Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-06-09
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

BOOKS Skokie native writes about creating an LGBTQ family
by Melissa Wasserman
2020-06-24

This article shared 2514 times since Wed Jun 24, 2020
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Steve Disselhorst dreamed of being a parent since he was a kid growing up in Skokie. On June 16, his first book, Determined To Be Dad, was released, and it details his journey to fulfill that dream.

Disselhorst grew up in a Catholic, mostly Irish family. Transfering from a Catholic school in Skokie to Edison Elementary School, a public school in Morton Grove, in the fifth grade was a big change, as Disselhorst explained the majority of Skokie residents were Jewish and about 10 percent of people were Holocaust survivors. He recalled it was when he made this move, in the late '70s, that he first interacted with Jewish people since he was "living in this cocoon in my Catholic school setting. "It was the same time the Illinois Nazi party was trying to march in Skokie," he said.

Disselhorst added, "I had been in a sheltered world and didn't know what was happening, but I could understand there was tremendous pain," Disselhorst said of his surroundings. "It was really this life-altering experience on how different minorities are discriminated against and how people do hateful, violent things to people that are different. At that time I didn't know I was gay, but I could empathize with that pain and suffering and it sort of changed my view of the world."

The writer described himself as a sensitive, empathetic child, always connecting relationships to the foundation of his family life. The empathy was something he attributed in part to his grandmother, who immigrated from Ireland under harsh circumstances when she was 14 and building a "tremendous life;" and his father, who he described as a kind, giving person. Being the new kid in school furthered his empathy and understanding toward outsiders.

From the outside, Disselhorst led what could be described as a heteronormative life as he went on to graduate from Niles West High School and the University of Iowa. It was during his junior year abroad and senior year that he began the process of exploring and understanding his sexuality and attraction to men. However, he was caught between the Catholic teachings he grew up with and his interest in men, one of the reasons was because he wanted a big family like the one he grew up in and thought he could only have that if he were heterosexual. Seeing the AIDS epidemic happening around him, he said, also had a big impact.

"It was really sort of a challenging time and a challenging time of self-acceptance," he said.

Sharing his struggle of coming out in his early 20s, he went to visit his brother in California for a summer and ended up staying. When he finally accepted his sexuality and started being true to his identity as a gay man, he dismissed his dream of being a parent. In 2003, he met his current husband—who also wanted a family.

Surrogacy or adoption? Disselhorst said he and his husband spent a lot of time thinking about which option was best for them to start their family. Both of them agreed their genetics were not critical for creating a family but they were not in a position, financially, for surrogacy to be a choice. However, they had faith "God [would] bring us the kids that are meant to be." These factors brought them to the decision of a private, open adoption.

"It took two years," Disselhorst said of their experience, which he shares in his book. "We waited two years and, over [those] years we were contacted by 14 different women at various stages of their pregnancies—and all 14 of those fell through, until our daughter was born. So it was very emotional, exhausting, toward the end of it we became really cynical.

"We really kind of started to think maybe this wasn't in the cards for us, maybe this isn't God's plan for us to have kids. At the time there were a lot of messages around, like, 'Gay people really shouldn't have families' so it was kind of, like, 'Maybe there's truth to this, right?' We started to second-guess ourselves."

Disselhorst and his husband did not give up and now they have two children they are raising in the suburbs outside of San Francisco. Their daughter is now 8 and their son, who came into their lives through the foster-to-adopt program, is 4.

Determined To Be Dad is Disselhorst's personal story filled with the trials and tribulations of going through self-discovery and acceptance, building a new life and creating the family he always wanted, accompanied by some practical information for educational context.

"My mission is really around helping other LGBTQ people and also beyond LGBTQ community, people who are really thinking about creating a family through sort of non-traditional ways," he said.

In 2018, Disselhorst was diagnosed with prostate cancer and was laid off from his corporate job in healthcare marketing, which he said sent him into an identity crisis, resembling his coming out. These life-altering events, he described were motivations for writing the book. ( Incidentally, he is now cancer-free. )

"One of the motivations for writing the book was the fact that there are like 3.8 million LGBTQ millennials considering expanding their families and having children, and I wanted to help them," explained Disselhorst. "The other thing about writing the book was really it was a [cathartic] experience. We had been through these difficult adoptions and it was a way to just sort of get it all out, and I think it was a way for me to heal from the cancer as well. I did a lot of the writing when I was on hormone therapy after I had radiation treatments and so I was going through my treatment and I was writing. It was a way to sort of cleanse and let go of things from the past."

Past the LGBTQ community, he added, this audience extends to parents, in some cases to help them understand their LGBTQ kids can have a family one day and LGBTQ allies.

In addition to being a dad, Disselhorst has his own coaching and consulting firm where he currently works as a leadership coach and a diversity and inclusion consultant. He also serves on the board of directors for the LGBTQ non-profit Our Family Coalition, and is a San Mateo County California LGBTQ commissioner.

Disselhorst is passionate about creating inclusive environments and equity for all minorities, including LGBTQ and racial groups. He even does this at his children's school, talking to the superintendent about creating cultures for kids whose parents are queer and kids who are queer in the school. He has also been featured on the podcast Daddy Squared, talking on this topic.

