Matthew O’Hara says being a gay dad “is awesome.”
“As corny as it may sound, it’s a dream come true,” he says. “It just is. Fostering and adopting is so special. It’s near and dear to me and I am so lucky to get to raise the most amazing kids ever.”
O’Hara, a 42-year-old West Palm Beach, Fla., native, and partner Patrick Koontz, live together in Eastern Market with their three children Elijah, age 8; Mackenzie, 6; and Christian, 2.
They plan to spend Father’s Day this weekend with friends they call their “surrogate family in D.C.”
O’Hara says he always knew he wanted to be a parent. He explored various options for adopting and heard about the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency through a friend who had adopted. O’Hara took the training and got licensed. A few months later, Elijah joined him.
“There are many kids of all ages who need loving homes,” he says. “We’ve worked with wonderful social workers over the years and now lead a group of foster homes.”
The agency works regularly with LGBT families. Anyone interested in finding out more can visit cfsa.dc.gov for more information.
O’Hara came to Washington in 1999 for graduate school at Gallaudet University and has worked for years as a sign language interpreter with many certifications in the field. He currently freelances as a mediator and interpreter and plans to return to non-profit management — he was previously deputy director for an interpreter association — work in the fall.
O’Hara enjoys the beach, reading, volunteering and “puttering around the house and yard” in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I have been out for about 20 years and the hardest person to tell was my pastor.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
For the first several years I was in D.C., I was a big Remington’s fan. Lots of good times there.
Describe your dream wedding.
A simple beach ceremony with friends and family and then a fun party.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Child welfare. As a foster/adoptive parent and mediator in the D.C. foster care system for over eight years, I’ve gotten an up close and personal look at the needs of children and families who need so much that too many of us take for granted.
What historical outcome would you change?
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
On what do you insist?
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
Mackenzie’s (my daughter) kindergarten graduation from Maury Elementary!
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Stay the same. I worked too hard to do exactly what my mother said all growing up — be yourself!
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
There’s a God. And He loves me.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Keep it real.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
To never have to answer this question.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That gay people are all heathens.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Connecting on 10 different social media outlets. I have just enough mental bandwidth for Facebook.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
2013 Presidents’ Award from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
You don’t have to know everything or even think you do. I wish I knew I’d turn out just fine, be loved and respected by many and have a fabulous family.
Work. People. Diversity. Deaf community. Gay community. My kids’ roots.