Yes, My Dad is Gay.

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By now many of you have read the incredible guest post series by Anonymous I’ve shared here on my blog, “Shattering the Clay.” Start here if you missed it. Then go here and here. (for those waiting with baited breath, her final installment will appear soon!) I really appreciate your support of her here. She needs this outlet and people should know this sort of thing happens ALL THE TIME. If you’re wondering why her story hits so close to home, it’s because my dad came out of the closet when I was 15 years old. I’ve written about it several times, so what you see below was written almost two years ago. I thought this would be an appropriate time to run it again.

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When my parents announced that Sunday morning that it was time for a “family meeting,” my stomach lurched and the golden, glistening fried eggs I’d just eaten threatened to reappear. My younger brother, Mark, and I jeered and jabbed at each other on our way downstairs, but part of me knew something wasn’t right. While we joked in whispers that we’d better start doing our chores more diligently, the silent scream in my head warned me to stop time, to take the brittle hands of the clock and snap them like sticks, freezing us in this moment forever, untainted.

My mom, me, and my dad the night before he came out.

As soon as we sat down on the couch across from my parents, we knew this wasn’t about assigning more chores or raking us over the coals about something we’d done wrong. Mom was crying. Ever the lawyer, Dad was pacing with a legal pad and it wasn’t long before he began his opening statement; he was preparing to defend himself. “This is about honesty, integrity, respect, and my love for all of you,” he began nervously and somewhat formally. I suddenly couldn’t stop looking at the dirty off-white carpet beneath my feet, its fuzzy fibers unraveling in places. I felt myself unraveling, too, things inside me twisting and pulling against each other. I wanted to take a loose loop of wool and run with it, clamp my hands over my ears and shout, “I CAN’T HEAR YOU,” like a young child often does when there’s something she doesn’t want to hear.

Dad announced he was moving out, his sentences littered with awkward but telling third-person references “Your mother and I are getting divorced because your father is a homosexual.” He couldn’t own it himself, the secret he’d just spilled from his lips. It was like he was speaking about someone who wasn’t there. He said he’d known he was gay since he was 12 years old, but thought he could hide it, squash it down and lead a normal life. He thought he could pretend it away by marrying Mom. Tasting my breakfast in the back of my throat, I prayed that this was either a very realistic dream or April Fool’s in November. Of course it was neither. As tears threatened to roll, all I could think about was getting out of that house. I needed a friend and some air. I needed to think. This couldn’t possibly be happening. A lot of my friends’ parents were divorced, but mine never seemed like potential candidates—they always got along so well and things seemed relatively normal. I was also quite certain none of my friends had a gay parent.

As soon as they were done talking to us, I tore upstairs and called my best friend *Michelle. She was out of town at a soccer tournament. I called *Joe next. I think I blurted out, “My parents are getting divorced.” He suggested we meet at the park nearby and to do homework. I borrowed Mom’s car and left as quickly as I could. Mark retreated to his room, and only Kevin, the youngest of the three of us (nine years-old at the time), remained with my parents to ask lots of questions I don’t think they were prepared for.

I got to the park and could barely speak. Just lots of tears, sobbing, and snot. I remember copying some of Joe’s Latin homework. Amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis, my dad is gay? My brain wouldn’t process anything, especially not Latin vocabulary and verb conjugations. I was on auto-pilot. Miles upon miles of senseless thoughts raced through my mind, colliding and causing traffic jams. Joe lent me an old handkerchief he found in his jacket pocket. At 15, he was ill-equipped for such an emotionally charged situation, but he did the best he could; he held me while I cried and he tried to make me laugh. As the afternoon sun waned and the skies began to darken, I knew I’d have to return home and face the challenges ahead.

**for more of the background on this, read my Polka Dots post about the night before, which will explain the dress I’m wearing in the photo**

p.s. please click on over HERE to my new post up at Aiming Low!

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  • http://www.thekircorner.com Kir

    I remember when you wrote this and how your family shared their own stories of that day. It is an amazing thing you are doing to share those moments and show so many others that they are not alone. It even inspired me to talk to my siblings about a domestic voilence series that I am hoping to do later this year. Their words and experience might help someone else cope, just like your sharing has.

    • Erin Margolin

      Kir,

      Would love to hear more about your domestic violence series and I agree with you that sharing moments is soooo important. You never know who might be reading!

  • http://twitter.com/iSilver_Q Aldo D Notarandrea

    sorry for your parents getting divorced, i went through that when i was very young so it didn’t impact me all that much.  i hope they stay best of friends because I’m sure they love each other very much & even though it must have been a shocking moment for all of you, don’t forget to be  proud of your dad as well.. It took a lot of courage for him to do that. I also went through a similar situation this week when I shocked my friends after I announced to them that I was straight. Jaws dropped, people didn’t know how to act around me, the whole bit but things will return to normal for all of us eventually. <3

    • Erin Margolin

      Aldo,

      Thank you so much for stopping by to read and comment!

  • bywordofmouth

    The best part of the blogosphere – right here.  This sharing of lives and stories that make others feel not so alone ….

    • Erin Margolin

      Thank you, Nicole! Can’t wait to see you at Blissdom in LESS THAN TWO WEEKS!!!
      xoxoxo

  • Gooddayregularpeople

    SO much to take at that age.  Did they take you all for family counseling??? This is a lot for a teen ager….so much at once. I’m so sorry, Erin.

