Gay Dad Life

Take a Leap and Help Get to Zero

Ghosts talk to me but don’t haunt me.

Thursday, Dec. 1, is World AIDS Day. The slogan this year is “Get to Zero” — meaning zero new infections. Since the epidemic began, more than 70 million people in the world have become infected, and 35 million have died.

I cannot process numbers that big. I can only tell you about Tim.

Tim was my private hero. He was Brian’s roommate in that cold-water walk-up above the Jersey City Funeral Home. On my first date with Brian (Oct. 28, 1985), we went back to his apartment, and I met Tim, who was baking a batch of cookies. He looked up from the oven and said to Brian, “I thought you could do better than that.”

I moved in with them a few weeks later, and the three of us struggled to make the rent. While Brian danced and I sold coffeemakers, Tim worked as a security guard at the Museum of Natural History. For Christmas that year, we had a Charlie Brown tree, and Tim worked night shifts so that he could “appropriate” two dozen dinosaur ornaments.

Tim was blunt. We got tattoos for one of my birthdays, him the green man and me seven chakric stars, and he waited three hours, until the very last needle stick, before he said, “You look like a Wonder Girl costume.”

Tim taught me to take risks, like going skydiving or applying to be a deputy sheriff.

One night, when Brian was at work, Tim and I were sitting on the old red velvet couch, splitting a can of Betty Crocker frosting, when he said, “I’m gonna have to stop eating like this. The doctor told me I’m HIV positive.”

We got mad, and we joined ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power). The Republican president at the time said nothing while thousands died. We painted bloody handprints and wore clown masks at hearings. We stopped traffic on Broadway, and got the American public to pay attention to the fact that no one was paying attention.

Because of Tim, and Keith Haring, and a lot of brave people blocking the entrance to the FDA building in Maryland, we got parallel-track testing, which led to protease inhibitors and drug-cocktail therapies.

Ten Septembers ago we rushed Tim to the emergency room. He had gone blind in one eye and was unable to walk or eat. He weighed less than a hundred pounds. The doctor told me he wouldn’t be leaving. Brian talked with the head nurse, who convinced them to let us throw a gay Wiccan wedding.

You know those soap operas where the dying bride trembles in her hospital bed when a nervous groom brings in the justice of the peace? This was not that. This was the loudest wedding to ever occur in a medical center. The groom wore harem pants, the bride a hospital gown and white roses. The celebrant was a transgender priestess. Zane, a toddler at the time, played ring bearer. The bridesmaids were Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.


Brian was the best man for the wedding, carrying Tim across the broom (because that is how Wiccans get married), and I was the best man for the funeral.

That night, while his new husband went to the reception, Tim said to me, “Kevin, can you get me unhooked? I want to go outside.” The nurse nodded. A few minutes later, Brian and I wheeled him out to the little patio. The fog was just coming in over Twin Peaks.

“A last look?” I asked.

Tim shrugged, “Really, I came out for a cigarette.” Brian drew a pack out of his jacket, put two cigarettes to his mouth and clicked the lighter. He handed one to Tim. Tim took a drag and said, “Not the honeymoon I expected.”

Uncle Jon, Brian and I took turns for nights in the hospital. Tim was drowsy on Dilaudid and morphine, and when he woke up, I got the nurse to give him his pain medication, and he said random things, like, “This is the nicest death I’ve ever been to.”

“You’re not scared?”

“No, not really. But I’m sad. A new journey awaits me, but I won’t get to see the quest that you are on. I’ll miss seeing Zane grow up. But I have faith that you’ll teach him to always embrace the adventure.”

He passed the next day.

A decade later, his ghost appears haphazardly in my dreams, as well as Brian’s and Uncle Jon’s. When I am most scared, Tim is that voice in the wind whispering: “Leap and the net will appear!”

Tim’s ashes have gone on the AIDS Walk for many years. Uncle Payo rode his ashes in a backpack on a bicycle all the way to Los Angeles for an AIDS/LifeCycle ride. If you want to do one concrete thing in the fight against AIDS this year, then donate to the AIDS/LifeCycle ride: My friend Rich Bennett is riding with Team ALCaholics and is too shy to ask for support. Fortunately, I am not shy.

Originally published in the San Francisco Chronicle

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!

Keep reading... Show less

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

'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