Merv Kaufman finds life as a dad in the 21st century different than he imagined. And, boy, is he happy about it.
I suspected our daughter was gay long before she actually shared that bit of information with my wife and me. It wasn’t a great moment of revelation, however. We both knew by the time Ella was in high school that she wasn’t like other girls.
For one thing, she was habitually tormented, unable to talk about what issues were pressing in on her. Clearly she was at war with some inner demons—about how she related to her parents, and to what was otherwise a close but conventional extended family.
My wife and I both looked forward to someday having a son-in-law and, yes, also having grandchildren to heft and hug. But if we were disappointed that this fantasy would never be realized, we were tormented by the agony that *Ella seemed to be experiencing and seemed unable to share with us.
Finally, individually, we were informed: “I don’t know for sure what I am, but I know I’m not straight.” By that time, her mother and I were obviously prepared for this news. We barely blinked when the words were spoken. But what about the others, on both sides of our family?
Little by little, over the coming years, close relatives on my wife’s side were accepting—or seemed to be, which was just as important. Eventually, relatives on my side were informed, either directly or indirectly. The subject never came up while my parents were alive. I am sure it would have been difficult for them to be accepting, and thus was glad they were spared the shock and disappointment they might have felt.
Over time, some family members were exposed to a few of Ella’s partners and seemed to deal with each situation without judgment. One particular relationship was troubling to many of us, but my wife and I kept our feelings behind clenched teeth. We certainly didn’t want to disenfranchise our only child, even if we secretly disparaged whom she was sleeping with.
Time passed, and this rather assertive young woman moved in to our daughter’s tiny apartment, an arrangement that apparently began to sour soon after. One day, we learned that Ella had thrown her erstwhile partner out of the apartment and ended their relationship.
“I know you didn’t like Rita very much,” she said one day. I indicated that we weren’t particularly keen on their relationship. “So why didn’t you say something?” she demanded. As tactfully as possible, I explained that it wasn’t our place to be judgmental. We recognized that our daughter was a young woman of sound judgment; thus we were determined to be accepting of whoever she chose to be with. The subject was never raised again.
Ella seemed happy and untroubled when, once again, she was living alone—or as I surmised, out from under. Soon there was another partner, one we were invited to meet. It seemed awfully soon for that to happen, but we were game—and then overjoyed.
We took to Connie immediately, and she to us. And since then there’s never been a moment of doubt on our part. When same-sex marriage became possible in our state, back in 2011, we were unsurprised when informed that a wedding was in the works for the following year.
It was a joyous event. When we heard “I now pronounce you a married couple,” applause and cheering occurred. Everyone present seemed keenly aware of being been a witness to history—to an event that took place under God and in a place sanctioned by recent legislation.
Three years have passed. Our daughters have bought a condo and adopted a puppy—no babies appear to be in the offing. They’ve stayed with us at times; we recently traveled abroad with them. We love them both; they make each other happy.
Yes, people have queried us—often trying to be tactful (“That’s probably not what you’d have wanted, right?”) and, on occasion, bluntly (“Couldn’t you have discouraged that relationship?”).
We don’t enjoy being queried or confronted, but when pressed our answer is likely to be: “Whatever pleases our daughter pleases us as well. It’s not a question of approving or accepting. The only issue of real importance is our abiding love for them—and they for us.” Nothing else really matters.
*For privacy’s sake, all names have been changed.
Photo: Taymaz Valley / flickr