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They are dad: in a moving new documentary a hard-pressed gay family fights to stay together.

In many ways, the Lofton-Croteaus are an average family. Gay dads Steven and Roger and their five children, two Caucasian and three African-American, four of whom are HIV-positive, stick to routines we all recognize: mealtimes, chores, homework, medication. It's this very ordinariness that gives power to Michel Horvat's feature documentary We Are Dad, set to premiere on Showtime on June 19.

Who would want to break up the Lofton-Croteau's workaday household? That would be the state of Florida--the antagonist in a multiyear saga that has become a rallying cry for gay adoption rights activists.

Florida is the only state to expressly forbid adoption by gay parents. But since the late 1980s the state has permitted Steven Lofton and Roger Croteau--both pediatric nurses--to serve as foster parents to three African-American children who, because of their HIV status, were considered unadoptable.

The couple proved to be such good nurturers that Bert, the youngest boy, actually seroreverted while he was still a toddler--testing negative for HIV. Ironically, this jeopardized Bert's place in the family. In official eyes Bert was now adoptable, allowed to stay with his foster dads and siblings only until the state of Florida found a more appropriate--read "heterosexual"--permanent home. Thus began Lofton and Croteau's ongoing legal battle to overturn the Florida law so that they could adopt Bert.

We Are Dad gets the conflict on-screen, intercutting interviews with antigay sources like Paul Cameron and Florida legislator Randy Ball on the supposed dangers of homosexual parenting with scenes of Roger, Steve, and the kids at home. In contrast to the pictures, the right-wing sound bites are inane--and chilling.

Several years ago, after the Lofton-Croteaus moved to their current home in Portland, Ore., they agreed to parent two younger HIV-positive boys. Under Oregon law they have since adopted both. The three older kids, however, are still bound by Florida law. They still have only foster status, and Bert, now 13, is still in limbo.

The Lofton-Croteaus have been in the national media spotlight before. Indeed, it was in their support that Rosie O'Donnell decided to come out as a gay parent. But at this white-hot moment in the U.S. culture wars, We Are Dad packs a fresh punch.

"When I started this film," says Horvat, who is a family friend, "I thought I was going to be cataloguing the lives of some remarkable people who strove to have a family in spite of what was going on. What I realized was that I was uncovering what I call the state of the art of bigotry in this country. And it is alive and well and not that far under the skin."

Indeed. On January 10 the U.S. Supreme Court denied an appeal to hear the Lofton-Croteau case, which left the antigay Florida law in force. And the state of Florida recently pulled all funding for two of Steven and Roger's other foster kids, Tracy and Frank.

"It's illegal, but they're doing it anyway," Horvat says. "If these kids don't get their health care and don't get their medicine, they die."


New to DVD in time for Fathers Day is the documentary Paternal Instinct (Strand Releasing Home Video], which aired a few years ago as part of Cinemax's "Reel Life" series. Director Murray Nossel's film tracks Mark and Erik, life partners who decide to have a child, and their relationship with Wren, the surrogate mother who helps them realize their dream. The DVD includes deleted scenes and an interview with gay rights pioneer Harry Hay.

RELATED ARTICLE: Televised pride.

It's June again, which means it's time for the cooler networks to unleash old queer favorites as well as brand-new gay and lesbian programming as part of this month's pride celebrations.

Bravo kicks off a new season of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy on June 7. featuring the Fab Five working over members of World Series champs the Boston Red Sox, including Johnny Damonand Kevin Millar. Upcoming episodes will feature "make-betters" for a foster dad, an Iraq War veteran, a cystic fibrosis survivor, and--get to work, Carson--a nudist.

Air dates may vary on your local station, but PBS offers Rodney Evans's acclaimed film Brother to Brother (June 14), as well as the new documentary The Education of Shelby Knox (June 21; see p. 72), and 2003's Lance Loud! A Death in an American Family (June). Local PBS stations may have other queer programming on tap; check local listings.

Gorge yourself June 10-12 with Sundance Channel's "Pride Party Weekend," three nights of triple-features running the gamut from Party Monster to the family documentary Our House. Or spread out your dosage of queer cinema every Monday in June with a gay documentary on the channel's "DOCday" series.

And let's not forget the always-reliable Showtime. In addition to the final season of Queer as Folk (Sunday nights), the premium channel's June pride-lights include the documentaries Same Sex America (June 28), We Are Dad(June 19; see p, 158), and Damaged Goods (June 14), along with the 2004 award-winning original movie Jack (June 19) and the short film Shook (June 28).

McCarthy has written for OC Weekly.
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Title Annotation:TELEVISION
Author:McCarthy, Michelle
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Date:Jun 21, 2005
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