When Simon Halls went to his two-year-old son’s first music assembly at preschool this past fall, he was hardly the only single dad in the audience beaming with joy. He may well, however, have been the only single gay dad who was expecting twins in the spring. Still, says Halls, who represents such stars as Jude Law as the co-CEO of PMK/HBH public relations, “In L.A., it’s not that big of a deal.” The parents of his son’s classmates, he says, don’t even blink when they hear that he’s having his second and third children with the help of a surrogate, just as he had his first. “They just see me and my son showing up at assembly, living our very normal lives,” he says.
The agency that connected Halls with his surrogates and fertility specialists is called Growing Generations. Based in L.A. with offices in New York, Boston and West Virginia, it was founded in 1996 to provide assisted reproductive services for the gay community. Thanks in large part to their work, the conversations within certain circles of influential gay men in Hollywood are now more often about nannies and sleep training than box office numbers. And the social scene has evolved in kind.
“I’m a total soccer mom,” says Lane Janger, a Growing Generations client who is an independent film producer and a single father of seven-year-old twins, son Javin and daughter Flynn. Like many parents, Janger has his children’s artwork hanging on the wall, their sports trophies lined up on the piano, and their board games piled in a corner—most of them missing pieces. “I can keep track of them for about three days once the box is open,” he says with a sigh, as the twins play on the floor. It’s just another night at the Janger household. “I don’t go out in the same way that I used to, but I haven’t eliminated the gay social part of my life,” Janger says. “A lot of the times, I bring my kids with me. We go to barbecues. I’ve taken them to Outfest pool parties.”
Will Halm and Gail Taylor, the cofounders of Growing Generations, met more than 10 years ago at a gay pride festival. Taylor, a coordinator at a surrogacy agency, was becoming increasingly frustrated by how closed off agencies and doctors in her field were to gay singles and couples. “The surrogacy community was saying, ‘We don’t serve gay people,’” says Taylor, who has two children with her partner of 16 years. She came up with the idea for a gay-friendly agency and set up a booth at the festival to promote the fledgling business. Halm was a lawyer who, along with his partner, had just welcomed a daughter delivered by surrogate. He’d struggled with a mountain of legal issues—from getting the names of two dads on a birth certificate to drawing up a legally valid contract for the surrogate—and recognized that most prospective parents wouldn’t have the knowledge to do the same. “I didn’t want to be a corporate lawyer anymore,” he says. “I wanted to be a parent who helped a few people a year.” Two years after their conversation at Taylor’s booth, the two were working together.