From the start of their 27 years together David and Shawn desperately wanted to have children.
For gay couples choosing biological parenthood over adoption, going through layers of bureaucracy, mounting a million hurdles and laying out piles of cash is the norm.
You need to select an egg donor, locate a suitable surrogate and manage a range of other logistics. It can be a maddening process with agency representation but without it you may go insane.
In 2014 David and Shawn (last name withheld), having procured eggs from an Alaskan woman, engaged Planet Hospital, a Calabasas surrogacy agency operating in Cancun that purported to offer a trouble-free route to parenthood.
“Initially, everything went smoothly, but then we started getting delayed responses. Things were suddenly on hold,” David says.
“The owner abandoned the company and we were essentially left with frozen blastocysts (a fertilized embryo), and no surrogate.”
The couple, along with several others, were in danger of losing their embryo, their dream jeopardized.
Though a legal battle ensued, David and Shawn did not participate, focusing their energies on quickly finding a suitable surrogate.
David says they were feeling hopeless until a woman who had worked for Planet Hospital told them she knew other surrogates.
Planet Hospital was forced into Chapter 7 bankruptcy after clients demanded $79,000 for services that Planet Hospital allegedly failed to perform. The owner was sentenced in San Diego to two years in prison and fined $10,000 for defrauding clients, bribery and interstate wire fraud.
Working with the former employee of Planet Hospital was risky, David admits: “We were working on completely blind trust.”
But the surrogate, living in Cancun, Mexico, became pregnant instantly.
The couple stayed in constant contact with her, communicating via Skype, terrified they were being scammed.
But Sebastian was born in October 2014 and is now a beautiful, bright, blue-eyed child who has abundant curiosity and nuclear powered energy.
“Sebastian has been a dream child and it’s a love I’ve never felt before,” said David.
And so David and Shawn decided it was time to give Sebastian a sibling. They had been, after all, hoping for twins when Sebastian was born, so a second child was always part of their dream.
They pursued it and after several failed attempts with surrogates, they ran out of embryos.
Because they had hoped Sebastian would share a maternal link with his brother, they reached out to the donor who’d provided Sebastian’s embryo for new eggs, but that effort failed.
They found another donor in Mexico City and a surrogate near Mexico’s southwestern coast.
Since Sebastian’s embryo was fertilized by Shawn, this one, the couple decided, would be fertilized by David. If their bond as siblings could not be genetic, it would at least reflect the love shared by their fathers.
The surrogate became pregnant on the first try and the couple was given a due date of Oct. 6, 2017.
One month before the baby’s due date, David and Shawn, emotionally exhausted from all the twist and turns, vacationed in Spain with Sebastian.
But news of an 8.1 quake near Mexico’s southwestern coast on Sept. 7, with an epicenter near the surrogate’s hometown, shocked them.
They tried to reach their surrogate but wound up speaking to her doctor, instead.
“As a result of the quake, she entered premature labor. Her water had broken at 36 weeks, and an emergency C-section was required,” David says.
Shawn immediately flew to Mexico City and David soon followed. Healthy baby Seth was born Sept. 8, weighing 6 pounds.
A DNA test was taken to prove the biological paternity for the birth certificate, a critical step that would allow him to be taken home to the United States.
“But the birth certificate contained an error that needed to be corrected by the physician,” David says.
Days later, snafu resolved, the couple attempted to register the baby, but the offices were closed. Without registration, David would be unable to establish legal paternity and leave Mexico with Seth.
David said, “I was thinking what the fuck could go wrong next?”
The new family was enjoying lunch at an outdoor cafe near Zona Rosa when a powerful 7.1 earthquake struck, sending Mexico City into utter chaos.
“It was a frightening experience. Everyone ran into the streets. We were two blocks from a building that collapsed near Condesa,” said David.
The couple, terrified for their children, was unable to return to their hotel and the temperature outside soared.
Shawn entered the hotel alone and climbed the stairs to their room on the 14th floor. The room was nearly destroyed, ceiling cracked, floors flooded with water from burst pipes.
He grabbed their belongings and managed to move the family to a newer hotel nearby.
But by the time they checked in, after an entire day waiting outside, they noticed the newborn was behaving oddly.
“He was having trouble breathing, spitting up his food, choking and his color was off. The hotel paramedics took us to spend the night in the emergency room. He was dehydrated,” David says.
Days later, registration resolved, they went to the U.S. embassy and found it closed. It would be another week before things in the city were back to somewhat normal.
Finally, after two weeks of waiting, Seth’s DNA test accepted and the embassy granted him an emergency passport for travel to New York.
“Sebastian was not too keen Seth was coming home with us,” David said. “He tried to ignore Seth on the plane but he seems better. But he gets really sweet and asks us to send Seth back to Mexico.”
His advice for future parents looking to go this route is to visit the agency you opt to work with.
“Meet the people you’re working with in-person. If I had listened to my instincts, I would have not pursued the original option, though it worked out for the best,” he said.
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These gay Grandpas’ YouTube is heartwarming & endearing
Two gay Grandpas share the sheer joy of travel as they merrily document their way through their adventures taking the viewers along with them
LOS ANGELES – Nearly every social media creator and influencer these days are driven by the big three goals of, fame, money, impact, and this holds true across all of the popular platforms globally. There are exceptions and one pair of gay Grandpas in a quiet space of YouTube’s vast ecosystem are there, not for any of the aforementioned goals, but to share the sheer joy of travel as they merrily document their way through their adventures- taking the viewers along with them.
For a little bit over a year since this past May the pair have filmed themselves in some scenic and breathtaking locations that they have shared. They describe themselves as: “We are two gay grandpas and for us it’s not about creating a YouTube empire or making money. We’re in it for the fun and joy of travel. We’re in it to hopefully get others excited about traveling and seeing the world. So if you’d like to follow our adventures, we’d love to have you join us.”
To join them in the hunt for adventure here are their links and the most recent video posted to their YouTube Channel.
RaiseAChild- Fierce, fabulous, & oh yeah, “honey don’t forget the kids”
“What happens to being like a fierce, fabulous, gay? All of a sudden, I’m living the life my parents lived.”
LOS ANGELES – RaiseAChild over the past decade has become the national leader in the recruitment and support of LGBTQ+ and all prospective parents interested in building families through fostering and fostering-to-adopt, to meet the needs of the approximately 440,000 children caught up in the U.S. foster care system.
This year in celebration of its tenth anniversary, the LA-based organization is holding its RaiseAChild HONORS.
One of the organization’s success stories is a theatre arts couple, Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews, a husband-and-husband team of writers and composer-lyricists whose contributions to musicals and the world of Broadway have been acclaimed.
