Alexander Gardner loves hearing gay people call each other "family."
"The gay community has long called itself 'family'--as in, 'Oh, him, he's family," he says. "It's camaraderie, safety. It's mutual support and respect, pride and dignity."
Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on marriage equality a year ago, gay families have enjoyed more visibility than ever before. But Gardner, executive director of the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, believes more can be done to uplift same-sex parents. This Father's Day, he wants the LGBT community to remember parents by donating to the Dad Fund.
"As gay men, Father's Day is a day we might want to take a moment and thank the men of prior generations for paving the way for us to be able to become fathers," Gardner says. "And we ought to look forward to the kids of our community and see what we can do for them. Things are getting better, but it's still pretty rough for our kids."
Part of the Stonewall Community Foundation, the Dad Fund began last year when a group of New York gay dads came together to raise money for LGBTQ kids in need and to raise awareness for gay dads both in this community and among all parents.
"Letting these kids--male, female, trans--know that there are gay dads in the world changes the game," Gardner said. "We can be role models for those who will grow up to be dads, and for all LGBTQ kids we can make ourselves present, show these kids that there are gay men who are confident and nurturing."
The Dad Fund primarily supports such organizations as GLSEN, the Trevor Project, the Ali Forney Center, and Streetwise and Safe. The organizations also works with other partners, including Gays With Kids, to share empowering stories of same-sex parenthood.
"Kids need these," Gardner says. "They need their own networks of peer support, and they need adults to care for them in times of crisis. They also need role models. They need positive images of gay adults who are there not just in times of need, responding to problems and struggles, but are just always there. Like a parent is supposed to be."