One of the harmful myths of the ex-gay movement is that one of the causes of “same-sex attraction” is a poor relationship with one’s father. The idea is that gay men like me didn’t properly bond with our fathers because for whatever reason they were distant or absent. This is a constant theme in ex-gay ministry, and they’re always trying to “heal the father wound.”
When I came out in 2002 and began my reparative therapy journey, I went through all of the steps that were recommended to me. One of those steps was to confront my dad and to try to repair the “damage” that had been done to me. I really did blame him (and my mom, and an early childhood sexual experience I had had) for my attraction to men.
Looking back now, I see how foolish and flat-out wrong all of that was. I was so desperate to find a cause, which would lead to a cure, that I exaggerated the flaws of my father and held him to an impossibly high standard.
The truth is this: Despite being a normal human being with some flaws, my dad was a great dad. He loved me and showed affection to me. He guided me and gave me attention. He taught me about life and faith and family.
I’m so glad I’ve been able to apologize to him for somehow blaming him, somehow pinning the “fault” of my homosexuality on him. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. I love my dad, and I’m grateful for his love in my life.
And as I think about my dad on this Father’s Day, I also think about my kids. Joshua, Jacob, Emily and Zachary have been a huge part of making me the man I am today. I am so grateful for their lives, so grateful for their love.
Last year on Father’s Day I was still in the closet. Joshua and Jacob were away for the summer, so it was just Luanne, the twins and me at home.
The kids knew, by that point, that I was gay and that I was planning to come out. It had been a hard spring in some ways, but they were remarkably resilient and supportive of me, and I was so amazed by how well they seemed to be doing. But nothing could prepare me for their over-the-top Father’s Day plans:
I’ll never forget walking into my bedroom and seeing rainbows everywhere: a flag on my bed, streamers hanging from the light and wrapped around my headboard, a coffee mug. There was a rainbow towel in my bathroom and rainbow napkins on the table downstairs. And the cards! My precious kids had written the most beautiful things…
I don’t know how I got so lucky, so fortunate, so blessed. Grace upon grace upon grace. Surely their mom is a huge part of how well the kids have done through this transition, and I’ll always be grateful for her grace and support. After all, even though it was the kids’ idea, she’s the one who actually had to order the rainbow swag on Amazon.
And throughout the year the kids have continued to show remarkable support in so many ways. Beautifully supportive social media posts, Zach’s “Love is Love” t-shirt, Jake’s songwriting and bumper stickers, Emily’s attendance at GSA meetings at school, Emily & Zach singing “Everyone Is Gay” for Battle of the Bands at Santa Rosa High…
We’re going to be OK. In fact, we’re going to be better than OK. My dream, my hope, my prayer of having a beautiful, unique modern family on the “other side” of this painful season is coming true. Thanks be to God.
Happy Father’s Day