- Gender and Relationships
On Being A Gay Son...
Dad and his boys (I'm the one looking at the camera!)
and letting your parents love you
I know that a lot of gay men have strained or even non-existent relationships with their fathers. I am not one of those gay men. I have very dear friends who have told me horror stories about their childhood or coming out and/or life after coming out with their fathers. I sympathize with them. I just know that I'm so thankful to have never gone a day without knowing my parents loved me regardless of my sexual orientation or anything else. I can truly say that I have been shown unconditional love and I'm thankful for it.
I remember when I told my mother I was gay. The first words out of her mouth were, "Don't tell your father, it will kill him." (In this one sentence you can see the beauty of Jewish guilt in all its grandeur.) And so I didn't tell him (for awhile) but eventually I did and while I had to go through several years of, "Oh, you'll find the right girl." I know now that he has accepted me and loves me for who I am. (Perhaps it's because the older I get the more I become him, the inevitable trap of life...becoming our parents.)
My life from the age of six was about breaking into show business. (As you can see, I didn't do very well, having become the greatest never was been there's ever been) I wouldn't trade a minute of the stuff I did as a youngster and I'm thankful for the support of both my parents to let me pursue my dreams but there is a lot of rejection in the business of show and if you're not ready for it, it can really knock you on your ass.
Growing up it was my mother that took me to dance class; that took me to auditions and encouraged me to pursue my dreams as a performer. While my father was there for the performances, he would constantly let me know it was okay for me to stop anytime I wanted. This would come up mostly when I had been on the eighth audition for something, found out that I didn't get it and was devastated and crying. He would just gently remind me that I didn't have to do this if I didn't want to keep going with it. I always thought he didn't understand me or what I was going through (as I threw myself on the bed, as overdramatically as can be imagined) Yet looking back I realize that the reason he would suggest me not continuing was not because he didn't want me to go after my dreams but because he couldn't stand seeing me hurt. I didn't know that at the time. In my eyes at the time, he just didn't understand me and wasn't supportive. And how could I be close to someone that didn't understand me? (Yes, I was always this dramatic) And so I shut him out, even though at the time, I blamed him that we weren't closer.
My brother and I were and are complete opposites. He was the one that always went horseback riding with my father and loved it (while I had the right outfit on) but would bitch the entire time while trying to stay on top of the horse. My brother and father shared a love of cars, while I just wanted a convertible, something cute to drive. My parents indulged this fantasy and my first car was a Fiat X19 that was about 12 years old. It was chocolate brown. This was my first car and upon its arrival I suddenly realized that I had no idea how to drive a stick shift car (and we always had Cadillacs). The car sat there for weeks while my father and brother tried to teach me how to drive the thing. Eventually it was one of my brother's friends that taught me. At any rate, my brother who is a book smart genius and I were seemingly not cut from the same cloth, as they say.
It was about this time that I had a pivotal moment in the relationship with my father. My brother had just been awarded the prize as the third or fourth top mathematics student in the state and I had just gotten my report card showing that I had failed geometry. You see, the high school theater department was doing Guys and Dolls and I spent a lot of time reading that script behind my geometry book. Think of all the movies where the kid is reading a Playboy behind his book, for me it was a musical comedy...always. And so I was freaking out. How would I tell my parents (but more importantly, my father, who prized an education so) that I had failed geometry? Here my brother was considered "gifted", never bringing home anything less than a very high "B" and I had brought the first "C" and "D" and now, the dreaded "F" that branded me an academic failure. I waited weeks and evaded the questions about my report card until finally one day I knew I had to come clean. I was sitting on my bed when my father came in and although I had rehearsed what I was going to say, I didn't expect to cry. Suddenly the tears flowed. As I told him how sorry I was and that I had gotten an "F" and was afraid to tell him, my father started to cry a little. I don't know that I ever saw my father cry before this time. I stopped dead in my tracks and asked him if he was that disappointed in me and his response shocked me to my very core. He explained that he was upset because I had been so afraid to tell him. He told me then and there that there was nothing I couldn't tell him that would make him stop loving me.
That's when I realized that it had been me for most of the sixteen years that had been pushing my father away, not the other way around. I had created the "he doesn't understand me" situation when not only had he probably understood me but more importantly, he had loved me the whole time, unconditionally. From that moment on, our relationship changed. Not because he changed, because I did. I realized that when you fill your head with ideas about how someone feels about you without asking them or giving them the opportunity to express themselves, you set yourself up for some of the biggest heartache you've ever known.
As I said before, I know that my relationship with my father may not be typical but I think it's important sometimes for you to look at yourself before you condemn others. Being gay is not the ideal dream lifestyle (for most parents) for their children. It's foreign to them and seems scary too from what is shown on television and what is in the news. So you have to be understanding and give them a chance to realize that it's a part of you, not all there is to you but a part of you that does define you in the eyes of other people (and in many cases the law). You have to give people an opportunity to do the right thing by you. It may not happen when you tell them or when you want it to happen but sometimes when you least expect it, they just might surprise you. And that's what I like to call, "hope."
I can't leave my parents house without my father telling me he loves me, hugging me and kissing me. I can't imagine having a better father to show me right from wrong, to show me how to be a man or more importantly, how to love someone unconditionally. I hope you all have that in your life, if not now, if not from a father or mother, by someone in your life at some time so that you can understand how important you are as a person on this planet.
Loving someone unconditionally doesn't mean that they're going to love you unconditionally in return but if you never open yourself up to that possibility, you're missing a lot. So honor your mother and father, love them unconditionally and do your best to be a good son (or daughter) and know that just because you're gay doesn't mean that you're not one.
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- Some Like It Scott!
An acquired taste, like Tab cola, Some Like It Scott is one gay man's experiences with love, life and things that make him crazy, all done to a musical theatre soundtrack.