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Monday, April 23, 2012

SL Letter of the Day:

Posted by 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.

 

Comments (58) RSS

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Rhett Oracle 1
Maybe the whole family should rent the film "Beginners" with Christopher Plummer. That would certainly blow the D.L. lid off!
Posted by Rhett Oracle on April 23, 2012 at 5:27 PM · Report this
Doctor Memory 2
Having now watched a couple of middle aged to elderly men finally get around to having their Big Gay Adolescence after their wives passed, this is spot-on advice. I would only add one more thing:

...and do it as soon as possible.

Because jesus christ on a crutch, there's something about this situation that seems to bring out the dumbest, most self-destructive behavior in men. If you'd prefer that your dad not contract a shedload of STDs and not see your inheritance in the hands of some grifting hustler, you need to make him come out pronto.
Posted by Doctor Memory http://blahg.blank.org on April 23, 2012 at 5:34 PM · Report this
3
Show tune singing? Barbara Streisand loving?

Does he wear a pink kerchief tied around his neck, lisp, and prance like a girl tip toeing through wet grass, too?

After all, no straight dudes like show tunes or Streisand. No all they do is repair their trucks, scratch their balls and collect Snap-on Tools Calendars.

For fuck sake. Is it too much to ask to grow a little beyond these silly stereotypes already. It's 2012.

You know how you know your dad is gay? When he tells you he likes to fuck dudes, that's how.
Posted by tkc on April 23, 2012 at 5:38 PM · Report this
4
Or when--per the first sentence--you find him on the Internet trolling for dick. Those are only mentioned as clues that fit into place in retrospect.
Posted by Fairness Doctrine on April 23, 2012 at 5:45 PM · Report this
rob! 5
I come from a family that studiously avoids raising important issues, which I've worked hard to be conscious of, and proactive about, in my own life, but there's a part of me that still leans away from jumping to "confrontation" or "intervention" as Move One.

What's the downside of a gentler, somewhat jokey initial letter along the lines of "we know you must be lonely since Mom's passing, and we'd like you to know from all of us that you needn't hesitate on our account about seeing other people, be they women, men, or of a different color or creed. We just want you to be happy and to feel comfortable being with us on those occasions when we are lucky enough to be together."
Posted by rob! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZBdUceCL5U on April 23, 2012 at 5:49 PM · Report this
6
Yes, commenter four. The stereotypes only clicked with the LW subsequent to much more tangible and direct evidence, buttsore third commenter.

And I generally avoid nit-picking regarding typos, Dan, but "He MIGHT find it easier (for him) to come out as bi...", and "So be sure to PUT bi on the table" leaped off the page as particularly grating to my eyes and ears, for whatever reason.
Posted by Functional Atheist on April 23, 2012 at 5:52 PM · Report this
7
If the pink kerchief fits...

Speaking as someone who has a gay dad, who married my mom and pretended to be "straight", until she divorced him because he refused to have sex with her (<5 times in 10 years - I'm a quasi-miracle), and he's now gayer than a purse full of rainbows (and has kissed men in front of me), except that he's never actually admitted to me in words, "I'm gay", and he never will.
Posted by MLM on April 23, 2012 at 6:06 PM · Report this
8
Having been in your dad's shoes, by coming out at 45 during a divorce, I know some of the pitfalls you're worrying about. But, if he's given the former wife crabs, he's been doing this for a while and probably knows the ropes fairly well. His "gay spring" will be over soon enough, and I think your prying will be a bigger issue in the long run. Don't intervene. It would be like your parents lecturing you about the amount or types of sex you had during high school or college. You didn't like it then. He won't like it now.
Posted by marsmsu on April 23, 2012 at 6:22 PM · Report this
9
@6 More tangible evidence?

The LW described Show tunes and Streisand as "Big Ones (clues)."

And clichés like that are not "evidence" of anything except how bought into stereotypes we are in this culture. Because that is what the LW meant: Gay is like THIS. Straight is like THIS.

