Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fathers Day Ramblings of a Gay Dad

One of my daughters says that she is afraid to get into a relationship with a nice man because she’s afraid he’ll turn out to be gay, like me.  She doesn’t tell me this, of course, because she would be afraid it would hurt me.  She tells her mother and her mother tells me.  It doesn’t hurt, strangely enough.  It makes me feel good in a way.  While I would want her to be open to all men to whom she is attracted, especially the nice ones, I am flattered that she apparently sees me as a good person.

This is one of the results of being an out gay father. . . turning my daughter against nice guys.  I regret that.

Other results I do not regret.  My daughters all are strong, independent, and successful women.  They live on their own.  They pursue their various careers.  They maintain their own relationships.  As far as I know, all of them are straight, but all of them are strong gay–rights supporters and friends of the gay community.  Several of them enjoy friendships with gay men.  None of them is uncomfortable being around gay culture, and they enjoy gay humor and camp.

I will never know entirely what impact my being gay has had on these four women.  I doubt that they have figured it out entirely for themselves yet.  I do know that their mother and I have made them aware of the varieties of relationships, affections, and sexual expressions.  Although one of them seems to be a Republican (I sometimes can’t sleep at night wondering where I went wrong with her), even she is an open, accepting, supportive person who supports marriage equality, anti–bullying, and other gay–related issues.  My one daughter who is married is married to a man who is entirely heterosexual (probably 0 on the Kinsey Scale), but who also is a strong supporter of gay rights.

I have so many memories of them confronting, or being confronted by, my gayness.

When they were in their early teens, they and friends of theirs discovered my gay porn stash.  I didn’t know about this until a few years later, after I came out to them.  When I came out to one of them, she said to me essentially that my coming out confirmed a lot of things in her mind, one of which was the obvious explanation she had concocted after discovering the porn.

Years later, this same daughter came to DC to have dinner with me.  She brought her then–boyfriend.  I took them to dinner at one of the best restaurants in the gayborhood in which I lived.  I forgot that the restaurant had a drag show on Saturday nights.  So my daughter and her friend were treated to a fairly decent show.  My daughter seemed to enjoy it.  Her boyfriend was miserable.  At one point, he put his head on his arms on the table.  He couldn’t watch any more.  We hurriedly finished out dinner and left.

I’ve taken them all to gay pride in DC and they all enjoyed the sights.  They all loved the Dupont Circle neighborhood in DC where I lived for a while—its stores, its restaurants, its beautiful men.  They all came to be right at home with the environment there, including some unusual things like the store that sold sex toys.  One daughter bought a supply of cum rags at that store to give to her male friends one Christmas.  That same daughter came back from a trip to some city up north and brought me as a gift the largest gay pride flag I now own.  For my birthday, it’s not unusual for them to give me cards with pictures of sexy men on the front.

As I hope I have been a support to them in their various difficulties, they have been huge supports to me when I have been depressed and lost after coming out.  Their acceptance and love for me have gotten me through some bad days and months.

I know that, each in her own way, all have suffered because of my being gay.  They had to hold their breaths while their mother and I developed a post–coming–out living arrangement.  They have had to integrate my gayness into an understanding of their relationships with me as they grew up, an integration that has raised questions for each of them.  One of them was attacked for having a gay pride sticker on her car.  They have had to face the questions of friends.  They have put up with all the negative shit with a kindness and maturity that is amazing to me.  Each one in her own way has shown loyalty, strength, and love in the face of the unpleasantness that my being gay has caused them.  None of them holds it against me.

After I came out, I went through a period where I thought that my life before coming out had been wasted, and that I was living a life meant for someone else, meant for a straight man.  That thought has gradually disappeared, replaced with an understanding that I lived the life that was presented to me, through the eyes of my very naive and screwed–up self.  I made many mistakes before coming out, but I didn’t make any choices that I knew to be bad or harmful.  I did the best I could.  I think the girls know that.

And what I know more than anything else at this stage of my life is that the life I have lived is far richer than any other life I could have had for one simple reason: if I had come out when I was in my teens or twenties, I never would have been the father to these four amazing women.  Having had a part in bringing them into the world, and then bringing them to adulthood, has been the best thing ever to have happened to me.  I am blessed.  I am lucky.  I am gifted by these four women.

I love them.

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