I was born in the Midwest at the end of 1960. My parents had done what every good boy and girl did after high school in the ’50’s: they got married and started a family. My dad worked hard to buy us a house in the suburbs while my mom took care of my younger sister and me. We had a normal family life until the early 1970’s when my mother learned the secret my father couldn’t keep hidden any longer. He was gay.
Not knowing the truth behind my parent’s divorce, I had so many questions about why two people who got along so well would choose to break up. My discovery of the truth about Dad, at thirteen years old, only brought more questions and confusion. This was the beginning of the tumultuous relationship I would share with my father throughout his life..
I moved to San Francisco in 1982 where the gay community was so open compared to the Chicago suburbs. Dad also moved there, a couple years later, and we often met for brunch. In that environment I saw him in a whole new light. While I still found it difficult seeing him date men, I inched closer to accepting him as who he was: a gay man who would always be my dad.
For decades we alternated between rejecting each other and longing for one another. Our angry outbursts would lead to hurt feelings and months without communication. My mother tried to mediate, yet her ongoing close friendship with Dad was unsettling for me; I wanted her to choose sides and always pick mine. When my sister came out in her 20’s, I was left feeling as if no one shared my experience of being a straight woman with a gay dad. How I longed for someone to talk to who understood how alone I felt.
In the final years of my father’s life he and I made peace with one another. Our family story is one that is shared by many and discussed by few. I’m currently writing a memoir that explores my relationship with my dad and the challenges and joys that came with being his daughter. By adding my voice to the growing chorus of members of gay families, I seek to validate this unique situation and the deep need for acceptance in every family.