Just in time for Father’s Day a new photobook celebrating gay fathers and fatherhood titled simply “Dads” will be released later this month. The book is the brain child of Belgian portrait photographer and father Bart Heynen who spent five years chronicling images of fathers in different states across the country, including California, Alabama, Utah, and New York. Heynen now lives in Brooklyn with his partner of 25 years, Rob Heyvaert, and their 10 year-old twins.
Heynen spoke to CNN about the inspiration for the photobook saying:
“I felt a little bit lonely as a gay dad — although there are two of us — but lonely in the sense that all the other families I knew were straight parents. I also thought it was important for (my kids) to see other families with gay dads.”
Heynen also thinks that:
“For many people, the book will be an introduction to gay fatherhood. And so I wanted to walk a fine line between showing that our families are the same as any other straight family. But at the same time, we have a lot of unique characteristics that are not found in straight families, starting with creating the family.”
Heynen would like the book to also “dispel some of the hurtful stereotypes that still linger around gay fatherhood,” by letting the reader get to know the dads and the families photographed like DaRel and Charles Barksdale. The couple were approached by a woman in an airport berating them and shouting, “what do you guys know about taking caring of babies?” Charles clapped back:
I’ve worked with children my whole life. I know a lot about taking care of babies. I think that this (book) is going to hopefully help change the image of fathering.”
Heynan hopes the book shows the:
“full spectrum of fatherhood in the US: married couples, single fathers and widowers; families in the cities and the suburbs; men of different races, ethnicities and religion; and family units that include close relationships to surrogates.”
Dads will be published by Powerhouse Books and available June 29.