Call me butt hurt (it's fine, really) all you want, but don't you think it's time for a progressive sex advice columnist to nudge his readers along from that sort of thing? I kinda do.
Posted by tkc on April 23, 2012 at 6:24 PM · Report this
seandr 10
@9: There was a time, probably when LW's dad came of age and long before you were born, when lisping, listening to Barbara Streisand, wearing pink, doing that limp wrist thing, and liking show tunes served a function similar to creating an account on Grindr today - it allowed gay men to identify one another in a hostile world that didn't have iPhones or the Internet. I know, hard to believe such a world once existed! Skeptical? Go to Youtube and search for "Liberace", "Charles Nelson Riley", or "Paul Lynn". I'm guessing LW's dad took a lot of comfort back in the 60's and 70's from all the hints (aka stereotypical behaviors) these guys dropped that they were gay.

P.S. You really should see a doctor about that butt hurt you're whining about.
Posted by seandr on April 23, 2012 at 6:55 PM · Report this
11
"After all, no straight dudes like show tunes or Streisand"

At least none with any sense of self respect do.
Posted by mubhappy on April 23, 2012 at 6:55 PM · Report this
12
I know straight guys who like show tunes and Streisand... they are not exactly the "coolest" straight guys in the world however.
Posted by TheLastComment on April 23, 2012 at 7:11 PM · Report this
saxfanatic 13
If you bring up a subject that is has anything to do with homosexuality he immediately finds a reason to get off the phone.


If my late father - God rest his soul - ever steered one of our conversations to anything sex related, I would have dropped the phone PDQ too. I absolutely did not want to know. This is why I never read any of his letters nor looked at his browser history.
Posted by saxfanatic on April 23, 2012 at 7:11 PM · Report this
14
BONUS TIP: Don't threaten him.

"we are willing to keep his secret—we won't tell anyone else—so long as he is honest with us."
Posted by Saul on April 23, 2012 at 7:19 PM · Report this
15
This wording troubled me a bit: "...we are willing to keep his secret—we won't tell anyone else—so long as he is honest with us."

So long as...? Meaning if he doesn't level with you, you are going to out him?

So long as you are being careful about how to formulate your overture, you might want to stay well away from anything that sounds like a threat, mightn't you?
Posted by avast2006 on April 23, 2012 at 7:23 PM · Report this
16
@7 - If I don't get to use the phrase "gayer than a purse full of rainbows" at least once tomorrow, my day will feel incomplete.
Posted by other coast on April 23, 2012 at 7:24 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 17
Manipulative children are worse than manipulative parents. Leave Dad alone, mind your own business. So you know he's Gay, big F-in deal. Move on to more important things. When you're ready to tell Dad you like having sex with whom/what ever, then he'll be ready to tell you about his sex life. He's Gay use your imagination.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on April 23, 2012 at 7:31 PM · Report this
shurenka 18
I wouldn't tell him you know he's gay, but rather use 5's phrasing. If he's not ready to come out, forcing him to might only make him feel more conflicted.

@10 Even if stereotypes served some use in the past, that's in the past for a reason. There are plenty of "macho" gay men and plenty of straight men who do (or who would) like show tunes -- particularly if there wasn't such a societal stigma against (straight) men liking show tunes. Surely as a society we can start to move beyond these tired roles...
Posted by shurenka on April 23, 2012 at 7:37 PM · Report this
19
How the fuck did the scope of what straight men are supposed to enjoy get so narrow anyway? Straight men in the 19th century didn't have these problems, you were SUPPOSED to like ballet back then.
Posted by TheLastComment on April 23, 2012 at 7:43 PM · Report this
Alanmt 20
I say let him know you know.

In case some of you (#13, #17) have forgotten, being gay isn't just about sex (hello, ugly stereotypes!) Maybe he has or will find a boyfriend, and in that case, it would be much better for him to know that you know and that he can introduce this big new part of his life to you, rather than have him all stressed out and cut his kids and grandkids out further because he is afraid to meld the two parts of his lives.

Posted by Alanmt on April 23, 2012 at 7:50 PM · Report this
rob! 21
Also, various ectoparasites and other "signifiers" notwithstanding, and far from our grody little minds though it may be, it's not always all about teh secks.

Shot in the dark here, but a radical change in behavior and inability to enjoy things that formerly brought pleasure can be signs of serious depression or early Alzheimer's. And often, despite their failing abilities, dementia sufferers can be remarkably crafty about concealing what's happening to them from friends and family.

