Impact Awards: Recap

On March 11th I traveled to Los Angeles and attended the Impact Awards with Family Equality Council at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. It was an incredible evening full of memorable moments.

During dinner I spoke with Tig Notaro and her wife Stephanie Allynne about the importance of queer families in the media. Earlier in the night I had a chance to thank Alexandra Billings for her important work on Amazon's Transparent, and literally closed out the evening with Julie Bowen from ABC's Modern Family. Sarah Paulson was there as well - minus her love, the iconic Holland Taylor (who has under the weather that night and had to miss out). There was a lot of love in the room that night & it was so inspiring to be among other important members of the queer community & our allies from all over the U.S. 
 

Joining me to cover the event was Sarah Toce (Seattle Lesbian, Seattle Women's Pride) and Brandy Black (The Next Family). Check out their websites for portraits, videos, and more. 

"Family Equality Council’s Impact Awards are a celebration of LGBTQ families, and the people and organizations which have made an impact on our families and communities. The Impact Awards not only honor the contributions of remarkable people and groups, but also highlights the accomplishments of Family Equality Council – from our work fighting so-called religious freedom restoration acts to our community building events reaching over 33,000 people across the country." (Source, Family Equality). 

This years honorees include: Transparent (Amazon), Target, and Jonathan Murray & Harvey Reese.

 

Impact Awards: Countdown to the red carpet!

3 days to go! 

Tonight I'm heading back into my closet to pick out my red-carpet outfit for The #ImpactAwardsLA. I'm flying down to LA this weekend to cover the red carpet with my friends Brandy & Sarah from The Next Family and The Seattle Lesbian! 

Together we'll be interviewing an incredible list of artists, activists, and community leaders, including comedienne Tig Notaro, Modern Family's Julie Bowen, Transparent's Alexandra Billings, Sarah Paulson and more! 

Honestly I'm more nervous about my outfit than the interviews--
do I go with a more casual look?? Hi-top sneakers & suspenders? A suit & tie? Bow ties? The options are endless.

All will be revealed when The Impact Awards, 2017 take place this Saturday, March 11th. 

You can keep up with Me, Brandy & Sarah on Instagram here:

www.instagram.com/prideandjoyproject (Me, Kersh!) 
www.instagram.com/thenextfamily (Brandy!)
www.instagram.com/theseattlelesbian (Sarah!) 
www.instagram.com/familyequality (Family Equality!) 

A BIG thanks to Family Equality Council for hosting & bringing us together for an exciting evening of activism, community, and connection. 

Hope to see you there! 

#ImpactAwards #FamilyEqualityCouncil #LATrip  
#ILoveMyJob #Community #Visibility #Pride #Joy #PrideandJoyProject #CountdowntoLA

Planning for The Impact Awards

Hey friends & families! 

Next Friday, I'll be flying off to Los Angeles to participate in The 2017 Impact Awards. I'm partnering up with Brandy & Susan from The Next Family and Sarah Toce of The Seattle Lesbian. Together the four of us will tackle the red carpet, dinner, and the awards presentation for the evening. To say we're excited is an understatement - we are ECSTATIC!

I'm thrilled to have an opportunity to connect with artists like Alexandra Billings, Julie Bowen, Tig Notaro, Sarah Paulson, and the incredible team behind the Amazon series, Transparent -- that's just a few of the many incredible artists, activists, and allies who plan to attend. The Impact Awards will be honoring Transparent, Target, and the work of Jonathan Murray & Harvey Reese. 

You can follow our coverage on facebook, instagram, and twitter here: 

Find me, Kersh & The Pride and Joy Project using the links here: 

  • @prideandjoyproject on instagram 
  • @prideandjoyproj on twitter 

Find Sarah Toce of The Seattle Lesbian using the links here: 

  • @theseattlelesbian on instagram
  • @thesealesbian on twitter 

Find Brandy & Susan of The Next Family using the links here: 

  • @thenextfamily on instagram & twitter (same handle) 

Be sure to check out Family Equality Council online, too - they are annual hosts of The Impact Awards, Family Week, and so much more! Links here: 

  • @familyequality on instagram 
  • @family_equality on twitter 

Breaking News: Off to LA!

I'm thrilled to announce that I'll be flying down to Los Angeles in 2 weeks to participate in The 2017 Impact Awards with Family Equality Council. I'll be meeting up with Brandy & her wife Susan from The Next Family and Sarah Toce of the Seattle Lesbian for the event. This is HUGE news! 

