Gay Dad Life

A Gay Dad's Lesson From his Veteran Dad: Teach our Kids to be Brave

War will always bring death. But courage will always bring honor.


On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year 1918, representatives of France, Britain, the United States, Canada and Germany gathered in Compiègne, France, to sign the armistice to end the conflict that had been called “the war to end all wars.” For almost 20 years, nations celebrated this day as Armistice Day, a time to recall the ravages of war and the soldiers who sacrificed so that we might have peace.

But that peace did not last, and another world war was fought. When that ended, the Americans chose to rename the day Veterans Day, and the Europeans chose to call it Remembrance Day.

I am reminded of Abraham Lincoln, who traveled to Pennsylvania to consecrate a cemetery on the site of a battlefield named Gettysburg. As he stood before the gravestones he said, “We have come to dedicate a portion of that battlefield as a final resting place … but in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.”

Let me tell you about one hero. My father, Harold Aloysius Paulson (Hap), was a soldier in World War II. He fought with the 3rd Armored Division under Patton. He landed in Normandy on D-Day. Hap outmaneuvered Panzers in the Battle of the Bulge. He himself shot the lock off the gate of a concentration camp. My father was a hero.

My father brought his courage back to Queens, where he took a job with the phone company, married a nurse and fathered three boys. Hap volunteered as a Scoutmaster, a Pioneer, a Knight of Columbus and for St. Anthony of Padua Church. A few months ago, right before he died, he said to me, “Kevin, remember me as a soldier. But also remember me as a man who cherished peace.”

My father raised a sailor, a teacher and a peace officer. I’ve never served in the armed forces; in fact, my patriotism is different. I’ve protested against wars and government, but when I did so, I tried to act with the courage that Hap taught me.

Now that I have sons of my own, I doubt that my accomplishments measure up to Hap’s. Being captain of the math team at Molloy High School or doing the best Bette Davis impression in the outer, outer, outer Excelsior just doesn’t compare.

The year before he died, my father taught me that heroes are not only brave, but kind. In his 90s, Hap suffered from macular degeneration, so he couldn’t see very well, and he also had congestive heart failure, but he still flew to California for his youngest grandson’s adoption and baptism.

He brought a gift. He had paid his neighbor to thread needles so that he could sew a Christmas stocking for Aidan. This nearly blind man stayed up night after night, piecing together a stocking, as he had done for his wife, for each of his three sons, his other grandchildren and even the dog. He was not going to let his biracial, drug-exposed, fost-adopted grandson feel left out.

Heroes make sacrifices. Hap never went to college himself, but he paid for all three of his sons’ schooling. He climbed up telephone poles 12 hours a day so that Brother X could have a bicycle, I could have bell bottoms, or Brother Not X could have bail money.

Sitting in his tank, in those rare minutes of peace, Hap wrote verses about the war and, in fact, became the poet laureate of the 3rd Armored Division. On the 15th anniversary of the liberation of Europe, cities in Northern Europe invited Hap and his Army comrades back to see plaques placed in each town. And my father, paraphrasing Lincoln, wrote:

“The land was hallowed, dedicated,

By those of our comrades who fell,

And now lie under crosses

In France, and Henri-La-Chappelle.

There can be no greater memorial.

Than those we left behind.”

Not sure I ever thanked Hap for losing his hearing under mortar fire or eating chipped beef on toast or watching his best buddy die. Here is the responsibility he left: I must teach my own sons to be brave.

Make this Friday a day of remembrance. More than 2 million veterans live in California, and odds are you know one. Take a moment to thank that hero.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published as War hero dad inspired different kinds of courage by the San Fransisco Chronicle and is re-published with permission here

Show Comments ()
Gay Dad Life

'NolaPapa' Launches YouTube Channel: Story of a Gay Dad

Check out Erik Alexander's new YouTune Channel: Story of a Gay Dad

When we first found out that our second daughter was African American I froze. Not because of her race, but because I knew NOTHING about African American hair. So I frantically tried to learn as much as I could while she was a newborn so I was ready to style it when she was a little older.

I decided to launch our YouTube channel Nolapapa: Story of a Gay Dad to focus on this very topic! Episodes 1-5 will solely be dedicated to learning how to wash, care for and styling African American hair. Afterwards, the content will shift towards personal & family situations, adoption, gay parenting questions and other great content! I'd love your support and become part of our little village as we launch this new project!

Sending Nola love to each of ya!

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Life

Encouraged by His Son, Single Dad Richard Started Dating Again — and Just Got Married!

After his 14 year relationship ended, Richard got a gentle push into the dating pool from an unexpected source — his son!

In 2014, Richard Rothman's relationship of 15 years ended, leaving him understandably reluctant to jump back into the world of dating as a single gay dad. But after spending one too many Friday nights at home, he got a gentle nudge from somebody unexpected —his teenaged son, Jonathan.

