FALMOUTH, MA—Near-tragedy turned to joy Monday, when Phillip and Karen Widman and their two children were rescued from their burning house on Locust Street by Kevin Lassally, a homosexual man.

Falmouth resident Kevin Lassally (inset), who likes to hold and kiss other men, is being hailed as a hero after rescuing a family of four from a deadly blaze.

The fire, believed to have started when a lit candle ignited a set of drapes, threatened to consume the home and the Widman family along with it. Lassally, heading home after visiting with other homosexuals, smelled smoke and saw flames through the Widmans' living-room window.

"I heard those children crying, and I knew I had to do something," the 34-year-old gay computer programmer told reporters. "I used their porch railing to climb up onto the roofing that hung below the children's bedroom. Then I kicked in their window to reach them."

Once the window was broken, gusts of wind began blowing into the house, feeding oxygen into the fire. "I couldn't see through the black wall of smoke," Lassally said, "but I was able to locate the children from the sound of their crying."

After the blinded, gay Lassally eased Meghan, 3, and Joshua, 18 months, out the window and leapt to the ground, protecting the children by absorbing the impact on his own back, he realized the children's parents had yet to be rescued.

"The older child started crying, saying that her parents were still in the house," said Lassally, who prefers the company of men to women. "So I had to go back in for them." He then climbed onto the roof of the house and entered the second-floor window, only to discover that the master bedroom was not on the upstairs floor. Bolting down the stairs, he found the first floor to be engulfed in flames and collapsing timbers. He nevertheless located the bedroom and carried the unconscious parents out on his shoulders.

By now a blackened, sooty, homosexual figure, Lassally set the Widmans down a safe distance from the house just as firefighters were arriving, and he collapsed on the lawn, exhausted and gay.

Lassally suffered burns covering over 25 percent of his body and sustained injuries leaving him unable to work or have sex with other men for about two months. Doctors describe his condition as stable but homosexual.

As donations and toys come pouring in to the family, which lost most of its possessions, congratulatory cards and telegrams are also being sent to Falmouth's new favorite gay citizen.

"This brave homosexual has inspired us all," Falmouth Mayor Matthew Colella said. "The local hospital has announced plans to rename its burn ward "The Kevin Lassally Gay Burn Ward."

Karen Widman beamed with praise for her new hero: "He's the kind of guy you hope your kids will grow up to be like in certain ways, like courage."

Added husband Phillip: "Sometimes life makes you cynical, like it's you against the world. Then, out of nowhere, comes a totally selfless gay person who turns your whole view around."

Lassally is modest in the face of so many tributes: "I've always believed that one [homosexual] really can make a difference."