Here's an epic Press Release from Sarah with all the details: 

SEATTLE, Wash., February 24, 2017 - On Saturday, March 11, 2017, an award-winning journalist from Seattle will combine forces with a famous vlogger duo from L.A. and a photojournalist entrepreneur from the Bay Area to glam up Hollywood’s red carpet experience unlike any other. Watch what happens live as Sarah Toce, Brandy Black and Kersh Branz take their fans behind-the-scenes at the Family Equality Council’s LA Impact Awards!

At the event, Actress Julie Bowen will present the award to Transparent writer Our Lady J on behalf of Jill Soloway and Kim Kardashian will present the award to Jonathan Murray and Harvey Reese, who have proven themselves to be vocal advocates for LGBTQ youth and families. Awards will also be given to Target for their work demonstrating an unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusivity for all people, particularly in regard to the LGBTQ community and will be presented by TV Personality Ross Mathews. Guests and honorees will also be treated to performances by Cheyenne Jackson and Michael Arden.

Also expected to attend: Kyle Richards, Mauricio Umansky, Lisa Rinna, Camille Grammer, and Dorit Kemsley from Real Housewives of Beverly Hills; Jason George from Grey’s Anatomy; Kearran Giovanni from Major Crimes; Beth Grant from The Mindy Project; comedian Tig Notaro; Larry Sullivan from Big Little Lies; Michael Arden from Anger Management; andTransparent star Alexandra Billings.

Family Equality Council connects, supports, and represents the three million parents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer in this country today and their six million children of all ages. The organization works to change attitudes and policies to ensure that all families are respected, loved, and celebrated - including families with parents who are LGBTQ.

Although all three businesswomen have worked together on various projects and currently serve on the Family Equality Council’s West Coast Advisory Council, they have never actually met in person. This will all change as the powerhouse trifecta meets at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on the evening of the LA Impact Awards. Trading off hosting duties throughout the evening, viewers at home will get three different POVs intertwined throughout the night to illustrate the combined message that they will have to see to believe!

"When you have an opportunity to come together, take it-reach out and inspire positive change in the world. We need each other now more than ever," remarked Branz, founder of The Pride & Joy Project and Queer Mamas*. "In times of struggle our greatest allies are our families, our communities and ourselves."

“Separately, we are a force to be reckoned with,” said Toce, founder of The Seattle Lesbian and producer of Seattle Women’s Pride. “Together, there’s no telling what we will accomplish. This is a truly remarkable endeavor and I can think of no one better to share it with than Brandy and Kersh!”

"I am beyond excited to join forces with Sarah and Kersh to celebrate all that Family Equality Council is doing for our community," said Black.

With these three ladies on the scene, there’s never been red carpet coverage quite like this one!

Meet the Team

Sarah Toce was the recipient of the 2016 National Diversity Council's LGBT Leadership Award and was named one of GO Magazine's Red Hot Entrepreneurs of 2014. She has interviewed and profiled many of the world’s most influential players. Toce’s diversified portfolio has runs the gamut between local, national and international news coverage and features. Toce is the founder, publisher and editor-in-chief of Seattle’s only lesbian newspaper – The Seattle Lesbian. In its first year alone, The Seattle Lesbian reached a threshold of one million readers. In 2012, the Seattle Lesbian was a distinguished recipient of the McCormick Foundation's New Media Women Entrepreneurs Award. She is also the founder and producer of Seattle Women's Pride. In 2012, she contributed to the book, Gay Press, Gay Power: The Growth of LGBT Community Newspapers in America. She reported on the Windy City Times’ AIDS @ 30 series, which won the prestigious Peter Lisagor Award from the Chicago Headline Club and was nominated for a national Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Award. She is a member of the Online News Association (ONA), National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) and the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA). For more information visit: sarahtoce.comtheseattlelesbian.com, andseattlewomenspride.com.

Brandy Black is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Next Family (TNF), a site for the modern parent featuring gay, single, adoptive, and mixed race parents. She has assisted her clients in guiding social messaging and awareness for the LGBTQ community specifically in the area of family. Black has participated with Mattel in a Barbie documentary discussing the evolutionary changes that she deemed necessary for the modern parent. She has participated in roundtables, think-tanks and national campaigns centered around women and girls, LGBTQ and modern parents for clients including Disney, Mattel, Tylenol, and Dorel Juvenile Products brand Quinny. She has been featured on the Huffington Post, The Advocate, and Babble Parenting Magazine multiple times. She lives in Los Angeles with her wife and three children. For more information visit: The Next Family.

