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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Might As Well ...

... just call us Pander Bears. Hey! We're on Page Six. It's not so much how important it is to know who donated, but that this is actually news these days. Think about it.

October 18, 2005 -- OUT magazine narrowly avoided a smackdown from Hollywood heavyweight Camryn Manheim's lawyers earlier this month by deleting photos of Manheim's son, Milo Manheim, and dropping mentions that his super-secret father/sperm donor is male model Jeffrey Brezovar.

Brezovar, who's on the cover of the November issue of Out hitting shelves next week, had given an interview naming himself as Milo's father, and there was a planned photo shoot of him and the 4-year-old child.

At first Manheim, who starred in ABC's The Practice seemed fine with everything — even though the magazine planned to name Brezovar as her son's father.

From Out.com

November 2005
What does it feel like to be young and gay and aching to parent when everyone around you is young and gay and aching to party? That’s one way in which our cover guy, Jeffrey Brezovar, upended the stereotypical life cycle for gay men. We’re not supposed to be very interested in settling down until we’re past 30, and then we make up for lost time, becoming experts in the domestic arts: home and food in particular. Tom Steele, for example, who writes a seductive home-entertaining feature in this issue, has coauthored volumes with top chefs Patricia Yeo and Jonathan Waxman and has his own cookbook on the way; Thomas O’Brien, Isaac Mizrahi, and Jonathan Adler, who offer us advice about savvy nest-building, are at the top tier of design experts. This whole issue, in fact, which draws on the expertise of gay men, is devoted to home.

But for a growing number of gay men, children are also part of the home-and-hearth experience. I was reminded of this when I sat across the table from Brezovar during our interview and he began describing how different he used to feel around some of his fast-lane friends in the fashion and design worlds whenever he would talk about his desire to be a dad. The disjunction, I suppose, is one more way in which modern gay life, born of a desire not to have to conform, can enforce its own rather strict regimentation. There are many examples of this. For example, if you’re young and gay and prefer living in the country (and by country I do not mean Long Island or Napa—places where people go to see city people in a sylvan setting, not for a complete change of scene), you may nonetheless move to a city, because even in the Internet era you would feel just too lonely otherwise.

Gay parenthood, meanwhile, has brought its own social pressures. I was at a gathering of gay and lesbian professionals not long ago when the talk turned to the difficulty of comforting children who’ve been cut from an after-school team. “You’re so lucky,” one of the gay dads remarked. “You don’t have to know about all that.” (I used to coach Little League; I just smiled.) Then there are the reverse kinds of exclusion, the feelings of overwhelming strangeness that come from being the only gay guy in the room with a child in tow. Cover man Brezovar told me, self-deprecatingly, “Sometimes people look at me as if I’ve brought a puppy to the party.”

Because parenting still seems to require a greater act of sheer determination for gays than it does for straights, I empathize with Brezovar’s plight even if it’s not my own. For some of us—even those of us who love the children in our extended families ever more deeply as the years pass—the costs of being a parent remain greater than the rewards. We prefer to live alone or with another adult in cities that are inconvenient and expensive. We reside in modest apartments instead of McMansions and have dogs and cats instead of kids. As the writer Adam Gopnik once pointed out, pets may be “mere courtesans of affection, feigning a feeling for food,” and a big-city apartment may never have a bathroom sufficiently spacious to squeeze in a tall towel rack, but still they suffice.

Tight spaces, of course, as Out senior editor Jeffrey Epstein and fashion director Gregory Wein point out in this issue, force home-merging couples to establish priorities, and an Abyssinian or an Airedale can wake you better than any alarm clock. Yes, a 4-year-old child and a 4-year-old animal both can feel equally creaturely curled next to you on the sofa, but the animal has, in my view, at least one untrumpable advantage: It will never insist that you watch two straight hours of SpongeBob.

Brendan Lemon

Then, a few weeks ago, Web site gossip Billy Masters of filth2go.com wrote that Milo's father was Brezovar, adding: "He and Camryn had been friends for years when she asked him to be a sperm donor, and he spends as much time as he can with his son.

"He thought it would be great to be photographed with his son, and La Manheim agreed — and signed a release. After the shoot . . . she demanded that no photos of her son be published," Masters wrote.

Another source e-mailed PAGE SIX: "Camryn initially signed off on the photo shoot, but the closer it came to publication date . . . she suddenly freaked out and had her attorneys contact Out threatening a lawsuit if all references and pictures of Milo were not removed."

Brezovar remains on the cover. But although the interview with him says that he provided the sperm for "a celebrity mom," it doesn't name Manheim or Milo.

"Camryn is a huge supporter of the gay and lesbian community, but she wanted to shield Milo from any unwanted public scrutiny of having a 'Gay Dad,' " said our source.

Manheim was also said to be concerned because of "Jeffrey's relationship with Oprah Winfrey's [openly gay] interior designer Nate Berkus [whose last boyfriend, Fernando Bengoechea, died in the tsunami last year.] Camryn is worried that Jeffrey's higher public profile is going to negatively impact Milo."

Manheim's rep didn't return calls or e-mails. Out declined comment, although its Web site blurbs the next issue: "We photograph model and designer Jeffrey Brezovar at his residence in Los Angeles, and he tells us, among other things, about his life as a gay dad."

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