Dear Dad

This blog has been making the rounds on the Internets – Dear Hypothetically Gay Son – and rightly so. I think it’s beautiful and a very gentle touch at a time when it feels like so many heavy hands are swinging both directions when it comes to gay rights.

This part in particular – “You are not broken. You are whole, and beautiful. ” – has such incredible power. Believe me, parents, your kid needs to hear this without asking. Often. Gay or straight.

The response to this open letter appears to be overwhelmingly positive, which is definitely the change I wish to see in the world. The man who wrote it is a wonderful dad, no question, but he is not a hero. At least not for this. I’m not sure loving the child you choose to have can ever be a heroic feat. That’s what dads are supposed to do. It’s not supposed to be optional.

In this world, though – and especially this country – polluted as it is with bigotry and ignorance masquerading as religion and morality, it’s easy to mistake a man who loves his gay kid for a hero, because things have become so distorted that loving your own child has become an option.

I’m not surprised that this letter and its writer have been praised. Both deserve it. Sometimes, though, there is so much straight perspective in the world that we forget that there are two sides to the story.

This is from the son’s side –

Dear Dad,

I’m gay. You know this because I told you at the dinner table last night. I’m sorry that it took me so long to tell you, but I didn’t know how you’d react. We’ve never really talked about it. We didn’t watch gay love stories or read books with gay characters. You never made it entirely clear what being gay meant, or that it was something I may be when I grow up, which would make me different from you, but still a worthwhile person.

If you sensed fear when I told it, it’s because I was afraid. You see, you’ve said some things – or let your friends say some things – in the past that, though they weren’t about me, made me feel as if being gay was weird or unnatural or something you shouldn’t want to be. You laughed at gay jokes in front of me. You probably don’t remember any of this. You didn’t realize how those things would affect me. Neither of us knew that I was gay at the time. So, when I realized that I was, I could hear all of those things you’d said, the jokes you’d laughed at, playing over and over in my head.

Let me be perfectly clear. I love you. I will always love you. You’re my dad and I love you no matter what you do. I could tell that you were surprised, though, when I told you, and I’m trying to wrap my head around it. I admit that I did some things to fit in, because being gay is really scary in this world, Dad, and I wasn’t sure I could handle it. I thought you would see the clues, though. I thought you knew who I was, not who others expected me to be. I didn’t think I could fool you. So, if I seemed sad when you seemed surprised, it’s because I was sad that you were surprised. I honestly thought you knew.

Here’s what I do know –

  1. Our home is a place of safety and love. If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t have come out to you. I know that I will experience a lot of hate, anger and pain in this world because of who I am. I already have. A lot has already happened to me that I haven’t told you, because I don’t want you to be sad or scared for me. Being protective goes both ways.
  2. I need you on my side. Really on my side. I need you to acknowledge who I am openly and everywhere. I need you to never lie about me, omit me from our family history, or introduce my partner as my “friend.” These things read as shame to me, Dad, so get comfortable with who I am as soon as you possibly can. Otherwise, we’re going to waste a lot of our time together. Sign the petitions, write the letters, advocate and set a loud example as a proud Dad of a gay child. Don’t make me ask.
  3. I know you’re going to make me leave my door open when I have boys over now. I’m sure I’ll throw a fit about it at some point, but, truthfully, I’m glad. This, above all else, means you realize that nothing has changed. I am the same person. I will undoubtedly get up to the same mischief. I want you to treat me the same.
  4. I know we’ll need to have “the talk” again. I don’t care if it’s awkward. The fact that you care more about my safety and my future than a little temporary awkwardness on both of our parts means more to me than you will ever understand. I’m sure you’ll have to research. Just don’t take too long, because I’m still a teenager, and sex (along with texting and food) is all I ever think about.
You raised a well-adjusted kid, Dad. I feel good. I don’t feel broken or wrong. I have a lot of love that I want to share, I want to help people, I want to be kind. If I know that you have my back at every turn, that you are fighting for who I am even when I’m not around, that you’re proud of every part of me, it will be a lot easier for me to face those people who are cruel, who judge me and who think I don’t deserve to share their rights.
Your Hypothetically Gay Son

P.S. The Supreme Court took long enough.

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