So maybe the LW and her siblings should give that some thought and if there's a glimmer of a chance, figure out ways to keep closer tabs without being intrusive or annoying.
Posted by rob! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZBdUceCL5U on April 23, 2012 at 7:53 PM · Report this
Alanmt 22
If he's in his 50s or older, he may have been socialized in a time where being gay meant you were supposed to have specific likes and mannerisms and "tell" behaviors. If he has been deeply closeted, his understanding of social changes and how they have affected gay people might be slower to change and less advanced than his wonderful daughters'. If his history of homosexuality was limited to years of cheating on his wife with unsafe and secrtive trysts without emotional attachment, he probably has a guilt-filled and emotionally unhealthy atttitude toward his sexuality.

Openness could help him accept himself and move on. His daughters can actually help him catch up, grow, and be a better and happier person. That is what our parents, at their best, try to do for us. Why, when the circumstances are right, should the children do any less.
Posted by Alanmt on April 23, 2012 at 7:59 PM · Report this
23
tkc, @21. are you guys just refusing to acknowledge the part where he is leaving a visible footprint online of searching out guys to sleep with so you can be holier than thou about people using stereotypes or jumping to nasty sex conclusions?
Posted by Fairness Doctrine on April 23, 2012 at 8:08 PM · Report this
seandr 24
@18: Surely as a society we can start to move beyond these tired roles

Sure, but we're not talking about "a society", we're talking about one closeted gay man who grew up before Savage Love, Ellen, Will and Grace, and probably the Village People. The behaviors you see as stereotypes and cliches were fresh and subversive during his time.

Don't be surprised if in the future young people implore us to move beyond our tired self-loathing of and bigoted attitudes towards mid-century gay cultural signifiers, and embrace them as the first brave steps towards a visible gay identity and gay civil liberties. "I mean come on, it's 2025, not the dark ages of 2012 - we know that's not how all gay people act, but thankfully some gay people acted that way in 1965."
Posted by seandr on April 23, 2012 at 8:09 PM · Report this
rob! 25
@23:
I have figured out recently—with help from the Internet—that my recently widowed father is meeting men for sex.
...is hardly the same thing as finding his picture or phone number on a gay-friend-finder web site.

Also: "...far from our grody little minds though it may be..." [me]≠"holier than thou" [you].

Much of the potential value of Savage Love, I think, is the variety of different angles that people come up with, most of which obviously neither Dan nor the letter writer thought of. Many are certainly wrong or off-base. That doesn't mean you have the personal responsibility to shoot them down.
Posted by rob! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZBdUceCL5U on April 23, 2012 at 8:29 PM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 27
I can only think back to my days in the closet. I was a teenager/young adult then, which is a different experience than coming to terms with it as an older man. Nevertheless, that period of my life would have been far less traumatic if one person who cared about me had let me know they knew I was gay, and loved and supported me anyway. It probably would have freaked me the fuck out for about 10 minutes, but then saved me 10 years of near suicidal depression.

Don't try to control him or judge him or force him to do or say anything. But I think you should simply let him know what you know, and tell him you love and support him. He may not suddenly start sharing every detail of he sex life (which you probably don't want anyway), but he will hopefully stop acting weird around you and going to such great lengths to hide it.

Also, it is very common for gay men of any age to go through a sort of second adolescence when they come out. They have to develop a whole new set of dating and relationship skills, and it is every bit as awkward as it was when we were all in high school. So don't expect his odd behavior to stop overnight, even once he comes out to you.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on April 23, 2012 at 8:56 PM · Report this
Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In 28
@16 Well, scratch my balls & fix my truck w/ a girlie calendar! I'm w/ you. Sometime tomorrow I shall declare a person/subject/activity/statement/thing to be "gayer than a purse full of rainbows"! This is going to be fun.
Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In on April 23, 2012 at 9:22 PM · Report this
29
@16 & @28: I surely did not make the phrase up and have heard it many times before. Today was just MY day to use it in conversation (appropriately)!

It's fun, isn't it?
Posted by MLM on April 23, 2012 at 9:43 PM · Report this
30
Oh, and also, just to the general point of: Well, now YOU know, and your dad knows, so you don't *really* have to talk about it - YES, you do.

