“There is only one you for all time. Fearlessly be yourself.”
Today’s story is from Stan Snyder.
Life on my terms. It didn’t feel right to hide who I was. I dreaded the day, but it had to be done.
It wasn’t as hard as I thought — “coming out” in a small Tennessee town. I was an athlete, on the swim team. I made great grades. I was president of my class.
Maybe because people respected me, it was OK. Not a word to my face. I expected a beating from other “jocks” in my school. I was surprised. It never came. I felt “whole” for the first time.
And because it was easy, I decided to make the next step. Mom was long gone — she died when I was six. I decided to tell my family, starting with Dad.
What you should know about Dad? He’s a Christian, born again. He’s a country boy, born and raised in the Tennessee hills—one of eleven. Dad’s world is small, his zone of tolerance well defined. He doesn’t mince words, his values are clear. “Dad, I’m gay…” Not what Dan Snyder wanted to hear.
But I was determined. I would no longer be a counterfeit me. It started out OK enough. I sat my father down for a talk. As the words came out, his face took on a heart-sickening look. Rage, fire rushed to his cheeks. My father blinked in disbelief and rose to his feet.
“No bleeping bleep son of mine is gay,” Dad roared. “Get the bleep out of this house and never come home!”
My Dad is not a violent man. But my confession pushed this small-town Southerner to the edge. His fists raised, his scowl twisted, I knew my father meant what he said. I was terrified. More than that, I was devastated. Even though I had come clean, confessing the truth — I felt such guilt for disappointing the man who had fed me, raised me, loved me, all those years.
I rushed from the house. Jumped into my car. Hours later, I knocked on a friend’s door. Can I stay? I pleaded, my eyes full of tears. I was convinced I would never hear from Dad again. First mom disappeared, now him. I was an only child. That night I felt so alone. An outcast. A child spurned.
But Dad tracked me down. He didn’t exactly apologize — but he did make amends. “Come home,” Dad said meekly over the phone. “You’re my son and I love you. I’m proud of you for the man you are — even if I don’t understand.”
Dad doesn’t approve of my “lifestyle,” even today. But we don’t let it get in our way. Little by little, he’s come to accept it. He even told me he loved me “just how I am.” A small step: he met my new boyfriend, and was courteous.
Dad’s doing the best he can. He loves me. Even though I am a contradiction to his deepest beliefs.
I’ll never see the world through Dad’s eyes. Nor he through mine. But our common ground: He is my father. I am his son. We don’t have to see things through the same lens. It’s called unconditional love.
For loving when loving is hard, I thank you, Dad. I am proud to be your son.