Coming Out As Gay Made Me A Better Father
The path of parenthood can present many challenges in terms of how you want to raise your children. Do you want a childhood like yours, or maybe something better. These can be even more difficult decisions to make, especially if you live in a community that is unsupportive of your marriage.
But rather than staying in an unhappy marriage that is untruthful to yourself, how do you redefine your fears and make them benefit your future?
The following is a story about one man who chose to praise self-worth in his family dynamic and decided to divorce from 2 marriages in order to seek a more empathic and honest version of himself.
About ten years ago, I finally admitted defeat and said it aloud, “I’m gay.” Hearing the words come out of my mouth was startling. I mean, I was a twice-divorced “straight” father of four. It was almost nauseating to hear it because once I actually put those words out into the world, there was no turning back.
It wasn’t a revelation on my part. I had crushes on the same sex since elementary school. But that was as far as that went. There was never a sordid affair with the same sex or some type of scandalous act that revealed the hidden truth that is so common in the news. (Particularly focused on law-making homophobic conservative politicians and religious leaders.)
But for years, the pure fear of what being gay meant was paralyzing. As a Stranger Things kid of the 80s, there was nothing more screwed up than thinking that love equaled death. It was drilled into your head that the pure act of kissing a boy may give you AIDS.
It screamed, “Veer from the literal straight and narrow and your life will suck big time.”
Worse, it meant no kids. But like my internal understanding of my gayness, I also always knew that I wanted to be a father. I knew I was built to be a dad.
Being a gay teen in the 80s meant that I had to make a CHOICE between these two internal dialogues ― paths ― neither of which would directly lead to my Emerald City, but they were the only paths I could see. There was the path of being gay and never being a father or the path of burying my sexuality and buying a home with a white picket fence. I chose the white picket fence. It seemed right. Of course, I was just an 18-year old college student, so who knows what was going through my head. I mean, I dated girls in high school. Women weren’t that bad. They had boobs and boobs seemed cool. They also understood me.
Ultimately, over a 15 year period, I tried that path twice. The first marriage was, in a nutshell, a disaster of epic proportions. Eleven years of a bad relationship that was destined to fail (and probably why I went into it in the first place). But we had three of my four kids and I was (and am) devoted to them. The second marriage was to a close friend. Being the antithesis of my first relationship, I really didn’t know if a healthier marriage was the answer to my dilemma. She and I lasted a couple years, had our son, decided marriage wasn’t for us and have been friends ever since. I came out shortly after. A gay father of four with all the baggage of a reality TV show.