Kersh Branz is the founder and photographer of The Pride & Joy Project and Queer Mamas*. The Pride & Joy Project seeks to change the global narrative of what queer mothers and families look like by harnessing the power of social media, family portraiture and storytelling. The Pride & Joy Project has been featured in O! The Oprah Magazine, San Francisco Magazine and on podcasts and media outlets around the world. Queer Mamas* is an international Facebook group for queer mothers* and their families to connect, share and find community. Branz lives with her wife Toby and their family in San Francisco. For more information visit: prideandjoyproject.com and facebook.com/groups/queermamas.

The Honorees

The annual LA Impact Awards recognizes individuals and companies that have made outstanding contributions to supporting the wellbeing of LGBTQ families. The 2017 gala will honor the creators of the Amazon series Transparent, Target and longtime Family Equality Council supporters Jonathan Murray and Harvey Reese.

“I am honored to receive a 2017 Family Equality Impact Award on behalf of Transparent,” said Jill Soloway, the show’s writer, creator and director. “I created the show hoping it would make the world a safer place for my own trans parent and all queer families alike. In these uncertain times, the work Family Equality Council does to protect the rights of LGBTQ families is needed more than ever.”

Target has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusivity for all people, particularly in regard to the LGBTQ community.

“We’re incredibly honored to receive a 2017 Impact Award in celebration of our ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion,” said Caroline Wanga, Chief Diversity Officer for Target. “Family Equality Council has been a long-standing and valued partner and advisor for Target and we’re humbled by this recognition.”

Murray and Reese stand among Family Equality Council’s strongest supporters and have proven themselves to be vocal advocates for LGBTQ youth and families. Following Jonathan’s success with the groundbreaking MTV reality show Real World, he has turned his attention more recently to producing social issue documentaries like Autism: The Musical and Valentine Road, both of which aired on HBO, They Call Us Monsters, which airs on PBS this spring; and the current documentary series, Born This Way, which airs on A&E. Murray and Reese are celebrating their 25th year together and their 18th year as parents to their son Dylan.

“We are thrilled to receive a 2017 Impact Award in honor of our professional work and long-time support of LGBTQ families,” Murray and Reese said in a statement. “Since we became parents in 1998, we have been comforted knowing that Family Equality Council is fighting every day to better the lives of families like ours.”

Past honorees at the LA Impact Awards include Greg Berlanti, Sara Gilbert and Linda Perry, Modern FamilyGlee, NBC, Honey Maid, former football player Chris Kluwe, actor/screenwriter/director Peter Paige & producer Bradley Bredeweg, Houston Mayor Annise Parker, and ex-Cub Scout leader Jennifer Tyrrell. Past special guests include Sandra Bernhard, Darren Criss, Melissa Etheridge, Cheyenne Jackson, Adam Lambert, Sarah Paulson, and Sharon Osborne.

The 2017 LA Impact Awards Gala is chaired by Stuart Bell, Greg Berlanti, David Marshall Grant, and Paulson. Vice-chairs are Natalie Bergman and Seth Yanklewitz. The event’s table host co-chairs are Jeff Bernstein and Danielle Cooper.

Follow the hashtag #LAImpactAwards to get the latest news leading up to the Gala, and on the night. For more information and to purchase tickets or tables, visit familyequality.org/la.

New Year: New You

Happy New Year friends & families! 

It has been a bumpy start to the New Year -- (and that's putting it in very nice terms). 
We were there, we know what happened. We all felt the loss and shock of the election results. 
As the new administration launches into their second month it's clear that their lack of respect for basic human rights knows no bounds. I have been struggling on my own to find balance processing all of the news and offenses as they happen in real time - and been taking some time away from working on new family portraits. I think of this as an act of self preservation during a time of tremendous turmoil, uncertainty, and fear based propaganda. 

Out of the darkness though, a wellspring of resistance has emerged --- millions of us -- millions of parents, friends, families are rising up to say that this is not who we are as humans. This is not who we are as progressive, thoughtful, kind people. I am inspired and hopeful that our energy will continue. We must continue to resist, persist, and fight back! 

I'm going to elaborate more on where I've been for the past few months later on this weekend. 