The "I know you know I know that you know so there's no need to talk about it" is wrong. Take it from someone who's known her dad was gay for 25 years, but he's never said, "I'm gay" and never will. It matters.
Posted by MLM on April 23, 2012 at 9:49 PM · Report this
31
@29 et al - it's even a t-shirt.

www.zazzle.com/gayer_than_a_handbag_full&hellip;
Posted by Optimal Cynic on April 24, 2012 at 12:29 AM · Report this
32
Let's try that again... http://tinyurl.com/6o85lvr
Posted by Optimal Cynic on April 24, 2012 at 12:31 AM · Report this
33
@10: I think you meant Paul Lynde.
Posted by Kristen on April 24, 2012 at 12:36 AM · Report this
reverend dr dj riz 34
.. and the next time toni braxton comes to the casino ( she was just there, like, last month. ) take him..
Posted by reverend dr dj riz on April 24, 2012 at 12:41 AM · Report this
35
Am I really the only one that has my 'Fake' alert sounding?
How does a daughter accidentally find evidence of her Dad advertising on gay hookup ads? How in hell would she find out about her Mum getting crabs unless some major family drama played out years ago ... or was it just a passing comment: "oh yeah, your dad gave me crabs ... that was annoying, oh well, tsk." WTF?
Posted by truck on April 24, 2012 at 3:17 AM · Report this
geoz 36
You need a caveat in that letter: "We won't tell anyone except to Dan Savage who will publish our thoughts on the internet."
Posted by geoz on April 24, 2012 at 5:47 AM · Report this
37
I think 21 raises an important point: Leave what you know about Dad's big secret sex/love life aside, and you have an older gentleman who is exhibiting a sharp change in behavior. (Meaning the reduced contact, hiding in the computer rather than talking to grandkids, etc.) That could signal dementia, of many forms. And the fact that the kids all KNOW there's this big secret thing that Dad keeps from them becomes a reassuring catch-all excuse for all the weird secretive behavior.

So I think following Dan's advice about a short "Dear Dad, we all know and are cool with the gay/bi thing" e-mail is good just to get that aspect of this off the table. And then TETTBCD and her sibs need to look at his behavior and figure out if there is more there they need to pull together to address. Which will be many times harder than the minor sexual orientation question.
Posted by IPJ on April 24, 2012 at 7:01 AM · Report this
gttim 38
Jesus, if you can't even talk about Glee anymore, it is time to confront him!

"Dear Dad,

We know you are gay or bi and are fine with it. However, if you ever again play the soundtrack from 'Cats" while we are in the house, you will never see us again!

Love,

The Kids

P.S. Wasn't 'The Birdcage' a hoot!"
Posted by gttim on April 24, 2012 at 7:24 AM · Report this
GlamB0t 39
@38 LOL that's what jumped out at me.

If your dad is recently widowed, expect him to change. I realize you think it's because he might be gay, and he very well might be, but leave it alone for now.

Losing a spouse will change your behavior, especially after watching said spouse die of a terminal illness. He's probably deperssed, he's probably confused, he's probably lost. The last thing he needs are his kids calling him out on what a bad parent he's become and that they think he's gay. Just leave him alone. Let some space get between you all and the trauma. Let him sort out his feelings and life. Then, if you feel the same way in five years, ask him. For fucks sake, give the man a break. Relationships change after a loss like that. If your mom was the "leader" of the family unit, there's an immense amount of pressure on your dad to keep it together. It can be crushing. If he is gay, then imagine coming to terms with an identity you've kept to yourself. He might be torn between openly exploring who he truly is and grieving his wife.

Back the fuck up off your dad. If you miss talking to him so much, you call him more. Maybe visit four times a year. You should be anyway because again: he just lost his wife.
Posted by GlamB0t on April 24, 2012 at 7:58 AM · Report this
40
Okay, after re-reading the letter, it sounds as if she wants to have chats with her dad about his sex life. Questions!!! Can't have an honest relationship with him unless he's out to me. It's as if this is all about her.

