My dad came out of the closet two months after my fifteenth birthday. It was shocking and completely unexpected. Shortly thereafter, he moved out while I continued to live with my mom and my two younger brothers.
A few weeks after my dad’s revelation I went to Waldenbooks at Lakeside Mall (this was before the days of Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, the Internet, etc.) and asked the saleswoman for help. I told her I was looking for books on “having a gay parent.” She giggled and hesitated, looking at me like I was crazy. Then she led me to the children’s section in the back and handed me a copy of Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman. I’m not knocking Leslea Newman or anything, but that book (in case you didn’t know) is geared towards two to five year-olds and is about 30 pages long. I felt very lonely that day. And still do sometimes.
There hasn’t been a whole lot written since then for kids, and even less for tweens and teens. It’s completely different to be born as the child of a gay couple than it is to be born to a more (for lack of a better word) traditional couple that later disintegrates because one or both decide to come out.
What I needed most then was to know I wasn’t alone. I wanted to read someone else’s story about having a gay dad or a lesbian mom—and surviving it. There were (and are) others out there like me, but because of ignorance and bigotry, they lurk in the shadows, afraid to reveal family secrets. I’ve been very open about it because I hope somehow I’ll reach someone who can relate. Or maybe I’ll be lucky enough to help someone who is struggling with the situation now.
I needed to know it was okay to be angry with my father. I needed to know it was okay to question my own sexuality. I needed to know that just because my dad lied for so long and pretended to be someone else that there were still others I could trust. I needed to know that my own existence wasn’t a mistake, just part of the game my dad was playing.
But I didn’t get what I needed. And I went down a long, tough road.
We need to talk about things, bring the truth out into the open. Hiding doesn’t solve anything. None of us is alone; it just feels that way.