunteers from Gay Dads Australia and this year was hosted at JOY 94.9, who generously donated use of their function room to help us accomodate the growing number of gay guys wanting to learn more about becoming dads via surrogacy.
The topics covered in the forum included altruistic surrogacy in Victoria, the ACT, New South Wales and Queensland as well as commercial surrogacy in the USA, India and Thailand. It was great to have both Sam Everingham and Adrian Perillo as presenters at the forum. Their personal stories were incredibly powerful and inspiring.
As one of the organisers, I was excited and impressed with the number of gay men who are keen to become dads. The word is out. You can be a father, you can pursue that dream of parenthood. Being gay is not a barrier.
Of course, becoming a dad via surrogacy is not a simple course to follow, but ultimately for gay men it is one of the few options available.
I found myself asking why has it become so popular. The answers are simple. Gay men are no different from straight men in their desire to be parents. There is a real and passionate desire to have a family for many gay men.
The popularity of the forum comes from the fact that our families are now so visible to the gay and straight community. Our families and our stories are in newspapers, on television, on radio.
From the SBS documentary Two Men and a Baby eight years ago about Tony and Lee, a Melbourne couple who created their family via surrogacy, to Adrian and his partner Ralph who more recently bravely and publicly took the GLBTI community through the pregnancy and birth of their two gorgeous children on the Andy and Adrian breakfast show on JOY 94.9.
When we left the JOY studios on Saturday, my husband Jeff said he was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of the guys who came along. Like Jeff, I was excited to see the next generation of gay dads coming together.
The baby boom for gay men is here and it is only going to get bigger.
By Rodney Chiang-Cruise
Gay Dads Australia co-moderator