In 2019, the venerable theatre industry trade publication Playbill, profiled this dynamic couple noting, “The two come from opposite backgrounds: Matthews is an African-American Christian man from Pittsburgh, Gould is a white Jewish-American man from New York City. As they grappled with the gulf between their respective roots, they found common ground during a trip to Germany when they took Matthews’ grandfather, who had liberated Dachau, to visit the hallowed ground for his 80th birthday. Gould had lost ancestors to the Holocaust. Suddenly it hit them: blacks, Jews, gays, all would have been killed on that land 70 years ago. The branches of their family histories are intertwined. And so they began what would become The Family Project, a musical told in vignettes as a song cycle.“
But when the theatres are dark this theatrical power-couple are engaged in what Gould told the Blade in a recent interview, “What happens to being like a fierce, fabulous, gay? Who just travels, and has dogs and a fierce life? All of a sudden, I’m living the life my parents lived. I thought we were supposed to be special.”
The life as a family and as parents has somewhat altered things around the their home. Asked about the impact being foster parents has had on their home life? Matthews fired back; “Loud.”
Gould chimed in saying, “The Black Christian and the white Jew have been joined by a quarter-Armenian, quarter-Ukrainian, half-Russian foster son, Galileo, and a half-Cambodian, half-remains to be seen, little boy, Apollo. Those are our two foster sons.”
“I mean, obviously, we are married, we have two kids now. But I also think that we realized we didn’t have to make all the same choices that our parents made. That we could still live a fierce, fabulous life while having all of the fierce fabulousness of being a parent, and being married. That has been a really important discovery – that that life is not about either-or,” he added.
His husband offered the background adding how how their family was melded together through RaiseAChild;
“There was a big campaign all over LA for LGBTQ+ family members to become foster parents – again, 45,000 kids need people to be parents. The party – it was a party, go figure – was at Fred Segal on Melrose. [ A famed LA retailer ] Could it be any gayer? Hosted by Alec Mapa and his husband. And we went to Fred Segal, we’re all dressed up and they’re passing champagne, Alec Mapa is doing a set; that was how they got us to be foster parents,” Matthews said.
“Alec Mapa was so funny that night – he and his husband already had a foster son who they had adopted. He was making light of something that feels so heavy. I think it was really good for us to see Alec do that thing. That was the start of us getting involved with Raise a Child,” he added.
Talking about their musical, ‘The Family Project’, Gould noted;
That is a documentary musical we wrote about our families. It’s set up to answer the question of “how does a Black Christian gay man and a white Jewish gay man – that come from these legacies of Holocaust and slavery – how do we learn how to, at the most basic level, get along?” Because we really are two different cultures that don’t necessarily speak the same language. How do we now form a new language that we can speak to one another in?”
Reflecting for a moment Matthews offered, “It’s also about our generation. We’re the first generation of ‘free’ gay men, right? Like the generation ahead of us, they couldn’t get married, so they weren’t getting married, or they were getting married in secret. We were the first generation that was like, yep, you can get married, and you can have kids!
“The musical is about trying to tackle the heteronormative expectations that we place on ourselves. It goes into all different places of not just culture – racial culture, religious culture – but also American culture.”
His husband said that their theatrical careers and also parenting is something that they have found is a very workable part of their daily lives. A commitment that Gould noted on becoming parents, “… took us another five years to actually go through with the full training, and actually become a parent.”
Of immediate concern though to this fierce and fabulous parental unit is the approaching all-time important holiday of Halloween. “You cannot imagine how much Halloween we’ve been talking about in this house. Galileo insisted on being a spider. Nana and Tata sent him a spider costume, he’s freaking out – he’s so excited. He asks everyday, “is it Halloween?” Matthews said.
Asked what their plans were- beyond trick-or-treating? Gould wryly remarked; “We’re going to survive.”
Editor’s note: If you are interested in becoming a foster parent or wish to adopt, RaiseAChild has developed a system to find – and then support – people who are interested in becoming foster and foster-to-adopt parents. As a result, RaiseAChild out-performs the national standard by advancing 23% of prospective foster and adoptive parents from inquiry to certification.
RaiseAChild produces foster and adoption informational programs to support, educate, and motivate prospective parents. These events feature a diverse panel of parents who share their foster and adoption experiences and advice with new prospective parents.
The RaiseAChild Parent Advocate Program is a unique and complimentary service designed to advance prospective foster and adoptive parents with their family-building goals. Our program includes personal mentor services, a nationwide referral network, and proprietary software case management program that enables RaiseAChild to follow and support parents throughout the process. From orientation to training and throughout the child matching process, our Parent Advocates are there to assist with your concerns and questions.
To learn more visit RaiseAChild at https://raiseachild.org/we-build-families/ or email
[email protected]. If you are in the greater Los Angeles area the number to call is (323) 417-1440.
Writing and editing by Brody Levesque with research by Alejandro Cervantes
The stork delivered- Chasten & Pete are parents welcoming two kids
The happy couple delivered the news Saturday via their social media accounts
WASHINGTON – In a happy tweet and on Instagram Saturday morning, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and his husband Chasten announced the arrival of their children Penelope Rose and Joseph August Buttigieg into their home and lives.
Chasten and I are beyond thankful for all the kind wishes since first sharing the news that we’re becoming parents. We are delighted to welcome Penelope Rose and Joseph August Buttigieg to our family. pic.twitter.com/kS89gb11Ax— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) September 4, 2021
The couple first announced in an August tweet that they had become parents and were awaiting the necessary completion of the process.
For some time, Chasten and I have wanted to grow our family. We’re overjoyed to share that we’ve become parents! The process isn’t done yet and we’re thankful for the love, support, and respect for our privacy that has been offered to us. We can’t wait to share more soon.— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) August 17, 2021
PFLAG congrats Transportation Secretary on ‘cigar moment’
Buttigieg announced that he and his husband Chasten commenced growing their family. “We’re overjoyed to share that we’ve become parents!”
WASHINGTON – In a statement Tuesday on his personal Twitter account, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg announced that he and his husband Chasten have commenced growing their family. “We’re overjoyed to share that we’ve become parents!” Buttigieg wrote.
For some time, Chasten and I have wanted to grow our family. We’re overjoyed to share that we’ve become parents! The process isn’t done yet and we’re thankful for the love, support, and respect for our privacy that has been offered to us. We can’t wait to share more soon.— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) August 17, 2021
This happy announcement was immediately greeted with congratulations from PFLAG, the first and largest organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) people, their parents and families, and allies, in an Instagram post:
Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Institute also weighed in congratulating the couple;
“On the campaign trail, Pete and Chasten upended stereotypes and transformed perceptions for millions of Americans less familiar with LGBTQ people and their lives. As parents, they will now shine a national spotlight on LGBTQ families, who often face daunting challenges because of outdated policies that narrowly define what families are. Their adoption is an opportunity to have a national dialogue about creating a legal and legislative framework that supports all parents and children. Yet this is primarily about love and family, and we are absolutely thrilled for Pete and Chasten and know they will be fantastic fathers.”
