There’s speed dating and then there’s speed mating — well, sort of.
A new type of event is springing up that aims to pair prospective LGBT parents up. The people who attend these events are all seeking something, namely sperm or an egg, to have a biological child of their own.
“Queer people are creating families in so many different ways,” says Judy Appel, executive director of the Oakland, Calif.-based Our Family Coalition, which is helping organize the networking events. “It is no small thing to have and raise a child, whether you are a parent, a co-parent, or a donor. We found that while more people wanted to enter into co-parenting arrangements, be a donor or have a known donor, unless there was already someone they knew in the picture, it was difficult to meet someone to offer the other part of the zygote.”
Our Family Coalition will have its second Egg Meets Sperm networking mixer in Oakland December 11. At the event, prospective parents will mingle, perform icebreakers, and have some alcohol, all in the hopes of making a match.
“It is just kind of uncharted territory. So we decided to offer a place for people to make those connections,” Appel says.
Our Family Coalition is working with Gay Future Dads and Family By Design, two other groups helping LGBT parents.
According to the Williams Institute, more than 111,000 same-sex couples are raising an estimated 170,000 biological, step, or adopted children. An estimated 37% of LGBT-identified adults have had a child at some time in their lives.
There was one confirmed match at the first event, although Appel concedes there could be more. For privacy reasons the nonprofit takes a backseat and acts only as a facilitator, not a family builder.
Charles Spiegel, an attorney and organizer of Gay Future Dads in San Francisco, describes the mixers as a “power to the people event.”
“What I like is the creativity, the potential to reduce costs of family creation, putting power in people's hands, and the opportunity for known donation and parenting for the children created.,” he says.
To be sure, families meeting at the networking mixers will still need to hash out a host of legal issues, including visitation, inheritance rights, and other important matters that surround having a child. In California, this was made a little easier earlier this year with the passage of a bill that allows for children in the Golden State to have more than two legally recognized parents.
Bob Hartnagel, a member of Our Family Coalition who has championed the events, says the mixers speak to those ready to take on the challenge of raising a kid.
“Many LGBTQ prospective parents beyond their 30s face a variety of biological, chronological and economic challenges to parenthood, making it more important for us to meet a wide variety of people who might match our particular situation,” he says.
Contact reporter Alex Davidson on Twitter at Twitter.com/adwildcat