by Dan Savage
on Mon, Apr 23, 2012 at 4:56 PM
I have figured out recently—with help from the Internet—that my recently widowed father is meeting men for sex. I was initially surprised, but looking back there were clues. Big ones: showtune-singing, Streisand-loving, giving-crabs-to-my-mom clues. He has no idea I know.
I'm cool if he's gay, and I want him to have a happy life. I also know of the dangers men face when they are on the D.L. He has a lot to deal with right now, and it's hard to talk with people about it because it feels like I'm outing him. This is killing me though, I feel like I can't have an honest relationship with him until he is out to me. I've tried to steer the conversation to it but to no avail. Oh, and I got questions for him, lots of questions!!!
Do I just keep quiet and wait for him to open up (I only see him a couple of times a year but talk with him often)? Or do I ask you to publish this question in the paper where I know he'll read it (he reads your column but does not have the app)? Or do I butt the fuck out?
That Explains The Toni Braxton CD
P.S. It's been a year since we found out about my Dad's new hobby. And while I personally believe that his sex life is none of my business, his strange and erratic behavior has us all concerned. In the past year he has become a different person, he hardly calls us anymore, and when we do talk it's completely different. If you bring up a subject that is has anything to do with homosexuality he immediately finds a reason to get off the phone. He gets really uncomfortable when we visit the family house—he just sits in his room on the computer when his grandchildren are there. We can't even talk about Glee anymore. It is painfully obvious that he is keeping a secret and it's hurting him—which really sucks. He has the most liberal, queer-lovin' daughters ever raised in the MidWest. So why won't he tell us, Dan?
My response after the jump...
Stop waiting for your dad to tell you what you already know. Tell him you know. And tell him that you're not going to pretend you don't know what you damn well do. And add that his attempts to keep this part of his life secret aren't just failing, they're destroying his relationships with his daughters and his grandchildren.
Why not confront him, TETTBCD? What do you have to lose at this point?—Dan
Thank you so much for your response! I can't tell how grateful we are for your advice. We have decided that our best course of action would be to write him a letter. We'll explain that "we know" and of course that we still love him and that we are willing to keep his secret—we won't tell anyone else—so long as he is honest with us. None of us live close to him, so we are hoping that sending him a letter would give him as much time as he needs to respond. Thank you so much for the advice Dan, we really needed to hear that from someone we all trust.—TETTBCD
You're welcome, TETTBCD. And here's a little bonus advice: write in your letter that you know your father to be gay or bisexual. If you just go with gay—if you don't include "or bisexual" in your letter—your dad may double down on the lies because he doesn't want you guys to think he never loved your mother. He find it easier for him to come out to you as bi—even if it's not true—because it protect the memory of your parents' marriage. Now there's a chance he's bi, of course, despite the showtunes and Streisand. I'd say there's a not insignificant chance your father is bi. He could have been genuinely attracted to your mother, TETTBCD, and he may have loved your mother—honestly, sincerely, tenderly, and sexually—and only now, after your mother's death, has he decided to explore this side of his sexuality. (Let's not bring up the crabs issue, okay?) So be sure to bi on the table. Because, hey, it could be true.