“I am the woman I grew to be partly in spite of my mother, and partly because of the extraordinary love of her best friends, and my own best friends’ mothers, and from surrogates, many of whom were not women at all but gay men. I have loved them my entire life, even after their passing.” Why I hate Mother’s Day – Salon.com.
“Dear Hypothetically Gay Son
I ran across this letter on Reddit this morning. It is from a father disowning his gay son. It broke my heart. It’s not the first time that I’ve seen something like this. Living in Utah, it’s a pretty common story. I had friends experience it first hand in high school. This morning was the first time I’ve run across it since becoming a dad. My son is living in his mom’s belly, so obviously we don’t know his sexual orientation. Still, the letter I read this morning made me wonder what my letter would say if the news that my son was gay ended up being a surprise. So here it is:
Dear Hypothetically Gay Son,
You’re gay. Obviously you already know that, because you told us at the dinner table last night. I apologize for the awkward silence afterwards, but I was chewing. It was like when we’re at a restaurant and the waiter comes up mid-bite and asks how the meal is, only in this metaphor you are the waiter and instead of asking me about my meal you said you were gay. I don’t know why I needed to explain that. I think I needed to find a funny way to repeat the fact that you’re gay… because that is what it sounds like in my head right now. “My son is gay. My son is gay. My son is gay.”
Let me be perfectly clear. I love you. I will always love you. Since being gay is part of who you are, I love that you’re gay. I’m just trying to wrap my head around the idea. If you sensed any sadness in my silence last night, it was because I was surprised that I was surprised. Ideally, I would have already known. Since you were an embryo, my intent has always been to really know you for who you are and not who I expect you to be. And yet, I was taken by surprise at last night’s dinner. Have I said “surprise” enough in this paragraph? One more time… surprise!
OK. Let’s get a few things straight about how things are going to be.
Our home is a place of safety and love. The world has dealt you a difficult card. While LGBT people are becoming more accepted, it is still a difficult path to walk. You’re going to experience hate and anger and misunderstandings about who you are out in the world. That will not happen here. You need to know with every fiber of who you are that when you walk in the front door of your home you are safe and you are loved. Your mother is in complete agreement with me on this.
I am still, as always, your biggest defender. Just because you’re gay doesn’t mean you’re any less capable of taking care of/defending yourself. That said, if you need me to stand next to you, in front of you, write letters, sign petitions, advocate, or anything else, I am here. I will go to war for you.
If you’re going to have boys over, you now need to leave your bedroom door open. Sorry kiddo. Thems are the breaks. I couldn’t have girls in my room with the door shut, you don’t get to have boys.
You and I are going to revisit that talk we had about safe sex. I know it’s going to be awkward for both of us, but it is important. I need to do some research first, so let’s give it a few weeks. If you have questions or concerns before then, let me know.
That’s enough for now. Feel free to view this letter as a contract. If I ever fail to meet any of the commitments made herein, pull it out and hold me to account. I’ll end with this: You are not broken. You are whole, and beautiful. You are capable and compassionate. You and your sister are the best things I have ever done with my life, and I couldn’t be more proud of the people you’ve become.
P.S. Thanks to a few key Supreme Court decisions and the Marriage Equality act of 2020 you’re legally able to get married. When I was your age, that was just an idea. Pretty cool huh?
dad and family at family dinner
I’d like to thank Reddit user “RegBarc” for bravely sharing that letter. I’m sorry for the pain your dad caused by writing it. If you’re ever in Salt Lake City, you’re welcome at our dinner table any time.
What would your letter say? Chime in on the comments.
::UPDATE:: I think it is safe to say that this post has gone viral. I am joyously overwhelmed by the response we’ve received. Just in case this never happens again, I want to try and do something that makes a difference. If you want to help spread the love monetarily, the Utah Pride Center always needs help. You can click the “donate” button on their front page. Here is a little bit about their mission. Aside from donating in the past, I am not associated with them in ANY way. I just know that “fame” (ironic quotation marks intentional) can be fleeting, and “internet fame” even more so. So if you’d like to help, please do. If not, no worries. From my family to yours, thank you. thank you, thank you for all of the love.”
(Trigger warning for non-graphic references to rape, abortion, custody battles, and a legitimate candidate for a U.S. Senate seat generally being a terrible person.)
