Chad Allen never imagined that an AIDS/LifeCycle event would be the thing to close the distance with his father.
Chad Allen had been out for years before this moment, but his father had never been comfortable with it. It was just not talked about.
On his first AIDS/LifeCycle ride, Chad invited his mom and dad to join him at the Closing Ceremonies. That’s when the unexpected happened. In his words:
I’m Chad Allen. I’m From Los Angeles. I’d been openly gay for a bunch of years. I was out to my family since I was 20 years old give or take. My dad is a super conservative Catholic, Sicilian, tough little guy. Never shows much emotion – really had a tough time with me coming out. He couldn’t look at me for a long time after I came out – just wasn’t what he expected. We never talked about it. I decided to do AIDS LifeCycle – ALC5, the fifth year, because some friends were doing it and I wanted a physical challenge and I’d been affected by HIV/AIDS, not personally, but through other friends so I thought I’d give it a shot. I invited my mom and dad to come with me to the ride-in, Closing Ceremonies when we all ride our bikes in. And, my dad was so affected by what he saw, so moved by this amazing group of committed individuals doing something to change the world – like he literally had tears in his eyes and he said to me after it was over, “Can I help in some way?” I was like, “Yeah, there’s so many things you can do.” And he tried to train and he realized that his knees and back weren’t going to handle the cycling so he signed up as a Roadie and it was probably the first thing that he and I really had ever done together – just he and I since I was a little boy. And it was incredible, I was scared to death because here’s my dad going to be around all these crazy individuals and drag queens and people that don’t edit what they are saying and they all know me really well and I thought, “What are they going to say around my dad?” And this crazy friend of mine saw him and goes, “Is this your dad? He’s so handsome. Oh, look how handsome he is! Ed, why don’t you come with me to my tent?” And I was like, “No, what are you doing?” And my dad just laughed and laughed and I thought, “Wow, he’s a changed person. He’s totally different than the man I gave him credit for and the man he was.” He cried like crazy when we rode in together and it was such a feeling of accomplishment and it changed our relationship together forever, so, an awesome, awesome thing for us.
Originally published at ImFromDriftwood. I’m From Driftwood envisions a world where every lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer person feels understood and accepted, and every straight person is an ally.