It also sounds as if it's been a year. Tell your dad that you know he loved Mom, but you would be okay with it if he started dating. He's human, and people want companionship (and sex, but don't say that). And that if he is, it's not something he has to hide from you.

The last thing to address is the one that's *actually* a problem--how he treats the grandkids when they visit. Ask him why that is, as gently as you can. Be prepared for any of a wide range of answers, from "Little Jill reminds me of your mother" to "I've been depressed and don't have the energy for the kids" to "They're noisy and drive me up the wall--I've never liked small kids, talk to me when they're 12." If you want honesty, be ready to hear some.
Posted by clashfan on April 24, 2012 at 8:38 AM · Report this
41
I too was married for 23 years (with two kids) and lost my wife to a brain tumor. Because of that loss (and the tragic loss of two nephews and my parents within the span of just a few years) I realized that life is too short and first came out of the closet to myself (and believe me, even that took courage). I then found a guy on match.com and we have been together ever since. He was my "friend" for over three years before I finally came out to my kids and told them we were each selling our houses and buying a new place together. My kids were raised to be liberals and it was still one of the hardest things I have ever done. My kids had been through so much (brain tumors suck...as does losing your favorite cousins, including one to a suicide). I thought they probably knew what was going on (they stopped saying "that's so gay”)...and I was right. They did know and have been wonderful about it ever since I got up the nerve to tell them. They are proud of their two dads. I took my son a few years to “come out” to his friends about his two dads, he found that when he did, even his most macho and Republican frat brothers didn’t care at all. He also finds that having two dads is a chick magnet at the bars. My daughter has told my partner that while she misses her mom every single day, she also knows that had that loss not occurred, she would not have him in her life today. Having seen both kinds of families, my kids say that in the end, where there is love and good parenting, there is really no difference between the two.
Posted by RGoetz on April 24, 2012 at 9:09 AM · Report this
nocutename 42
@41: Thank you for sharing your beautiful and inspirational story. I am sorry for the loss of your wife, and wish you many years of happiness with your partner.
Posted by nocutename on April 24, 2012 at 9:44 AM · Report this
Looking For a Better Read 43
@41

I didn't cry when I lost my job last week. But I did reading your post. Congratulations on raising two really solid kids, and on finding happiness a second time.
Posted by Looking For a Better Read on April 24, 2012 at 9:45 AM · Report this
Troy from IN 44
A couple of things bother me about this, one major and one real minor.
The major thing: I'd like to know exactly how she found this out about her dad. Did she check his computer history, did she see a profile on some site, did she hack into his email?
Depending on how she found out my reaction would be different. No matter what she will have to explain how she found out.
The minor thing: Suggesting that he might be Bisexual is great Dan, but you don't need to repeat it three times. That just sounds like you trying to make sure no body will think your Biphobic and end up sound a little Biphobic.
Posted by Troy from IN http://bipaganman.tumblr.com/ on April 24, 2012 at 9:53 AM · Report this
45
Why does she have to treat it like a big shameful secret? She's "willing to keep his secret if he's honest with her"? Fuck her. No wonder he doesn't call her as much anymore. She sounds horrible.
Posted by scromni on April 24, 2012 at 10:16 AM · Report this
46
@45, it's her dad who might want to keep it a secret. What the letter writer wants is to be able to have a normal conversation without her dad freaking out about being outed by his reactions to innocuous things that happen to have some association with homosexuality. (Glee. They can't even talk about a hugely popular television show around him? Not cool.)

Basically it's not "you've got this horrible secret and I'll keep it for you" but "I'm cool if you want to keep this a secret, but you should know that I know your secret already."

