There are times in life when you are faced with a situation that creates a reaction in you similar to that of a puppy hearing a strange new noise for the first time, such as a train whistle. You stop in your tracks and pause. Tilting your head one way and then the next, as if a different position of your head could ACTUALLY create a different perspective. Sometimes, you can glean a bit of clarity in that pause and other times you just can’t quite make sense of it, so you just have to laugh.
One situation in which I was able create a bit of clarity involved my dad many years ago. I was probably about 26 years old and had recently called my dad to talk about my relationship with Keri and being gay.
Actually, to be clear, I think in this particular situation my dad was the puppy,… well at first anyway. We chatted for a bit and the conversation veered in another direction and then all of a sudden he says, “Can I ask you a question?”
“Sure Dad. What is it?”
“Which one of you is the boy?” Here’s where I turn into the puppy, tilting my head one way and then the next, kinda dumbfounded, “Huh? Wha’? Which one of us is the boy? We’re both girls Dad. That’s what makes us gay”.
He began to clarify, “No, I mean,…”. I squinted my eyes closed tight in hopes he wasn’t about to ask something I didn’t really want to answer, “which one of you,… well, I mean which one of you changes the oil?” Whew!!! With a sigh of relief and a smile on my face I replied, “Neither one of us changes the oil. We take our cars to a mechanic.”
“Well, which one of you does the laundry?”
“We do the laundry together.” Well, we did back then because we went to the laundry mat. Honestly, Keri does most of the laundry. I do help, sometimes. I put my dirty clothes in the hamper, most of the time (embarrassed grin) and I fold.
My dad says, “You know what I mean” and in an effort to dissolve a bit of his preconceived notions about gay people and get him talking about what he believed, I replied, “No, Dad. I don’t know what you mean.” I still don’t know if he had a more specific question that we never covered and honestly I am glad the conversation never took “that” turn.
We continued our conversation in a very civil manner and he did reveal to me that he was grateful. When I asked why, he said, “If God wants me to have a child that’s gay, I can accept that, but I have to be honest. I am grateful that the child he chose was my daughter and not my son.”
Reflecting on that comment now, it seems sexist, but at the time it felt like an honest admission of a loving father who knew his perspective was in need of some broadening. In my entire relationship with my Dad, this conversation included, I never once felt an ounce of judgement or disappointment from him in me as a person. For that, I am grateful.
Our relationship was far from perfect, but I always knew without a doubt that he loved me just as I am. He was a very sweet man. He cried, tears of joy, every single time he told me about the day I was born.