For the most part, Dad was the breadwinner and Mom was the disciplinarian. There were times when Dad would discipline my brother and me, but mostly he just wanted to horse around with us. He was a big kid himself. Perhaps because I’m the younger child, or because I looked more like my father, I wanted to be just like him when I was younger. I tried to mimic his speech, his comic delivery and his facial expressions, his “dad-isms” as I call them. Don’t get me wrong, I have several “mom-isms” too. Mom’s humor, like that of her brothers, was more cerebral and Dad’s was more goofy and slapstick. Many of my personality traits, I got from my dad.
We did some things together as a family, like go out to dinner on the weekends. In those days, it was important to Dad that we go to church as a family (something he abandoned after the divorce). We would take short road trips often to see my grandparents and, once a year, to Disneyland.
Both of my parents were fans of movie musicals. The road trips were filled with songs from my parents’ favorite shows. Dad would occasionally change the lyrics of the songs to fit what was happening in our lives. I still do that.
We had three bedrooms in our house, one of which my father used as a studio. He also had a bed in there, I assumed for when he worked late, which was often. It seems to me that he slept in there more often near the end of their marriage, which makes sense.
At ten years old, my parents’ divorce seemed to come out of the blue. They appeared so happy to me. Years later, I learned that Dad asked Mom for a divorce on her birthday, because he thought it would “cushion the blow.” He expected that Mom would just accept his new lifestyle and even suggested that Mom and Brian (the guy he was having an affair with) would be friends.
When my parents told me they were divorcing, I don’t think they gave me a reason or, if they did, it didn’t click. I’m sure they didn’t tell me about Dad’s lifestyle then; I wouldn’t have understood it at that age. I didn’t really react; I guess it just didn’t seem real to me then. After my mom, my brother and I moved to a different part of the country, and the reality sunk in, that’s when I started crying.
Mom moved us to be closer to the rest of her family, back to comfortable surroundings. Looking back, I realize that it was for the best, but it didn’t seem so at the time. She was just trying to make the best out of a bad situation. For me, everything was changing and I didn’t know how to deal with it. My brother became more rebellious to the point where Mom didn’t know how to handle him. I mostly kept my feelings to myself, something I still have a tendency to do.
Because we moved away from Dad, and now only saw him during the summer, I came to appreciate and sympathize with my mother more. The lack of intimacy (before and after the divorce) really hurt my mother. She was an insecure person to begin with and Dad just made it so much worse. He apparently thought that they would just remain friends after the divorce. Years later, he’d try talking to her and was surprised when she was angry or refused to talk to him. I didn’t have the heart to point out the obvious: “Well, Dad, you cheated on her and left her for another man. What did you expect?” Some people have assumed that my mother never remarried because she was Catholic. No, my poor mother never remarried because she never found a man who appreciated her.
When I was eleven and we went to spend the summer with my dad, I overheard my brother (who was thirteen then) talking to another kid, the son of one of Dad’s friends. They said that Dad was “gay,” but, I really didn’t understand what that meant. It was (I think) two years later, when I was going through puberty, that I found some of Dad’s books showing explicit pictures of men with other men. I was sickened by the images.
Although I never told him, it bothered me when, as a sign of affection, my father would put his hand on my butt, instead of my back or shoulder. I’m told that it’s common for gays to sexualize affection; I didn’t feel molested, or anything, but it made me uncomfortable, especially as I got older. I eventually tried to position myself so that I was always facing him, so that he couldn’t do that again.
When I had problems with the opposite sex, my father was no help, which he admitted to me. He couldn’t give me advice on how to talk to girls or how to handle certain situations. To his credit, he spoke to my mother with respect, so I learned that from him. We never had “the talk.” Mom just referred us to a book about sex. She said we could ask her any questions but, really, what teenage boy wants to talk to his mom about sex? Some things that you’re supposed to learn from your father, I had to learn from other people or figure them out on my own, because Dad wasn’t there. One of my uncles taught me how to shave.
For the most part, I only had to deal with one of my father’s partners (I’ll call him Eric). Dad was adamant that everyone just had to accept that he and Eric were together whether we liked it or not. I get along okay with Eric, but I’ve never looked at him as a stepparent, like my father wanted. Unlike some stories I’ve heard, Dad and Eric weren’t sexual in front of me, though they would kiss and show other signs of affection. I tried to avert my gaze when they were like that.
I’ve often said that Dad saw the world the way he wanted it to be, rather than how it actually was. He was the same way about my relationship with Eric. I would hear Dad saying to people, “oh, they’re just like brothers!” When he said that, it made me feel used, like he wanted me to be the poster child for gay couples with kids. He wanted me to be close to Eric, but wanting didn’t make it so.
I don’t know why exactly, but I, like my mother, have been unable to find a woman who appreciates me. I have a child who is an adult now. Although my son’s mother and I weren’t together, I’ve tried to give him the kind of love and attention I didn’t get from my father. My brother has fared better and has been married for over thirty years.
I keep seeing articles stating that children with gay parents do just as well, if not better, than children with straight parents. Where are they getting their information? Have they interviewed any adult children with gay parents, who can think for themselves and are no longer living with their parents?
I am a Christian and I believe the Bible (old and new testament) to say that God ordained sex to be between one man and one woman in marriage (Genesis 1:27, 2:24; Matthew 19:3-4). Anything outside of that is wrong and will cause trouble. I don’t believe He said this to spoil our fun, but so that we would experience what He knew was best and most enjoyable for us.
Setting Christian beliefs aside, our physical design suggests that men and women have comparable parts for a reason. In my opinion, the people who give anomalous examples of homosexuality in nature are trying desperately to justify their own desires. Our society survived for millennia with traditional marriage. My heart goes out to people who struggle with same-sex attractions. I’m sure there are many who would benefit from talking through their feelings with a qualified impartial professional. I pray they find peace.