Gay Dad Life

Truth and Courage Share a Sacred Space

South Ozone Park was not a sanctuary city, not in the formal sense. On the Irish block of the Italian parish, every mother — Jeannie McCormick, Margie Carbone, Edna Malowitz and especially my mother, Nurse Vivian — knew every boy, so if I was digging a hole to China, Peggy McCaffery saw to it that I didn’t touch the roots of Linda Puccarella’s sycamore trees. If I fell off my bicycle, Sally Cadden offered me sweet milky tea and a slice of buttery soda bread, with caraway seeds. All the neighbors looked out for one another.


“Sanctuary” is derived from the Latin word sanctuarium, which means a place to keep things holy. The other side of the Communion rail of St. Anthony of Padua was the sanctuary, even if Father Fusco let Brother X serve as an altar boy there. Sister Mary Magdalen told me that in the early churches, if a fugitive stepped inside, then he or she was safe, from 15th century Queen Elizabeth Woodville to Quasimodo. She said that only a coward would violate the laws of sanctuary.

In December 1985, a resolution was signed that then-Mayor Dianne Feinstein explained as providing that “persons will not be discriminated against or hassled in San Francisco because of their immigration status as long as they are law-abiding.” In 1989, the board passed a law declaring San Francisco “a city of refuge.”

I never meant to be a deputy sheriff. Back in South Ozone Park, I always chose the second half of Cops and Robbers because I was not particularly courageous. But nowadays I hang out with a lot of courageous deputies, so I tend to do the brave thing just to fit in.

I try not to leave the shining city on the hill, but every once in a while, even I play hooky.

One of my more assertive readers is an English teacher at San Lorenzo Valley Middle School in Santa Cruz County named Matt McMillan. He emailed and emailed and emailed me until I agreed to drive down and talk to his students about journalism and memoir.

Kevin in his deputy sheriff's uniform

The big reason I agreed: My 13-year-old never listens to me, so it was worth it to drive an hour and a half south just so that a hundred 13-year-olds would have to write down everything I said.

I am not particularly honest, but after hanging out with the honest reporters of The San Francisco Chronicle, I tend to speak the truth just to fit in. I don’t care much about Donald Trump’s opinion, but I do want the respect of Jill Tucker and Leah Garchik.

So I talked to the students about creativity, and I told them the secret to being a writer — and the secret to making a great chili (grating a cinnamon stick rather than using powder). I told them that each of us has a gift, and we have to fail at what we don’t do well before we can excel at what we can do. And I told them that for a reporter, there is one sacred space, one sanctuary: the truth.

I had heard myself speak before, so what I said was no surprise to me. But Noelle and Remy and Tyler and Jordan and Daniel and their fellow middle schoolers were my epiphany. They asked me far better questions than I asked them:

“What story have you not told?” (The secret of the perfect lemon meringue pie.)

“How do you know your gift is from your heart and not your ego?” (I didn’t know, not at first. I only knew that I was a lousy singer and a horrible dancer, but that people laughed when I told them a story.)

“What story do you wish you had not told?” (How Nurse Vivian, when she worked in the obstetrics ward of Kings County Hospital, baptized all the Jewish babies.)

Do you like your job? (I’m humbled to serve as both a San Francisco deputy and a San Francisco Chronicle columnist, guarding two sacrosancts: courage and the truth.)

As I drove back through the switchbacks of the Santa Cruz Mountains, I turned on the radio. Mayor Carlos Gimenez (a Cuban American, naturalized in 1975) declared that Miami was no longer a sanctuary.

There was traffic and I was running late, so Terry Asten Bennett picked up the boys from school. It was not until after dusk that I drove my little Prius (known to the boys as the kipcap) into the outer, outer, outer, outer Excelsior, and as I hugged my sons, I felt honored to live in a town where neighbors still watch out for each other.

Previously published in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Show Comments ()
Gay Dad Life

Cooking with Kids: An Interview with David Burtka

David Burtka sits down with us to talk about his new book "Life is a Party."

When you're a young couple it's easy to order in or dine out on a daily basis, but when the kids come along, spending time in the kitchen to prepare nutritious and healthy meals for them can become a problem for some dads. We turned to gay dad and celebrity chef David Burtka who just published his debut recipe book Life is a Party, to get some advice, inspiration, and support as we take our baby steps in the kitchen.

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Family Stories

Philippe "Swiped Right" on This Handsome Young Dad

At first, Philippe wasn't sure he could date a man who was a dad. But Steve, and his son Gabriel, have helped him realize a "fatherly side" of himself he didn't know he had.

