I am Chevon Cleveland and I am from Yonkers, New York.
When I was 17 years old, my mom passed away. But my -, and I never knew my dad up until that point. In 2015, I was turning 35 and my birthday is everything to me. I celebrate all month. My daughter’s birthday is October 22nd. Mine is October 17th. And my favorite uncle is October 14th.
So I figured we would have this big seafood extravaganza and a huge party, you know, to celebrate our birthdays since we’re all October Libra babies, and I would involve my dad. And my uncle, who has known my dad before… even before I was born, it would be a surprise to him as well.
We get my dad up here and, you know, he’s staying at my house. We’re getting prepared for this big seafood extravaganza. We’re going shopping, we’re picking up, you know, drinks.
At the time I was dating one young lady who is not my wife now, but I was dating her and she came over. I guess my dad noticed a certain thing about her, which he would call “funny” – he’s from down south, so I guess that’s their way of saying gay or queer or lesbian or what have you.
So she left and he asked me, “Um, she seems funny.”
I said, “Dad, what do you mean?”
“She seems funny. I don’t know. Just the way she was sitting there on the couch. She just seemed funny. Are you funny with her?”
So I’m like, “Yeah, we’re together.”
That was a bad idea. He was so hurt. He was so distraught. “How could you do this to me? The whole family is going to know about this. This is the most terrible thing to happen.”
As we go to sleep, I go upstairs to my room to sleep and he’s in the living room, sleeping on the couch, but he’s in the kitchen, apparently drinking everything under the sun. And the reason that I know that is because when we woke up the next morning, he was very, very drunk. We start to pack up because we’re going to drive to my uncle’s house to have this seafood dinner.
So he’s getting disrespectful. And you know, he’s saying… saying all the things where I’m not his daughter and how could I do this to him?
So we all get loaded up. Myself, my dad, my two kids and my girlfriend at the time. And he’s still being very disrespectful and “I can’t believe you would do this to me,” and “You and her are the way you just sit there on the couch together…”
So we get to my uncle’s house. Now it’s time for the big reveal. So we walk in the door and it’s a big surprise and everything is great. You know, there was tears. My uncle was excited. My dad was excited. Great. So in my mind, I’m thinking he’s going to let this whole gay thing go.
As the day goes on, he continues to drink and it’s getting worse. He actually is following my uncle around the house now and he’s badgering my uncle and he’s asking him, “Well, did you know?”
My uncle, you know, plainly said, “No, she didn’t tell me that. But everyone knows that she dates women. And what’s the issue? I don’t see how that changes your life.”
So now he’s going around to, you know, the kids, he’s going around to my cousin that’s there and “Oh, can you believe this? And I’m just so hurt. And can you believe how she would do this to me?”
And everyone’s saying, “She’s not doing anything to you. If, if anything, you’re doing everything to us.”
So a whole day of this and I was mortified and I was actually brought to tears because my uncle told us we had to leave. He just said, you know, “Listen, niece, you… you gotta go. And your dad is no longer welcome here in my home.”
We drive home and my dad of course, all the way home, he’s still, “Oh, I’m so distraught. I want to kill myself. I’m going to die.” And all the things.
We get home and he has called his wife. My dad has called his wife, my stepmom, to “get me together.” So I kindly told her off and told her that she has never – she has no more chances to call me and try to “get me together” as a grown woman in my own home.
So I hung up the phone with her and my dad is still very drunk and he’s still drinking. He’s an ex-Marine. He’s 6’4”… very, very big. This big booming voice. He is now cornering my children and talking to them about how being gay is a terrible thing.
In this very moment, he’s speaking to my children, one of which is my daughter who is gay. My daughter’s face is crushed. My son he’s balling up his fists because he’s like, “You’re not going to disrespect my mom. And you’re… you know, talking to my sister this way.”
My kids are everything and what you won’t do… you won’t disrespect them. So literally I had to stand in between them and tell him that’s enough, calm my son down, like, “Listen, you know, I’ll handle this.” Telling my daughter, “ There’s absolutely nothing of truth or of value of what your grandfather is saying.” And at that point, when I saw their faces and how it was affecting them, I said, “This has got to stop. It’s definitely got to stop.”
So I got him the next point back to go home to Louisiana. Even though it was a 20 minute ride, really, to the airport, it was the longest, longest ride I’ve ever taken. By the time we get to the airport, you know, I get his bags out of the trunk and all that. And he actually goes to hug and embrace me. And we pull back and I look at him and he looks me dead in my face. And he says, “Well, daughter, I’m going to pray for you because you’re going to hell.” So I never got the moment that I thought I was going to get. So he got on the plane. And I drove off and that was it.
He still to this day hates my lifestyle, but I’m still me and I’m still very gay, and he does come around now and clearly I’m married to my wife. The funny part, and I think this is probably bad, but the part that just digs it in for me, like I can get to turn the knife on it, is. because my wife is a corrections officer and she, you know, they have to go in with their whole uniform and the boots, shined and everything.
And so since my dad is an ex-Marine, he knows about shining boots and stuff. So he actually, I have it on video too, of him helping her shine her boots. So in my mind, I’m like, “You’re shining my gay wife’s boots. How ‘bout that!”