By Frank Lowe
Originally published on Advocate.com February 27 2014 2:38 PM ET
Gay parents come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they are openly gay and decide to raise a child together. Sometimes they are in the closet and in a heterosexual marriage, but gay nonetheless. Sometimes they are newly out of the closet with a heterosexual marriage in the past. I was sent a letter submitted by Katie Rose, a 23-year-old New York University graduate student. She is addressing her grandparents because they have apparently shut out their son, her father, after he came out as gay. It is beautifully written, eloquent, and on-point.
She sent it to me because she was inspired by a tweet I did December 18, saying, “This is from my grandparents so don’t think for a minute that the elderly are automatically against equality,” along with an image of a Christmas card I received from them with a message that read, “It was great to see all of you + have a meal together. Briggs is growing up so fast + he is so mature. I hope I can see him again soon. He is lucky to have 2 Daddys.” Now, of course I heard about the “Daddys” spelling error a million times, but I thought it was adorable and felt it necessary to share.
This is the letter Katie has written to her grandparents:
Dear Grandma and Grandpa,
This past year has been monumental for gay rights in the United States. The Supreme Court declared the “Defense of Marriage Act” unconstitutional, 17 states (including our own) have legalized gay marriage, even the pope has shifted traditional views on gays and their families. I am thrilled at the progress our country is making towards equality, but this past year has been marked with sadness for our own gay family. It has been over a year since I’ve seen you and I feel the weight of such a tremendous loss in my life.
I’ve thought a lot about what I want to say to you. I’ve written this letter a hundred different times in my head. When my dad came out to me two years ago I cried happy tears, I could sense the relief he felt at being able to share his true self with me. When you told my mom that you would no longer speak to him because you felt ashamed to have a gay son I cried again. This time there was no relief in my tears. Eventually, the sadness that I felt at hearing your words dissipated and it left behind a void filled with anger. I’ve spent the past year stewing in those emotions and it has come to boil. However, when I sat down to write to you every word I put to the page that condemned your actions, your words, your religion, and you felt like poison. I realized that while I do not need to accept them, I cannot blame you for your beliefs, they make you who you are. You are my grandparents, everything good and bad that exists in you also exists in my father, and in me. Those terrible things I wanted to say to you and about you could just as easily be directed at me. Here, I have only one thing to say to you: Thank You.
You raised an incredible man. My father is kind with a sharp wit, intelligent and successful, he is our family’s provider and protector, and the bravest man I have ever had the privilege of knowing. Thank you for raising my father. Through his example I have seen true love. I understand the enormous responsibility of parenthood and recognize that does not end when a marriage does. In fact, I’m proud of the way my parents handled their situation. Where others may have succumbed to the bitterness of a dissolving marriage my mom and dad continue to show respect for one another and our family has grown stronger together. Having a gay father has shown me that a family is not defined by a marriage license, no family is illegal.
Throughout my life I watched as my father struggled to accept himself. Although I didn’t always know what he was struggling with, I understood that he did not feel whole. I saw firsthand how quickly a soul can wither if it is trying to live unauthentically.
Your gay son taught me how to stand up for myself, and more importantly, how to stand up to myself. Watching my dad come out was one of the greatest gifts of my life. I got to see the rewards of walking bravely towards the thing you fear most in the world with your head held high. My dad was given a second chance at life when he came out. His new life is beautiful and I want so badly for you to see it. He loves himself. The peace he has found from self-acceptance permeates his words; his smile is bigger, his eyes are brighter, and he's lost a lot of weight too!
I need you to know that I love you. I miss you always. I feel the loss at not having you in my life but I feel an even greater loss that you may not realize what an incredible man you raised. I hope this letter helps you see how proud I am of your son. I have endless gratitude to you for shaping my father into the man he is today.
All my love,
Do you have any experiences with grandparents not accepting your or another relative’s homosexuality? Share with us in the comments section below.
FRANK LOWE is The Advocate’s parenting writer. Follow Frank on Twitter @GayAtHomeDad and on Instagram at gayathomedad.