Daddy & Papa

A story of gay fathers in America
Year Released
Film Length(s)
57 mins
Closed captioning available
Remote video URL


Daddy & Papa is a one-hour documentary video that opens a candid window on the personal, cultural and political implications of gay fatherhood. From surrogacy, foster care and interracial adoption to the complexities of gay divorce and the legal battles around gay parenting, Daddy & Papa presents a revealing look at some of the gay fathers who are breaking new ground in the ever-changing landscape of the American family.

Featured review

Stephen Holden
The New York Times


The film utilizes an accessible, first-person narrative to create an intimate portrayal of gay dads, following the filmmaker and his partner on their rocky, and sometimes amusing, journey to parenthood. Along the way, we meet other gay dads: a single father confronting the isolation of raising at-risk kids in a gay and largely childless neighborhood; a healthcare worker battling Florida state law to adopt the child who for five years has called him "Dad;" and a couple and their nine-year-old daughter, whose biggest problem is not that her parents are gay, but that they are divorced. Daddy & Papa takes an unflinching look at some of the complex issues surrounding gay fatherhood, including the effect of sexual orientation on children, the challenge of white gay men raising African American kids, the changing relationship of gay fathers to the gay community and the real impact on children of being raised without a mother. In the process, it reveals a new picture of what it means to be a family.

For tips on facilitating a community forum, information on adoption and foster care, an overview of legal issues and more, download our 8-page Discussion Guide from the Resources section.


