I could not believe I heard the word, “Dad“, coming out of my son’s mouth as he talked to me excitedly over the phone. It has been years since he called me by that title. Our long journey has come full circle back into love. We have found each other again.
I came out of a marriage when my children were young. My son was only 8 almost 9 years old. The divorce was difficult under the circumstances. We belong to a conservative religion that looked upon homosexuality as a sin, so that coupled with our divorce put my family in a difficult position. First there were no real resources for this kind of thing that I was aware of in the community we lived in at the time.
My ex-wife had asked that I not come out to my children. She was afraid that it would ruin my relationship with them and also she was speaking from the perspective of her faith that I had really gone wayward.
At the time I agreed to her terms, thinking that was the right thing to do. We had no one to talk to about this and in that aloneness , that decision would prove to be the catalyst for some real hurt in the coming years between my children and me.
In hindsight, being honest with our children should have been the course of action. There should be no secrets as big as this one.
My eldest daughters found out on their own about my sexuality eventually and we were able to navigate through the rough waters to maintain our relationship. My youngest eventually found out , but she too was able to maintain a relationship with me.
My son found out when he was 14 from someone else. He also found out in the foulest of ways. It really devastated him. One reason was because his dad who he loved had this secret. Second, it was a secret that was considered so awful in the society where he was living.
His hurt and anger took him on a spiral. We spoke once between that time and age 20. That conversation was mostly his anger and hurt towards me. My son went through a very dark period in which I could not reach him and he refused to hear from me. I thought I lost him for good.
Then something happened. Maybe it was him growing up. He was able to take some counseling and that helped. However, my son came out of his funk and was on to college, his own business and also a marriage to a lovely girl.
At 20 we began to reconcile in baby steps. He still called me JP. It has been a process. I was beginning to see the boy that I always knew in this grown man.
He just turned 23 and he was inspired by a conference he attended back east. One lecture focused on father and son relationships. It gave him the perspective to see me in a whole new light. I had the same enlightenment about my dad also when I was young.
So he was excited to talk to me, and when he finally called, he left a message since I was in a meeting. He started with the word, “Dad.” I saved the message and played it over and over again. Did he slip and just called me that? Then we finally talked.
He addressed me as “Dad” again. He did a few times during our conversation. It was like meeting my son again. We laughed and joked on the phone. We talked about how we loved each other and wanted to have a full relationship. He talked about how much he was like me in business and networking. He loved it. It was such a heart to heart conversation. I had dreamt of this moment for years and it was happening. We felt free and not guarded for the first time in many years with each other.
After the call, I sobbed in happiness.
I will be seeing my son in May when he achieves this distinction in his business and is recognized. He asked me to fly down to Los Angeles to witness it and to also spend time with him.
I know he is now a man. However, in my heart, I see this little boy I thought I lost holding my hand and looking up to me with those big eyes. I can hear him say, “Dad, It’s good to see you. I love you. Let’s go play.”
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