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Photography Bart Heynen

These poignant portraits depict gay men’s experiences of fatherhood

Photographer Bart Heynen travelled across the US to take these intimate pictures of homosexual men and their children

“The looks and gazes on the faces of both the babies and dads are spot-on – a mixture of curiosity and pride,” says Martin Parr, reflecting on Bart Heynen’s portraits of gay fathers and their children. 

Heynen journeyed country-wide to take portraits of over 40 American families and to share a glimpse of the experience of parenthood for homosexual men. Dads, published by powerHouse Books, is a work of compelling human interest, allowing us a view into the lives of a diverse range of families. From couples posing in wealthy, design-led Manhattan homes, to one family whose little girl was carried by her grandmother using her auntie’s egg, due to the prohibitively expensive cost of surrogacy. 

The Belgian photographer’s beautifully composed images capture a new era for gay men in America. Since gay marriage became legal in 2015, there’s been a baby boom in the country’s gay community. “Through adoption or the help of surrogates and egg donors, they are able to make their dream come true and start a family of their own,” explains a statement from the book’s publisher. Dads is a testament to the words of Harvey Fierstein, who affirmed, “Love, commitment, and family are not heterosexual experiences, not heterosexual words, they are human words and they belong to all people.”

Below, Bart Heynen takes us through a selection of his favourite portraits from Dads and shares his recollections and anecdotes from the time he spent with the memorable families.

Dads by Bart Heynen is published by powerHouse Books on June 29