SECRET MONOLOGUES… THEN FINALLY DIALOGUE
As a gay man who married, fathered, and raised three children before coming out, I agonized over many issues related to my sexual orientation. In recent years, my children and their mother have made it clear that I had been a good father, but when I was coming to terms with my sexual orientation and considering changes to my life, doubts about many things surfaced, including my role as father.
All three of my kids, who were adults at the time, were comparatively blasé about my “big news”. Today, their gay dad/father-in-law/granddad is a member of “the family” as much as and more-or-less in the same way as their partners, their mother, and their children are.
I could say that my sexual orientation was irrelevant, but that would be glib, dishonest, and a disservice to all of us. My children and their partners not only acknowledge their father’s lifestyle – e.g. dating, travels, participation in gay organizations, and so on – but also show interest and ask questions about my involvement in activities much as I do theirs. This has enriched our lives.
The journey to our current family traditions is too complex to analyze, but the following two monologues followed by a dialogue may shed some light on at least part of that journey. They are between my daughter and me. Although they never occurred precisely as shown, over many years, nearly all of the musings, worries, questions, and comments occurred at least once.
Paul: Connie, there is no easy way to say this. What I want to tell you is that I am gay.
Connie: I know. I’ve known for a long time… How long have you known?
Paul: A long time… On some level, I have known all my life.
Connie: So, why then did you marry Mom?
Paul: It was the early ‘60s; the world was very different then. I loved your mother – still do – and I very much wanted children.
Connie: Why did you stay so long?
Paul: I was afraid it would shatter our family to admit being gay, but that is not the entire answer — I don’t even know all the reasons. Fear of losing you guys was an important part.
Connie: Part of me is happy that you care about my feelings, that you seek my thoughts and opinions. Another part of me, though, prefers the familiar mother and father who knew me when I didn’t know myself, who comforted me when I ached, who nurtured me when I needed encouragement. Now, it feels as if roles have been reversed, and somehow that feels unfair.
Paul: Perhaps during this period, your mother and I do need your support, and maybe that does feel strange, but supporting one another through transitions is what families can be good at. Just being here is more than adequate. Never doubt for a moment, though, we are still, and will always be – for good or bad – family.
Connie: What will happen if (or when) you or Mom have boyfriends? Will family traditions such as our Christmas dinner cease?
Paul: I have no crystal ball to know how things will evolve. Many years ago, your mother and I created a family by choice. We deliberately set out to establish our own family traditions. What has worked in our family – and a great deal works very well – can continue if we all want it to continue.
If she or I develop lasting relationships, some things will inevitably change, new traditions will emerge, as they have when you and your brothers expanded our family with your partners. It is my hope that someday she and I will be able to bring our chosen partners to an expanded family’s celebrations and dinners.
These monologues/dialogue were written soon after my coming out and were read as part of the 1997 Toronto Pride Day celebrations at the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto. Hindsight is usually clear; but how clear was that crystal ball? I live with someone, and my ex lives nearby. My kids all changed partners, and I now have 5 granddaughters. The family celebrates its special times, struggles to evolve, yet flourishes.