For now, please know that you are NOT ALONE.
You are in the majority. The majority is strong, powerful, and oh so FIERCE

With love & gratitude -- stay tuned for another major announcement! 
xo Kersh

Do the most good.

Let's talk about giving back to one another, peer to peer. 

I'm not a lawyer, so I can't offer my legal services to anyone - but I am a photographer and I can offer those skills to the community and give back. It's time that we try and do the most good that we can in all the ways that we can. Let's lead by example. 

Today I made a post on my own facebook page that I'm donating an hour of my time to any LGBTQ couples in the SF Bay Area who are planning to get married in a hurry, before January - and are in need of a photographer to document and capture that special moment. 

I'm donating that time and offering it for free because the queer community has always been there for me, my entire life. If I can give back in this way, and help those couples who are getting their lives on paper to protect themselves - legally, and professionally in this country - we all, surely can offer something to give back, too. 

What skills, trades, or services can you share & donate to the LGBTQ community right now so that we can start a new cycle of giving back to each other, when we need it most? 

It's also important to say that giving to nonprofit organizations right now is a very good way to get more involved. If the federal budgets are compromised for whatever reason, access to funds will undoubtedly be limited.  

I encourage other artists, tradespersons, and professionals to think about what you can share -- we're going to need to be there for each other more and more in the months and years ahead.  If you do not have a specific trade or skill that you feel can be donated or shared, or are simply unsure at this time, there's always nonprofit organizations that can do a lot of good for a lot of people, too. Here's a few organizations that I recommend: 

+ The Ali Forney Cente for LGBTQ homeless youth. 
+ COLAG 
+ Family Equality Counci
+ The Acl (American Civil Liberties Union) 
+ Campaign Zer and Black Lives Matte
+ The Trevor Projec 
+ The Matthew Shepard Foundatio
+ The National Center for Lesbian Right and LPA
+ Transgender Law Cente
+ The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Cente (or your own local, LGBTQ center).
+ GLAA 
+ Gays Against Gun
+ Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)

Consider this a battle cry, a call to arms - a call to pay attention and be there for each other - and to give back as much as we can, as often as we can. 

<3 

#Offerings #PeertoPeerSharing #GiveBack

Weekend Long Reads featuring: Staceyann Chin

Happy Friday friends & families! 

This week we're featuring several Long-Reads (blogposts) from one of our favorite queer parents, artists, and activists: Staceyann Chin. 

Staceyann Chin is a multi-talented, passionate single mother, artist, and activist. She was born in Jamaica and lives in Brooklyn, NY with her daughter. She's open about discussing her process through IVF, her childhood in Jamaica, and the struggles she's faced as an openly gay, Black woman. Read her interview with Mutha Magazine HERE

Her memoir, "The Other Side of Paradise" is available on Amazon and Audible. 

 
 

This summer Staceyann Chin teamed up with Cynthia Nixon and Rosie O'Donnell to perform a play called, "Motherstruck" about her own journey to motherhood. 

Staceyann Chin with her daughter, Zuri in one of their living room protests.  Photo credit and rights: Staceyann Chin. 

Staceyann Chin with her daughter, Zuri in one of their living room protests. 
Photo credit and rights: Staceyann Chin. 

Today we're going to be sharing some of her older writings (circa 2011) that were featured on HuffPost Queer Voices. 

We're starting this weekend's Long Reads at the beginning, with three of Staceyann's first posts.
Links are included below, more will be included on the blog coming up on Sunday & Monday. 

Staceyann Chin: 

1. "A Single Lesbians Quest for Motherhood" -
Link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/staceyann-chin/a-single-lesbians-quest-for-motherhood_b_925009.html

2. "An Open Letter to My Unborn Daughter (or Son)" -
Link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/staceyann-chin/open-letter-to-my-unborn-_b_934476.html

3. "Am I Talking to a Boy or Girl?" -
Link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/staceyann-chin/motherhood-pregnancy_b_971757.html

If you're a fast reader and would like more from Staceyann Chin, here's her full list of blogposts for Huff Post HERE

Happy Reading! 

#QueerMamas #Pride #Joy #PrideandJoyProject #LongReads #StaceyannChin #Motherstruck #Share #Read #Enjoy


Ladies & Quints: Introducing SuperMoms Nadia + Liz

A special note from Kersh: 
We are so proud to announce the arrival of two new supermom's to our team of bloggers: Nadia & Liz Harris! Nadia and Liz are parents to the fab 5, their Quintuplets (who just turned 3!) Read more about their journey to parenting quints here. 

