Scroll To Top
People

New York Lawmaker Remembers Gay Friends Killed on Hijacked Jet on 9/11

New York Lawmaker Remembers Gay Friends Killed on Hijacked Jet on 9/11

Ronald Gamboa, Daniel Brandhorst and David Reed Gamboa Brandhorst. Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal

Every year on 9/11 the country stops and people remember where they were and who was lost that day.

Cwnewser

On what has become a day of solemn remembrance annually, Americans pause to reflect on the lives lost during the worst terror attack on United States soil. A state senator from New York honored a gay couple and their son on X, formerly Twitter, Monday. All three died 22 years ago on September 11, 2001.

“Remembering two pioneering gay dads, Daniel Brandhorst and Ronald Gamboa, and their 3-year-old son, David Reed Gamboa Brandhorst, who died on Flight 175,” wrote Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal, above a photo of the couple and their child.

Gamboa, 33, who managed three Gap stores in Santa Monica, Calif., and Brandhorst, 42, a lawyer and PricewaterhouseCoopers partner, had been together for 14 years.

The couple was aboard hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 when it crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center, killing them along with their 3-year-old son, David. They were trying to return to their Hollywood Hills home after their annual trip to Provincetown, Mass.

At least two dozen of the people who died in the terror attacks that day were members of the LGBTQ+ community. The queer people lost in the attack are remembered at the museum at the Ground Zero site, which sits where the towers once stood.

“Daniel handed me the keys to my first apartment in NYC. He and Ronald helped found one of the earliest organizations to provide support to LGBTQ parents and their families,” Hoylman-Sigal wrote.

At home, the devoted fathers were very active in a monthly potluck social for gay dads, dubbed the Pop Luck Group.

In an article after the events of 9/11, The Advocate wrote about the LGBTQ+ who died that day. Below, you'll find the excerpt about Gamboa, Brandhorst, and their son.

When J.B. Campise remembers his friends Ronald Gamboa and Dan Brandhorst, he conjures up the images of a blue Miata convertible, towel-wrapped heads, dark sunglasses, a pack of cigarettes, and a box of strong mints.

It was 1995, and the three men had moved together from the New York City area to Los Angeles. Gamboa had just gotten the Miata, and "he loved to tool around in it with the top down," Campise says. Gamboa and Campise would wrap their heads in towels, don dark sunglasses, and drive around while taking long drags on strong cigarettes. "We thought we were so Hollywood," Campise says, laughing at the memory.

But Brandhorst hated when his partner smoked, so before the night was over Gamboa would stuff his mouth with breath mints to cover up the smell. "Dan was the more serious, methodical, and restrained one," Campise says. "Ron was the whimsical, flamboyant one."

Visually, they stood out as opposites too, he notes. Gamboa, who was born in the Philippines but came to the United States when he was merely 6 weeks old, was petite. Brandhorst, on the other hand, towered over Gamboa at 6 foot 2.

"Dan and Ron were two opposites who complemented each other in many ways," Campise says.
Gamboa, 33, who managed three Gap stores in Santa Monica, and Brandhorst, 42, a lawyer and partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers, had been together 14 years when their hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 plowed into the south tower of the World Trade Center, killing them and their 3-year-old adopted son, David. The family was returning to their Hollywood hills home from their annual trip to Provincetown, Mass.

"They were such devoted fathers," remembers friend Danny Levy, a 39-year-old graphic artist in West Hollywood who originally met the couple during a gay ski week in Aspen, Colo., five years ago. "They loved to dress David in the cutest outfits."

The family was active in a monthly potluck social for gay dads, dubbed the Pop Luck Group. When Levy mentioned he was thinking about adopting too, Gamboa and Brandhorst introduced him to the brunch gatherings. "Dan thought it'd be good for me to see there were all these other gay fathers," Levy says. "Ron thought maybe I could meet a cute single gay dad."

Levy is now in the process of adopting a child himself and credits Gamboa and Brandhorst as his mentors. "Seeing them with David was such a big influence on helping me make this decision," he says. "They didn't slink away to suburbia or shelter their child from the gay world. They showed me I could raise my child in my own community."
Cwnewser
30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Christopher Wiggins

Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).
Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).