An Open Letter to Perez Hilton From a 'Real' Gay Dad of New York
By Fabian Blue
Pictured: Fabian Blue with his daughter Indigo
Does anyone remember the time in 1992 when Blade Runner star Sean Young (and former prototype Nexus-6 Replicant) was so impassioned about wanting to play Catwoman for Time Burton's Batman Returns?
She wanted the part so badly that she donned a catsuit and took a limo over to the director's office at Warner Bros., announcing herself as Catwoman at the gate. She later appeared on The Joan Rivers Show in full kitty regalia as well. She fought for that role with claws out and an undying commitment. I kinda feel like Sean Young these days.
Well, I am not auditioning for a revamped Catwo-MAN role, but I am up for a "part" I'm equally passionate about. And I'm perfect for it since the role I want to play would simply be me playing "me" in a docu-series titled Gay Dads of New York.
Let me start at the beginning. This past November, I noticed a casting posting on the one-stop portal to all of your earthly desires: Craigslist. It mentioned that the producers of Keeping Up With The Kardashians and Project Runway were seeking men to be a part of a gay dads support group in New York City.
Of course one word had my immediate attention. No, it was not "Kardashian" as one might assume. It was simply the idea of "support." That's what I'd been seeking for a few years and there it was, finally staring at me in the face.
My journey started in 2006 at the age of 35 when my mano-clock started ticking after waking from a dream in which I was introduced to the tiny face of a little newborn baby staring tenderly back at me. I had no doubt that it was to be my future child. I was suddenly a man on a mission.
Ironically I started my search with Craigslist back then as well. In the "Strictly Platonic" section seeking an open (minded) vagina. See you really can find anything on Craigslist!
My journey for a Baby Mama led me from Los Angeles, to my hometown of New York, and then to Australia where I continued my search for the mother of my child. People often ask me why I didn't just pair up with a male partner and adopt. Or plunk down $50,000 (give or take) for a surrogate.
First of all, it's no secret that men can be douchebags and I wasn't confident I would find a loyal, monogamous partner who wasn't screwing every hottie in every port alley and backseat. So I took a different route because I wanted to take the "safe," platonic path without the usual relationship angst. Countless coffee dates with many women (mostly lesbians) later, I soon discovered there was no difference between my search for a welcome womb and romantic dating. In fact, I was looking for something that required a deeper level of compatibility.
After about five years and two continents, I finally met my beautiful Baby Mama Dawn online while I was in Australia. But she lived in Omaha, Nebraska. We started to Skype to get to know one another. Our connection was infallible and serendipitous. We started recording our conversations, and they were so inspiring, that we organically created a little film that will forever document a real "How I Met Your Mother."
I gave up my new life in Australia, moved blindly across the world to meet Dawn, and soon had moved in with her in Omaha the next day. How's that for a rom-com?
We were pregnant on our second-month try via our at-home "turkey baster" (no not an actual kitchen utensil, but you get the picture). So I found myself—after many years in big cities like New York City, Los Angeles, and Miami—in the Midwest in my Baby Mama's world. It was like the movie The Five-Year Engagement: She had the support of her friends and family and, even though I never felt excluded, I was always aware it still wasn't my support team.
I thought of putting together a "New Daddy" support group at the maternity ward where I worked, photographing newborn babies, but it never came to pass. Through the pregnancy and birth of Indigo, my magical baby girl, I was never able to get the specific male support I yearned for. Yes, mamas do all the hard work—and I don't ever want to take that away from them—but it turns out dads get postpartum depression and need support too.
I didn't get the support I yearned for and, in a way, I didn't know how to support Dawn as her co-parent either. It was such a new concept considering Dawn was straight and I was a purebred homo-man. But we made it through.
Through it all, Dawn and I garnered a lot of positive media attention. Our baby girl's first TV appearance was at 6 weeks old with Rosie O'Donnell holding her on Anderson Cooper's shortlived daytime talk show, Anderson Live. Since then, we've done six TV appearances, and it's been great to have such a platform. But these interviews on Modern Family-style co-parenting don't necessarily pay the bills. Neither did some of the odd jobs I was doing back in Omaha.
I eventually made the decision to return to my hometown of New York in search of better job opportunities. It was a huge sacrifice since baby and mama stayed behind. I saw this as "hunting" for my family's survival while planting seeds for Indigo's future. This is in no way an abandonment; we Skype daily and fly as often as we can until we can set up in the same city again. It hasn't been easy, but we are making it work and have a very happy and healthy baby who is thriving now at 16 months.
So when I saw the posting for Gay Dads Support Group, I almost fell of my chair. Finally a group I could call my own. I submitted myself, got a quick reply, and was soon being interviewed via Skype by Sasha Alpert, the V.P. of casting for Bunim/Murray Productions. I was a shoe-in! How could I not be? I thought. No other non-famous gay dad had been getting the press and media attention I had been getting, so I felt I was a stronger contender than most.
At their request, I submitted four at-home audition video tapes. I became a gay Scorsese and made each little scene as different as I could with great lighting; I even had an East Hampton beach locale as the background for one of them.
The day after I sent all my tapes in, I read The Hollywood Reporter article breaking the news on the show and that Perez Hilton would be its star. When I read the news that Perez, who had also recently relocated to New York City from L.A., would not only be starring but working as an executive producer, it felt like a punch in the gut. After all, how would you feel if you suddenly found out the "most hated man in Hollywood" was suddenly involved in a show you had high hopes for? I was torn. I got feverish. Perez Hilton? Are you kidding me?
I went back to my video camera and recorded yet another tape for the producers. Some time later, I expressed the same emotive state in a letter to Bunim/Murray's own Jonathan Murray, co-creator of MTV's The Real World (a show I had unsuccessfully applied for 21 years earlier). This time, Mr. Murray (finally) replied and assured me he had good intentions for this project. He mentioned his very own experiences as a gay dad and starting one of the first support groups in L.A.
I started to feel more at ease and started thinking, What if Perez Hilton had changed his ways and had become a kinder gentler daddy type? And I realized that none of truly know the real Mario Lavandeira, a.k.a. Perez Hilton. We only know what we've read in print or heard through the gossip mill. I too have never met him, but I did write to him back in 2011 before we were both dads.
It was while I was still in Australia and I sent him an email after hearing he also wanted to be a dad (unfortunately I never heard back from him).
I couldn't escape the thoughts in my head: Would this intended Gay Dads show be nothing more than a sly vehicle for an image makeover? While I spoke with Bunim/Murray Productions in December, they mentioned hopes to shoot a reel for the show in February and would use me for if I was selected. In January, I followed up with an email and was told I was "Very much still in the running" as one of the support group cast members. Now it's mid-February, and I am starting to get nervous and insecurity has set in.
I'm still waiting. Last week, I read an article in the New York Post that mentioned Perez is still looking for cast mates. He told The Post: “I’m not pretending they’re my friends. There’s my life, and then there’s going to be their own lives... I'm still looking.”
But why do they keep looking? I'm right here!
So I wanted to let Perez/Mario know: In the end, this show is not about us, it's about our children. We are fathers now, and we have a bigger responsibility. We want to show our children that, through them, we can evolve into strong, gay men. Let's show our children the right thing: self-love and respect. But let's try and have some fun in the process.
We are worthy and we are great fathers! Are you up for the challenge?