Part 1: Ladies & Quints
by Nadia & Liz Harris 

Raising one 3 year old is challenging, add 4 more 3-year-olds, now that’s a challenge!

Three years ago on October 4, 2013, I gave birth to BBBBG quintuplets and it was the most magical day of my life. My wife, Liz, and I had always wanted to be parents.

Nadia & Liz with their Quints! (Photo courtesy of Jane Feldman of NYC). 

Nadia & Liz with their Quints! (Photo courtesy of Jane Feldman of NYC). 

When we first met, she made it known that she wanted to someday have children. Perfect, because I too, wanted children and wanted even more to carry and experience pregnancy through to the most beautiful part. Labor and delivery.

On June 20, 2008, I met and had lunch with the most beautiful and sexy woman I’ve ever met. She was charming, intelligent and shy, to say the least. I was intrigued and knew from that day, she would be the woman I would spend the rest of my life with. Five months later, we were living under the same roof; totally and utterly, madly in love.

In February, 2009, she proposed to me at an upscale restaurant in Midtown, Atlanta, where the table cloths were white, candles were lit throughout the space and the tables were topped with brown runner paper down it's center.

We had this thing whenever we went out to dinner (which was often in these times), we’d play hangman to pass the time as we waited for our orders. Liz works in HR and  (to release the stress of hospitality running through our blood). Liz works in HR and I, at the time, worked for an audio visual company. All in a day's work.

This night in particular was the night before Valentine’s Day. We got dressed up, valet parked, the mood was flawless and the atmosphere screamed, “Love is in the air.”

We walked into the restaurant and I was in awe. We ordered as usual and talked amongst ourselves. A few moments later, we decided it was time for a game of hangman. I cannot remember who went first but it was Liz’s turn. She drew out her lines and the post where the “man" would eventually, but hopefully not, be hung. As always in this game, you want to recognize how many words there will be. My wife, Liz, my girlfriend at the time, had chosen to create a 4-word-guess.  

A few go’s at it and a few letters later, my hand looked like this:

letters guessed: CTS

_ _ _ _

Y_O

M_RRY

ME

I looked up at her as she written in the last letter guessed (I cannot remember what that letter was) and said, in confusion, “Will you marry me???” Right as I said, “me,” her hands came from her pocket and she placed the most beautiful, princess tri-cut diamond ring on the table. I was stunned. Shocked. Happy. I held back my tears and smiled BIG and said, “YES!!!” We kissed and I just couldn’t believe it! My dream was coming true! I was floating in space yet still sitting in my chair.

We were  married in August of that year on a beach in faraway Connecticut. It was a rainy and cloudy day but ironically, it was the most beautiful kind of rainy day. The clouds were strung across the sky as if God had painted in many shades of blues, greys and ivories. Close family from three different states joined us and the next day, we headed down to city hall in New Haven,CT,  to collect our MARRIAGE LICENSE!

It was official. I had become Mrs. Nadia Harris. Well, I was still Dawson and because we didn’t live in the state of Connecticut (where same-sex marriage was recognized at that time), I had to go through the 90 day process of legally changing my name in the state of Georgia where we resided at the time. 

Four months later, on New Years eve, we had our first IUI (intrauterine insemination or artificial insemination) and we decided after a long talk that Liz would be the one to carry our first baby. Since she 3 years older and we knew we would eventually want more children, we decided that she would go. This would make for a great blended sibling mix and we were excited to have children that would be biologically connected to the both of us.

We found out a couple of weeks later that our plan had failed. We were devastated to say the least. We were certain that this would be a new beginning, a thrill, finally! we had each met and married our soul-mates and now it was time to throw a baby into the mix. We were sadly mistaken. We weren’t sure where to go from there but we knew that we would have to take a break a save a little more money.

We decided that from there on out, I would be the one to carry. After all, it has always been a dream of mine to conceive, carry and spend hours and hours in labor building up to seeing that precious face that I had created. Would it look like me? Have my smile? My eyes? My dark silky, hair??? This baby would be loved, wanted and created out of pure love. Created because two people desperately wanted to become parents. Two “untraditional” parents. And though we knew I would without a doubt be the biological parent, Liz would very much be the baby’s mom as well. She would also have her part in creating this child.

