One writer/actress reflects on how her father's coming out shaped their relationship and her life.
"Your dad is gay!" my friend spat out one day when we were in a fight. It was as if she were accusing me of something horrible. I was nine at the time.
That night, I confronted my mother. "Heather said Dad is gay. He's not, right?"
She paused—a long pause that confirmed my worst fear.
I felt betrayed. I remember wondering how my dad could have done this to me, and—more importantly—what was I going to tell my friends?
It was the '70s and there weren't cool TV characters with two gay dads like Rachel Barry on Glee. Even though I grew up in New York City surrounded by artists (my mother was an opera singer and my dad a concert pianist) and knew people who were gay, I had already absorbed the message that it was not OK. At the time, homosexuality was still considered a disease and was classified as a mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. There were exceptions, of course. I loved some of the gay men I'd met through my parents, but those men weren't my father. 10 Proud Gay & Lesbian Couples Throughout History
I worked hard to hide the truth from everyone, including myself. My dad made that difficult, though. After he divorced my mother and came out of the closet, he made a public display of his gayness, wearing ascots and capes and even announcing one night while wearing a purse, "This is the new me!"
Instead of accepting him, I got good at lying. One summer, my best friend and I went to the country house my dad owned with his lover. When we found The Joy Of Gay Sex on their bookshelf, I laughed and invented some story about the man he shared the house with (why they also shared a bedroom was a little more difficult to explain). I prayed she believed me.
When I was 11, my dad took me to see "A Chorus Line" on Broadway. As we left the theater, he attempted to form a two-person chorus line of our own. Fearing what was coming, I began to shrink away. In his booming off-key voice (despite being an accomplished concert pianist, he was tone deaf—though what he lacked in pitch he made up for in volume), he sang: "One, singular sensation, every little step she takes…"
People on the street began to stare. I felt their eyes on us. As my father high-kicked, urging me to join him, I longed to disappear. But all I could do was walk along next to him, slow and straight, rolling my eyes to demonstrate to anyone who might be watching that, I too, thought my dad was queer.
But the truth is, deep down a part of me loved it and secretly wanted to join his fun. Read on...
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