    • Erin Margolin

      Empress,

      Yes, we did counseling. Individually, mostly…not really as a family, which could have helped…thank you for your sweet thoughts. xoxo

  • http://aladyinfrance.com/ Lady Jennie

    Oh this hurts so much, the you who was also ill-equipped to handle it at 15.

    • Erin Margolin

      Lady Jennie,

      That just made me cry.

  • http://makemommygosomethingsomething.com/ Kimberly

    There is so much going on in the life of a teenager already…and then to have to go through this?
    I am so glad that this was written because I knkow that there are more people out there in this same situation. It’ll make them feel less alone.

    • Erin Margolin

      Kimberly,

      I know, right?! Just add this to the acne, bullying, stress of standardized tests and getting into college—LOL! Enough to make anyone’s head spin!

  • http://twitter.com/juliecgardner Julie Gardner

    Erin, 

    I just went back and read your Polka Dots post after finishing this one. I can’t even imagine how difficult this was for everyone involved…But for you and your brothers. Oh my.

    This is STILL such a charged issue; so much debate and strong feeling and prejudice and intolerance. So when you were 15, it must have been nearly unbearable.

    I hope, in our children’s futures, being gay isn’t something an individual strives to hide or “marry away.” Unfortunately, I worry that we haven’t come far enough. 

    A large segment of our society would still reject a boy or girl (at any age) openly admitting to being gay. (As if we can choose our sexual orientation. Ugh.)

    I suppose one of the very first steps is honesty like yours here. And in the posts from Anonymous. There must be a shift in tolerance and acceptance so that everyone can feel free to live an authentic life. People NEED to be honest about who they are. With themselves. With others. 

    The alternative is broken hearts all around.

    • Erin Margolin

      Julie,

      Sigh. I fear we haven’t come far enough, too…..
      ;-(

  • http://www.motherhoodthetruth.com/ Truthfulmommy

    Erin, I can not imagine how hard this must have been at 15. IT must have seemed like your world was falling apart, especially at the age when everything seems so huge and insurmountable. You are such an amazing woman so no matter what became of their marriage, they must have been pretty damn awesome paretns who loved/love you very much. Sorry that you had to go through this but thank you for sharing.XO

    • Erin Margolin

      Debi/TruthfulMommy,

      You are 12 kinds of awesome and thanks for reading and leaving me some love!
      xoxoxoxo

  • Anonymous

    Erin, this post touched me so deeply. I can’t imagine how hard this information must have been to process at 15-years-old, but I’m glad you’re sharing your story now. Undoubtedly, this will touch more than just me. Undoubtedly, this will help someone somewhere. 
    Thank you for sharing. 

    • Erin Margolin

      Katie,

      Thank you for your kind words. ANd I hope you’re right—that somewhere out there, someone who really needs to see this is going to happen upon it….

  • marilyn

    Hi.  I have just stumbled across this website/post.  I am 34 years old and my Dad has just come out of the closet.  I am lost.  I couldn’t even read all your post.  I am just numb and supporting my mother as best I can.  

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

      are you okay? do you want to talk about it? what can i do to help?

      • marilyn

         Hi.  I am OK actually.  Well I have my moments.  I was just feeling so alone last night as I am not ready to tell my friends etc yet and had to say it out loud somewhere.  I think I am sort of in some kind of denial about the whole thing.  Does that make sense?  Thanks for writing your post – it made me feel normal again.

        • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

          Take it one day at a time. You are not alone. There is no rush to tell people—do it when you are ready and at your own pace. You may want to check out a book by Amity Pierce Buxton called “The Other Side of the Closet.” Because often when a spouse/parent/etc. comes out? The rest of us go in. It’s really hard. I found out when I was 15 and I have 2 younger brothers. I still grapple with it sometimes. And it saddens me that it still happens…

          I am Erin Best Margolin on Facebook and @ErinMargolin on Twitter.
          My cell is 913.486.2938 if you ever want to talk. I’m a good listener. ;-)

  • JulesSolomon14

    I found this page by chance, because I was doing some research on a story idea I have in mind. Guess what my life was turned upside down just like yours.  In many ways we had a similar teenhood. My dad told us when I was 13 years old. He to had known it for almost is whole life and my mum knew it just after the got married. I am 29 now and I can say I have come to terms with this past and accepted it for what it is. But it sure wasn’t easy!

  • Guest

    I stumbled across this after doing some googling.. I am 22 and my dad has just come out as gay. I am trying to be there for my Mum as after 25 years of marriage she feels it was all just a lie, but I am struggling with all this myself. I feel like its all a dream and that I will wake up from it soon.
    Reading that other people have been through it has definitely helped. 

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

      Ashleigh,
      Thank you for reaching out to me and leaving a comment. What can I do to help? We just started a Facebook page and also a Twitter account and I can give you that information if it would be helpful. Do you have any siblings? Is there someone you can talk to? I started seeing a therapist when my dad came out and it really helped. But there’s no doubt it’s a really difficult thing to have to go through.

      p.s. my email is erinmargolin@gmail.com if you’d like to email privately about it….

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