After Near-Fatal Bout With Weight Loss, Gay Son Chooses Happiness Over Father’s Approval.

by Richard Fox

My name is Richard Fox and I’m from Queens, New York. I, in my adolescence, had gained some weight as a kid, say from my second grade to high school I basically progressively became not a heavy, not an obese child, but relatively heavy. My father set great store by looks, by what one looked like, the appearance. He was, he came from a family of good looking folk and it meant a lot to him and he wanted that for me. And being a slightly overweight and then more than slightly overweight as I got older the fact that he got very annoyed about and he would taunt me pretty consistently. “You’re getting too fat, you know. What are you doing? You know you could be attractive, don’t look like this. Why you doing this? You know you look awful.” And I finally had enough just listening to all this and the things that I have to deal with and so I basically, I starved myself. I did anything I could. I had a break in my head and said, “That’s it, I’m going to stop this. I’m going to lose a lot of weight.” And so I forced myself big time. I did anything I could between purging, just not eating or eating too much and purging or whatever but it just went down a lot. I went from I want to say 170 pounds to 118 pounds in roughly two to three months time. And my father was very happy about it. And years later I went to him, we have an argument, and I said, “You know I almost, that period was actually horrendous for me. I almost died.” And it puts a cap on it because he basically said to me, “You know, the end justifies the means.” And he was very clear about it. He said, “It didn’t matter what you went through, it was worth it.” And that really hurt big time. But what made all this to me poignant was, that was now 1979 turning into 1980 and I realized I was gay and I came out at 20 and I decided to do something about it. I decided to explore. I went to, I found that my college had a gay club. It was off campus and I decided to join. My first boyfriend had, I believe, dropped me off of my house and my father got to meet him and that precipitated him asking me, “Are you gay? Are you gay?” And when he found out I was gay, he asked me as I say, and I said, “Yes.” And he said, “Well why did you tell me? Why did you tell me?” “Well, because you asked. You asked.” “But it’s not the answer I wanted.” “Okay, well but that’s the answer you’re getting.” And he says, “ Well, you know, how dare you?” Basically he actually was going that route so, you know, “How could you hurt me like this? I want to kill myself. I feel like committing suicide right now being told that you’re gay.” I just don’t really know what precipitated his anger towards it, other than the fact that he just had an image of what I should be and I just didn’t measure up. He passed away when I was 35 so that’s like 15 years after the coming out. So I would say we were never, I would say we became at a better place but it never fully resolved itself. Not completely. But we did try to make peace. It wasn’t all bad. He actually was a very funny man. I mean that’s where I got my really silly sense of humor, from my dad, because with all the nonsense he had a very light side. He had a very whimsical side. And I just wished he had been a little more like that with me and not all the heavy-duty stuff, you know. It would have been nice. It would have made things a little bit easier.

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