“Your Father Knew. And He Loved You Regardless.”

by Kaitlin Apostol

My name is Kaitlin Apostol and I’m from Sharon Hill, Pennsylvania. So back in 2004, I was a junior at Academy Park High School. And I was kinda still figuring myself out as far as my sexuality, I hadn’t really had many boyfriends. I knew that I found boys attractive, but I remember being friends with this one particular woman — girl, I guess we could say since we were in high school, um, and becoming really good friends with her. She was gay, she was openly gay, and, y’know, there was definitely people who judged her. We became really close, and then I found myself having feelings for her, in more than just a friend.

So we used to talk everyday on the phone, and one day, I was living with my father at this point, my parents had separated and I chose to live with my dad over my mom. And I was talking to her on the phone. And we weren’t even saying anything vulgar, or too sexual, but we were definitely flirting on the phone. I didn’t know that my dad had picked up the phone. And I’m having this conversation with her, and I get off the phone, or I hear him actually yell up to me. He was downstairs in the living room and I’m upstairs in my bedroom. And he yells down to me, “Kaitlin, I need you to come down here when you’re done.”

So I’m like “What did I do?” I got really nervous, I thought I was in trouble for something.

So I get off the phone with her, and I’m walking down the steps. And he’s very serious. He’s like “I need to ask you something.” And I was like, “What?” And he was like, “Are you gay?” And I got so defensive, I was like “Absolutely not! Why would you think that?” And he was like “I’m just asking you.” And I was like “No, I can’t believe you would ask me that, and so what, so what if I was, your brother’s gay, what does it matter? But I’m not.” And I remember storming upstairs, and feeling really nervous, like, ‘why would he think that? I don’t even know if I am’ — I mean, looking back, I know that I was — but at the time, just feeling really nervous, and almost mad at him that he would ask me that. So he never brought it up again, we didn’t talk about it.

Again, went through high school, finished my junior, senior year. So I was in college, got to my first serious relationship. I fell in love for the very first time. And I never told my parents about it. So we dated for a year, from 2007 til the end of 2008. And my dad ended up passing away in January 14th of 2009. Um, which was really traumatic for me. Like I said, he was my best friend, my biggest supporter, and I was completely heartbroken. And I made a promise to myself, that the next relationship I get in, that I’m going to come out to my family and my mom, because I held this secret for 21 years at that point, and I never got to tell him. And that’s something I- I felt, I just felt some regret in that, I didn’t get to feel like I was my authentic self around my own father.

And then 2010 I met another woman, and I started dating again, and it became kind of serious. So it was my mom’s birthday in June of 2010, and I took my mom to Broadway. It’s like our thing, every year we go to Broadway, we see a show, we get a hotel, we spend the night, the whole thing. So I take her to this restaurant. I’m so nervous, my palms are sweating, my mouth is so dry. I said “Mom, I need to talk to you about something” and she was like “Yeah, what?” And I said “I’m gay.” And she just looked at me and said “I need to have a cigarette.” That’s the first thing she could ever say to me. So she goes to have her cigarette, and she comes back. And I’m crying at this point, because I’m so nervous, I don’t know what her reaction meant. And she gives me this big hug and says, “I think that I always knew. But I love you, you’re my daughter, I support you no matter what.”

So this point, it’s November, it’s Thanksgiving, and we always spend my holidays typically at my dad’s, either brother or sister’s. So we’re at my uncle Ray’s house. And this is the first time I’m seeing any of my family since my mom actually told them. I didn’t even get a chance to really come out to them, she told them before I actually had the chance. So my dad’s sister pulls me aside, and she was like “I just want you to know, like I’m really proud of you. I know how hard this must be to say this, to come out. And I just want you to know, your father knew. And he loved you regardless, he didn’t care. It’s something that we had talked about, and he was just waiting for you to, y’know, come out on your own time.”

The fact that he knew, that he didn’t even care and loved me regardless, was probably the biggest sigh of relief that I’ve ever had. Because you wanna make your parents proud, right? And I always tried to do that. I was so scared that he wasn’t gonna accept me or love me, because unfortunately that is so many people’s stories, that their parents don’t accept them, or they get kicked out, or they get disowned. And I’ve been really fortunate enough to have two wonderful parents that love and accept me for exactly who I am. So that’s been a pretty amazing journey and a really awesome story. And I couldn’t be more proud to be their daughter.

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