A Conversation with My Dad, Part 2

Yesterday I introduced my Dad and he gave a background on his life. Today I'm posting the first part of my conversation with him.

What do you think of the ban on civil unions and marriage?

Well, I think it’s taking rights away from people, I think it’s discriminatory, and I think it’s unfair. I also think it makes us less of a society to enact legislation that discriminates against people. It’s inappropriate, and actually, I think it’s immoral.

Would you feel that way if I weren't gay?
You know, that’s a good question. What changed my mind about gay people was when I met John Tobin, who was a very good friend of your mother’s. When I got to know him I realized he was as kind and as wonderful of a person as I ever met in my life. All of the sudden, sexual orientation became less of any kind of an importance to me. More important is the kind of person you are.

And then also, there was Rolf Erickson, a man I knew since I was a child. I went to church and to school with him. I didn’t know he was gay until later in life, but he too was a friend of mine. And again, he was just a wonderful person.

I must admit, growing up, I was as bigoted as the next person back in the 50s and 60s. But since then I’ve gained understanding and wisdom.

What was it like for you when I came out?
It was kind of heart-breaking. It was a feeling that we had somehow done something wrong in raising you. It was a disappointment, and it was difficult to come to grips with.

So how long did it take for you to be ok with it?
When we went to New York. Do you remember that?

That was not too long after I came out, was it?
No, but it was the first time you and I had a real talk. Then I got a chance to let out all my frustrations, and I said some things I wish I never would have. But, that was how I felt, and then it was over and we were back to Ingrid and Dad again.

Once I realized that it really was of no significance, then it was easy for me to deal with. The hard part was, when you have expectations—even when you don’t think you have expectations—for your children, you do. And some of them are pretty basic. Getting married and having children is not something we pressured our children to do—and we still don’t. But it was one of those things that in our own minds and hearts we hoped would happen. Finding out that you were not heterosexual changed our expectations, even though we hadn’t sat down to really voice what our expectations were. But I don’t think we put any pressure on our children. We just want them to be happy.

Megan and I had a commitment ceremony three years ago. I was nervous about telling you we were going to do that, because I wasn’t sure how you would react. Can you tell me how the weekend of our ceremony was for you?

It was great. I’m fine with all of that, and I was proud to walk you down the aisle. You know, I was proud to see you happy, so of course I was fine with it. You were making a commitment to another person you loved; and she loved you. While I can’t understand it and I can’t have any personal feelings of how that translates into love, I can stand back and say the fact that I can’t understand it has no bearing on the fact that it’s real.

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