"It's really about giving hope to people," said Disselhorst. "That ... and my kids keep me going."

Disselhorst added that what continues to drive him is the fact that President Trump and the current administration are changing the foster/adopt laws.

"What's tragic, and this is where I get really worked up, is the fact is that LGBTQ people adopt out of the foster system seven to one, [compared] to heterosexual people," said Disselhorst. "LGBTQ people are willing to take the children that other people are not willing to adopt and they're the ones that are doing it. Now, we have a government that's going to take that away, we're going to end up with more children lingering in the foster system because they don't want LGBTQ people being parents."

In addition, Disselhorst said he sees himself as "an angel [who] helps LGBTQ people create families."

He added, "I'm very tied to spirituality, so it's like you're there, but you're not there, you're an angel—you're kind of in and out.That's what I hope to accomplish with the book is that I'm able to get it to a broad enough audience [to] give them hope."

To learn more about Steve Disselhorst and where to purchase Determined To Be Dad, visit SteveDisselhorst.com .


This article shared 2514 times since Wed Jun 24, 2020
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Howard Brown Health calls on businesses, LGBTQ events to re-implement COVID restrictions
2021-07-28
--From a Howard Brown press release - (Chicago, IL, July 28, 2021) — Howard Brown Health, the Midwest's largest LGBTQ healthcare organization, is imploring local businesses and public event producers to implement strict COVID-19 safety and prevention ...


Gay News

Pritzker signs bill decriminalizing HIV transmission, other pro-LGBTQ measures
2021-07-27
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed a legislative package on July 27 at Center on Halsted that, effective immediately ends the decades-long law criminalizing HIV transmission in Illinois. Illinois is now the second such state to repeal ...


Gay News

CDC: Some vaccinated people should wear masks indoors
2021-07-27
To prevent further spread of the Delta variant, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its mask guidance on July 27 to recommend that fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors when in areas with ...


Gay News

Lightfoot: Mask mandates may return to Chicago
2021-07-27
People may not want to toss those face masks. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot told The New York Times she will consider reinstating a mask mandate and other restrictions if the city starts to consistently record more ...


Gay News

PrEP pills to be free for insured people
2021-07-25
The U.S. government has stated that nearly all health insurers must cover the entire cost of HIV prevention treatments, according to U.S. News & World Report. That includes the two approved pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drugs Truvada ...


Gay News

Federal judge blocks Arkansas anti-trans healthcare law
2021-07-22
Judge James M. Moody Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas temporarily blocked an Arkansas law that would have banned physicians in the state from providing transition-related healthcare—e.g., hormones and puberty ...


Gay News

Howard Brown Health announces new leader for The Center for Education, Research, and Advocacy
2021-07-21
--From a press release - (July 21, 2021— Chicago, IL) Howard Brown Health is pleased announce Brandon Hill, PhD (he/him/his) as Howard Brown Health's new executive director for the Center for Education, Research, and Advocacy ...


Gay News

Soapbox travels to Chicago to raise hand-hygiene awareness
2021-07-21
Clean beauty company Soapbox unveiled the world's biggest bottle of soap in New York City's Times Square on July 15, marking the launch of a multi-city tour aimed at raising awareness for the importance of hand ...


Gay News

AMA Foundation begins fellowship program to address LGBTQ+ health disparities
2021-07-20
--From a press release - CHICAGO — The American Medical Association Foundation (AMA Foundation) today announced the University of Wisconsin—Madison as the inaugural institution of its National LGBTQ+ Fellowship Program to begin transforming the health ...


Gay News

U.S. Sen. Warnock to headline Personal PAC's annual luncheon
2021-07-19
--From a press release - U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Georgia) is slated to be a featured speaker at the Personal PAC 28th Annual Awards Luncheon on Wed., Oct. 20. The event will take place virtually and feature several pro-choice leaders. More ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Amazon, condo collapse, T-shirt controversy, GLSEN
2021-07-18
At least two Amazon employees have resigned in recent weeks to protest the company's decision to continue to sell a book they say frames young people who identify as transgender as mentally ill, NBC News reported. ...


Gay News

Minnesota governor bans conversion therapy
2021-07-15
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has signed a bill that bans the discredited practice of conversion therapy, KARE11.com reported. The state will become the 21st to ban the practice that tries to change a person's sexual orientation ...


Gay News

30th Annual 2021 AIDS Run & Walk Chicago to benefit 25 groups, AIDS Foundation Chicago
2021-07-13
--From a press release - CHICAGO — Now in its 30th year, AIDS Run & Walk Chicago returns to Soldier Field on Saturday, October 2 to support individuals living with and vulnerable to HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses. AIDS Run & ...


Gay News

BOOKS Author, activist Roy Wesley on his new book about his father
2021-07-12
Gay Chicago author, activist and Fermalogic, Inc. COO Roy Wesley has written a new book about his father—Invisible Vision: The hidden story of Dr. Newton K. Wesley, American contact-lens pioneer. Windy City Times: What made you ...


Gay News

American Blues to present 'The Great American (and French) Songbook'
2021-07-12
On Friday, July 16, American Blues Theater, under the continued leadership of Artistic Director Gwendolyn Whiteside, will present The Great American (and French) Songbook, performed by Suzy Petri and guests as part of its music series ...


 



Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.