My father and I were never really close. Everyone always saw us as the same: same looks, same height and same sense of humor. As my aunt put it, “it’s disgustingly sick” how similar we are; however my dad and I never saw it.
Growing up, my dad always tried to make me do things that he did and like things that he liked. I would always have a chocolate cake on my birthday even though I’d protest and hear my dad answer, “Son, I like chocolate cake.” I had to learn how to play the trumpet, had to play basketball in youth teams and through middle school. Eventually I just ended up going with it, I was his only son and started to believe in the importance of being like my father.
It all changed though when I realized I was gay. I was 12 and it me like a ton of bricks. I was sitting in class and I noticed I was just staring at this boy in my class, zoning out of the current lesson, saying to myself how cute he was. After the thought of how cute he was, my mind ran this thought through my head: “Oh no, I’m gay!”
That’s when the rift between my dad and me started to become noticeable. I started to distance myself from him like I did with my mother after my parents got divorced believing that distance would soften the inevitable blow that was to come. I started to turn my older sister’s guy friends as father/brother figures that I could confide in. Slowly with them and the popularity of Queer as Folk and the turning Bravo into the first gay channel with Queer Eye and Boy Meets Boy that I started to feel okay with being gay.
It seemed to me that there was going to be a gay revolution and everything would be okay, so I decided it was time to tell my father. It was the most anti-climatic effect of my life. I woke him up from his nap and after I told him, he just went back to sleep. Little did I know I opened the rift between us even wider. My father started to actively look for girls for me to date. He tried to make sure I didn’t spend too much time with my best friend so we didn’t grow too close. Kids would call me names and my dad would tell homophobic jokes, I guess hoping to scare me out of it. Any mention of homosexuality became taboo.
It stayed like that until college. I only ever called my dad to ask him about paying my rent or giving me money to buy food from the store. Then came Prop. 8. The day after it passed I can remember how low I felt through the whole day. But something out of the ordinary happened that night. I was walking back to my apartment and I got a phone call from my dad. I answered the phone and the first thing he said to me was, “Don’t worry about Prop 8. It won’t stay.” At that moment a smile formed on my face and my eyes started to fill up with tears.