Splendid... Students from a variety of social science disciplines would greatly benefit from seeing this delightful video, including psychology, sociology, government, anthropology, gender studies, sexuality studies, and policy studies. I will use Daddy & Papa for years to come.
Ritch C. Savin-Williams
Professor of Developmental Psychology, Cornell University
With emotional intelligence, humor, honesty, and courage, Daddy and Papa 'brings to life the rich social and racial diversity and challenges of gay parenting. This artful, heart-full documentary should be mandatory viewing for every family judge, social worker, educator, mental health professional, policy maker, and neighbor.
Judith Stacey
Professor of Sociology and Gender & Sexuality, New York University
Wise, honest, and provocative, this intimate look at the state of gay fatherhood at the dawn of the 21st century is highly recommended.
"Video Librarian"
"Video Librarian"
I show Daddy & Papa every year to my MSW students who plan to work with children and families. As an African-American woman who was a foster care placement worker before becoming a professor, I find this film informative on SO many levels. It leads to great classroom discussion on what White adoptive parents must do to be sensitive and effective parents to Black children.
Emily J. Bruce
Associate Professor, School of Social Work, San Jose State University
The controversial subject of gay adoption gets thorough and sympathetic consideration...(in) this thought provoking film.
Takes into account many of the complex issues of parenting, especially cross-race adoption, the ethics of surrogacy, and the effect on relationships, including the children. An extremely useful film for classroom teaching.
Estelle Freedman
Professor of History, Stanford University
A superb presentation... Daddy & Papa illustrates the critical importance of children having loving and caring parents, whether they be traditional or gay. The gay men portrayed here realize they can do an even better job as parents by embracing cross-cultural sensitivity when raising children from a different ethnic or racial background.
Alvin F. Poussaint
MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
Well made and thought provoking. Sure to generate a good class discussion.
Barb Bergman
Minnesota State University, Educational Media Reviews Online
Outstanding... enhanced by good production values and smooth editing, this award-winning video is an excellent choice for university and large public libraries.
Library Journal
Library Journal
I have translated this documentary into Slovenian and I must say I must have seen it 30 times already. It is hard to put into words what the documentary does. Not only does it inform students about this very important issue, but it also changes their minds...and hearts. Every year, I tell my students that this is the one lecture they don't want to miss.
Ruman Kuhar
Lecturer, Gay and Lesbian Studies, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
Daddy & Papa has been indispensable in my training of social workers around the country. The film is able to open minds regarding LGBT family adoption in ways that I as a trainer, cannot. The genuine, loving, and nuturing gay men in this film allow us into their lives and help participants break down whatever objections they may have to their families.
Jill Jacobs
Executive Director, Family Builders
I showed the video last night in my Marriage and Family class, and I was in tears and so were a few of my students. Your video is truly a wonderful documentary, and I will definitely be showing it again.
Gina Carreno-Lukasik
Ph.D., Instructor of Sociology, Florida Atlantic University
Engaging...brings honesty, humor and humanity to its examination of a significant phenomenon in the ever-changing map of the American family.
David Rooney
A poignant, compelling story of gay fathers in today's America - as they parent across racial, national, and religious lines, yet personify the most fundamental of family values. A winner of a film that I would like to make universally required viewing.
Elizabeth Bartholet
Professor of Law, Harvard University and Author of "Family Bonds: Adoption, Infertility, and the New World of Child Production"
Michael Fox
"SF Weekly"
The film educates, inspires, and entertains.
Dr. Joyce Maguire Pavao
Founder and CEO of Center For Family Connections and Author of "The Family of Adoption"
College classes and community groups can use Daddy & Papa to prompt complex discussions about parenting and family diversity that transcend the topic of gay fatherhood.
Janet Schmidt
"Teaching Tolerance Magazine"
Daddy & Papa... is loaded with humor
Michael Logan
"TV Guide"
In this remarkably lucid documentary, filmmaker and gay father Johnny Symons traces the evolution of his paternal feelings while also following the stories of a wide range of gay families.
"LA Weekly"
"LA Weekly"
The message of Symons' frank and frequently poignant documentary is that hard work, love, and commitment - not gender or sexual orientation - are what constitute a good home for a child. Daddy & Papa is a thoughtful and frequently entertaining reminder of this simple truth.
William A. Sievert
Orlando Weekly
A terrific film. Presents an accurate, in-depth, and complex view of gay parenting. Ideal for academic environments as well as community forums.
Joshua Gamson
Professor of Sociology, University of San Francisco
An important force in ongoing discussion about gay families and the changing face of fatherhood.
Ellen Lewin
Professor of Anthropology and Women's Studies, University of Iowa
Charming, funny, and moving.
Daniel Baig
"Genre Magazine"
A smart and winning portrait of loving families that come together by choice and commitment, in spite of both legal and societal odds.
Lee Gardner
"City Paper Baltimore"
An intelligent, funny, and well-reasoned film. Whether viewers agree or disagree, Daddy & Papa nevertheless entertains tremendously.
Merle Bertrand
"Film Threat"
These men... are eloquent about both the richness of family life and the stereotypes that they have to confront.
"The New Yorker"
"The New Yorker"
Very engaging... useful for diversity, social problems, social psychology, and a host of other courses. The film is appropriate for students at all levels. This is one of the best films the reviewers have seen during our time as sociology majors.
Pennsylvania State University student review team
"Teaching Sociology"

Awards and Screenings

National Emmy Nomination, Best Documentary
Grand Jury Prize Nominee, Sundance Film Festival
PBS National Broadcast, Independent Lens, 2003
Documentary Most Likely to Change the World, Detroit Docs Films Festival
Breaking the Mold Award, Newport International Film Festival
Best Film, Runner-Up, Cleveland International Film Festival
Best Documentary, Connecticut Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
Best Documentary, North Carolina Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
Best Documentary, Dallas OUTTakes
Best Documentary, Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
Best First Person Documentary, Golden Gate Award, San Francisco International Film Festival
Best Documentary Audience Award, Florida Film Festival
Best Documentary Audience Award, 1st Runner-up, Seattle International Film Festival
Best Documentary Audience Award, Portland Lesbian & Gay Film Festival
Outstanding Documentary Nominee, GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) Media Awards
Audience Award for Best Film, Orinda Film Festival
Official Selection, INPUT (International Public Television) Conference, Aarhus, Denmark

Features and Languages

Film Features

  • Closed Captioning
  • Resources for Educators

Promotional Material

Promotional Stills

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