We went through a donor bank located in California by the name of Cryo Bank. Togetherwe searched and sifted through our “matched” donor criteria and profiles to find the “perfect” donor. Initially, we looked for a donor who was similar to Liz. At least we would have the possibility of creating a little human whom could possibly possess characteristics of her like - skin tone, height, athletic abilities, etc. And then, we found “him.” The one whom would eventually be “The Donor.”

He has music abilities, like those from my parental side, he’s athletic like Liz and very intelligent. He’s also tall…unlike Liz, we thought, well, we’ll just have extra tall children. Liz said she wouldn’t mind being the shortest Harris in the household. We’ll see if that remains true once they begin to tower her. I vow, though, never to make short jokes.

In spring of 2010, 3 months after our first IUI, we relocated from Atlanta, to New York City. Laying down our first relo together in the great burrow of the “Boggie-Down Bronx.” It was a great part of the Bronx. We were just blocks away from the legendary, Yankee Stadium and all was well. We began exploring the infamous, Big Apple, skipping along and ducking into secret places. Some known, others you just stumble upon. Winning free bar parties, drinking and eating with co-workers, shopping and embracing this new, fun and speedy life. 

My career had also taken off. I was a first time Director for a small Audio Visual company and i was elated. I had worked my way up the corporate ladder, no college degree, just intelligence, integrity and the will to set and obtain my own personal goals for success and ownership of my own destiny. Liz and I were on top of the world. She was a second time Assistant Director of Human Resources but one of the largest hotel in her company. We were on top of the world, living it up but, something was missing. We knew it was that baby we were planning.

We begin by researching fertility clinics. We wanted to seek a professional who was familiar with our kind of story and ready to just get to it. We found the NYC Fertility Clinic. Certainly with their credentials, we would have no problems getting pregnant right away.

Our initial visits were of a couple of counseling sessions. They wanted to be sure that we were ready, mentally ready to have children before we began anything. We thought at first, “who are they to tell us when WE’RE ready to start a family!?!?! Who the hell do “they” think “they” are?!?!? humf!” Ok, now that that was out of our systems, we figured, whatever, let’s do what we have to do to make this happen. Come to find out, we actually receive some good advice from them.

We were given some literature on how to talk with your children at different stages of their lives involving same-sex families and how explain to them where they came using age appropriate explanations. Fast-forwarding a bit, now that they’re here, we know now that we can take or leave some of that information obtained. Today is much different now than they were five years ago. We’ve also learned that all children are different in the way that they may perceive information given to them. In short, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Once, we were “approved” to begin our baby making journey, I had to go through a few tests and the doctor we worked with decided that I needed a little assistance in becoming pregnant. He prescribed me a fertility drug called Clomid. Three failed IUI’s and $10,000 dollars later, we were left feeling defeated, exhausted and disappointed ( or for a lack of better words, heartbroken). So, we decided to take a break, save more money and relieve ourselves of the toll that the whole process had flushed over us. It was tragic. We spent many nights asking why and questioning whether or not this was the right decision. I began to lose focus on my career becoming cloudy and mentally exhausted while in the office. Not achieving our ultimate goal of becoming Mom’s was the worst feeling I could ever imagine. Liz was totally supportive. We were to each other. We stayed busy and before we knew it, we were relocating to New Orleans.

Our relocation to New Orleans (A.K.A. NOLA - short for New Orleans, LA) happened in August 2011. Once we were settled and enjoying the new atmosphere of parades, festivals and southern comfort, we decided about 6 months later, we would begin trying once again. This time, we thought we would try at home in hopes we wouldn't get caught spending thousands of dollars only to have more failed attempts. I had a close friend that offered to “help” us out. Over a course of three months and 3 home inseminations, we were not pregnant. It was devastating to say the least. We were tired and ready and lost. Why??? Why wasn't this happening!?!?!

We decided it was time to reach out to the professionals and get this done. We talked to our OBGYN, alike, Dr. Stacey Holman, MD Assistant Professor of LSU Department of OBGYN, and she referred us to Dr. Peter Lu at the New Orleans Fertility Clinic. Once, we met with him, he ran a bunch of tests and found out that my body didn't ovulate. This was the trouble with me getting pregnant. During these tests, he also found that I had a few cysts , one the size of a golf ball, on the fallopian tubes. Before we could do anything, I had to take birth control in hopes that they would dissipate. He advised me if in any case, this wouldn't help, they would have to be surgical removed. I remember thinking to myself, “gosh! this is going to be a long process!!! I’m just ready to be a mom!” And…then I was afraid. Surgery? I’ve never been put under in my life. What is this. Well, I trusted in God, as I always do and Liz and I prayed.

