My family have never really made much of a thing about Father’s day, we’re not exactly traditionalists anyway. But after my Dad had a health scare last year, he’s been recovering ever since. I’ve been unable to visit him as, due to my uncertain legal status, I can’t leave the country. But I wanted to wish him a happy Father’s Day in words, because I feel so far away from him and all my family at the moment. My Dad has always been an influence and inspiration for me, and we share many fundamental similarities in personality and outlook. But there is one thing he did for me, that I will never forget.
I was a terrified teenager, coming to terms with being gay for the first time. I had heard so many horror stories from other gay teens about the rejection and misery they had faced with coming out of the closet to their parents. Even to this day, I still hear tales from people whose father’s cannot accept them for their sexuality, and have shut them out of their lives altogether. Or those whose fathers try to accept and understand, but simply cannot find a way to comprehend the change in their son, creating strained relationships.
I had already come out to my Mum, and she had been shocked and shaken, but she worked hard to accept it. But I asked her not to tell Dad, because I was so afraid that he would reject me. My fear was not based in anything that my Dad had ever said or done, but it came from all the horror stories I had heard or read about the experiences of others.
After a week or so, I finally said to my Mum that she could tell my Dad, I didn’t have the courage to do it myself. And he reacted in a way that I had never considered, in all my paranoia. He didn’t ‘react’ at all. He accepted me and my sexuality without batting an eyelid. I was still his son, and nothing had changed for him whatsoever. He hugged me, talked with me and told me several stories of gay men he had known throughout his long career managing a business, telling me that he had long ago learnt that sexuality is just a small part of the tapestry that weaves an individual. He reassured me, without any drama or effort, that I was still exactly the same ‘Lovely Boy’ that he had always seen me as.
And that was it. No heartbreaking arguments, no rejection, not even a second spent ‘adjusting to the news’. Just unconditional, uncomplicated acceptance. There have been few events in my life that have ever made me feel so empowered, as my ‘coming out’ to my Dad.
So Dad, even though I am miles away, Happy Father’s Day! I love you, and I know that you have always loved me and accepted me exactly as I am, and I can’t thank you enough for that.