So, for 2018 Coming Out Day, here’s my story.
After Paul and I fell in love, I decided to tell my dad. This was a big deal because he was a conservative judge well-known for being cruel to gay people. For years I had read in the gay press how in court he was so mean to, as he called us, “the homosexuals”.
He was a bright guy, but he had some really serious limitations caused by his deep religious beliefs.
It was about this time of year in 1983 that I told him.
After the words came out of my mouth, he paused. He raised an index finger and said “excuse me for a minute”. He went out to the garage where he hid his cigarettes. He lit one up, and I watched him out of the kitchen window. He stood in front of the garage, hands on his hips, looking up toward the sky, rocking back and forth and inhaling a Carlton down to its filter.
He came back inside. He took both of my hands in his. His eyes were filled with tears, and so were mine.
He said: “I’m so proud of myself that I have the kind of relationship with my son that you’d think it important to tell me this.”
He immediately loved Paul. They had long conversations about religion and philosophy.
My dad lived for four years after that, coming to a quick end because of his cigarettes. During his three-month decline, we cared for him at home. Paul cooked beautiful meals to help him gain weight. I remember Paul arranging on dad’s plate little butter-fried cubes of steak as he muttered, apparently to no one, “small portions, attractively arranged.” Dad ate gratefully, though the high-calorie meals could only keep him going for so long.
So, happy Coming Out Day. And here’s to my dad, who did the best possible thing a dad could do upon learning that his son is gay.