It would be two weeks before we would know if the birth control would have worked and…it did! We were ready! Dr. Lu decided to try a medication called Follistim. I had to inject myself in the stomach for 9 days, at the same time everyday to ensure follicle growth. For those who aren't familiar with the anatomy of a woman, the follicle is where a woman’s eggs are grown and released before conception. Over the course of the week and a half that I had to inject myself, every other day I had to go into the office to monitor the follicle growth.

My follicles were growing at a slow rate yet, Liz and I remained optimistic. At the end of this process, I had 1 mature follicle (equivalent to one egg) and the very next day, I was to give myself a trigger shot to release the egg from the follicle. A day later, we would be ready to inseminate.

On the day of insemination, we had already ordered two vials of the donor sperm in the case we would have to try again the following month. Instead, we asked Dr. Lu if we could use both vials, one day after the first insemination. He knew of the struggle we had been through and probably could feel out desperation. He agreed and we inseminated in March 2013, one day and the next. This started our 2 week wait period.

Two weeks later, we showed up and I was given a pregnancy test and yet, we had to wait another two hours to find out. Our favorite mall in NOLA was just a couple of miles away so we set off to window shop in hopes we would get positive news. As we walked through the mall, we couldn't help but look through the windows of children shops and yet walk by with fear that we would yet again, be let down with news that again, we were not having a baby.

And then. My cell phone rang. It was Dr. Lu’s office. I answered and sat down at the nearest bench I could find. Liz stood in anticipation. The nurse immediately told me that I was pregnant! I was elated and relayed the news to Liz for I didn't have the call on speaker. She immediately called her mom (who at this time, lived with her sister in Connecticut). As she told her mom the great news, I was given the news that I was, “very pregnant. We are expecting multiples.” I’m like, “Wow!!!!” and the nurse advised me to take it easy, yada, yada, yada, and come in next week for an ultra sound. I hung up and told Liz verbatim what they nurse said. We thought, maybe we’d be having twins. My youngest sister had given birth to twins and currently (while I didn't know yet) my middle sister was also pregnant with twins.

One week later, April of 2013, we went in for the ultrasound. Nervous and excited to find out about our “twins” was exciting. They called me back and we were led to the back room. As the technician examined me, Liz and I never took eyes off one another. She then said, “well, I see 5 gestational sacs.” I replied in fear…”oh my gosh! Are the cysts back?!!?!?!” she replied, “No honey. That’s five babies.”

 

Part 2: Coming soon! 
 


Three Cheers for 2 Years!!!!

Today marks two incredible years of connecting, sharing, and photographing queer mothers* and their families for The Pride & Joy Project. I can't believe how quickly time has gone by and how many people are interested to help propel the series further than I could have imagined!

Before I comment on anything else I must extend a thank you to each and every person -- adult & child alike - who have trusted me with their most joyful moments, shared with me their fears and their struggles, and opened their hearts and their homes to me & the camera to help capture what it is that makes our families so beautiful: love.

Thank you.

Thank you for giving me the best possible job I could ever ask for. 
Thank you for inspiring me to work harder, to do more, and to never give up on a dream.

Thank you for giving me the support to do and create work that is truly changing lives around the world! Often, you'll see me making posts to social media writing with "we" in the sentences, instead of "I" - when I say that it's because this work is bigger than just me: it's about all of us. It's about you, the good friends you've known for years, the new queer parents you met last week, and all of the friends, families, and allies that have been there with us along the way.

WE are in this together, and WE can make a difference in the lives of queer mothers, and queer families all over.

To highlight these past two years The Pride & Joy Project has:

+Connected queer parents in more than 12 countries around the world through our massive, international facebook group Queer Mamas* that is nearly close to 15k members!

+ Photographed over 30 families

+ Featured in O! The Oprah Magazine (May 2016)

+ Featured in San Francisco Magazine (June 2016)

+ Two radio interviews for RoundHouse Radio (Yay!)

+ Proudly featured on Queer Kid Stuff's Marriage Equality Ep.

To watch our live-stream video (now recorded) click on the image below: 

Thanks for 2 epic years! 

Thanks for 2 epic years!