And it sounds like her dad is so worried about his family finding out that he's gay/bi that he's letting that fear drive a wedge between them.
Posted by EclecticEel on April 24, 2012 at 10:42 AM · Report this
47
@35 I can imagine my mom telling me that kind of thing and worse. She doesn't really have a good sense of boundaries, but I imagine there must be a lot of people like that, so it's not really that hard to believe.
Posted by puddles on April 24, 2012 at 10:46 AM · Report this
49
I don’t know, my uncle and his “roommate” are about as obvious a gay couple as they come and yet we’re all supposed to carry on the charade of thinking they’re just roommates and I think I’d get in a massive amount of trouble if I ever acknowledged the obvious. I chalk it up to the fact they grew up in an era where these things just have to go unsaid and I’d cause some major shitstorm and family rift somehow, so I don’t. Even though everybody knows and is fine with it and its a major pain in the ass pretending not to know.
Posted by Karey on April 24, 2012 at 11:57 AM · Report this
50
Everything Dan and Daughter said made perfect sense. However, as a medical professional in the psychiatric field, there was something about this whole thing that sent up a red flag for me. Dad lives far away from his kids so they do not see him often. I would want to know what other changes in personality Dad is showing. Is there someone else they trust who sees Dad on a regular basis? Small changes often go unnoticed when a significant other is not around to notice. Is he more secretive across the board? No longer spending time with friends? (Seems like it if he won't even get off the computer to talk to his family when they visit.) Is this early onset dementia? A computer addiction? Depression? Uncontrolled Diabetes? (Fluctuating glucose levels can cause changes in personality, impulse control and decision making.) This is not to say in any way that Dad exploring his sexuality would be a bad thing. More power to him. But a change such as Daughter described makes me wonder. I would just want to be sure his new behavior is the reason for his changes, instead of physical changes causing the new behavior.
Posted by kataan on April 24, 2012 at 12:47 PM · Report this
51
BTW, was Frank Sinatra gay? I hear he liked show tunes.
Posted by avast2006 on April 24, 2012 at 2:58 PM · Report this
52
Tell the father, write the letter, but don't mention sexual orientation or secrets or any of that. Just let him know that you love and support him during this difficult time of grief and change, you understand that he might want to settle down again someday with a special someone, and you look forward to welcoming that new boyfriend or girlfriend into the family.
Posted by brendan on April 24, 2012 at 9:14 PM · Report this
Jerry M. Ander 53
I agree with all of those who are concerned that the father is exhibiting troubling signs. Perhaps he has developed an addiction to compulsive sexual behavior. His retreat to the computer while the grandkids are in town sounds like he isolating and obsessing, perhaps with online intriguing/hookups.

As 50 said, more needs to be known about the specifics of his changing behavior.
Posted by Jerry M. Ander on April 24, 2012 at 10:48 PM · Report this
54
Maybe he stays away from the grandkids because he thinks (on some level) that all gay man are child molestors and he's worried he'll do something to them.
Posted by James Hutchings on April 25, 2012 at 2:33 AM · Report this
55
"If you bring up a subject that is has anything to do with homosexuality he immediately finds a reason to get off the phone." Yeah, and a buttoned-up heterosexual guy might well do the same - *especially* if he believes you think he's queer. You could have got yourselves into a circular argument here.
Posted by sandsoflife on April 25, 2012 at 6:36 AM · Report this
57
@56 -- You're an ass. The LW loves her dad, so obviously the fact that he's gay is NOT "all that matters" to her. Those red flags are real, and pointing them out could save the whole family a lot of grief. Sorry if that intrudes on your "yeah for gay!" reading experience.
Posted by danfan on April 25, 2012 at 10:48 AM · Report this
58
I look at the penultimate and final sentences of the first and last paragraphs, and they seem both to answer and contradict each other.

I don't mind the father perhaps having gone along with cultural markers, as times were as times were, but the daughter seems so invested in them that I can't entirely buy into her being quite so queer-positive as she presents (and perhaps considers) herself. I don't have a strong feeling about this, but it would not surprise me if she were dropping hints like grenades into their conversations. Possibly what she intends or thinks she intends as potential door openers are coming across as thinly veiled threats or accusations.
Posted by vennominon on April 25, 2012 at 7:29 PM · Report this
60
I have to really, really ask you if you missed some huge blunders on the Letter of the Day, April 23... sexual blackmail? I'll out you if you don't share your private life with me?

She says: I'm cool if he's gay, and I want him to have a happy life.

BUT

This is killing me though, I feel like I can't have an honest relationship with him until he is out to me.

Really? If a gay person does not come out, then he can't have honest relationships? A person can't choose their own boundaries, their own privacy? How about it's none of her damn business?


She says: Oh, and I got questions for him, lots of questions!!!

Oh, joy... is this about him, or is this really about her needs?

