A man who disowns his gay son has no right to call himself a father

In case you haven’t yet seen it, a fellow named James who goes by RegBarc on Reddit posted a copy of a five-year-old letter from his father yesterday. A week after he came out to his father over the phone, he found out through the mail that his father had chosen to disown him.

“This is how hate sounds,” according to James:

“This is a difficult but necessary letter to write. I hope your telephone call was not to receive my blessing for the degrading of your lifestyle. I have fond memories of our times together, but that is all in the past. Don’t expect any further conversations with me. No communications at all. I will not come to visit, nor do I want you in my house. You’ve made your choice though wrong it may be. God did not intend for this unnatural lifestyle. If you choose not to attend my funeral, my friends and family will understand. Have a good birthday and good life. No present exchanges will be accepted. Goodbye, Dad.”

I first found out about this letter through Dan Savage, the celebrated sex columnist who founded the It Gets Better Project with his husband, Terry Miller. I follow Savage on Twitter, where he said “Dear James, It was your father’s loss. Entirely.”

Thankfully, it looks like James has moved on:

“It’s important to know just what this zealotry from Bryan Fisher [sic], Maggie Gallagher, Dan Cathy, et al., does to everyday people. I’ve never done drugs, was an excellent student, an obedient child (far less trouble than many of my classmates), didn’t drink until I was 22 because it terrified me, and have had just 1 speeding ticket in my life. Yet I am still seemingly deserving of this terrible act of hate and cowardice that one person can place on another. 5 years on and I am still doing fine, though this letter saunters into my mind every once in a while. When it does, I say without hesitation: Fuck you, Dad.”

And you know what? Fair enough. Go ahead, James.

Listen, I’m no expert on fatherhood. I’m new to it, and I’m still getting the hang of it. At six months, the closest thing my daughter has to a life partner or a love interest is a stuffed bunny. Well, two identical stuffed bunnies, in case we happen to lose one, but she doesn’t know that, and that’s beside the point.

The point is, I don’t know what sort of life she’s going to lead, and at this point in my relatively young life, I don’t even know how I’m going to react to all aspects of it. I like to think I’ll be perfectly understanding of her lifestyle and her choices – bearing in mind, of course, that homosexuality is definitively a matter of the former and not the latter – and I like to think I’ll give her all the love and support she needs. But at this point in our relationship, that’s nothing more than a promise I have yet to fulfill.

But you know what I do know for sure? You know what anyone willing to call themselves a parent ought to know for sure? I will never abandon my daughter because her identity doesn’t conform to some prejudiced, ignorant, obsolete sense of who she ought to be. And it’s not like I’m asking for a medal in exchange for that pledge, because frankly, that’s the bare minimum. If you can’t do that, then you shouldn’t have kids.

James undoubtedly went through some tough times, and his father undoubtedly made them much tougher. But ultimately, his father is the loser. He lost his own son for the sake of his pathetic, simple-minded bigotry, and the moment he made that decision, he lost the right to sign his reprehensible letter “Dad.”

Congratulations and much love to the many, many parents out there who love and support their children, and who accept them for who they are. As for the rest… Well, I’m pretty sure James already covered it.

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5 Responses to “A man who disowns his gay son has no right to call himself a father”

  1. Polly says:

    Well written. I only have a year of parenthood on you, but I too fervently hope that I can be exactly the kind of parent that James’ father is not.

    So far, the love of my daughter’s life is a stuffed lamb. We actually have three identical ones, and if you’re going to send your daughter to daycare in the future, I highly recommend getting a third (and washing it several times so that it matches the first two) so that you can leave it at daycare.

  2. Matt says:

    You know, that’s actually a pretty brilliant idea. Thanks, Polly!

  3. Peter Lynn says:

    You know how I hate to say nice things to or about you, Matt, but this was a great post.

  4. Matt says:

    Ha! Thanks, man. It if helps you to believe that I only wrote it to spite you, then do feel free.