Dads come in many forms. Biological dads, adoptive dads, straight dads, gay dads, dads who pour their hearts into raising kids that aren’t biologically theirs, and every dad in between. All of these dads deserve to be both celebrated and represented, a job José Rolón aka “nycgaydad” was more than happy to jump into head-first. Rolón has shared his struggles and successes on social media, quickly going viral for all the right reasons.
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Rolón has always wanted to be a dad, but as a member of the LGBTQ community, he didn’t always believe his dream of one day having a big, loving family was possible. In part, Rolón began sharing his journey as a gay dad on social media eight years ago to let others know that the limitations they believed they had didn’t actually exist.
“The feedback and testimonials have been beautiful, but my favorite have been from mothers of LGBTQ youth and young adults who share our family has shown them what is possible for their child,” Rolón told The Dad.
Anyone who watches Rolón’s videos or reads his posts on social media can see that he lives and breathes being a dad to his three kids, Avery, Lilah, and London. Rolón’s kids are full of laughter and hilarious comments, painting Rolón’s family as a happy one. But even though Rolón shares plenty of uplifting and entertaining content (and he thoroughly enjoys poking fun at gay stereotypes), he doesn’t shy away from the struggles of fatherhood.
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In 2013, Rolón’s family was hit with an unthinkable tragedy. When his son Avery was an infant and the couple’s surrogate was pregnant with twins Lilah and London, Rolón’s husband Tim Merrell died suddenly and tragically in his sleep. During his first few months of fatherhood, Rolón had to adjust not only to raising a baby but now to being a single father. A single father, who was about to have three kids under the age of two.
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Even after losing his husband, Rolón’s determination to be an amazing dad to his growing family wasn’t shaken. While giving a eulogy for his husband, Rolón informed the packed church of their surrogate’s pregnancy. The grieving father was met with an enormous amount of love and support, something he believes is essential to raising kids.
“Don’t be shy about getting help wherever you can get it,” Rolón stresses. “Don’t turn people down and when people say they’re there for you, hold them accountable.”
Rolón continues to demonstrate what’s possible for the LGBTQ community, but also for single parents who never anticipated becoming single parents.
“They say it takes a village for a reason, you don’t have to be alone.”