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'San Diego Gay Dads' Facebook group is empowering fathers

“There is a safe space and safe community for gay fathers that exists, and we welcome you,” said Manuel Quintero, San Diego Gay Dads Facebook founder.

SAN DIEGO — Father’s Day is this weekend and as we recognize this holiday, there’s a push for LGTBQ families to be included.

The Facebook group San Diego Gay Dads started in 2017 and now has 300 members with 180 children across San Diego County.

The group helps to create a safe community for dads to share parenting tips, activities, and other tools to help their children thrive.

“There is a safe space and a safe community for gay fathers that exists, and we welcome you,” said Manuel Quintero, San Diego Gay Dads Facebook founder.

Manuel and his husband of 12 years adopted two boys at birth, just like mom groups, they wanted something similar for gay dads.

“It's a privilege to be a father to two amazing children and to help give them an environment where we will help expose them to sports, education, awareness and love and kindness and giving them tools to help overcome bullying,” said Quintero.

Manuel and Dennis Wood started San Diego Gay Dads in October 2017. It has now grown to 300 members to empower other gay fathers and receive support.

“How did you handle this when Mother's Day comes around or the school asks questions,” said Wood.

Navy veteran Brandon Johnwell has his two kids from a previous marriage and needed support for himself and his husband.

“I was absolutely looking for information. How do I show my kids a life that looks more like theirs now,” said Johnwell.

He helps organize soccer games, camping trips and says the group has been essential especially when his 4-year-old daughter told him she identified with he/him pronouns.

“I don't really feel comfortable bringing that up [to straight parents] and it's great to have this safe space to talk to dads who have been in the experience,” said Johnwell.

The group is also raising awareness about inclusivity and changing social norms such as having schools remove “mother, father” from forms and using “parent or “guardian” and changing the Daddy/Daughter or Mother/Son dance.

“We worked with the administration, and we were able to change it to family dance and all-inclusive to everyone,” said Quintero.

While the group is dedicated to gay fathers, members say they’re like any parent who wants their child to thrive and know more work needs to be done.

“Give that awareness, give that recognition that we are all just parents doing our part and trying to raise kids that are enjoyable contributable human beings,” said Wood.

Happy Father’s Day Dads!

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