Happy Father’s Day

And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

—Ephesians 6:4

As much as my father and I have argued, I wish he had known this verse better. He used to provoke me to anger (wrath) constantly, and often, he still does. I know there are at least a few dads out there who read my blog, maybe even two gay dads out there raising a son(s) and/or daughter(s), and I want to wish you a very Happy Father’s Day and tell you a little about my father. Just like mothers, fathers can drive us crazy. Most of us may not have been as close to our fathers as maybe we should have been or should be, but all of us have a father somewhere. 

We are very different in so many ways. He is very outdoorsy: he hunts, fishes, and constantly works outdoors. I was always a bookworm, who liked books better than sports. I’ve learned to like the outdoors: I walk nature trails, I like to hike, and I even like to fish occasionally. Whereas my father worked outside all his life, I prefer to work inside, research, writing, teaching, etc. There are a lot of other differences as well. We can generally have a conversation for about 15-20 minutes before we get into some type of argument. My father has never felt I was right about anything. I can be agreeing with him, and he will argue with me for agreeing with him. No matter what I say, he will say the opposite. One example is that I once made a remark about a house being painted white (it used to be gray), he argued with me that the house was painted gray, just a lighter shade. Everyone else I know says the house is white, but he still says that it is gray. Once, he even told me I was a very unpleasant person to be around. It’s odd because as far as I know, he’s the only person I know who feels that way. It’s that sort of thing that drives me crazy. Needless to say, we barely get along. I love him nonetheless, I just don’t like him sometimes. He can be very cruel and frustrating.

To switch gears a little bit, I want to tell you also how great my father can be, without me even knowing it. This is part of the reason that I forgive so much of the misery he causes me. When my parents found out I was gay, it was a very traumatic experTo switch gears a little bit, I want to tell you also how great my father can be, without me even knowing it. This is part of the reason that I forgive so much of the misery he causes me. When my parents found out I was gay, it was a very traumatic experience for all concerned. My mother had suspected for quite a while and was being very nosy. She checked my email. She didn’t like some of the emails that she saw. Most of them, if not all, were fairly innocent, but there were some like an ad from Showtime about “Queer as Folk” and maybe another one from gay.com (back when that was a thing). I was over at my grandmother’s checking on her, when my mother called me and confronted me about it. I was tired of denying it. All of my friends knew, so why shouldn’t she. I knew she wouldn’t like it. She had confronted me several years before about it, and I denied it then. I wasn’t ready, and to make sure that I never was, my mother told me, “If you would rather have a dick up my ass, then be part of this family, then leave. We will have nothing more to do with you.” When this time came around, we got into a huge argument. I yelled, she yelled, and I left. I was still dependent on them for some things, but I could live without them. My mother went to bed and cried for the next two weeks. By the way, this all happened two days before Christmas, while I was home on Christmas break. My mother did get up and do the family things the holiday required, and I did go back after a lot of begging from my sister, who knew nothing about what was going on. But, my mother was very cold toward me the whole time. When my father got home, he asked my mother what was wrong with her. She told him. She tells him everything. This was one of the times when he sided with me.

He told my mother, that I was their child. She could not stop loving me, just because she did not agree with my lifestyle. He would continue to love me, and she would have to do the same. No matter what his children did, they would still love them (it may have helped that my sister married a complete and total jackass, who doesn’t physically abuse her but abuses her mentally). Then he came and talked with me. He told me that he didn’t care what I told my mother, but to tell her something or she would die in that bed there (you don’t know my mother, but she would have). Then he told me what surprised me the most, “I should have taught you how to fight the urges. I am sorry that I failed you.” It is the only time my father ever apologized to me for anything. I never asked about the urges, but I am pretty sure I know what he was talking about. He knew exactly how I felt. He had been there himself, but he had chosen a different path. Maybe that is why they still believe it is a choice. But I see the misery in him almost every day. I went to my parents and told them both that I was celibate and would remain that way, and I had never acted on my sexuality (yes it was a lie, but it was one I think was for the better, even though I hate lying more than anything). They made me promise that I would not tell anyone else in the family, and I have agreed to that, though I recently told my niece when she came out as transgender. Our family has become a “Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t discuss” zone. It is not my preference but it is what I must deal with for the time being. If I ever find a man to live my life with, I will deal with the other consequences then. I don’t think I could hide from my family the love of my life (if he ever comes along). My mother continues to be the queen of denial and believes I will find the right girl and get married someday, but she seems to be beginning to crack. I think being away from them during the whole of the pandemic has made her see what it would be like if she loses me because of her own backward hatred.

They still consider my being gay a lifestyle choice, but I never will. I would have never chosen this myself. I am glad I live in an area where I can be out and be myself. Twelve hundred miles makes a difference. 

Some of you may have read this post before. I not only used it for my Father’s Day post for the last three years, with a few modifications, but I plan to use it each Father’s Day (though I haven’t always remembered to do so) for as long as this blog is published.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

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