Robert G. De Santis was born in 1939 in Cold Spring, New York, was raised his first five years in Glenham, and then lived in Beacon, New York, until age 30. He served in the U.S. Air Force and received an honorable discharge in 1958. He recalls being an introvert and in the closet during these early adult years.
In January, 1970, he moved to California where he was involved in the Metropolitan Community Church of Los Angeles in its beginning years. He was accepted into the Samaritan Bible Seminary of the MCC in early 1971. He began studies there that June and and graduated in June, 1973. After graduation he became an exhorter for the MCC. In 1974 he was appointed the Acting Chaplain of the San Quentin Prison Ministry by the U.S. Board of Prison Ministry. The term "Acting Chaplain" was used by the MCC to describe his role as an unlicensed minister. He left that position a little over a year later and secured employment with the federal government. During the early 1970's De Santis corresponded with several national evangelistic organizations such as the ministry of the Reverend Billy Graham. He also corresponded with California Assemblyman Willie Brown regarding the 'consenting adults' bills AB 437 and AB 470.
During his time with the federal government, De Santis developed the Saint's Helping Hands Foundation that seeks to provide scholarships to emerging leaders who model inclusivity. His interest was indicative of his life-long love of learning and continuing education. De Santis studied part-time at Laney Community College, De Anza Community College, San Jose City College and San Francisco State University over a span of 20 years. De Santis retired from federal government employment at the San Francisco Army base when it closed in September ,1994. He then worked in private industry until he retired again in July 1, 2006. He and his partner of 33 years, Richard D. Martin, were married at the San Francisco City Hall on March 1, 2004.
De Santis was the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed against Pacific Telegraph & Telephone in 1974. Over the course of the next 20 years (it was the longest running lawsuit of its time), the suit expanded as a class-action suit and won the right to sue a utility and later provided protections for political activity.
(This biographical statement taken from the finding aid to the Robert G. De Santis Papers at the GLBT Historical Society with additional information provided by Robert De Santis.)