Dad: “Is there something you want to tell me?”
Dad: “I’ve been noticing that you’ve been acting like you’re gay and spending a lot of time with that boy.”
Me: Drops dead.
Normally when these confrontations have happened, battle flags would be flying high and words shot like arrows would be aimed at hearts. But that night was different — I did not shout, call names, or belittle.
For a moment, I found myself victorious. I was able to stand my ground and not be confined by his ideals of manhood and masculinity.
But as our momentary conflict subsided, I recognized that I was still under my father’s thumbnail. My heart still ached from his comments, and shame set in quickly.
Though I was able to defend myself, that week I would enter the house through the back door.
My dad believes that men shouldn’t spend too much time together. People might talk.
That men shouldn’t spend the night over each other’s houses. It just doesn’t look right.
That appearances mean everything and that I need to change the way I walk and talk.
To be fair, when we first started going to church, a member asked if I was gay — and the shame my dad must now carry. My dad grew up without a father of his own, and he has confessed that many of his rules governing manhood are self-created. His ideas were then forced onto me, as though they were truth.
What my dad sees is my spending excessive amounts of time with my friends. But just because someone cannot see my growth does not negate the fact that it’s happening! Sometimes I feel like Pinocchio in Shrek when he proclaims, “I’m a real boy.”
It’s in the wrestling, the fighting, the joking and heart-to-heart conversations alike that I see proof of my growth. I embrace my friends, and they embrace me.
I need men, so that I might become a man myself.
For years, I shunned the physicality of masculinity because of what I experienced with my dad.
Competition and aggressiveness were not things I wanted to partake in.
But I’m a bro now, sportsing and yelling in camaraderie, the whole nine yards.
Being stuck in a room full of guys who might descend on me like wolves at any time? I’m still working on that. But I am not who I was or who anyone wants me to be.
I am stepping through the front door again.
I could have told my dad about my same-sex attractions that night, but I didn’t. Yes, I’m ashamed. But beyond that, we just don’t have the relationship.
I don’t feel that I am “hiding” this part of my life from him; he just doesn’t need to know. He doesn’t deserve to know.
There was more conversation the night of our confrontation, and I confessed something to my dad:
I don’t care what people think, and I don’t care what my friendships look like.
Have you ever worried about your father’s or family’s reactions to your sexuality? What kind of emotional boundaries do you set with your family? Have you experienced the realization of being a “real boy” among others?
* Photo courtesy changereality, Creative Commons.
My biggest obstacle to coming out to my parents wasn’t that I really believed they were going to disown me, but more the fact that our family doesn’t have meaningful conversations like that.
And sometimes I feel like “a real boy”, but then I just wonder if I’m faking it better at that moment.
Someone once told me this or maybe I read it and I love it.
You’re a man. And no one can take that from you. We must grow into manhood, yes. But you have what it takes.
When I started being involved in drama, my dad said I had to be careful because the drama director might try to get me to have sex with him. Red lights went off for me in several ways, and I asked him if that happened to him. He said as a school punishment he was forced to be part of the school play and that did happen. I was stunned. He didn’t know at that point I was molested. This was when I was 15. When I was 42 I brought it up again when I told him I was SSA and abused; he denied he ever said that and told me a lot of bad things happened to him too and he just put it out of his mind and I need to do that too. He called back an hour later and had rehearsed a better response I’m sure his wife told him to say. I could tell he knew it was better, but he didn’t have the words himself at the time. We haven’t talked about it since, but the next time I flew home, he was crying and couldn’t look me in the eye for over 8 hours. Like you, we rarely had any serious talks and he didn’t know how or what to do when I brought them up. Actually, that was the only time I brought up anything serious. The relationship is just not there. I’m sorry for how this lack of relationship with him has affected you, but like you too, I don’t care any more what he or others think of my feminine characteristics. Heck, when I was in high school, I didn’t even know the singers I liked were gay or that a love of musicals were associated with gay men. I honestly thought I was hiding it, but I really wasn’t. Now when I tell people they are usually not shocked and say, “Oh, I knew that from the moment I met you”. THAT still shocks me. I don’t feel like I’m like that until I see a video of me. LOL!
Your dad segment there reminded of a time recently when my own father disclosed to my mom and I that my father when he was younger encountered essentially a pedophile. This person at the time was making very suggestive remarks to my dad about having sex with him. Luckily nothing transpired and my dad’s response was he didn’t understand what this guy was talking about. Mom and I were understandably shocked at this revelation. GEEZ DAD!!! He is talking about molesting you. You get it!? My dad just blows off the experience since he wasn’t compromised — water under the bridge. Where is Chris Hansen when you need him!?
Wow,it seems that for some, life is too hard to talk about.
Also,same here! Im so blind to my own femininity, its so aggravating. Honestly.
I have worried about my family’s reactions ESPECIALLY my father’s reaction to my sexuality. My dad, without suspecting anything, that he would disown me if I came out as gay or court/marry a black woman (Yeah, dad’s a bit of a racist too). Knowing my dad, his mindset has been trained by the church in separating himself from the sinner. He was clear that if I came out I would be considered in his mind as “dead” because in coming out as gay means I want to be a card carrying member of the LGBT community. As if I want to cruise gay bars, attend pride parades, dress in drag and engage in promiscuous sex. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am afraid to come out to my dad and I just don’t know how he would take it. So far, my mom has been suspicious of my sexual identity and passed her suspicions to dad, yet no ostracism or excommunication has occurred. My closet door is apparently well fortified and elusive.
Its a burden to carry. To choose whether to Be known and then be rejected. But im not sure if thats what our choices will always be
I have always been worried about how my parents would react. Back when we had one family computer, my parents found some searches that I had looked up, and also saw an app that I had downloaded on my ipod when I was younger. They asked rather forcefully if I was gay or not. I don’t remember exactly what they said, but what I heard was that they would not allow that in their household and if I lived that kind of lifestyle I wouldn’t be allowed to live with them. I think that is when I really began to be afraid of being myself and tried to mold myself into a good little Christian boy. My whole childhood seemed very hypocritical. When we were out in public or around other people we would “get along” and all seem like a nice happy family. My parents never really had deep or meaningful conversations with me (except for “the talk” with my dad). So I never told them how I was feeling and just kept everything to myself, even now it is awkward being around my parents and I don’t express my emotions with them. I wrote an article about christianity and homosexuality when it became legal for homosexuals to marry. My parents read it and asked if I had written it, I told them the truth and said that I had. They claim that they never said they would kick me out, but as a kid that is what I heard. As a kid I heard, that I wasn’t good enough to be loved, that I had to be a certain way for them to consider me their child.
I’m sorry, Brandon. How painful that is.