Mark Best: You’ll Get Through This

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Hello Gay Dad Project readers! I’m Mark, the more awesome of Erin’s two brothers. I’m a happily married 34 year-old father of one (with a new edition on the way!). I’m a New Orleans attorney, and my wonderful wife is a social worker at a psychiatric hospital. I thought I’d join the conversation and provide another perspective on life with a gay father.

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Mark, his wife Katheryn, and their daughter, Livy

Many moons ago, I wrote a piece for my sister’s blog in which I rehashed the day our dad came out of the closet. Today, however, I was grabbed by the desire to be more practical and less emotional. So this is for the younger readers who might be thinking, Yep, these people do indeed have the same twist in their life story as I have, but what I really need to know is how do I feel better and get on with living? So for you, I present:

Just One Average Guy’s Bullet Points Which May or May Not Help You Because, Frankly, I’m No Expert

  • YOU’RE HERE! YOU’RE NOT QUEER! GET USED TO IT!  While there is a chance you might also be gay, there is also a chance that you are not gay. As I understand it, it’s kind of like wanting Leonard Nimoya’s autograph. Either you are willing to drop everything on a moment’s notice, dress up in your finest Federation garb, and travel cross-country to stand in line for two days to have a chance at even saying “Whoa, you’re him!” to Leonard Nimoy, or you’d rather trim your toenails because it’s more productive and anyways, who is Leonard Nimoy? If you were into it, you’d know it.
  • Dwelling on the role of fate with respect to your father’s sexuality and its impact on your life is a non-starter. Asking what if he’d have come out of the closet sooner and I’d never have been born is precisely like asking “What if my grandfather hadn’t fallen out of a tree while playing peeping tom, and what if my mom’s dad had’t hit him with a car and brought him home to a promiscuous teenage girl and then I’d never have been born? (Yes, we have much to learn from Back to the Future. If you have not seen it, then you have problems that no blog can solve.)  There are trillions of past variables that have led to the extreme improbability of life existing at all; let alone your particular brand of consciousness. You’re lucky you’re here; just like the rest of us.
  • For those of you who were served the #2 Coming-Out with a Side of Divorce Combo, make sure to ask your waiter to hold the 64-ounce ‘Put Me in the Middle of Your Inevitable Arguments’ soda with ginseng. That stuff tastes awful and is always sure to come back up again and again and again. The sooner you tell your waiter your preference, the better off you’ll be. Your parents’ emotional turmoil, anger and trust issues are their stuff. You have enough on your plate.
  • For many of you, yes, your dad lied. He lied to you. He also lied to the world. He might have even lied to himself. It was a tremendous whopper of a lie.  It was a huge betrayal so significant you can only wonder, “Exactly what else about this guy don’t I know?”  Is another bombshell coming?  How can I ever be sure?  For some, these questions morph into an even more dangerous stream of unconscious thought: How can I trust so-and-so not to screw up my life with a huge lie when my own father, for whom I have the utmost love and respect, can seemingly do it at the drop of a hat one random morning? For this problem, I have no easy answers, no funny quips, and no advice. Somehow, someway, I came to trust people, including my dad, again. Others are not so lucky.  I hope you find a way to be a lucky one.
  • When your parents bring new love interests around for a visit, it is always uncomfortable. ALWAYS. It doesn’t matter if they are straight, gay, or love inanimate objects; it’s going to be weird when you have to witness it. You may think the homosexual aspect of it makes it worse. But actually it … um … ok, you’re right, it does. Whatever. Do your best to remember that you have your life and they have theirs. Inevitably, albeit only occasionally, these worlds will collide. You wouldn’t want them being disrespectful, rude, utterly silent, or inappropriate when you bring a boy/girl/inanimate object around, right? It’s no different on their end. Ditch the attitude and be nice.  Then when you bring home that hot, tattooed-n-pierced rocker to Thanksgiving dinner, don’t be afraid to remind them to return the favor and act like adults.
  • Before your dad came out, some of your closest friends might have said, “That’s so gay or called someone a ‘sissy’ or a ‘fag’ in a derogatory way having nothing to do with actual homosexuality. Maybe you did too. You might be wondering whether you now have an obligation to politically correct your friends every five minutes or censor yourself. This problem is a case-by-case judgment call. Sometimes you will feel obligated to speak up.  Sometimes you’ll just want to fit in. There will be those who will be quite angry if you choose the latter, whenever you choose the latter. Try to remember that your dad chose to fit in above all other things, disregarding all consequences that might come to pass. Trust me when I tell you he should understand. This doesn’t mean he will. But he should.  On a related note …
  • Politics. Ugh. Always starts a fight. Heck, this very paragraph will probably earn me a lecture or three from all sides. But I think you, young reader, need to hear it. Before you pull out the rainbow flag, the megaphone and your list of catchy chants, have a good long look in the mirror. Are you a little bit racist? Are you sometimes sexist? Are you classist? If so, then ask yourself, why is it OK for me to have these biases against whole groups of people while I blast others for having their biases against gays? The people fighting the good fight on these issues need people who understand human equality. If you don’t really understand what it means to be equal, then the real question is why you want to throw yourself into the fiery arena of gay politics in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way discouraging political speech. I’m just discouraging hypocrisy. Give it some thought.
  • Trust me when I tell you that it is unlikely that your siblings are going through the same things you are. Unless you have an identical twin (and even if you do), that person has a separate consciousness with different ideas and points of view. You are not obligated to agree with them. Just because they may choose to act out and be inappropriate doesn’t mean you have to. Just because they start wearing rainbow flags or making speeches doesn’t mean you have to. Be you and do what you feel.
  • Keep reading up on the issues, including the articles here at The Gay Dad Project.  When you need some insight and guidance, there’s no substitute for hearing from those who have been there.
  • Remember that life just ain’t easy. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you live, or how much money you have, we all have BIG problems at one point or another in our short lives.  You’ll get through this, there will be some peace on the other side, and then there will be other problems. Rinse, Repeat, and enjoy the crazy ride.
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Comments

  1. What an amazing post, Mark! The advice you’ve shared here is priceless, really wonderful stuff for other people who are just starting on this road that you’ve been walking on. Two thumbs up!

  2. Great post Mark!

    I love your perspective about siblings having different reactions to the news that their loved ones are gay.

    I don’t have gay parents, however I do have three gay adult kids (what are the odds of that happening ?! I need to play the lottery! Lol). And it’s funny you should mention the awkwardness around the Thanksgiving table, because I’ve invited my gay kids partners for the holidays. And it was uncomfortable at first, and now it’s just not. It’s our families norm.

    Thanks for sharing your journey about having a gay father.

    P.S. You have a beautiful family! Congrats on your new baby-to-be!

  3. I don’t have a gay parent… but I love this post so hard. No matter what your circumstance, the morals here ring true. Especially about how much we can all learn from Back to the Future. Obviously.

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