"Hey Dad..."

I distinctly remember coming out to my parents. I had never been so scared in all my life. For days, my stomach was turning at the thought. So many questions ran through my mind. What are they going to say? What “look” will they give me? Will I still be a part of this family? Will they still love me?

Despite my fears, my parents received my news warmly and expressed their love for me. They are still adjusting to their new expectations for my future, but whatever the future brings, they have continually assured me that I am loved and welcomed in their home.

The other day, I spoke with a dear friend of mine as he was heading home to see his parents. My friend is a bit older than me (mid 30’s) with a beautiful son, a wonderful partner, and a family that doesn’t fully know about the honesty with which he lives his life.

My pal came out while he was married and things became really rough. He and his wife split apart and went on their own ways. He fell in love with a man and recently moved in with him. Since my friend came out of the closet, he has been growing as a person in the sunlight of his life. The problem is that his dad doesn’t know yet. And when he does know, he may not be open and accepting of his son.

My friend is rightfully upset. He wants to live honestly and openly with the people he loves. As he put it, “I spent 30 odd years lying about me.” His siblings figure it’s best for his life to remain a secret from his father, and the wave of fear and anxiety creeps in everyday with the same questions I had. We’ve cried together about it more than once.

As we approach Father’s Day, I am thinking about my friend, my father, my relationship with my father, and what example of good things to come I can give my friend. How can I assure him that his life is valued and he will be loved when he goes home someday to say, “Hey Dad…”? Then the answer came to me, quite literally, as I said “Father” in my prayers last night.

Despite our relationship with our fathers here in this life, we have the ultimate assurance of the love of a heavenly father. (For the purposes of this posting and the proximity to Father’s Day, I'm recognizing the Godhead figure with the traditional male pro-noun.)

That assurance is important for all people of faith to realize in our struggles with coming out or struggles with living as gay or lesbian persons in a world dominated by “straight thinking.” The love of a heavenly father is also important for the straight people who are ridiculed and condemned for their support of our lives and loves. In a message to all of us, St. Paul wrote to the church in Galatia that we have been made sons of a loving father that we cry out to for help, for guidance, and most importantly, for love.

“And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.” (Galatians 4:6-7 NRSV)

Our relationship with God, as we understand him, is the most important comfort and hope we can ask for while living and struggling as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people of faith. Whatever your religious preference or spirituality you have a father with open and welcoming arms, not stern rejection and rebuke. Because our Father welcomes us as His children, our churches should accept gay and lesbian persons with the same open arms.

My pal will someday share with his dad who he truly is, just as I did. When that time comes, he will be carried by a loving spiritual father to meet his dad who is being carried in the same arms.

Coming Out is one of the most difficult things in the life of gay and lesbian persons. For help or assistance with your personal struggles check out the HRC Coming Out Project. Or call the Gay and Lesbian National Hotline at 1-888-843-4564.

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