Spotlight Campaign: Celebrity Dad Denis O’Hare and His Husband Hugo Redwood

For What Matters Most - Tylenol

Denis O'Hare

TNF: Your video for #HowWeFamily was beautiful, it made me teary to see you sharing so honestly and openly about your family. I know you and your husband met 15 years ago, what was it about him that made you know he was the one for you? 

Denis: When we first met, neither of us was interested in another long-term relationship.  My boyfriend had died of AIDS 6 months before and Hugo had just gotten out of a long-term, very fraught relationship.  But there was an intense chemistry when we first saw each other in person and from that moment, we spent almost every day together for 2 weeks. It  was very powerful.  It became apparent that we wanted to be together.  We shared a sense of humor, a similar political and spiritual outlook and we both loved travel.

Denis O'Hare and his husband

TNF: Did you both want to have kids and tell us about the process of the decision to create a family together? 

Denis: Wanting to be fathers was an evolution for me. Hugo always wanted kids. I didn’t. We had a 7 year conversation that was always civil, engaged but in the beginning stages found us on opposite sides of the adoption issue. My biggest fears had to do with Hugo’s career. I was afraid that he would not be able to work because he would be carrying the larger burden of childcare. We had decided early on that I would most likely be the principal wage earner and that if anyone had to stay home, it would be him. I thought he might come to resent this bargain and feel that he wasn’t a success. This of course had nothing to do with what Hugo thought and when I finally really listened to him and to what he wanted from his life, it became clear that being a father was very important to him and it became more and more important to me.

Interview with Denis O'Hare 

TNF: How did you decide that adoption was the best fit for your family? 

Denis: Hugo and I always knew that we wanted to adopt. Neither of us felt that a biological connection was necessary for us to feel like we were a family.  After all, I’m not actually biologically related to Hugo and yet he is the closet person in the world to me.   We knew that we wanted to be a place where a child who needed a home could come.  Our path to foster care was a little more involved.  We did interview and apply to several adoption agencies but we did not have a great experience.  For us, the commodification involved in the business of adoption was worrying.  I don’t judge anyone who adopts from an agency – this is simply our experience.  Foster care as a path to adoption was also not easy.  It was a 4 year journey starting with training and classes and fingerprints and interaction with many state agencies.  We saw the inside of many courtrooms and had our hearts broken on at least 2 occasions but in the end, the world finally legally recognized what Hugo and I had known since April 18, 2011 when he arrived at our house:  that Declan was our son and that we were his parents.

Denis O'Hare and his son

TNF: How has having a child changed your life? 

Denis: Having Declan in our lives has changed us fundamentally and profoundly – but it happened quite slowly. As he grew from an infant into a toddler and then into a little boy, we have grown into our roles as parents.  Logistically, everything changes: dinnertime is 5:30; you no longer go to parties on Friday nights but parties on Saturday afternoons at 1:00 p.m.  Your friends are now the parents of your kids’ friends; you find yourself saying “we” a lot more than “I”.  I never really thought I’d be a Dad because society had told me that gay men don’t become parents and so I wasn’t prepared for the complex and intense feelings I would experience with Declan.  Mostly I just feel an overwhelming sense of awe, pride and love.  Frustrations arise, of course.  I am surprised that so much of my father comes out in me and I battle the implications of that.  More than anything that has occurred in my life, becoming a parent has made me feel more empathy with my fellow travelers.

Denis O'Hare

TNF: How do you balance your family life and career?  

Denis: I’m not sure that I do balance it completely successfully.  I spend too many days away from Hugo and Declan.  I try to talk to Declan at least once if not twice a day. I always try to say goodnight – usually on Skype or Facetime.  Hugo and I have a long-standing rule that we can’t be apart for more than 2 weeks. I’ve broken that rule here and there but it gets harder and harder to justify time away from Declan.  Every job I take, I think about the consequences and ramifications for Hugo and Declan. In the end, I spend a lot of time on planes.

Denis O'Hare True Blood actor

TNF: Do you have any parenting advice for our readers?  

 Denis: Don’t wait until you’re ready.  You will figure it out.  I’ve found that while our boy is beautifully unique he is also a lot like other 1 year olds, 2 year olds, 3 year olds, 4 years olds – and there is comfort in that.

Denis O'Hare and his family True Blood

TNF: How did it feel the day of the marriage equality ruling to know that were legally married in the eyes of the Supreme Court? 

Denis: I’m a little bit of a militant and so I was definitely relieved and happy but at the same time, I braced myself for the next set of battles.  We still don’t have protections in place regarding housing and employment.  The emerging doctrine of “religious freedom-based bias” will cause untold misery until it is ruled on by the Supreme Court.  But, I was definitely happy.  For a minute. 

Denis O'Hare and his husband from True Blood

Thank you for sharing your family with us!  Here is the #HowWeFamily video that we loved so much.




TYLENOL® – a brand that has cared for families for over 60 years – believes that it isn’t who you love, it is how you love that truly matters most. #HowWeFamily, is a campaign to showcase that while modern families are unique, we all share the same fundamental values that create an enduring family bond. Learn more about this great project by visiting

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