You know, I didn’t want to make the current abortion debacle about gender, but this douche-bag just did so I feel free. Yesterday, Pennsylvania Senate candidate Tom Smith (R) was talking why he feels abortion should be illegal even in cases of rape and incest, and this fetid stream of evil (there’s really no other word in my mind for this kind of thinking) poured from his mouth.
“He agrees with Akin that abortion should be banned without any exceptions, including for rape and incest victims. Pressed by a reporter on how he would handle a daughter or granddaughter becoming pregnant as a result of rape, Smith said he had already “lived something similar to that” in his family.
“She chose life, and I commend her for that,” he said. “She knew my views. But, fortunately for me, I didn’t have to … she chose the way I thought. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t rape.”
When a reporter asked Smith to clarify what kind of situation was similar to becoming pregnant from rape, the candidate responded, “Having a baby out of wedlock.”
He added, “Put yourself in a father’s position. Yes, it is similar.“” Full story is here.
You know what I thought when I read the word “father”? I wondered- “Is Mr. Smith referring to the father of the pregnant person, or the rapist who is the father of her child?” Because in 31 states, accused and convicted rapists can apply and fight in court for visitation, custody, and even child support.
Shauna Prewitt was raped, became pregnant as the result of rape, made the CHOICE to carry the pregnancy to term and keep her daughter, then had to fight her rapist for custody in court. She’s also a kickass lawyer and activist who wrote an excellent article for CNN about her experiences and why Todd Akin’s (and now Tom Smith’s) insulting, disgusting, and dehumanizing statements on rape shouldn’t be tolerated, ignored, or sloughed off as a “gaffe”. If you’re ever looking for some good source material check out her article “Giving Birth to a ‘Rapist’s Child’: A Discussion and Analysis of the Limited Legal Protections Afforded to Women Who Become Mothers Through Rape, ” published by Georgetown Law Journal in 2010.
My dad was a life-long Boy Scouts of America (BSA) till he got too sick, which is another story. This website, full of the stories of people sending back their Eagle Scout awards due to the BSA continuing discrimination against LGBTQIA people. I these letters are important not just because of the message they send to the Boy Scouts, but to the message they send to everyone who sees them- every queer or questioning boy in a small town on the internet, every parent who talks to their kids about WHY they aren’t going to be in scouts this fall, and every boy who makes his own choice to exit the BSA because he has a LGBTQ friend, sibling, parent, teacher, or other role-model. The generational changes keep rolling along, and they cheer me up on days like today.
Here’s one of their letters, check out the Tumblr here.
“At some point half of you was an egg in your Mothers womb. That egg existed in her body from the day she was born. And a long, long time ago, she too was an egg in her Mothers womb, who had that egg ready for use from the moment she squirmed out of your Great Grandmas nethers. The point being, technically speaking, there’s no break in the chain of existence, no time when you are not a life form of at least the most rudimentary sort. Your family, at least on your Mothers side, could theoretically be considered an immortal, constantly-regenerating organism.”
“So, yeah. Say what you want about science, but we can’t help but be impressed by how they’re able to explain the fact that you are farting your mother’s farts because she pooped on you as a good thing.” (bolding is mine, cause holy fsm the human body is amazing.)
“SHIT I CAN’T MAKE UP: Convo between my 7-year-old students today
(Names have been altered slightly, just in case.)Josie: I have a new crusshhhhhMatt: Me too! On a boy!Pearl: You’re a boy with a crush on a boy?Matt: Yeah he’s really cute.Pearl: Oh.(pause for a bit)Matt: Boys can like boys. I just can’t marry him because boys can’t marry boys.Me: Yeah they can. You can marry whoever you want.Matt: Really?Josie: YEAH my tia has a wife so now I have a titi and a auntie.Matt: Okay. Then maybe I’ll marry him.Dave: (from across the room) No you can’t you’re seven.(Age was apparently the only foreseeable problem anyone of my elementary schoolers could see with gay marriage. I almost cried out of happiness. Later, when I was asked if boys could kiss anyone they wanted, I replied “only if they want to kiss you back.” And Josie responded “Yeah! Your body your life.”)My students are the shit.”