Considering surrogacy? Virtual conference May 15-16 offers guidance for prospective gay dads
If you are among the many gay men who dream of parenting a child, and are considering surrogacy as an option, this weekend brings an opportunity you should not pass up.
For many such men, the financial burden involved in such a process is often an obstacle – but what many of them don’t know is that financial help is available for gay men when they choose to have children via surrogacy, if they know where to look. Fortunately, there’s an organization called Men Having Babies (MHB), which is holding its annual West Coast conference May 15-16, 2021, and it wants to teach you everything you need to know, with panels offering guidance on how to receive discounts, budgeting, how to attain surrogacy benefits from employers, and how to work with your insurance.
MHB has been holding their annual West Coast conference in San Francisco for the past 7 years, but this year – in collaboration with the Our Family Coalition – it is offering the program this year in a virtual format. It presents a rare opportunity for would-be gay fathers to get comprehensive guidance on surrogacy in an online-version of MHB’s signature “bootcamp” weekend-long conference, and attendees are expected not only from across the United States, but even from around the world. Registrants already include gay men from over a dozen states, and international locations including Canada, Germany and Hong Kong.
The event will utilize the specialized REMO platform, successfully used by MHB previously in multiple conferences around the world. The platform allows for general presentations, breakout sessions, expo “tables” and effective interaction. Using feedback from past attendees and the MHB team’s 7 years of prior experience, the organization has been able to plan its most comprehensive virtual conference to date, with more panels and interactive opportunities than ever before. Even so, MHB West is scheduled to be MHB’s final virtual conference, as the organization has announced the resumption of in-person conferences starting this fall.
The May program is slated to include interactive sessions with medical, legal and financial experts, as well as practical advice on everything gay men need to know when considering surrogacy:
- How to get your surrogacy journey started with online resources, member discounts, and financial assistance from MHB
- Specific surrogacy budgeting considerations
- How to evaluate various surrogacy destinations
- Legal considerations
- Insurance issues
- The impact of Covid-19
- Surrogacy benefits at your workplace
- Medical aspects of surrogacy
- Opportunities to meet and learn about surrogacy providers that support gay men
In addition, MHB’s popular Personal Stories panel will include such familiar faces as YouTubers Bart Rose (“Two Men and A Baby”) and Daniel Marzoa (“The Marzoa Family”), who will share their personal surrogacy stories and answer questions from prospective dads.
And just for the record, though the event is organized by gay parenting organizations, non-gay prospective parents are also welcome, and will no doubt highly benefit from it as well.
“Albert Einstein said, ‘The measure of intelligence is the ability to change,’ and MHB changed in response to Covid by utilizing REMO for virtual conferences,” says Dr. Susanna Park of San Diego Fertility Center, one of the conference’s Platinum sponsors. “REMO is surprisingly fun to use! Covid social restrictions do not mean you have to pause your dream of having a family. We just need to change accordingly.”
Brad Spencer, from Same Love Surrogacy (another Platinum conference sponsor, which has also joined MHB in several virtual conference settings this past year), adds, “MHB virtual conferences through the REMO platform provide intended parents throughout the world the opportunity to meet best in class Surrogacy & IVF professionals. In just a short 2-day conference, intended parents can begin their journey to parenthood even during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Proceeds from the conference’s sponsorship fees benefit MHB’s Gay Parenting Assistance Program (GPAP), which provides dozens of prospective parents with over a million dollars’ worth of cash grants, discounts and free services on an annual basis, from over 100 leading service providers. The majority of the 26 exhibitors at the MHB West virtual conference are supporters of GPAP, as well as the organization’s Membership Benefits Program, including Gold conference sponsors: Circle Surrogacy, IARC Surrogacy, California Fertility Partners, ORM Fertility, Fertility Specialists of Texas, Creative Family Connections, Simple Surrogacy, Northwest Surrogacy Center, Western Fertility Institute, SurrogateFirst, HRC Fertility, Fertility & Surgical Associates of California, Los Angeles Reproductive Center, Center for Surrogate Parenting, Creative Conception, and Southern California Center for Reproductive Medicine.
You can register for the Men Having Babies virtual West Coast conference via the organization’s website, here. Jump on it, though, because the REMO platform has a limited capacity and the event is expected to sell out.
Nearly one-quarter of lesbian, bisexual, and queer women are parents
Parents are more likely to be bisexual, in a relationship with a man, and living in non-urban areas
LOS ANGELES – New research released Monday from the Williams Institute at University of California Los Angeles School of Law examines the demographic and mental health differences among cisgender lesbian, bisexual, and queer (LBQ) women with and without children.
Findings show that nearly one-quarter of LBQ women ages 18 to 59 and an estimated 24% of female same-sex couples have had children. Parents were more likely to be bisexual, in a relationship with a man, and non-urban. In addition, bisexual parents reported greater psychological distress, less life satisfaction and happiness, and less connection to the LGBT community than lesbian parents. Parents with other identities perceived more social support from friends and reported lower levels of internalized homophobia than bisexual parents.
“There is a unique form of bias against people who have both same-sex and different-sex attractions and sexual relationships, and this may be why we see poorer mental health outcomes for bisexual parents,” said co-author Esther D. Rothblum, Visiting Distinguished Scholar at the Williams Institute.
This is the first study to use a U.S. population-based sample to compare the mental health of sexual minority women with children to those without children. In the study, researchers also examined LBQ women in three age groups: young (18-25), middle (34-41), and older (52-59).
Researchers found that among lesbian women, the oldest non-parents reported more happiness and less psychological distress than the youngest non-parents. The youngest group of bisexual women reported more community connectedness than bisexual women of other age groups. There was no difference in happiness and psychological distress among parents of different age groups.
“It was important to take different age cohorts into account, because attitudes, policies, and laws concerning sexual minority people and parenting have evolved over time,” said lead author Mark Assink, Ph.D., Researcher at the Research Institute of Child Development and Education at the University of Amsterdam. “More research that examines the impact of parenting on emerging identities is needed, as more LBQ women opt for parenthood.”
Ari Getty and a Camelot of her own creation
Heads turned. Conversations stopped, then started up again as whispered buzzing: who are those people, resplendent, wildly colorful, statuesque, square jawed, proudly wearing the weight of some mythical legacy while gliding into new spaces and creating their own? If pop culture America had royalty, it would be these Gettys – haute couture fashion designer August, street designer Nats and bubbly-beautiful social media star Gigi Gorgeous, escorting into the LGBTQ charity event Ari Getty and Louie Rubio, her partner of 12 years.. Nonprofit CEOs and glamorous drag queens delight in recognition as Ari and her entourage are seated at the majestic center roundtable as if, for this night, in this place, a new Camelot community has come together to celebrate protecting the disadvantaged and pledging to work hard on problems yet to come.
Ari Getty’s broad smile reveals her secret: the wealthy heiress is a momma bear in real life. It’s as if her shyness provides protective boundaries containing an abundance of love and joy that she heaps on her LGBTQ children and their friends and that she shares through her Ariadne Getty Foundation (ariadnegettyfdn.org). She’s donated millions to the Los Angeles LGBT Center and GLAAD to protect and create a better community for LGBTQ people. It is that contribution that prompted the Los Angeles Blade to give Getty this year’s Hero Award.
“Ari is an incredibly authentic person through and through. In November, I had a family crisis that included both my mom and I having COVID. She heard about it and decided she wanted to make sure the papers were OK and that I could focus on my health. I didn’t ask her to do that,” says LA Blade publisher Troy Masters. “That’s pretty Heroic.”
She also facilitated the creation of the Ariadne Getty Foundation Youth Academy and the Ariadne Getty Foundation Senior Housing complex at the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Anita May Rosenstein Campus in Hollywood.
“I don’t say this very often, especially in this town, but Ari Getty is the real deal,” Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Lorri Jean told Variety about her friend in 2019 when Getty received Variety’s Philanthropist of the Year Award. “She gives because she sees that there are important needs that must be met and she wants to help. She gives because her heart is filled with compassion and empathy. She gives because she feels she has a responsibility to make a difference.”
“I’ve been very close with the Center and very, very close with Lorri. She’s been gracious enough to have us to her house with her wife, Gina, and cook steaks for us. I love our friendship and the work that she does at the Center is unparalleled. I always thought that the Center of Los Angeles should be the model for most large cities to basically be the same format and provide the same services — everything from meals to the health services,” Getty tells the LA Blade. “They have a huge industrial kitchen there for the youth to make food so they’re a learning skill, so they can go out and apply for jobs.”
The Senior Center will open when COVID is controlled. “I’m particularly excited about the seniors,” Getty says. “My heart goes out to them so much because they’ve lost lots of their friends and they’re lonely and the Center provides such a hub of activity. And I love the fact that we’re going to be joining the youth with the seniors, because the seniors will be able to educate the youth about really the history and the hardships of getting to where we are today, where we still have so far to go. But this is a far cry from being gay in the ’40s or the ’50s — let alone during the ’80s with AIDS. I think people, as they get older, get afraid of new things like technology and I think that the youth can help the seniors with just staying up to date and feeling a part of that side. That’s definitely the thing that makes me the happiest: they’re in a Center where they’re surrounded by people. There’s no room for loneliness.”
So much is expected of Ari Getty, it’s hard to imagine how she became the person she is today. It’s surprising to hear that, while Hillary Clinton may have written the rhetorical ideal that “it takes a village” to raise a child — Ari actually experienced it.
“I grew up in a really unusual household, you could say,” Getty says, “very close to my siblings. It was just an unusual upbringing. We had a house in the countryside in Italy, and it didn’t have electricity. So my chore was to go and start the generator every night with my stepfather and go to the vegetable patch and pick out the vegetables. It was kind of the most ideal. It’s like a fantasy. It’s like a storybook.
“Basically everybody in the village was elderly,” she continues. “So I would go after I finished my chores at home, I would walk down to the village, which was two miles, and I had all of my senior friends that I would help. One summer it would be making Bic pens. I would put the ink stick into the plastic receptacle. And then another summer, I would be attaching the leather strap to the wood scholls. Scholls aren’t around anymore, but they were sandals. I had a very close relationship with them. I really was raised by a village, in the true sense of the word. I literally was raised by a village.”
The villagers would make the young girl lunch. “I would grate the cheese while they were making the pasta and I would go from house to house. Sometimes they would give me a little glass of wine at the tender age of seven. “And we would play with the hay on the haystacks at the dairy farm. There was everything you could do without having toys. Even the youngest people, they took to me. I think I’ve always had that connection. And my mother still lives in that town. It’s about 60 people, if that, maybe 40. But I just always knew that I wanted to help. It’s just been in my nature, I think, having the goal to help.”
Ari Getty had a dream. “My goal has always been that I’ll be somebody that would give to community, to be a part of philanthropy on a larger scale,” she says. “It’s been many years that I’ve known that — I can’t shy away from the question completely — that I would inherit money. And the first thing that I did was set up the foundation and that’s become my passion.”
Getty has always been highly aware of the need for community, including how LGBTQ people rejected by their own families created their own sense of community during the AIDS crisis.
“COVID is not nearly as scary to me as AIDS,” Getty says. “When my sister [Aileen Getty] was diagnosed HIV positive and I had just lost my best friend, Darryl — Nats was two weeks old when my sister was in the hospital. She had something like 7 T-cells. I remember calling my pediatrician saying, ‘Is it safe for me to go and see her with Nats being a baby?’ And he was like, ‘Go. She’ll be fine.’ Those were really scary days — really, really scary days. The landscape is somewhat different today, luckily.”
Ari Getty has not only loved and empowered her gay children August and Nats but rejoiced and welcomed transgender activist and social media star Gigi Gorgeous into the family when Nats and Gigi married. There was no hand wringing. No fuss. No hysterics about what the neighbors and the world would think. Just love.
“It’s so easy,” Getty says. “I gave birth to two children, two individuals, two babies, and I made sure that they learned their ABCs. I made sure that they were fed, cleaned, and loved more than anything. We didn’t have a television. We spent our time playing together. And I’ve always trusted them to make the right choices because they never gave me any indication that they weren’t able to do something unsafely. When August told me that he was going out with someone from the room service staff at this hotel we were living at — I just went to West Hollywood, found one of those vans that are on the street at night and have all of the information and I got all of the packets of information and the condoms — I just wanted to be extra careful — and gave it all to August.
“As long as they’re informed and what they need to do to feel like they’re their true essential selves, I encourage 100%,” Getty says. “Nats went public with a statement letting everybody know that they had top surgery done and I couldn’t be more proud of the decision that they made to actually go ahead and do it, rather than wait 10 more years feeling uncomfortable in the body that was. So, I trust them to govern themselves.”
Getty is also aware that coming out is difficult and parents might feel shame themselves or be afraid for their children’s safety.
“I understand because that’s a real fear and it was one of mine when they were younger and going out. Nats got yelled at because there was a public display of affection somebody yelled in a restaurant — which isn’t acceptable at all,” she says. “But what I would say to any parent is, ‘You gave birth to a child. It’s not for you to decide the nature of the child. You actually gave birth to a human being who has their own identity.’ I would honestly just say, ‘Please love your children, because you have them and you’re not going have any more probably, and love them as much as you can, because it’s a relationship. You can’t deny all the years of taking care of them as babies — and there’s love there. And don’t think about the neighbors or what the neighbors have to say — they mean nothing. They’re inconsequential to the whole topic. It’s just, ‘Love your children over opinion.’”
Interestingly, as creative and thoughtful as she is, Ari Getty would not do a do-over of her life if given the chance.
“I’m in exactly the life that I want to be living in — all through the struggles and trauma and the joy and the happiness — I wouldn’t change a thing because I wouldn’t be at where I am right now,” Getty says. “I’m in a really amazing place. I have a partner who I’ve been with for 12 years, and my children are living their truth, and I can look them in the eye and be really proud of them as human beings and the work that they do. They do philanthropic work, and I’m so proud of that…We’ve talked about when I’m too old to make decisions, we’ve talked about how the foundation is going to be run, and they’ll take over. But they have their own foundations — and I have a life of purpose and a life filled with wonderful friends and wonderful people that I meet, and I couldn’t be luckier.”
Ari Getty is also grateful to be receiving the Hero Award from her friend Troy Masters.
“I love Troy. He’s an angel,” she says. “I actually don’t really have words. I’m just sort of blown away. I don’t think that I could imagine that I would get a Hero Award. But it’s on my counter and it’s not going anywhere. But obviously with the work that I do, it’s not necessarily me that wants to get recognized — it’s the work. And if I’m able to influence anybody else that has income, extra income, disposable income, if I can be an example to anybody, that’s the bonus, and I’m incredibly honored to receive the award. It means the world.”
The Camelot legend refers to the myth about the idyllic world of King Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable who pledged to do good work to benefit the people and their happiness. Jacqueline Kennedy revived the myth when talking about the legacy of her assassinated husband, John F. Kennedy, and the world he inspired during his too-short presidency. West Hollywood was joyfully dubbed the “gay Camelot” after its founding in 1984. Today, the roving band of philanthropists under the loving tutelage and gaze of Ari Getty brings that shiny spot of possibility, creativity, freedom of expression, and abundant love to whatever space they enter. They were brought up that way.
Give Daddy what he deserves
If you are going to see daddy this weekend for Father’s Day, you might consider bringing him a gift. There are so many unique and fun ways you can “I Love You” and Los Angeles Blade has a few gift idea for you.
Gelson’s is offering a wide selection of thoughtful gifts which make it easy to celebrate with your #1 guy. Here are some fun options that Dad is sure to love: Cowboy Ribeye steak with a bottle of Big Poppa’s double secret steak rub; Grilling tools; Cheese/charcuterie plate; Sees candies, peanut brittle and Toffee-ette’s; Father’s Day balloon bouquet; Selection of Wine & Spirits and Wine Accessories.
Customers can place their orders and pre-pay online then visit their local Gelson’s during their reservation time.
Consider bonding with dad in the kitchen by ordering a Blue Apron box. You will get lots of great dishes for the family to cook. All the meals sound amazing–you can order the ingredients to make Southern-Spiced Chicken with Potato Salad & Maple Green Beans, Seared Steaks & Lemon-Caper Butter with Oven Fries, Curry-Peanut Chicken with Sushi Rice & Marinated Vegetables or Mexican-Spiced Shrimp Tacos with Guacamole & Poblano Pepper! Yum!
A great way to bond with dad is to take a cooking class together. Impastiamo is an amazing new online cooking platform. You can take an array of great cooking classes via Zoom through them! And all the chefs involved are incredible! Most of the money goes to the chef, many of whom are really hurting during this difficult time. Classes are only $12.50 and can be booked via the company’s website.
HomeSomm is making fresh homemade pastas and sauces for you to prepare at home. You pick up, head home, boil water, heat the sauce and assemble. There is nothing better than fresh pasta! Plus Owner/sommelier Chris Lucchese, a wine expert, will be giving you wine recommendations for your meals! Chris will be opening up a new wine bar this fall!
A great place to take dad for lunch is Lady Byrd Café, a charming, neighborhood gem nestled up in the hills of Echo Park. Committed to providing environmentally friendly farm-to-table, fresh, organic ingredients, with a wide variety of options for vegans, meat eaters and those with anyone looking for a delectable and unique dining experience, their selection, curated by Chef Fred Reyes, is sure to impress. He offers a fresh take on American cuisine, utilizing flavors that will undoubtedly please everyone’s tastebuds, drawing particular inspiration from French, Italian and Mediterranean cuisines.
Carvery Kitchen has some fun stuff planned on their Instagram for Father’s Day! So check them out! The restaurant is known for their excellent meal prep delivery and helping their community, as well as their slow roasted meats. Dad will love their new and exciting twist on your typical deli food. And if you are in need of paper products (tp paper, paper towels etc.) and other grocery items (like pasta) they have that too! For children under 18: free grab-and-go meal available for curbside pick-up (child must be present) 8:00a – 7:00p. Just drop by, no advance order necessary. For seniors 65 and over: 30% off all meals (free delivery). Order by phone or online.
Interstellar (Santa Monica)
The internationally-inspired all day café will be offering a special bone-in prime rib dinner, seasoned with a garlic pepper rub, and choice of truffle fries or mash potatoes that customers can order ready-to-eat, or they may choose to sear the meat themselves at home. Additionally, Interstellar has created a “beers and brews” beverage add on, which includes 4 beers of the customer’s choice (options ranging from LA’s Boomtown Brewery to Japan’s Kirin-Ichiban) alongside a box of fresh cold brew coffee, made with beans from Onyx Coffee Lab. Preorders are encouraged and can be placed via phone at 310.310.8820.
Urban Plates (locations throughout Southern California)
The chef-driven, fine casual brand that focuses on delicious, craveable and affordable foods made with clean, whole food ingredients will offer a Ribs Family Meal for Father’s Day (available 6/17-6/21). The composed meal includes four half racks ribs, large side of roasted old bay potatoes, large side of harissa corn on the cob, and 4 slices grilled rustic bread. The Family Meal is priced at $59.95 at all locations.
El Torito + El Torito Grill (locations throughout LA and OC; see here)
El Torito will offer its award winning all-you-can-eat Sunday Brunch Buffet with Father’s Day special menu items within the buffet, from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. The Buffet allows guests to visit many stations where we will serve them from a variety of offerings like their favorite Hot Mexican Entrees, a Taco Station, Fresh Salads, Dessert Bar with Banana Locas made to order and other tempting sweets. Servers will take orders for made-to-order omelets, traditional menudo and pozole and freshly carved tri-tip and ham as a Father’s Day special. Plus, bottomless mimosas! Prices vary by location; reservation can be made online via OpenTable or by calling the restaurant location of choice.
Acapulco (locations in Glendale, Costa Mesa, Downey and Marina Pacifica)
Acapulco will offer a special all-you-can-eat Sunday Brunch for Father’s Day from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. Guests can select from a variety of offerings like Mexican Entrees, Taco Station, Salads, Dessert Bar with Banana Locas made to order and other sweets. Servers will take orders for made to order omelets, traditional Menudo and Pozole and—special for Father’s Day—a carving station with tri-tip and ham all brought to you at your table. In addition to bottomless mimosas, Acapulco will serve $5 Bloody Marys, Micheladas, Cadillac Margaritas and select Bottled Beers. $29.99 Adults / 8.99 Kids; reservations can be made online via OpenTable or by calling the restaurant directly.
SOL Cocina (Playa Vista, Scottsdale, Denver, Newport Beach)
Inspired by the best of coastal Baja California, SOL’s kitchens feature a unique spin on fresh, healthy, coastal Mexican food, lovingly made from scratch. Treat the family to Sol Cocina’s Father’s Day brunch and dinner will be available Saturday and Sunday, all day. Menu highlights include the award-winning Taco Vampiro made with a double tortilla with cheese, serranos and green onions, guacamole, chipotle sauce, cotija cheese, and salsa fresca with choice of carne asada or grilled chicken; Pork Carnitas (available for dinner only), and the Grand Clase Azul Margarita. Reservations can be made online via OpenTable here, or by calling the restaurant.
Solita (Huntington Beach and Valencia)
Simplicity at its best for the father who loves specialty Mexican dishes and good food. Father’s Day menu items include the Pork Belly Dorado Tacos house-smoked with amarillo hot sauce, onions, cilantro & slaw; Skirt Steak Asada made with wood-grilled angus steak, avocado, jalapeno toreados, scallions, and chimchurri, served with 2 sides, among others. Round of the meal with specialty margaritas, craft cocktails, or select from a wide selection of tequilas or beers.
Las Brisas (Laguna Beach)
Celebrate Father’s Day, all day, with Las Brisas’ four-course prix-fixe brunch ($75, includes bottomless mimosas) and dinner menus ($85). Brunch highlights include Prime Rib with mole-potato puree and charred scallion; Crab Scramble with scallions, crème fraiche, crispy potatoes, and fresh corn tortillas; and French Toast with seasonal fruit, cacao nibs, toasted macadamia nuts, and tangerine butter, among other menu favorites. Dinner features the famed Halibut Veracruz with capers, olives and rice; Steak & Lobster Enchiladas with guajillo sauce, tomatillo sauce, black beans, and rice, and more. At Las Brisas—the historic landmark restaurant perched cliffside with a view of the Laguna Beach coastline—the menu is inspired by the traditional authentic cooking found throughout Mexico. Our chef inspired recipes are perfected by adding simple ingredients to the region’s wealth of fresh seafood. Reservations for dine-in are available via OpenTable or by calling the restaurant at 949.497.5434.
Even a case of Hint Water wouid be a nice gift. It’s so important for your dad to stay hydrated! And Hint has a range of great flavors for you both to try!
ELSIUS is a healthy energy drink with no crash or jitters, unlike traditional energy drinks, and clinically proven to accelerate metabolism, burn fat, burn calories, boost endurance and help build lean body muscle. It is a great drink for dad since it has 7 essential vitamins; zero sugar, no added artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, no aspartame, no high fructose corn syrup, non-GMO and very low sodium.
FitFighter is a strength and conditioning system originally designed for the fire service and based on their own patent-pending Steelhose free weights and iOS training app. Give dad the timeless, priceless gift of strength, spirit, and service with a FitFighter Steelhose Home Gym Set, Made in the USA out of real fire hose, complete with iOS workout app, safe for kids, and perfect for home exercise.FitFighter was originally designed for FDNY Firefighters and is now available to the public. A portion of Steelhose sales sponsor the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation supporting Veterans, First Responders, frontline healthcare workers, and their families.
If your dad is big on smoothies, look into Roma Desai Patel’s fantastic organic, plant+based protein powder called Tejari Blends. It’s all organic, plant based protein powder. Roma is an ex-Coke employee who became very passionate about nutrition. She is coming out with new flavors next month, Cacao and Vanilla!
If dad loves to exercise, he will love RECOVƎR 180°, a new holistic hydration drink with 3x the electrolytes and half the calories compared to other leading sports drinks. RECOVƎR 180° is available in three all-natural fruit flavors – Blood Orange, Açai Berry, and Citrus – and has a roster of professional athlete supporters, including NFL Arizona Cardinals Wide Receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Major League Baseball National League MVP Christian Yelich and heavyweight boxing champion Deontay Wilder.
Lgbtq dads may be interested in Revtown, a performance denim brand that brings to mind luxury brands like AG and Joe’s – but at a fraction of the price – $79 per pair. It is a great fit for you. These premium jeans are designed with the performance and comfort of an athletic pant, but with the look and feel of designer jeans.
Revtown is adapting to how people are purchasing by making great fitting garments and our proprietary digital tailor is what really makes us stand out..With their Digital Tailor, you can size yourself with 96% accuracy in four clicks.
Daekshinco is a men’s and womenswear denim brand that just launched their first collection. Daekshin denim is made from Japanese selvedge denim. Selvedge denim refers to any type of selvedge that is made by means of using one continuous cross yarn which is passed back-and-forth through vertical warp beams. With this method it gives maximum stretching capabilities. This gives extra space for comfortability that is hard to find in most denim products.
Deborah Lindquist is a fantastic an eco clothing, accessories, and home decor designer who has styled celebs like Sharon Stone, Pink, Jessica Alba, Christina Aguilera and Rihanna. She has amazing masks you can buy dad that use leftover pieces from her upcycled denim jackets, embellished with appliques, studs, rhinestones and silk leopard, sari, vintage kimono prints.
For the dads who love lipstick, check out Dirty Mind Cosmetics, lipsticks that have a range of vibrant fun colors, are vegan and cruelty free. This new indie makeup brand is sexy and carefree.
Avalon Organics Vitamin C Collection ($14.99-$29.99, Whole Foods Market, Amazon.com) Powered by Vitamin C, Avalon Organics® introduces the new Vitamin C Collection, a skincare line that provides consumer tested results, imparting a glow for rejuvenated skin. The complete line is infused with our Triple-C Complex, Olive Squalane, Kakadu Plum, Turmeric, Licorice Root and Milk Thistle, to allow you to take healthy, brighter skincare into your own hands! The formulas in the Avalon Organics® Vitamin C Collection are dermatologist tested!
Sephora.com, Algenist.com on June 16th and in-store at Sephora on June 26th)
The ultimate powerhouse for brightened, perfected and even looking skin. Formulated with Algenist’s patented Alguronic Acid, and an exclusive blend of Vitamin C from Blue-Green microalgae, antioxidant Phycocyanin, and AHA, BHA & PHA, this exfoliating peel visibly reduces the appearance of dark spots and hyperpigmentation. Algenist’s proprietary Blue C technology allows this powerful peel to work deep into the skin’s surface to reveal fresh skin that has more radiance, a smoothed texture, even skin tone and an overall brighter complexion amplifying the skin’s radiance.
Goodhabit Rescue Me Glow Potion Oil Serum ($80 on Goodhabitskin.com; Travel sized (15ml) available in September for $26)
This triple-layered elixir combines the powerful effects of an oil, serum and essence into one do-it-all formula, while our proprietary BLU5 technology minimizes and helps prevent future signs of aging caused by artificial blue light. The top layer is packed with antioxidant-rich oils that infuse skin with moisture, while repairing damage, restoring elasticity, and imparting a rejuvenated look and feel. The serum phase helps prevent water loss, locks in hydration, and strengthens the skin’s moisture barrier. The rejuvenating essence phase plumps up ﬁne lines, fades dark spots, and provides intense hydration. Instantly, skin looks and feels smoother, softer, and more hydrated with a radiant glow.
Alterna, the visionary creator of luxury haircare products free of harsh chemicals and additives, is thrilled to announce the launch of an entirely new collection aimed at celebrating consumer individuality and self-expression. Building upon the belief that hair care is self-care, My Hair. My Canvas. is the newest expression of Alterna Haircare’s transformational experience. Created to empower the millennial woman to define beauty on her own terms, these versatile and indulgently playful products offer her the products she needs to create a healthy foundation via the “blank canvas” that is her hair.
Bosley Professional Strength Bos-Renew Rejuvenating Scalp Scrub ($19.99 at Ulta.com and Amazon.com)
For those looking to improve scalp health and hair appearance, this soothing and exfoliating charcoal-infused scalp shampoo detoxifies, moisturizes and invigorates a compromised scalp to help attain optimal scalp health. Gently removing debris and buildup from the scalp and hair, this energizing product is made with essential oils and Bamboo charcoal to gently cleanse, moisturize and balance for healthier-looking hair. To be used 2-3x a month, this product is designed to enhance absorption of Bosley Professional Strength hair and scalp treatments.
For Doggy Dads
EarthyPup is the first of its kind, a sustainable/eco-conscious dog subscription box. The best eco-friendly option for dog owners and their pups. My dogs love their dog biscuits!
Hound & Gatos’ new dry food for dogs and cats features real poultry, fish or meat as the #1 ingredient. Plus, these recipes are packed with a spectrum of healthy superfoods, like blueberries, cranberries and dandelion greens. The result is a great tasting, limited ingredient diet that’s made in the USA and pea, chickpea, lentil and white potato free. Three grain free options are available for cats and three grain free options are available for dogs. Additionally, two varieties made with the finest ancient grains, such as spelt and quinoa, are available for dogs.
For many of us working from home, our pups have recently become our newest coworkers; reward their hard work (and keep them busy) with Frankly Pet’s Beef Wraps, available in both natural and chicken flavors. Made in the USA, these chews are 100% collagen, making them a tasty way to strengthen joints, prevent injuries and ensure that your dog’s nails and coat are at their healthiest. Perfect for all life stages, from puppies to senior dogs, the rolls are a great addition to any pup’s balanced, healthy diet!
Charlee Bear’s new Bearnola Bites are everything they’re baked up to be! That’s because they’re crafted with wholesome ingredients pet parents would find in their own kitchen pantry, like cranberries, peanut butter, honey and oats. Made without wheat, corn, soy, artificial flavors or preservatives, each crunchy cluster is bursting with irresistible aroma and taste. Plus, Bearnola Bites are perfectly sized for training or just for fun. Made in the USA by a family-owned company, four delicious flavors are available, including Blueberry Pie, Cranberry Cobbler, PB & Honey and Pumpkin Spice. Thanks to Charlee Bear, granola isn’t just for pet owners anymore!
HandsOn Gloves are a revolutionary grooming tool that make bathing and deshedding as easy as petting your pup. The scrubbing nodules help shampoo get to the hard to reach undercoat and can easily handle shampoo bottles, hoses or leashes and leads without slipping. Plus, they gently clean matted or muddy fur, especially in the more sensitive areas like legs, face and ears, with ease.
Caru Pet Food’s new Daily Dish Smoothies can be served in three delightful ways: squeeze up and directly feed to the pet, pour into the pet’s bowl or use as a topper to moisten or enhance the flavor of dry food. They contain no artificial preservatives or colors and are wheat, corn, soy and GMO free. Formulated as a special treat for dogs or cats of any age, size or breed, it’s a deliciously healthy snack to add excitement to their diet. Daily Dish Smoothies are simple to serve for a unique bonding experience.
Have you been made more aware of the seemingly endless sound of scratching in the walls and attic since you’ve been adhering to the COVID-19 “Stay at Home” order? Several media outlets have recently published the significant increase of residential rodent infestation, due to restaurant closures and the lack of normally accessible food sources. As rodents tend to carry an abundance of harmful bacteria and disease, this issue should not be overlooked especially at the present.
Zeev Dorfman, owner and founder of Southern California’s Rodents Stop, is a revolutionary in the Pest Control industry, utilizing non-toxic and proven solutions to effectively manage and eradicate rodents from your residence. An independent and family-owned rodent clean up and control company, Rodent Stop services Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange and San Bernardino Counties, applying their highly effective and years vetted five step treatment:
Staffing Properties founder Sam Palmer developed his company after identifying a need for himself and his growing family. He lived for several years with his fiancée, Formula One Racing heiress Petra Ecclestone with their children at their Holmby Hills residence “The Manor”, the famed 56,000 sq. ft. luxury estate built by Aaron Spelling and sold last summer for the California record breaking price of $119.7M. Managing a home of that magnitude required a sizable staff, and Sam found that locating the right personnel to form a cohesive team was extremely challenging. Therefore, he launched Staffing Properties as the concierge solution to help those in need curate and assemble a top performing arsenal staff at a reasonable price.
The company’s recruitment process is simple and effective. Staffing Properties’ teams of field experts begin by meeting with the potential client in order to identify their specific needs for a well-functioning home. Once the precise requirements are determined, they organize a cost-efficient pricing strategy and begin the talent search in order to present a short list of potential candidates who have been thoroughly vetted by the company’s acute screening process. Whether a staff of several dozen is required, or a modest work force will suffice, no project is too big or small and Staffing Properties ensures that a personalized, optimal and synergistic team will be forged.
