Who is Nestor Galban? Florida rep Matt Gaetz allowed freshman 'son' to go on spring break at Panama City Beach
Gaetz brought up his alleged 'adopted son' again, while social media users trolled the Congressman for mentioning him only to score political points
Rep. Matt Gaetz is not married, but he claims to have an adopted son named Nestor. The Florida Congressman first brought up Nestor in June 2020, on the House floor in a fiery exchange over African-Americans facing police violence. Now, Nestor has made his way back into the public eye, as Gaetz appeared on Fox News to defend spring breakers who are flooding into Florida despite a rise in COVID-19 cases.
In his brief appearance, Gaetz said, "My son is a college freshman. He had no real graduation, no prom, and I struggled with whether or not to allow him to enjoy spring break at Panama City beach. I allowed him to have an abbreviated one." The moment has since gone viral on social media, with many slamming Gaetz for using his son to make a political statement.
Others have also questioned the relationship between the two. Who exactly is Nestor? Is he really Gaetz's son? That's what we try to uncover today.
Who is Nestor Galban?
The relationship between Nestor Galban and Gaetz isn't exactly clear. In a 2020 interview with People, Gaetz said Nestor came to the US (legally, though he declined to go into details) as a 12-year-old after his mother died of breast cancer. "Our relationship as a family is defined by our love for each other, not by any paperwork," he told People, ruling out formally adopting him. However, the two live together in Florida.
Since revealing Nestor's presence, Gaetz has often described him as "my son in every conceivable way, and I can’t imagine loving him anymore if he was my own flesh and blood.” Since Gaetz has declined to provide further details, there are still a lot of gaps here. We don't know how Nestor came to the US, and how he was allowed to do so without being adopted. There is also a significant disparity in the way Nestor is addressed. On Gaetz's personal accounts, Nestor is called a son, but on Gaetz's Congressional office account he is described as a "remarkable young man" and "part of my family story."
The closest we got to knowing Nestor's true identity was during one of Gaetz's 'Hot Take' podcasts. There, he describes how Galban is the brother of an ex-girlfriend and that "I sort of feel like a single step-parent at times." It's not clear who the ex-girlfriend is, making it really hard to trace the accuracy of the claims. Gaetz goes on to say that Nestor spends time with Gaetz, his family and Gaetz's sister.
In the interview with People, he says Nestor lived with him for four years after coming from Cuba. He then moved to Miami for his junior year and lived with his biological father. The Congressman has defended hiding Nestor from the public eye, telling People, "Just imagine: You’re 12 years old, your mom has just died, you’re learning English as you’re trying to get your footing in school. It just wasn’t the right time in middle school and high school to subject him to politics."
The now 19-year-old has become something of a political prop for Gaetz. In that 2020 exchange with Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, Gaetz angrily said, "Are you suggesting that you're certain that none of us have nonwhite children because you reflect on your Black son and say none of us could understand?" The moment made Gaetz a target for memes and jokes, leading to him tweeting about Nestor for the first time. "For all those wondering, this is my son Nestor. We share no blood but he is my life. He came from Cuba (legally, of course) six years ago and lives with me in Florida. I am so proud of him and raising him has been the best, most rewarding thing I’ve done in my life."
For all those wondering, this is my son Nestor. We share no blood but he is my life. He came from Cuba (legally, of course) six years ago and lives with me in Florida.— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) June 18, 2020
I am so proud of him and raising him has been the best, most rewarding thing I’ve done in my life. pic.twitter.com/JB96wzOzYU
Now, Nestor has magically reappeared again as Republicans are fighting against lockdown measures despite a surge in COVID-19 cases. Nestor also made a brief appearance in 2019, on an Instagram photo with Gaetz and Donald Trump Jr. Since then, he has been rarely active on Instagram and Facebook.
Nestor's social profiles don't dive into much detail about him. On Facebook, he lists his hometown as Havana, Cuba and that he attended Choctawhatchee High School. He moved to Troy University in 2019 to study nursing. While he maintains a low profile on social media, Gaetz says Nestor is "very eager to be identified as my son as publicly as people will accept it.”
Has Nestor really been kept a secret? Not entirely. According to Gaetz, "my friends know I have a son. The people who go to church with me know I have a son, my fellow soccer parents know I have a son." It seems that Gaetz is nothing more than a caring protective parent, who had the best interests of minor at heart. That hasn't stopped him from being mercilessly trolled on Twitter though, with many calling him a "political prop".
'Calling Nestor his son is fiction'
'Nestor' has quickly become a trending topic on Twitter, with many referring to the relationship between Gaetz and Nestor. One user tweeted, "Matt Gaetz has no sons, adopted or natural. Calling Nestor his "son" is a fiction to disguise the awkwardness of a man's having no legal relationship to his live-in teenage boy companion."
Matt Gaetz has no sons, adopted or natural.— Monty 🇺🇸Lincoln's Speeches🇺🇸 Boa (@MontyBoa99) March 23, 2021
Calling Nestor his "son" is a fiction to disguise the awkwardness of a man's having no legal relationship to his live-in teenage boy companion. https://t.co/C40aVc0Gt3
Another tweeted, "Nestor is NOT Gaetz's son. He never adopted him. Nestor has an actual father who is still alive. This whole situation is the most gaslighty of all gaslights. But more importantly, #MattGaetzIsATraitorousTool." One user said, "Nestor is an adult, right? Who has to be "allowed" by Rep. Gaetz to travel? This does not sound healthy." Another commented, "No Shit - I thought his having a son named Nestor was a running joke. That poor fu***’ kid.
Nestor is NOT Gaetz's son. He never adopted him. Nestor has an actual father who is still alive. This whole situation is the most gaslighty of all gaslights. But more importantly, #MattGaetzIsATraitorousTool.— Kincaid (@kincaid323) March 23, 2021
Nestor is an adult, right? Who has to be "allowed" by Rep. Gaetz to travel? This does not sound healthy.— Libby (@libbyjones715) March 23, 2021
No Shit - I thought his having a son named Nestor was a running joke. That poor fuckin’ kid.— sean voss (@svoss150) March 23, 2021
Another user tweeted, "Nestor is like one of the Cullens from Twilight. He just keeps graduating from high school over & over when @RepMattGaetz
needs a political prop." That was echoed by another user, who said, "I do love how he said he kept Nestor secret to protect him from political scrutiny, but now has only brought him up twice and each time it was to make political point."
I do love how he said he kept Nestor secret to protect him from political scrutiny, but now has only brought him up twice and each time it was to make political point. https://t.co/srK4ghQwAt— AJD2020🗳️ (@AJD20201) March 23, 2021
Gaetz' sister Erin has also tweeted photos of Nestor, and the Republican has found an unusual ally in Democratic Rep. Katie Hill. "He talks about Nestor more than anything, has done so much for his son & is truly a proud dad" Hill said defending Gaetz on Twitter. Despite all the trolling, Gaetz does not seem like he will back down, defending Nestor like an actual father, even if he isn't.