Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Baby Comes Early, Daddy Comes Out: Broadway and TV Star B.D. Wong Talks about His New Book on the Harrowing Premature Birth of His Son-And about Why He's Finally Ready to Speak out in the Advocate. (Gay Parenting)

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Baby Comes Early, Daddy Comes Out: Broadway and TV Star B.D. Wong Talks about His New Book on the Harrowing Premature Birth of His Son-And about Why He's Finally Ready to Speak out in the Advocate. (Gay Parenting)

Article excerpt

While rebounding from the death of one child and the life-threatening illness of another, B.D. Wong won't be taking it one day at a time. That "didn't really work for Mackenzie Phillips," he writes in his hilarious new memoir, Following Foo. "She ended up on The E! True Hollywood Story."

Don't expect Wong to wind up on tabloid TV. Not that he isn't famous enough: This spring he ended a five-season run on HBO's Oz as the idealistic priest Father Ray Mukada. In September he'll begin a third season on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, in which he plays forensic psychiatrist George Huang. He's been in some 20 movies and over a dozen TV shows, including Margaret Cho's 1994 sitcom, All-American Girl.

What will keep Wong out of the gossip columns is his "extremely solid" 15-year relationship with Richie Jackson, who is also his agent. Jackson is, in Wong's words, "a New York Jew who never steps off the curb until the light turns green," which leaves B.D. "feeling like the Diane Keaton character in a Woody Allen movie."

Wong's other weapon against the tabloids is that he's extremely private. In the 1980s, Bradley Wong abbreviated his first name so audiences wouldn't guess his gender. (He was then starring in the Broadway hit M. Butterfly as a male character living as a woman.) The ambiguity felt right. Even now, during an interview in the family's Manhattan loft, Wong parries questions about his sexuality, his religion, even his age. (He's 40.)

But while eschewing labels, he is deeply personal in Following Foo. Described on the book cover as "a true story of intensive caring," Foo grew out of B.D. and Richie's decision to start a family. With B.D. donating sperm and Richie's sister Sue donating eggs, the couple impregnated a surrogate in Modesto, Calif. Twenty-eight weeks later, during the 2000 Memorial Day weekend, the surrogate went into labor. The two boys she was carrying suffered from twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, in which only one twin receives blood from the placenta; the other gets it from his sibling. In this case, the donor twin, Boaz Dov Wong, died shortly after birth. His brother, Jackson Foo Wong, who weighed 2 pounds, 13 ounces, was rushed to intensive care. It was during Jackson's three months of hospitalization that B.D. (living first in a motel and then in his parents' house in San Francisco) began sending long, touching, and often hilarious E-mail updates to friends. One ditty about the wait for Jackson's first poop included this verse:

   Would Thursday be turds day?
   Would Friday, or Sat.?
   Would "he bless" us on Sunday
   With a skit about scat?

There were also E-mails "from" Jackson, now age 3, who describes B.D. as "dad with hair on top" (Richie is balding) and notes that the actors on Oz are "pretty sweet dudes" who only "sodomize each other nonconsensually on TV."

The E-mails (along with online photos) brought responses from hundreds of friends, including Joel Grey (who revealed that he had also lost an infant son), John Lithgow (B.D.'s M. Butterfly costar), and "Uncle Harvey" Fierstein. Eventually, Wong compiled the E-mails--outgoing and incoming--into the book, which will be published by HarperCollins in June. The father of twin boys myself, I caught up with B.D. in his Manhattan loft, where he was buying rock-and-roll memorabilia on eBay while cooking dinner for himself and Richie.

Jackson looks great. How's he doing?

I don't want to say too much. Let's just say I have no complaints about how Jackson is.

How does the loss of Boaz affect you?

Every once in a while, I'll call Richie and say, "I'm having a Boaz moment." That means I'm daydreaming, thinking about "what if." It's not that painful; it's more wistful, more curious about the possibilities. But Jackson is here because of what Boaz did for him. I will always be grateful to Boaz for that gift.

Does Jackson know that his family is "different"? …

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