It was confusing. On the one hand it turned my stomach to see him kiss his lover. And yet, I loved it when walking down the street with these two strong men on either side of me, they would each take one of my hands and lift me high into the air!
Love and shame became intertwined. I came to feel that everything I loved must be "wrong." When I first liked a boy I couldn't even tell my closest friends. When I had my first kiss I didn't tell a soul. I started having clandestine love affairs in the fourth grade.
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It wasn't just boys I kept secret—all I wanted was to sing on stage, but I couldn't bring myself to sing in front of others or admit this dream to anyone. Only when I was alone in my room did I belt out my favorite showtunes.
Then, my father killed himself. I was thirteen. Though he had been diagnosed with manic-depression, I believe that his struggle to find acceptance as a gay man contributed to his suffering, and ultimately, his suicide. At the time, I didn't understand any of this – all I felt was abandoned and angry.
There were years of therapy, introspection and spiritual journeys where I struggled to understand my father and mourn the loss. Then, in my twenties, I met John who happened to be a gay pianist who also shared my dad's birthday. We became best friends. Suddenly, I understood the struggles of a gay man, not as an embarrassed child, but as a friend and peer. I saw what my father endured and tried to overcome by coming out. Gay Pride Month: 8 Celebs Who Are Proud To Be Out
I started to sing in public more, with John accompanying me on piano.
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Through my friendship with John, I realized that with time I would've come to accept and love my father with the maturity of an adult. But, I didn't get that chance. I regret the ways I withdrew after finding out the truth about him. I stopped wanting to spend time with him. I tried to get out of our visits. In the end, I'm the one who missed out. I lost time with my dad—time that I didn't know I wouldn't get back.