I caught up with dad bloggers Lewis and Richard, better known as Two Dads in London, for a good old chinwag.
They gained thousands of followers on Instagram in just a few weeks. Their social media success then led them on to working on a new blog to expand their brand. Two Dads in London are exactly what their Instagram name says they are: two fathers living in the UK’s capital city.
But Richard and Lewis are also so much more. Their instant social media success surprises them – but for me, it only seems fair. How could you not follow them on Instagram and have an immediate sense of amusement and affinity? At a time where superficiality and egocentrism dominate our online lives, Richard and Lewis come as a breath of fresh air. It makes for logical and complete sense that their popularity is growing by the day. Unapologetically themselves, they use Instagram as a way to entertain their audience, but also to educate them.
Living the dream
Being gay and being parents to two adopted children is something they had never thought was even possible growing up. “We are now living the dream, we are married, we have kids. But when I was younger I never thought that I would have kids, and I never thought that it would be an option. I used to get upset about it,” says Lewis. Now, UK laws have changed and gay parents adopting children is finally and thankfully legal. More so, gay marriage is also recognised by law since 2015.
While our society seems to be more and more open-minded, there are still some people who struggle with the idea of same sex relationships, let alone gay parenting. “We did receive a comment on a photo showing the back of our son. A man commented on the picture saying how much of a shame it was for our son to have two dads and that he was disabled because of it,” says Richard.
But the couple always take such situations as an opportunity to educate. “When we receive bad comments, we have the mindset where we try to be positive, we try to educated people rather than get angry,” says Richard. He adds: “Sometimes we reply by, “Thank you so much, we still love you”, before blocking them.”
They don’t use their social media to focus on negativity, though. But they don’t mind sharing stories with me about how often people shamelessly asked overstepping, personal questions in public spaces such as, “Are they your kids?” or “Who plays the mum and who plays the dad?”
Morning dance routine
Starting the Two Dads in London Instagram account was Lewis’s idea. Being on adoption leave gave him “baby brain” as he explains, as well as becoming “a little bored”. After working out the times which seemed to show a pick up of interest from their audience, the posts started to attract more and more viewers. Their “morning dance”, as they call it, is what I would consider their trademark.
At seven in the morning, sometimes earlier, Richard and Lewis would sometimes put a wig on, blast some PussyCat Dolls songs or other pop hits and lip-synch for their lives. They are big RuPaul’s Drag Race fans, and I am guessing they got some inspiration from the popular TV show depicting drag queens competing with each other.
Their morning dance are sometimes sparked from other things, such as trolls. Lewis tells me of a time where another gay dad influencer received hateful remarks on his social media. They took this as an opportunity to dedicate their morning dance to the unfortunate situation by dancing to Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off.
The two dads also use their Instagram account to give advice on adoption and offer honest opinions. When couples or a person message them for their help, they happily sharing their experience with adopting and how they felt through the whole process, a process that can sometimes take years.
The couple like to remind people that there are many things to be considered when adopting a child. “People think they will adopt a kid and instantly fall in love with them. You go from day one without kids to day two having a 10-month-old baby. The initial conditional love that a mother typically has after giving birth is not there, and you have to build a bond,” says Lewis.
Helping others understand
Nevertheless, both are grateful to be in a situation where they can help others have a better understanding of adopting. “We have loads of information about adoption. When we were going through the process, I would’ve loved to have someone like us to ask questions,” says Richard.
Indeed, Richard and Lewis are well-informed adoptive parents to two beautiful children, whom they have made the decision to not expose on their social media. Although they posts about parenting- and family- oriented topics, they simply do not want to show their daughter and son.
Nevertheless, like any other parents, they sometimes need help themselves. This is something that they have not always been comfortable asking for. Lewis particularly struggled with the idea of people judging him and his husband for being gay parents. He did not want people to have a reason to think they weren’t fit to be parents. “At first, we always thought that we had to do everything perfect,” says Richard. As a gay couple, they often felt that they had to work harder to prove themselves as parents. Fortunately, they do not worry anymore about showing weakness and allowing themselves to ask for help.
Emphasis on inclusion
As much as being part of the LGBTQ community, and being proud of it, is an important part of their lives, the two dads strongly put an emphasis on making all of their followers feel included – regardless of their sexual orientation and background. “We’re quite relatable in a weird way, even though we’re gay. If you’re a straight man or a straight woman, you can watch our account without feeling segregated,” says Richard. They also make a point of normalising gay parenting. “I think that it is a nice hidden message for us to share,” says Lewis.
Normalising gay parenting means, for instance, revealing what they do for Mother’s Day. This year they created a special Instagram post about their version of the celebration. Richard and Lewis wrote about Mother’s Day being a little “tricky” for their family, and how they decided to spend the day focusing on grandmothers instead. “We thought about what we can do to fit in with the tradition, that isn’t our tradition anymore,” says Richard.
Both dads’ mothers are very present in their lives. “They give us that motherly instinct, that you know, we need to know more about,” says Lewis. Ultimately, they also wanted for people to understand that many families do not fit the stereotype, and not every family have a mother to celebrate.
As Richard and Lewis enjoy family life in London, they acknowledge their luck. Both agree that the city is quite diverse and that fortunately, their experience has been rather positive in comparison to many other LGBTQ members around the world. The two dads occasionally received stares and exaggerated reactions from people who tend to overplay their joy at the sight of both men with their two children. “People get sometimes over-happy, a lot of mothers want to be your friends because you’re the gay dad,” says Richard. Regardless, both parents take those reactions with humour.
Funny times ahead
As Richard is speaking of his son’s future with football and enthusiastically imagining him and his husband watching their son’s games, Richard also knows that it will be “funny” to probably be the only gay couple watching them. “At the end of the day, we would prefer our son to grow up, knowing we both went to every single football match, and that we were part of his life, rather then having parents who don’t bother,” says Lewis.
Richard and Lewis are specialists at taking life with a grain of salt. Beyond everything, their social media display a loving family living a normal and regular life. Both want their audience to see that their daily struggle with their children are the same as any other parents have with their baby girl or boy kid. Richard and Lewis do not know where their success on social media will take them, but they know one thing will never change: the who- is-the-most-tired? argument. An argument they firmly believe to be something all parents universally argue about. I know my parents do.