He is a Hawaiian language educator, hula dancer, and father extraordinaire. This is his story, and these are his favorite things.
Text by Kelli Gratz Images by John Hook
Nearly three years ago, Noah Haʻa Solomon was confronted with a life-changing decision when his good friend Blaine Tolentino asked if he would consider being a sperm donor for her and her partner, Leah. Solomon and Blaine had met in 2006 at the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival Craft Fair in Hilo on Hawai‘i Island, where they first bonded over their shared interest and love for the Hawaiian culture. “My initial thought was that I was flattered that she would ask me,” he says. “But I knew she didn’t want it to be someone random and we had such a mutual admiration for each other that it made sense.”
Solomon, who is Hawaiian, Filipino, Irish, English, and Native American, began dancing hula as an elective in high school at Mid Pacific Institute, where he instantly fell in love with the ancient Hawaiian dance form. “I noticed a closeness in the class, and that was something my subconscious really responded to,” he said. He graduated from University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa in 2011 with a bachelor of arts in Hawaiian language, and worked as a hula dancer and a Hawaiian language tutor and translator until he moved to the south of Japan, where he had danced hula in a Polynesian Review show at a resort. In 2013, he decided it was time to move back to Honolulu. Having a family was of future interest to him, but it wasn’t a priority.
Suddenly, though, he had an important choice to make. Having a child would forever alter his life. Was he prepared to take that leap into the unknown? He realized he was ready for the challenges of not only of being a parent, but also of being in a situation as uncommon as theirs. In March, Graham, the son of Blaine, Leah, and Solomon, will be two years old. Solomon is treated as one of the family.
The juncture of their ‘ohana has been effortless—the mothers and their son visit Solomon on the weekends at his home in Hawaiʻi Kai, and together, they enjoy the simple pleasures of raising a family. “For me to be included as a parent was a decision that was not made on an impulse,” he says. “At first, I wasn’t sure what my capacity would be, but I really lucked out. I hope that our story starts a new conversation, letting people know that this can be an option for them if they want. For us, there was aloha that tied us together before, now that love takes form as our son.”
Today, Solomon works as a Hawaiian language lecturer at UH while studying for his masters in linguistics and a Ph.D in anthropology. He translates Hawaiian to English and vice versa. He is also looking for that right person to settle down with. “I hope to be married by 35,” he says. “We’ll see.”
These are Solomon’s favorite things:
Favorite place to eat? “Any Pho place. But probably Hale Vietnam.”
Favorite way to experience Hawaiʻi’s culture: “A certain type of backyard paʻina (gathering) at someone’s house where people are playing music, eating and talking story.”
Favorite local musician: Linda Dela Cruz.
Favorite read: “This book of old national songs called Ka Buke Mele o na Himeni Hawaii.”
Favorite thing about being a father: “Watching my son growing up with two remarkable women, and how he’s forging his personality.”
Favorite place to unwind and relax: “Next to a record player with a stack of my favorite Hawaiian vinyls.”
Read Blaine’s story of falling in love with Leah and asking Solomon to be the father of their child here.