"It's been one hell of a ride since the beginning," said 26-year-old Steve Argyrakis, Canadian dad of one. He was 19 when he found out he was going to be a dad and the mom was already several months along in her pregnancy. Steve, who lives in Montreal, was struggling with his homosexuality but wanted to do the "right thing," so he continued to suppress his authentic self. "I was so scared about the future and about my own happiness, that I had put aside my homosexuality once again."

A couple of months later, little Gabriel was born, and it was love at first sight.

Keep reading... Show less
Entertainment

Ain't No Party Like a Gay Dad Dance Party

Gay dads singing and dancing with their kids is EXACTLY what you need to get your weekend started right.

Who jams to Led Zeppelin with their kids?

Who rocks some sweet moves to Kelly Clarkson?

Who sings along with their kids in the car?

Who breaks it down with a baby strapped to them in a carrier?

We all do! But these guys happened to catch it all on tape for us to enjoy! Thanks dads. 😂

Keep reading... Show less
Change the World

Gay Dads Featured in Enfamil Commercial

A new ad for Enfamil showcases two gay men talking about their daughter.

The best kind of inclusion is when you're not singled out but instead included right along with everyone else. This kind inclusion inspires others to pursue their own dreams and desires, just like any one else. As part of our popular culture, we know that brands are uniquely suited to inspire us in this way.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics

Daughter of Married Gay Couple Who Used Surrogacy Abroad Isn't Citizen, Says U.S. State Department

A decades-old law can be used to discriminate against gay couples who use surrogacy abroad.

James Derek Mize and his husband Jonathan Gregg are both American citizens, but their daughter, born via a surrogate, may not be, at least according to the U.S. State Department.

The New York Times took an in-depth look at this case in a piece that ran in the paper yesterday. While James was born and raised in the U.S, his husband Jonathan was originally born in Britain. That may be enough, according to the State Department, to deny their daughter citizenship.

"We're both Americans; we're married," James told the New York Times. "We just found it really hard to believe that we could have a child that wouldn't be able to be in our country."

According to decades-old immigration law, a child born abroad must have a biological connection to a parent that is a U.S. citizen in order to be eligible to receive citizenship upon birth. Children born via surrogacy are determined to be "out of wedlock," according to the Times report," which then requires a more onerous process to qualify for citizenship, such as demonstrating that a biological parent is not only an American citizen, but has spent at least five years in the country.

The intent of the law, which dates back to the 1950s, was to prevent people from claiming, falsely, that they are the children of U.S. parents. But LGBTQ advocates argue this archaic policy is being used intentionally to discriminates against same-sex couples, who often have to rely on donors, IVF and surrogacy in order to have biologically children, and are thus held to a higher standard.

"This is where our life is. This is where our jobs are," James told the Times. "Our daughter can't be here, but she has no one else to care for her."

Read the whole story here.


Popular

Couple That Met at the Gym Now Spotting Each Other Through Fatherhood

How two real New-Yorkers became two soft-hearted dads

This article is part of our family feature series with Circle Surrogacy, a surrogacy agency that has been helping LGBTQ+ singles and couples realize their dream of parenthood for the past 20 years.

Byron and Matthew Slosar, both 41, met ten years ago at one of New York City's Equinox gyms. "I asked him for a spot on the bench press," smiled Byron. The couple were married September 22, 2012.

Surrogacy was always the way Byron and Matthew wanted to become parents. They chose to wait and become dads later in life, until they had established careers and the financial means to pursue their chosen path.

They signed with Circle Surrogacy after interviewing a few agencies. "We immediately connected with their entire staff, particularly Anne Watson who lovingly dealt with my healthy neuroses on the daily for 1.5 years," said Byron. "They definitely personalized the service and helped us understand all 2,000 moving parts." The dads-to-be were also very impressed with how much emotional support they received from Circle.

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Family Stories

Adopting an Older Child Through Foster Care Was the Best Path for These Dads

After learning more about older-child adoption through You Gotta Believe, Mark and Andrew decided it was the best way for them to form their family.

"Hey! I got adopted today! These are my dads, Mark and Andrew!"

Jeremy was 16 years old when he found out his new dads wanted to adopt him.

In late August 2017, husbands Mark and Andrew Mihopulos, 34 and 36 respectively, remember driving out to the east end of Long Island. They knew at the very same moment they were driving, social workers were letting Jeremy know they wanted to adopt him. "We expected Jeremy to be hesitant or feel mixed emotions," shared Mark. "We didn't know how he would feel about having two dads and about having white parents and family, as he is a black young man."

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