"Dad," Jonathan said. "Would you just get out of the house and go on a date already?" (You may remember wise-beyond-his-years Jonathan from this post that went viral of a tattoo he got commemorating his adoption day.)

On his son's encouragement, Richard started dipping a tentative toe back into the dating pool. In 2015, he met Kevin thanks to mutual friends that introduced them via social media. It took four months before Richard introduced Kevin to his son, who was a Sophomore in high school at the time.

On New Year's Eve in 2017, Kevin proposed while the couple was vacationing in Palm Springs. The city has an outdoor festival every year, he explained, which the couple attended. The band Plain White T's happened to be performing their hit "Hey There Delilah" as Kevin got down on one knee and proposed. "Now whenever I hear that song it brings back memories of that night," Richard said.

Richard and Kevin married on March 30, 2019 back at the scene of the crime — in Palm Springs, at the Frederick Loewe Estate. Jonathan was Richard's best man, and also walked him down the aisle (awwww.....). Kevin's brother Bobby served as his best man.

"As so many wonderful moments continue to happen for us in Palm Springs, we now own a home there in addition to our primary residence in Bentonville, Arkansas," said Richard.

Check out video from the couple's special day below!


And Jonathan is now an E4 Master-at-Arms in the US Navy.

Gay Uncles

Gay Uncles are an Essential Part of This Gay Dad Family's Village

It takes a village to raise a child, and this village includes many gay uncles

In November last year, Ottawa-based husbands Matt Ottaviani and Rej Gareau (whose story we shared in July) became first-time dads through surrogacy. They were overjoyed to welcome their daughter Andy and become a family of three.

But as many of us know, raising a child isn't always just about the nuclear family. The African proverb "it takes a village to raise a child" is a commonly repeated phrase, and rings very true for many families. Matt and Rej are no different, and when they shared their story last month, one thing jumped out to us: the important role Andy's guncles play in her and her dads' lives.

In honor of Gay Uncles Day today, we reached out to Andy's many guncles to learn first-hand how their relationship with the family affects their lives. Here's what they had to say.

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Photo Essays

Pics of the Moment Before and After Gay Men Become Dads

Dig through your phones — what was the last pic taken of you BEFORE you became a dad?

We all have THAT photo: the one taken moments after we become fathers for the first time. For some of us, we're doing "skin to skin" in a delivery room. For others, we're standing proudly alongside our newly adopted child and judge in a courtroom. However or wherever it happens, though, we make sure to snap a picture of it.

But what about that last photo BEFORE you first became a dad? What does that image look like, we wondered? Well, we asked our Instagram community to dig through through phones and find out. Some of us are enjoying a last carefree meal or glass of wine, others of us are captured nervously contemplating our futures. Whatever it is, we've decided these BEFORE pictures are just as meaningful.

Enjoy some of our favorites! Want to play along? Dig through your phones and send us your pics to dads@gayswithkids.com!

Keep reading... Show less
Entertainment

Gay Dad in Sundance's 'Brittany Runs a Marathon' is Relatable AF

Sundance hit "Brittany Runs a Marathon" stars a gay dad trying to get in shape.

Who would make for the best marathon training partner for an overweight, overly boozed 27-year-old woman? A gay dad, of course!

The pairing, for any gay man who has been subjected to impossible beauty standards (not unlike... literally all women?) makes a bit too much sense after watching the new Sundance film, "Brittany Runs a Marathon," starring SNL writer Jillian Bell (as the 27-year-old) and Micah Stock as the (somewhat *ahem* older) gay dad.

Based on a true story, the film follows Brittany, an overweight and over-boozed 20-something, trying to clean up her act by training for the New York City marathon — while doing so, she meets Seth (the gay dad), and the two begin to train together, along with Brittany's neighbor Catherine. Each has their own motivation for running: getting one's live together, recovering from a messy divorce, or an attempt to impress one's athletic son. (Which is the gay dad? Guess you'll have to watch to find out!)

We won't give too much more away, apart from saying that the trio — based off of actual people and events — really works. It's the feel good film you're waiting to see.

Expert Advice

Your 15 Most Common Questions About Adoption, Answered by an Expert

We asked our Instagram community for their biggest questions about adoption. Then asked Molly Rampe Thomas of Choice Network to answer them.

As part of our new "Ask an Expert" series on Instagram, our community of dads and dads-to-be sent us their questions on adoption in the United States. Molly Rampe Thomas, founder of Choice Network, answered them.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular

'Life Is Amazing': Congrats to Gay Dads Whose Families Recently Grew!

Help us congratulate gay dads on their recent births and adoptions last month!

Wishing all of these gay dads whose families expanded in the last month or so a lifetime of happiness! Congrats to everyone in our community on their recent births and adoptions!

Keep reading... Show less

Fatherhood, the gay way

Get the latest from Gays With Kids delivered to your inbox!

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse