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Spilled Milk: Crossing The Big Black Line

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This post is the second in a series of Spilled Milk columns by Emmy Award-winning writer and producer William Lucas Walker that chronicle his journey through parenthood. Spilled Milk, which originates in The Huffington Post, appears on these pages every Saturday.

 

I’m six. My mom and I are in the front seat of her very smart 1962 Chevrolet station wagon when she turns to me and asks:

“Have you thought about what you might like to be when you grow up?”

Well, I have been thinking about it. Last night she asked my big brother Jimmy. He said astronaut. How dumb-dumb-stupid, thought six-year-old me. The costume is ugly and everybody knows there’s no bathrooms in space.

“Yes, ma’am. I’ve thought about it.”

“Really? What would you like to be? A doctor, like Daddy?”

“No, ma’am.”

“Maybe you could be a lawyer like Perry Mason on TV.”

“He’s fat and has weird eyes.”

“Then what about a cowboy? Or an astronaut, like Jimmy?

“I want to be an interior decorator.”

She lost control of the car and nearly smashed into a telephone pole. I wasn’t sure what exactly I’d said, but one thing I knew: I’d crossed a line.

It would keep happening throughout my childhood. I found it impossible to keep my little Crayola self colored inside the rigid lines of gender-role conformity. I always seemed to be wanting the wrong things, like Easy Bake Ovens and Prom Night Barbies. I learned early to pick my battles. There were four boys and no sisters in my family, so I knew Barbie was a pale pink pipe dream. But a light bulb that baked a cake? That was science, right?

Under the tree that year I found a sheriff’s costume, toy pistols and a baseball glove.

I grew up in the Bible Belt, where odds are, sooner or later, you end up getting born again. It happened for me at roughly 8:15 on a Friday night. I felt as though God had spoken to me personally, revealing that He had indeed come to earth in human form. And her name was Barbra Streisand. Watching her sing “I’m The Greatest Star” in the network premiere of Funny Girl, it was clear she was channeling the divine. Her voice seemed to seep into my every corpuscle, altering my chemical makeup. It was intense.

And so it continued as puberty bloomed. From Funny Girl to Sun-In’d hair to the Speedo shot of Mark Spitz ripped from my dad’s Sports Illustrated and stuffed inside my Boy Scout manual, I was, unbeknownst to me, a standard-issue homo-in-training.

This fact hit home with a thud a few years later when I moved to the city. New York has a benevolent way of siphoning boys like me from our far-flung hometowns and depositing us into one of the few places we might actually stand a chance. You would think I’d find comfort in that. I didn’t. I was mortified to find myself floating in a sea of me’s, and awakened quite rudely to the fact that I wasn’t the unique wonder I imagined myself to be. What I was, it turned out, was a Big Gay Cliché.

Almost. As I watched from the sidelines, one by one the other me’s emerged from their closets, dancing and jubilant. I was envious of the abandon and release they seemed to find, twirling under the great disco ball of ’70s freedom.

But something held me back. I found it difficult to make the same leap. Watching my freshly liberated brethren turn their backs on the past and eagerly morph into their new bodies and haircuts, I struggled with a stubborn dream I could not seem to let go.

I’d always liked the idea of getting married and becoming a father. My own dad — a real-life Atticus Finch, straight out of To Kill A Mockingbird — set a daily example of the best a man can be for his children, inspiring his sons to want the same for ourselves. But admitting I was gay meant saying goodbye to any such notion of family. Coming out meant crossing a line from which there was no coming back.

So I stalled for years, clinging to the ludicrous hope that out there somewhere was a woman who might change me. But by that time, Barbra Streisand was heavy into Don Johnson.

It was Fernando who brought the change.

Beautiful. Bi-polar. HIV-positive. Addicted. Addictive. His red flags should have sent me running; instead, I gathered them into a bouquet. We met in 1994 on a Los Angeles sidewalk one clear night just before Christmas. I was 38. And love, finally, bottomless and vast, swallowed me whole.

I was terrified of HIV, but adored this shy man in whose veins it swam. An artist, Fernando was always encouraging me to find my Big Work. I had no idea what he was talking about. But love has a way of enhancing vision, and his made it possible to see things ahead for me that I could not.

He had seen other things as well, horrors I could not imagine. Three years prior, he’d nursed a man he loved through an ugly illness to a hideous death. Having caught a glimpse of his own future, he spent each day remaining to him painting like a madman. Larger-than-life canvases of spectacular, dazzling women peopled his living room. Women in boats overflowing with flowers. Women lugging impossible burdens uphill. Women searching the sky for the secrets of flight. Peasants, queens, sisters, the idealized heroines of his native Mexico. They had populated his fevered brain for years, and he was determined to free them before time ran out. One by one, through his gifted hands they rushed in pastels and paint, surrogates taking their places in a world about to be done with him.

There was no way we could have known the drug cocktail that would have saved him was just beyond the horizon. I hoped we’d have five years together. We had 1995.

Suicide devastates, leaving its survivors jagged, in shards. Never again can you be as you were. In the wake of his death, slowly and over time, my life began to clarify. Unnecessaries burned away. I saw rising before me the outlines of a dream I’d long since thought impossible. I set about becoming a father.

Surprisingly, the most vocal opponent of my bringing new life into the world was the woman who’d brought me into it herself.

“Have you lost your mind? You can’t have a child. You gave up that right when you chose to become a homosexual. And you’re too old. You live alone. And what about the child? What if you have a son who turns out to be a homosexual. Or worse… a lesbian!”

I paused, trying to unravel that last one, but she wasn’t finished.

“I’m not finished: A. Child. Needs. A. Mother.”

There it was. The line. I was crossing the biggest, blackest, most sacred one of all. Motherhood.

It occurred to me in that moment that every screwed-up person I know has a mother, but I held my tongue.

Kelly was not expected, never part of the plan. I was not looking the day we met. At church of all places. When he asked me when we might go out to dinner, I told him it would have to be Monday or Tuesday. Why Monday or Tuesday, he asked, as any sane person might. “Because I have an egg donor flying to town on Wednesday, we’re making embryos on Thursday and implanting them in my surrogate’s uterus on Friday.” I held my breath so as not to choke on the cloud of dust any other man would have kicked up fleeing in the opposite direction. But other men aren’t Kelly. Who could have predicted that this amazing, smart, decent, deeply funny and very handsome man would plop into my complicated sphere at that precise moment in time, becoming the surprise love of my life and the anchor of my family?

My journey became our journey. A year-and-a-half later, after two surrogates, three egg donors, several reproductive endocrinologists, and a depleted life savings, our stunning, beloved Elizabeth was born. I was 44.

My mother came around eventually. Okay, quicker than that. The moment we told her we’d named the baby after her. She actually screamed.

“I have a namesake? You don’t MEAN it!!!”

We’ve since added a son to the mix — a dimpled tyro named James, after my dad. From that day till this, my wonderful, evolving mother and these grandchildren she once thought impossible have enjoyed a giddy love affair which shows no signs of lifting.

I found my Big Work, and 11 years later, we’re thriving. Marriage and family. My gut had been right — I was born for it.

Last year, when Elizabeth turned 10, I was recounting special moments from our life together, as I tend to do on her birthday. Suddenly, one surfaced I hadn’t thought about in years. A random, rainy afternoon when, at 2-and-a-half, after a long silence, out of the clear blue and apropos of nothing, she looked up at me, smiled and uttered two words I had no idea she’d added to her tiny vocabulary.

“Barbra. Streisand.”

A few weeks later, I wrote my only poem.

Elizabeth

We met
through the lens
of a microscope

I was much taller
you floated below
eight cells
huddled together
trying to become sixteen

No eyes yet formed
to peer back at me
Just eight cells
floating there
inscrutable

A pinpoint promise
of the life I dared to dream
daring back

Your eyes are fully formed now
They are mine
my father’s
his

They peer back now
beneath downtilt lids
familiar as the nearest mirror

Today you sing for me
beneath a torrent of impossible curls
press your face to mine
and collapse into giggles
and twirl
and twirl
and twirl
awash with possibility

A thousands days
since that morning
we first met
through the lens
of a microscope

Eight cells times billions now
you peer up at me
trying to buckle your seatbelt

“Daddy help you?”

Daddy help you.
There is no line.

* * * * *

William Lucas Walker is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer whose television credits include Frasier, Will & Grace and Roseanne. He co-created the critically-acclaimed Showtime comedy The Chris Isaak Show. Bill and his husband Kelly are the parents of Elizabeth and James, born in 2001 and 2005. The children were gratified by the legal marriage of their parents in 2008, an event that rescued them from a life of ruinous bastardry.

Spilled Milk chronicles Bill’s misadventures in Daddyland. The first recurring humor column by a gay parent to appear in a mainstream American publication, Spilled Milk has regularly landed on the front page of The Huffington Post.

Follow William Lucas Walker on Twitter: @WmLucasWalker, @SpilledMilkWLW or Facebook: “Spilled Milk” by William Lucas Walker.       

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Hunter Biden Is Fighting Back

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After years of being the right wing’s punching bag, Hunter Biden is fighting back.

The 52-year old attorney, investor, lobbyist, father of five, and Navy veteran who just happens to be the son of the President of the United States, is calling for state and federal investigations into how his personal, private information from his now-infamous laptop was disseminated, according to CBS News.

Biden is also threatening a defamation lawsuit against Fox News’ Tucker Carlson.

READ MORE: Watch: Angry, Santos Reacts to News DOJ is Investigating His Alleged ‘Ghosting’ With $3000 Raised for Veteran’s Dying Dog

The “flurry of letters to the Delaware attorney general, the Department of Justice, the I.R.S. and attorneys for Fox News and Carlson,” CBS reports, “represent an aggressive new strategy for the president’s son, who is facing long-running federal criminal investigations, as well as new probes promised by congressional Republicans, according to a source familiar with Biden’s approach.”

“This marks a new approach by Hunter Biden and his team,” the source told CBS News. “He is not going to sit quietly by as questionable characters continue to violate his rights and media organizations peddling in lies try to defame him.”

Biden lost his mother and sister in a car crash injuring him and his brother when he was just two years old, and later, that same brother, Beau Biden, the longtime Delaware Attorney General, died from an aggressive cancer of the brain.

CBS reports Biden’s “computer data that was turned over to the FBI showed no evidence of tampering or fabrication, according to an independent review commissioned by CBS News.”

READ MORE: ‘His Big Plan Is to Ask the President a Question?’: McCarthy Mocked for His Handling of Debt Ceiling Negotiations

But The Washington Post last year hired two forensic investigators, and they reached different conclusions.

“From a forensics standpoint, it’s a disaster,” said Jake Williams, who the Post describes as “a forensics expert and former National Security Agency operative who once hacked the computers of foreign adversaries.” The other investigator, Matt Green, the Post says is “a Johns Hopkins University security researcher who specializes in cryptography.”

“The drive is a mess,” Green told The Post.

The Post found that “the lack of what experts call a ‘clean chain of custody’ undermined Green’s and Williams’s ability to determine the authenticity of most of the drive’s contents.” The “clean chain of custody” refers to the fact that countless individuals have had access to the hard drive.

“The vast majority of the data — and most of the nearly 129,000 emails it contained — could not be verified by either of the two security experts who reviewed the data for The Post,” the newspaper reported. “Neither found clear evidence of tampering in their examinations, but some of the records that might have helped verify contents were not available for analysis, they said. The Post was able in some instances to find documents from other sources that matched content on the laptop that the experts were not able to assess.”

Meanwhile, CBS News also reports that in a ” letter sent Wednesday, Biden attorney Bryan Sullivan demanded that Fox News and Tucker Carlson devote airtime to retracting statements made about Biden paying ‘rent’ to his father, ‘in what Mr. Carlson implied was essentially a money laundering scheme to finance President Biden’s lifestyle prior to his election … and alluding to Mr. Biden having unauthorized access to classified documents because of his presence at President Biden’s house.’ Sullivan writes that the claims were false, and even after others acknowledged as much, Carlson continued to make them.”

“The letter, which cites California’s defamation statute, notes that the Daily Caller website retracted an article that made similar claims.”

Image via Wikimedia and a CC license

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Watch: Angry, Santos Reacts to News DOJ is Investigating His Alleged ‘Ghosting’ With $3000 Raised for Veteran’s Dying Dog

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Out of all the unethical actions reportedly taken by U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-NY) – lying about his education, work, ethnicity, and funding, while mysteriously becoming rich overnight – some feel one of the worst things he allegedly did was abscond with thousands of dollars from a GoFundMe charity drive raised to help a veteran’s dying service dog get the care they needed to live.

“Of all the Santos outrages, none has cut more deeply with the public than his (alleged) theft of money from a disabled Navy veteran & his dying dog,” tweeted Larry Sabato, the famed political scientist. “How low will Santos go? This low.”

Now, the Dept. of Justice is investigating the alleged charity fraud scheme.

The veteran, Richard Osthoff, says two FBI agents contacted him on Wednesday, “on behalf of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York,” Politico reports.

“Osthoff gave the agents text messages from 2016 with Santos, who he says used his plight to raise $3,000 for life-saving surgery for the pit bull mix, Sapphire — then ghosted with the funds, as first reported by Patch.”

READ MORE: ‘His Big Plan Is to Ask the President a Question?’: McCarthy Mocked for His Handling of Debt Ceiling Negotiations

ABC News’ Will Steakin caught Congressman Santos in the halls of the Capitol and asked him if the FBI had contacted him.

Santos, appearing angry, said he had “no clue” about the issue, and said he had never met Osthoff – although Osthoff told Patch he only spoke to Santos, and only a few times.

“He talked to you more than he talked to me,” Santos said, although it was unclear if he was referring to the FBI or Osthoff, or someone else. “I haven’t been reached out by them.”

Attorney Joshua Schiller told Politico the reportedly missing charity funds could be a quick way to prosecute Santos.

“I think there is an urgency here because Santos is currently in a position to make laws,” Schiller said. “I can think of examples where the government used a lesser indictment to seize assets and try to cause the defendant to plea to a deal before bringing a second or third indictment on more serious charges, and I bet that is the case here.”

In January Patch reported on the heartbreaking story.

“Two New Jersey veterans say George Santos promised to raise funds for a lifesaving surgery for a service dog — then disappeared,” the report says.

“In May 2016, Richard Osthoff was living in a tent in an abandoned chicken coop on the side of Route 9 in Howell, New Jersey, with his beloved service dog Sapphire. A veteran’s charity gave the pit mix to Osthoff, a disabled veteran who was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy in 2002, he told Patch.”

READ MORE: Watch: Kevin McCarthy Leads Over a Dozen Republicans in Prayer at Event Co-Sponsored by Five Anti-LGBTQ Hate Groups

“When Sapphire developed a life-threatening stomach tumor, Osthoff, now 47, learned the surgery would cost $3,000. A veterinary technician took Osthoff aside and told him, ‘I know a guy who runs a pet charity who can help you,’ Osthoff recounted.”

The GoFundMe drive was successful, raising over $3000, but the person running it, believed to be Santos, put Osthoff though several hoops, forcing him to travel from New Jersey to Queens to see a different vet, who then claimed he could not operate on the dog.

Sadly, without the surgery, there was no hope for the dog.

“Sapphire died Jan. 15, 2017. After being out of work with a broken leg for over a year, Osthoff couldn’t afford the dog’s euthanasia and cremation, he said.”

“I had to panhandle. It was one of the most degrading things I ever had to do,” Osthoff told Patch.

Patch’s report includes screenshots of text messages and Facebook posts that include a photo of the ailing dog.

Watch the video of Rep. Santos above or at this link.

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‘His Big Plan Is to Ask the President a Question?’: McCarthy Mocked for His Handling of Debt Ceiling Negotiations

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Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy is being mocked for his handling of the run-up to critical negotiations over the debt ceiling with President Joe Biden – negotiations that, if they fail, could shut down the federal government and even throw the economy into a tailspin.

McCarthy first decided to take his fight – which includes drastic cuts to life-saving Social Security and Medicare, a non-starter for Democrats – not to the Oval Office but to Twitter.

“Mr. President: I received your staff’s memo,” tweeted the Speaker, still damaged from having to make still-secret promises to his own caucus members while taking 15 tries to get elected. “I’m not interested in political games. I’m coming to negotiate for the American people.”

That memo, according to CNBC, “sought to portray the 3:15 p.m. ET meeting as a showdown, one between a Democratic president who will protect Social Security, Medicare, health insurance and food stamps, and a House Republican majority that will demand cuts to these programs in exchange for helping Democrats avoid a catastrophic default on the nation’s debt.”

Meanwhile, many on Twitter responded by accusing him of trying to act like a “tough guy” with the President.

READ MORE: Trump Vows to Use DOJ and Congress to Make Being Transgender Illegal While Promoting the ‘Nuclear Family’

Comedian Dana Goldberg mocked McCarthy, tweeting, “Nothing says ‘I don’t want to play games’ like tweeting a response to the President of the United States.”

Former Lincoln Project Executive Director Fred Wellman had even harsher words for the Speaker.

“You were elected by a bunch of idiots in Bakersfield and made Speaker by a handful of insurrectionists and nutjobs. You don’t speak for the American people. You barely even speak for the House of Representatives, Kev,” he said.

Wednesday morning, again not taking his battle to the Oval Office, McCarthy aimed higher.

At the National Gathering for Prayer and Repentance, a far-right wing event sponsored by several Christian organizations, at least five of which appear on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of anti-LGBTQ hate groups, McCarthy prayed for God to open his and President Biden’s hearts.

READ MORE: Principal Ordered Librarian to Take Down Holocaust Survivor’s Famous Quote Just Days Before Holocaust Remembrance Day

“Father, I want to lift up those who are not here today. I want you to open their hearts,” McCarthy prayed, asking for “the patience of Job,” and “the intellect the leadership that you gave David.”

“Father, I want to lift up the president. Father, you know I will meet with him today. Father, I ask. I asked that you open both of our hearts that you put our meaning, our meaning that seeks your truth.”

Later, McCarthy, heading to the White House, told reporters, “I’ve got a big plan. The first question is does the President wants to continue reckless spending or find a way that we can be responsible, sit down and find common ground where we put ourselves on a path to budget. Make a balanced budget,” he said, according to NBC News’ Kyle Stewart and CNN’s Manu Raju.

Many were unimpressed.

Aaron Fritschner, the Deputy Chief of Staff and Communications Director for U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) asked, “His big plan is to ask the president a question?”

Georgetown Law professor Josh Chafetz offered this in response:
“Step 1: Ask loaded question
Step 2: ???
Step 3: … also ???”

Journalist Dan Froomkin, editor of Press Watch, noted: “McCarthy’s opening position: A balanced budget. So basically cut a quarter of federal spending or he’ll burn down the world.
I’m sure the political media will be outraged.”

Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas asked, “If he’s got a plan, where is it?”

The Biden-McCarthy meeting began at roughly 3:17 PM and ended at approximately 4:41 PM, according to observations from Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman.

McCarthy talked to reporters after his meeting with the President, saying he felt they could find some “common ground.”

After first tweeting about his upcoming meeting with President Biden, then literally praying to God on-camera in public about his upcoming meeting with President Biden, then talking to reporters about his upcoming meeting with President Biden, McCarthy stood outside the White House after his first round of talks with the President and told reporters: “I’m not going to negotiate this in the press.”

Watch below or at this link.

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