I strategically waited for my Dad, who has been sober for a year now, to finish three Keystone Light tall boys before I broke the news. The more relaxed he was, the better. He had known for about a week that I would be visiting and I had something important to tell him. I had previously not intended to come out to him so soon, but my girlfriend had broken my heart so badly that I needed the comfort of my Dad. I knew my being up-front with him was crucial to getting the ease I was so desperately seeking. The cheap beer I had managed to chug didn’t give me the courage I was hoping for, so I resorted to some silly guessing game with my father, thinking he would sense what I wanted to tell him and relieve me of having to say the words I didn’t think would come. Looking back now, his attempts at guessing are humorous – “You’re pregnant”, “You have an STD.” Apparently my Dad had no idea that I was gay, but believed me to be an ignorant and promiscuous heterosexual instead. The conversation was growing more and more painful, so I decided to throw him the proverbial bone and give him the hint that I had recently had my heart broken and what I wanted to share with him was directly related. In what seemed like the eleventh hour of this ridiculous discourse, we finally made some progress.
“Were you in a relationship with a woman?”, Dad casually asked.
Thank god he said the dreaded words and all I had to do was agree.
“Oh, so you’re gay.”
His blasé tone of voice was nothing short of shocking. I again agreed and explained that this was the earth shattering information I had wanted to tell him for so long. He looked at me for several seconds as if waiting for me to add that I was also planning to run away with the all lesbian circus. Wasn’t this news disconcerting enough for him? Where was the dramatic reaction I had prepared myself for? I thought for sure he would at least grab another tall boy to take the edge off. Instead, he proceeded to ask some of the most child-like, yet humorous, while also endearing questions.
“So, is sex better with girls or boys?”
“It’s better with girls, Dad.”
“Well, think back to when you were in middle school and you first started to be sexually attracted to other people. Was it girls or boys?”
“Oh, well then you’re gay.”
My father’s attitude was nothing more than, “That’s it? That’s all you wanted to tell me?”. I found myself initially wondering why he hadn’t given more of a reaction and then realizing I was having a typical conversation with my laid back, redneck/hippie father – the same guy that taught me so many years ago that people do not choose their sexual orientation.
Since coming out to my dad three years ago, I’ve listened to endless lesbian jokes. Softball, mullets, flannel – Dad teases me about all the stereotypes. This may sound distasteful and disrespectful to some, but joking in this manner is the language of my family. It’s what we do; if we’re not giving each other a hard time, there’s something wrong. The joking is only one of the many ways my dad communicates to me that me being gay is no big deal to him.
Along with contributing to his repertoire of jokes, my coming out has deepened my relationship with my father. I feel so blessed to see such a kind and gentle spirit in him. I have shared stories of friends and acquaintances that go to the gay bars on Christmas because they are no longer welcomed in the homes of their families. One of these friends came home with me for the holidays one year and my Dad all but signed the papers to adopt her as his own child. His brain cannot grasp why a family member or loved one could turn their back on someone because of their attraction to the same sex. In Dad’s eyes, the more gays at Christmas, the merrier it is. Plus, he loves to tease about “donning our gay apparel.”
I am well aware of how blessed I truly am to call this man my father. I know my coming out story is incredibly rare and I do not take what I have for granted. Countless girls say their dad is their hero, but I’m sure you understand why this guy is mine.