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An American Family
and God Doesn't Make Trash

Jesse Monteagudo's Book Nook

An American Family by Jon and Michael Galluccio with David Groff; St. Martin's Press; 274 pages; $24.95.

The LesBiGay and Trans community is full of ordinary people who do extraordinary things. In 1995 Jon Holden and Michael Galluccio, a male couple, did an extraordinary thing when they adopted Adam, a premature baby who was born HIV positive and addicted to crack, heroin and alcohol.

Most couples would be daunted by such a challenge but the Galluccios--Jon has since changed his surname--proceeded to give Adam a home and love he so desperately needed. If the Galluccios were a man and a woman, they would have been honored by a society where so many children grow up without home or love.

But the Galluccios are gay men, which means that their attempt to create a family faced opposition from their families, straight society and even other gay men. That the Galluccios triumphed all the same is the story of An American Family.

Though most Americans oppose antigay discrimination they are still uncomfortable with the idea of gay people, especially gay men, raising children. Florida categorically bars homosexuals from adopting; and other states make it extremely difficult for lesbian and gay couples to adopt as couples.

New Jersey, where the Galluccios live, was one state that frowned upon adoptions by "unmarried" couples. That did not stop Jon and Michael from taking their home state to court, eventually forcing New Jersey to change its policy and allow the Galluccios to adopt Adam as a unit. Jon and Michael have since adopted Madison, an HIV-positive baby girl, and Madison's teenage sister Rosa.

Gone are the days when queers would make snide remarks about "breeders"; or when a gay man in Provincetown would look at the Galluccios and crack, "Oh, isn't that cute. They think they're a family." Many gay men of my generation and the next are following our lesbian sisters and raising children by birth or by adoption.

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At the same time, many heterosexuals are putting their bigotry on hold at the sight of two men or two women tenderly raising a child. Three years after that Jim and Michael were at the receiving end of that P-town queen's catty remark, the couple and Adam were the guests of honor at New York City's annual Pride Rally. Unfortunately, we have a long way to go before male or female couples with children get the recognition and acceptance that they deserve.

An American Family is an inspirational story for all; even for those of us who have no interest in having or raising children. Raising a child is difficult, as any parent could tell you, and the Galluccios' task was compounded by the nature of their children and their relationship.

Jon and Michael Galluccio have since emerged as role models and gay adoption advocates, speaking in venues across America and on countless radio and television programs. An American Family is another way for this couple to spread their message across. Not that it's necessary. Just by being themselves, Jon and Michael Galluccio have made their point loud and clear.
God Doesn't Make Trash by Barbara Rose Brooker; Xlibris; 199 p.; $16.00.

In 1984 Barbara Rose Brooker was living in San Francisco when she learned that her gay friend, Joe, had AIDS. Joe's illness and death inspired Brooker, already an established writer, to write about the men and women whose lives were cut in their prime by this killer virus.

"Write that I''m afraid", Joe asked Barbara. "Not of AIDS, but of humanity." Another PWA, Christian Haren, told Brooker about the epidemic of prejudice that accompanied the AIDS epidemic: "They say it's a gay disease. They treat us like trash. God Doesn't Make Trash." Thus began Barbara Rose Brooker's 15-year odyssey to write and publish God Doesn't Make Trash.

God Doesn't Make Trash is not just "another AIDS book." It is about the men and women who lived and died with AIDS and with the hatred that AIDS inspired. It is also the story of Barbara Rose Brooker, whose life was changed by the lives and deaths of her friends.

"A cure for AIDS is a cure for humanity. We're all taught how to care about each other on a deeper level. If we don't solve the problems with the judgements, the stigmas, as part of the cure, we'll only be partially cured." Twenty years after the emergence of AIDS, this is a lesson many of us still have to learn.
Jesse Monteagudo is a freelance writer who lives in South Florida with his domestic partner. He can be reached at

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