Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
I came out to my dad on Christmas Day, 1994. I wasn’t one of those people who knew I was gay at birth. Not all of us do. Rather, I grew up perfectly happy to be straight and along the way fell in love with the most wonderful person – she just happened to be the same gender as I. It took two and a half years for us to “consummate” the relationship as one friend so eloquently stated (to a crowd of our straight and somewhat horrified family members). By consummate she simply meant kiss, not the usual picture that forms in one’s head (and certainly not the picture that formed in everybody’s head that day) but I digress…
After two wonderful years of friendship, we took the next step, “consummating” the relationship and thus began Our Secret Life. We had new underground lesbian friends that were not introduced to the parents. We hung out at lesbian bars that were described as “hip single’s clubs.” We went to the Gay Rights March on Washington, claiming we were just vacationing (Mom: “did you see all those protestors down there this weekend?” Jen: “yeah, they made it really difficult for us to get around town and see the sights.”) We held parties, but didn’t invite the family. We sometimes went to this place called Affirmations and then went out socializing afterwards. “What’s Affirmations?” the parent would ask. “Oh, just a new community center in Ferndale.” The next three years marked a time in our lives when family and friends were clearly and distinctly kept separate. Two worlds, two lives. Until I decided to end it all and tell my Dad. On Christmas Day of 1994.
It was a miserable Christmas; half the family was sick with the flu and there was little celebrating going on. Christmas morning, everyone pretty much slept in and I caught my dad alone in the kitchen. I had been wanting to tell him for awhile. Being a Taurus, I just hate any form of dishonesty and it was killing me inside. So, without pretense, without prelude, I just put it out there. “Dad, I’m in love with a woman.” Of course, he immediately knew and then told me he had often wondered since I spent so much time with my roommate. He once told me he thought I’d have a difficult time finding a man, given my feminist and liberal views. So, he wasn’t surprised. I chuckled.
Dad was always very supportive and I knew he would be about this too. Jen, that roommate I mentioned, had already been adopted into the family, but now it was sealed. She was in. He started calling her a daughter, too. Once Jen also came out to her parents, the family was allowed, albeit slowly, back into our lives again. The Secret Lesbian Life no longer had to be hidden. What a wonderful thing to be able to spend time with friends and family together, hiding nothing (except maybe the cigarette butts). No more saying goodbye to the love of my life during the holidays – we spent them together and rotated with our families.
That came to an end again Christmas of 2001. Dad was diagnosed with an advanced and aggressive form of colon cancer. He hadn’t been feeling too well and ended up getting admitted to the hospital on Christmas Eve. He stayed for weeks, endured surgery and ended up with the cancer diagnosis. It was a sad Christmas and a reminder of years past when other family members had been deathly ill. He fought the cancer throughout the next year but succumbed just before Christmas of 2002. The family all knew he didn’t have long and had planned an early Christmas on purpose – we all gathered around his hospital bed that had been positioned in the living room and enjoyed one last Christmas together, one week early. He died on December 23rd.
So, Christmas 2003 is rolling in. Nine years since that fateful morning when I came out to my dad. I am so thankful that I came out to him that morning, giving us both an opportunity to fully share what life he had left. How much time would have been lost? How much of my life would I have hidden away? I will spend Christmas 2003 remembering our years together, being thankful for our time together, feeling grateful for his support and strength, and, of course, feeling sad at the loss of him in my life. I will remember the wife he left behind and try to bring as much comfort to her as I can. And I will laugh and be merry at Christmas this year with Jen’s family, enjoying the people in my life who are still here.