A reader writes:
I'm a straight, married man, 32 years old. My dad is an out Gay man. Mom and dad divorced when I was six, and he came out shortly thereafter. My adolescence was fraught with tense cover ups of my dad's lifestyle; draping a sheet over the bookcase of gay interest books when friends came over; drumming up odd (and, in retrospect, clearly see-through) lies to explain this or that "family friend", and why my divorced parents were still civil and could eat together at holidays. I was full of confusion and self-loathing while playing games of "Smear The Queer" on the playground and listening to homophobic rock and rap music with my friends. I'm embarrassed about my behavior to this day. I frequently feel the need to apologize for attempting to shove my own father back into the closet, even though he was already out, proud, and comfortable.
My best friend from that time also had a gay parent, and even we didn't discuss it until we were both grown men. Fake aunts, uncles, friends, and roommates were as close as we could get back then. And I grew up in San Francisco! I can only imagine what this might be like for children in less liberal parts of the country.
I want this discussion to happen earlier in life. I hope kids growing up in the future won't have the same issues. I desperately want this to be normalized, for the children. Because even though I have no problem talking about my dad's sexuality today, back then, I was deathly afraid to address it because of what it might have said about me and him both. What my friends might say, the insults they'd be able to add to their repertoire.
To focus the debate around kids' understanding of their own sexuality is missing the point; kids will always do what they do when it comes time to experiment. This is really about kids' understanding of the world around them; I pray that by the time I have a couple of my own, that there won't be any stigma attached if one of their friends has two dads.
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