She says: Or do I butt the fuck out?

Hmmm... fully grown middle-age man refusing numerous opportunities to discuss his personal sex life with his grown daughter.. yeah, how about you butt the fuck out!

She says: And while I personally believe that his sex life is none of my business

Yes yes yes yes....

You say: 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.

Huh? How are all these folks coming to the diagnosis that a grown man's sexual orientation and his willingness/unwillingness is the cause of... destroyed relationships? Seriously? No other possible explanations? Incredibly pushy intrusive patronizing daughters, maybe? Some whole other thing we don't know about? Or maybe he's becoming a quieter man and he's okay with that?

She says: we are willing to keep his secret—we won't tell anyone else—so long as he is honest with us.

Oh my god... I won't out you IF you have the following conversation with me and disclose the following information to me and your other kids.... Seriously? This is how we handle other people's sexual orientation conversation choices?

You advice is golden and so incredibly valuable to everyone in the country (world!) but this one seems like a huge missfire... I'm straight myself, but oh my god, I can so sympathize for someone who, after his wife passes away, decides to live his private life in a way that brings him happiness and authenticity, but then the Daughter Police descend on you and, oh my goodness, with a list of demands about disclosing so many private things, or else they'll out you... I feel so sad for this man; wife dies, and the kids go on the offense about his sex life? How is this a good thing?
More...
Posted by RBM on April 26, 2012 at 9:41 AM · Report this
61
I have to really, really ask you if you missed some huge blunders on the Letter of the Day, April 23... sexual blackmail? I'll out you if you don't share your private life with me?

She says: I'm cool if he's gay, and I want him to have a happy life.

BUT

This is killing me though, I feel like I can't have an honest relationship with him until he is out to me.

Really? If a gay person does not come out, then he can't have honest relationships? A person can't choose their own boundaries, their own privacy? How about it's none of her damn business?


She says: Oh, and I got questions for him, lots of questions!!!

Oh, joy... is this about him, or is this really about her needs?

She says: Or do I butt the fuck out?

Hmmm... fully grown middle-age man refusing numerous opportunities to discuss his personal sex life with his grown daughter.. yeah, how about you butt the fuck out!

She says: And while I personally believe that his sex life is none of my business

Yes yes yes yes....

You say: 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.

Huh? How are all these folks coming to the diagnosis that a grown man's sexual orientation and his willingness/unwillingness is the cause of... destroyed relationships? Seriously? No other possible explanations? Incredibly pushy intrusive patronizing daughters, maybe? Some whole other thing we don't know about? Or maybe he's becoming a quieter man and he's okay with that?

She says: we are willing to keep his secret—we won't tell anyone else—so long as he is honest with us.

Oh my god... I won't out you IF you have the following conversation with me and disclose the following information to me and your other kids.... Seriously? This is how we handle other people's sexual orientation conversation choices?

You advice is golden and so incredibly valuable to everyone in the country (world!) but this one seems like a huge missfire... I'm straight myself, but oh my god, I can so sympathize for someone who, after his wife passes away, decides to live his private life in a way that brings him happiness and authenticity, but then the Daughter Police descend on you and, oh my goodness, with a list of demands about disclosing so many private things, or else they'll out you... I feel so sad for this man; wife dies, and the kids go on the offense about his sex life? How is this a good thing?
More...
Posted by RBM on April 26, 2012 at 9:43 AM · Report this
62
I'm more than willing to entertain the notion that that was just an unfortunate and poorly constructed turn of phrase -- indeed, I find it hard to take seriously the idea that the Letter Writer actually intended to out her father -- but it would be helpful to be more careful with the wording, going forward.

That said...yes, it is a general rule that a parent's sex life is -- and by rights should be -- none of the offsprings' business. That is the rule in the standard husband-wife-2.3kids scenario: everything happens behind closed doors, and the less the kids are involved, the better. The same holds true here. Butt the fuck out.

The one way where it could possibly be the kid's business is to tell the dad that they support him in his choice of partner post-widowhood. He is an adult, capable of his own choices -- choices which the kids support, knowing that living a true life is better than pretending.
Posted by avast2006 on April 28, 2012 at 10:29 PM · Report this

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