appeared in the SF Chronical.
“On the dance floor at the Stud,” answers Ed Valenzuela, 48, to the
question of where he met his husband. He knows that for gay men,
it’s a cliche to have met his partner, Gary Walker, 46, in a bar.
But in 1987 he had no way of knowing their life together would be
anything but cliched. “I like the way you dance,” Gary admits was
his trite opening line. He smiles: After more than 22 years
together (parents for the last seven), the men share humor, an ease
with being together and a lot of history.
After the fortuitous run-in on the dance floor, the two men
arranged to have dinner the next night, and, as in the movies, they
talked until the servers were tapping toes to get them to leave.
Gary left for home in New York. Three months later, they
rendezvoused again and soon Gary was moving west. “When you’re 25,
you don’t think you’re so young!” says Gary, over the dining table
at their Berkeley home. But by 1988, on National Coming Out Day,
the two decided to marry on the steps of San Francisco’s City
Over the next 12 years, the couple traveled, focused on their
careers – Gary in banking software, Ed in the specialty food
business – and 10 years in, threw themselves a commitment ceremony.
In the background, was a faint ticking – Ed’s biological clock. “I
would bring up children,” says Ed, “Gary would say ‘Sure, honey’
and pat my arm.” On the morning of his 40th birthday, Ed arranged
to attend a seminar on gay parenting. His heart was set on an
infant. “I love babies,” he admits with a grin. Gary made the
Nine months later, the men were on a plane to Texas to meet Kiki,
now 7. Born before the two had time to arrange paperwork, Kiki and
Ed stayed in a Texas motel for three weeks while legal wrinkles
were ironed out. Ed was in heaven. Gary was on more shaky ground.
“Terrified,” he says, “Kiki was so fragile; I remember thinking
that she might break!”
In 2004, the couple married again, and in July, they repeated their
vows once more. Kiki reminded her dads that they were already
married. Legalities were explained, and Kiki was all too happy to
dress up for the occasion.
“It means so much to Kiki that we’re married,” says Gary, who
sometimes worries about how being the poster child for gay families
might affect his daughter. “But if our story convinces people to
vote against repealing the law, it’s worth it.”
To see a video of Ed and Gary’s most recent wedding, narrated by
Kiki, go to www.sfgate.com/ZEXZ.