Since its founding in 1997, the non-profit organization, Gay Fathers Community of Richmond (GFC RVA), has been a supportive network of gay fathers and their families to share experiences, concerns and successes as alternative families, and the specific issues faced by gay or bisexual fathers.
GFC RVA is celebrating its 21st anniversary of supporting the Richmond LGBT community. The group was started by four men that had become friends through a common bond of coming out as gay fathers. With the help of gay fathers’ groups in Washington, DC and Baltimore, these men planned their first meeting. When they arrived at the church where they were hosting their first meeting, they had no idea how many men would walk through the door. Seven fathers showed up for the first meeting. The following month there were 11 interested dads. Bob Rodgers, one of the GFC Founding members reflects on the start of GFC, “After the first meeting, I realized this would be the beginning of building meaningful connections with men that are going through similar challenges and sharing our stories to offer each other support. The main thing we realized was we were not alone.”
GFC RVA has been welcoming new faces to the group for over 21 years. Membership has now grown to over 100 fathers in Central Virginia. Bob Rodgers continues, “GFC Richmond has been a part of my life for 21 years. It has meant connecting with guys who understand what you are going through. It is a support, networking, learning and social group. GFC meant a great deal to me after my coming out. I have built lifelong friendships and continue to build new ones.”
After the years, the GFC RVA has evolved into a dynamic group of amazing dads that have overcome the many challenges of balancing fatherhood, their professions, and their personal lives as gay men. Over the years, the social, political and legal landscape has evolved for LGBTQ equal rights and gay marriage. Being a gay father is no longer considered a social anomaly, but more of an accepted parenting model and vision of unconditional love.
There are fathers in the GFC RVA that have children from marriages to women. There are fathers that are raising children that were born through surrogacy. There are fathers that have children through adoption. Each story is an incredible testimony of love and commitment to their children, as well as the ability to live their lives authentically and honestly.
The GFC RVA has monthly meetings to provide opportunities for members to socialize as well as meet with community professionals and organizations. There are regular social and family events such as happy hours, theater nights, bowling outings, family hikes, and camping trips. Ongoing community outreach programs and social networking has allowed these fathers to forge life-long friendships. Jason Fair, GFC RVA President states, “This is an amazing group of fathers that are committed to their children and families, their community, and their personal journeys. I am proud to be part of this organization, provide support to gay fathers of Central Virginia, and to help increase awareness and build community connections.”
To celebrate GFC RVA’s 21st anniversary and the kick-off to Virginia Pride, the organization is hosting an event, Corks and Cakes – RVA… Celebrating Community, Diversity and Fatherhood. Sponsors and hosts Barrel Thief Wine Shop and Café, Pearl’s Cupcake Shoppe and Walnut City Winemakers will host guests for a wine tasting of featured wines from the Willamette Valley in Oregon, pairings of gourmet cupcakes from Pearl’s Cupcakes, and live music from Charlottesville acoustical duo, Misty Ridge.
Tickets are sold in advance on Eventbrite: https://corksandcakesrva.eventbrite.com
Date: Wednesday, September 19, 2018 (5:00 PM – 8:00 PM)
Location: Barrel Thief Wine Shop and Café, 5805 Patterson Avenue (Patterson and Libbie), Richmond, VA 23226