Spotlight Series: Nick and Brent

The Next Family
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TNF: Tell me about your family.

BRENT: Nick and I (Brent) got legally married just this April! We’ve been together since 1997, and had a commitment ceremony in 2003. Our son Jon will be 5 in November, and we adopted him at birth (we spent his first night together in our own hospital room).

TNF: How did you meet your husband? 


BRENT: We kind of met online (via AOL — I tell young gays that that’s back when we had to crank up the Internet) when a mutual friend sent out a mass email to change his screen name. He didn’t BCC, so these 50 or so gay men decided to create an impromptu pre-Facebook type of thing and all emailed everyone introducing themselves, included photos, etc. I saw a photo of Nick, shot him back a message, and the rest is history!
Our son calls me “Daddy” and calls Nick “Papa.” It’s partially cultural (Nick is Italian), but it’s also because what our 9 year-old Portuguese Water Dog knows us as. She was our “test baby” so we figured we’d keep the names, too.


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TNF: Do you feel different from other families? If so, how so? 


BRENT: Sure. I feel different at times because we’re gay parents of an adopted son, but I almost as often feel different for being a bit older than other parents of 4.5-year olds. (We’re 45 and 47). I also feel different from the majority of my gay friends who don’t have kids, or haven’t been with their partner for 17 years. But I almost never mind any of those differences (except when I’m feeling particularly old). The differences are what makes us unique; they’re what makes us interesting; they’re what makes us something to celebrate!


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TNF:  Is it tough being a gay couple where you live? Do you feel accepted? 


BRENT: We live in Kensington, MD just outside of Washington DC. And for the most part, no — we live in a pretty progressive, diverse part of the country. But there are still places in our area where we’re certainly more aware of our status as a gay couple or same-sex parents. But for the most part we feel accepted, whether it’s from our co-workers, clients, neighbors or other parents from our son’s preschool. I find that most of the time I feel a bit out-of-place, it’s due more to my own insecurities than anything else.



TNF: What has having a family meant to you?

BRENT: Having a family has meant a lifelong dream come true. I have 3 younger brothers (2 of which are younger enough than me that I babysat them) and have always imagined myself married with children. But it’s equal parts more wonderful and more stressful than I’d ever pictured it. Being a Dad makes me feel simultaneously younger than I’ve ever felt and older than I’ve ever felt! Passing on my passions to my son (comic books, music, art) and reveling in his (LEGO, dinosaurs, pirates — they change pretty much daily) brings me more joy than I ever thought possible. And having my husband to do this with is so rewarding and wonderful — it’s certainly been the most challenging part of our relationship, but it’s also made us stronger as a couple and as men.


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TNF: Tell us more about your blog!

BRENT: I launched Designer Daddy on Jon’s 1st birthday, and initially the idea was for it to be all about where being a designer intersected with being a dad — reviews of products I liked or didn’t like, photos of Jon’s room (that I painted/decorated), stuff like that. But it quickly evolved into something much more. I found a community of dad bloggers on Facebook, which totally re-inspired me to write more and better. Between this awesome support group of other dads and my experiences of living in Washington DC during such a great time for LGBT Americans, the site took on more of both a personal and advocacy tone. Documenting the overturning of DOMA/Prop8, creating posts each time another state legalized same-sex marriage  and documenting our own marriage journey has been so rewarding. Through the blog I even got to meet the Governor of Maryland and personally thank him for helping to legalize same-sex marriage in our state.

Thank you for sharing your beautiful family! 

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