Hallmark exec resigns after same-sex PR fiasco
Barely one month after scandal rocked Crown Media’s Hallmark Channel after the network pulled the plug on a series of advertisements that included a lesbian couple, which sparked an outcry from anti-LGBTQ Evangelical activists, Crown Media Family Networks announced Wednesday that Chief Executive Officer Bill Abbott was leaving the company.
The lesbian couple was reinstated in the advertisements with an apology by Mike Perry, president and CEO of Hallmark Cards Inc., which owns Crown Media. He also announced Abbott’s departure in a press release on the company’s website.
“After 11 years, Bill Abbott, president, and CEO of Crown Media is leaving the company,” Perry said. “I want to thank Bill for his many years of success and contributions to Crown Media and wish him continued success.”
Although no successor or interim CEO was named, Perry expressed confidence in finding a suitable replacement for Abbott. “I have tremendous confidence in the Crown Media management team and, with this team in place, I will begin a search for Bill’s replacement,” Perry said.
Abbott, who joined the company in 2000, oversaw the company’s Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, and Hallmark Drama, in addition to subscription video on-demand service Hallmark Movies Now and e-book publishing division Hallmark Publishing. Abbott is an industry veteran with more than 20 years of leadership experience in cable, most of which he has spent at Crown Media.
The controversial commercials were among a series of six ads for Zola, a wedding planning website, which had been airing on the Hallmark Channel since Dec. 2. In all of the ads, couples standing at the altar for their wedding wonder if guests might have arrived on time and bought them better gifts if they had used Zola to create a custom wedding website. Most of the ads include a same-sex couple but only one focused specifically on the lesbian brides and the two women were shown kissing.
According to the New York Times, the ads which featured same-sex kissing were pulled after the channel deemed their content “controversial.” The decision was made by executives at the network after the anti-LGBTQ hate group, “One Million Moms,” published a petition urging Hallmark to “please reconsider airing commercials with same-sex couples.”
Response was swift from the LGBTQ community and its advocates.
In a statement from GLAAD, president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said:
“The Hallmark Channel’s decision to remove LGBTQ families in such a blatant way is discriminatory and especially hypocritical coming from a network that claims to present family programming and also recently stated they are ‘open’ to LGBTQ holiday movies.
As so many other TV and cable networks showcase, LGBTQ families are part of family programming. Advertisers on The Hallmark Channel should see this news and question whether they want to be associated with a network that chooses to bow to fringe anti-LGBTQ activist groups, which solely exist to harm LGBTQ families.”
A day after the ads were taken off Hallmark air, the channel reversed its decision. In an apology, Perry called the choice “wrong” and said that “we are truly sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused.” He added that Hallmark would work with GLAAD “to better represent the LGBTQ population across our portfolio of brands.”
Photo Credit: Bill Abbott, courtesy of Crown Media
Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Home for the Holidays’ concert will benefit LGBTQ homeless youth
The dreary, cold, overcast, rain-pregnant sky seemed a harbinger of ineffable doom last Saturday, threatening to seep into the marrow bone and chill even the impulse to human warmth. But hope has a funny way of catching fire and for one too- brief moment, singer and LGBTQ civil rights icon Cyndi Lauper ignited a shining patch of blue sharing her hope to help “fix” the biased-based problem of LGBTQ youth homelessness through her annual True Colors United “Home for the Holidays” concert on Tuesday at The Novo theatre.
“This is a fixable situation because they’re only homeless because they’re LGBTQ,” Lauper tells the Los Angeles Blade. “And that means that with programs and advocacy and helping people get back on their feet and back into back into society, it will help society itself because throwing away youth because of who they are is not a solution of any kind, it’s just a very close minded ignoramus kind of thing.”
Lauper has asked a number of friends, including her “Kinky Boots” star (Lauper wrote the award-winning music), “Pose” master actor and 2019 Golden Globe nominee Billy Porter, to participate in the Dec. 10 event, presented by Marriott International and AEG.
True Colors United was born, not just from the profound empathy and understanding of an artist steeped in the 1960s civil rights movement but from personal experience.
“I was homeless as a youth for a while, for a minute, until I found help,” she says. “But it’s not always so easy. There were programs in the 70s to help people — if they reached out, they could find a way back in. And I went to school and I took a GED and I went to college for a little bit. Wasn’t my thing, I didn’t want to be a teacher, I just wanted to create art, become a musician.”
Because she saw her way back into society, Lauper believes that with help, others can too, especially the youth.
Lauper cites a 2017 University of Chicago report noting that there are about 4.2 million unaccompanied youth who experience homelessness in the course of a year, “up to 40% are LGBTQ and that is the largest percentage out there as a group,” her voice ticking up with anger. “But maybe 10% identify in this country as LGBTQ, which means the disparity is great — which made us all sit there and go, ‘Whoa. But like there is something we can do about that because they’re only homeless because they’re LGBTQ, which means through different programs and advocacy and a helping hand you can help the youth up, back on their feet. And these youth are 120% more likely than the others to become homeless. Okay? And now, after we help these youth, because they’re the largest percentage, we can move on to the others, you understand? And then we can eradicate this situation.”
True Colors United has a number of education and training programs and works with the National Institute on Homelessness & Poverty to collect data on LGBTQ homeless youth, which it shares with its advocacy partners.
Lauper’s close friend Gregory, who died of AIDS early in the epidemic, was also homeless, kicked out of his home at age 12. Research, says Lauper, indicates that “the ages of these youth experiencing homelessness — because they are LGBTQ — range from the age of 12 to 24, okay? And as tough as you think you are the streets are tougher. You can’t have them on the street.”
“As a parent, do you throw your kid out? No. But you could say to them — and I found this out through research, too — you could tell your kid, ‘You know? You’re my kid and I love you, but you’ve just got to give me a minute to wrap my head around this whole gay thing,” Lauper says. “We could really fix this situation through family therapy. Listen, it’s hard for the kid. It’s also hard for the parents – they’ve got no place to go, either. So they need some place to go, they need to be able to talk, everybody needs to be able to talk it through.”
The kid being LGBTQ is not the problem. “But throwing them out on the street, that’s a problem,” Lauper says. “Listen, dogma cannot be more important than your child, okay? Nothing. A building is burning — you’d go into the building to get your kid, wouldn’t you? Whatever, that’s how I feel. So I think this is a fixable problem and I think that people need a little help. And we have worked with many organizations bringing people together. We believe in collaboration all the way down the line because together we fix it. You know you can’t be isolated. You’ve got to do it together. Community is everything.”
It feels like the clouds are parting to let the sun’s true colors shine in.
The Los Angeles Blade’s cover story this week will feature more with Cyndi Lauper and why she is such an important LGBTQ ally/advocate.
Song from Kinky Boots with a cameo from Cyndi Lauper:
The photo of Cyndi Lauper and Billy Porter above is from their GAP #MakeLove holiday campaign.
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