A son gains the maturity to contemplate the complexities of his mother’s identity and relationship to his father, who came out as a gay man.
The Gay Dad Project aims to explore families—and the complex relationships within these families—where one parent is gay and one parent is straight. Amie Shea, Erin Margolin, and Jared Karol all share the experience of having had a dad come out as gay. They have all found comfort in sharing their stories with one another, and in knowing that they are not alone.
Read more about the Letters here.
March 22, 2012
Thanks so much for writing. I think the fact that you are so willing to write these letters to me and share them on the blog is a reflection of how far we’ve come in our ability to communicate about complex and emotional experiences.
You’re right! The focus of the gay dad discussions has been on the child’s perspective. I probably speak for Erin and Amie—and other children with a gay parent —when I say that the most natural place for us to start the discussion is from our own perspective. It is the perspective we know the best, even as we continue to explore and understand that perspective.
I also know that in the past—both in my writings and in our conversations—I have been more sympathetic to my dad’s perspective than I have been to yours. I think part of the reason for that was that when my dad died it really had only been a couple years since I had even begun to feel comfortable having a gay dad.
Since it was something you and I had never talked about, I found my own way as far as my inner acceptance and understanding was concerned. My developing world views were more in line with my dad’s than with yours, and I was not yet mature enough or dynamic enough to consider, let alone digest, multiple perspectives.
The last several years, however, as we have been more able to have conversations about the topic, and as I have finally reached a place where I am 100% comfortable with the fact that I had a gay dad, I am now able to give more attention to a different perspective—the perspective of the straight partner.
I can imagine how confusing it must have been at the time for such a young woman to experience what must have felt like betrayal, shock, and possibly embarrassment. The era—the mid 1970s—when all this took place did not help the situation either. None of us had anywhere to go, really—a gay man, a straight woman, and a young child.
Who could we ask for advice? With whom could we confide? Who was going to help us understand what was going on? The answer to these questions was a resounding “no one!” We had no resources, human or otherwise, so we all had to rely on our inexperienced and confused selves to figure shit out.
While time does not heal all wounds, and while time does not erase the emotions and experiences from all those years ago, I do believe that talking about it, and sharing our perspectives with one another, will go a long way toward answering some of our questions, and allowing us to explore the meanings found within those answers.
And, true, perhaps some of those discussions between us are better to have in private. I feel strongly, however, that whenever we both feel comfortable doing so, sharing these discussions in a public space serves as both an inspiration and a therapy to many people who could use both.
I’m glad we’re talking about this.
Portrait of a woman and two young boys courtesy of Shutterstock