A Soldier Comes Out


This video of a soldier in Germany coming out to his father on the morning that the repeal of DADT went into effect is really compelling. Happily, his father doesn’t say anything other than that he loves him, he’s proud of him and it won’t change their relationship. You can see how nervous the young man is about the whole thing.

I think the reason why it always affects me so much to see my gay friends go through this is because it’s just inconceivable to me. It’s something I will never have to go through, and I can’t imagine how painful it must be to think that your family could reject you. I have never and will never have to go through what they go through, but the thought of it is so foreign to me that it seems like a nightmare. I know so many gay people who have lost friends and family over it and it just kills me even think about that kind of cruelty.

I also know some families who handled it perfectly. One of my best friends had an extraordinary experience with it. He came out to his mother first, who had always been more liberal than his father, and he was terrified of telling his dad. His mom suggested that he write it all down in a letter, send it to him and then call him to talk about it. So he did. He wrote about his entire life, when he knew he was gay, how he tried to deny it for so long, how it made him persecute other gay people in order to convince himself that he wasn’t gay, and how scared he was now to be coming out.

When his dad got the letter, he went into a deep funk. He didn’t speak hardly at all for several days to his wife, just kind of moped around the house being depressed. Finally after a few days, his mom said to his dad, “Look, you can’t be this way. He’s our son and we have to love him and be supportive.” And his dad told her, “I’m not upset for the reason you think I am. I don’t care that he’s gay. I couldn’t care less. What bothers me is that he’s struggled with this since he was very young and we weren’t able to make it any better for him. If we had known, we could have made it so much easier on him and he would never have had to be afraid or ashamed. I somehow made him think that he had a reason to be scared to be honest with me and I feel like I’ve failed him.” And his mom said, “Don’t tell me, tell him.” And he did. It still chokes me up to think about it.

Anyway, here’s the video.

Comments

  1. fastlane says

    If only all parents (and all people) could be half that supportive.

    Many kudos to them and their families.

  2. kirk says

    And then members of the audience at last night’s Republican debate have the gall to boo a gay soldier who asked a video question of the jokers running for the Republican nomination. No shame.

  3. anachronistes says

    The youngest of my daughters came out to me a year ago, after I expressed my opinions about the variety of human sexuality and gay marriage. She asked how I felt about gay men, then lesbians – my responses were all positive. Then she asked me, “what if one of your daughters was a lesbian,” to which I answered, “I’d still love her just the same.” She then replied, ” ’cause I’m gay.” I said that’s fine, and I love her, and told her that “what we need is more love in the world, not more hate.” She’s in college and we talk father/daughter about women she likes, her past girlfriends, and how to fend off the attention of men.
    She’s still worried about her mother’s reaction, and hasn’t told her yet. I promised not to say anything until she was comfortable, which is why I’m posting under a pseudonym. After a year of silence, reading this post compelled me to say something.

  4. Aquaria says

    “I’m not upset for the reason you think I am. I don’t care that he’s gay. I couldn’t care less. What bothers me is that he’s struggled with this since he was very young and we weren’t able to make it any better for him. If we had known, we could have made it so much easier on him and he would never have had to be afraid or ashamed. I somehow made him think that he had a reason to be scared to be honest with me and I feel like I’ve failed him.”

    This was exactly my feeling when my son told me he was bisexual. I’d sensed that he might be, from a young age, and tried everything I knew to discuss sexuality with him honestly but without hammering him over the head with things before he was too young to comprehend them. I sort of let him bring up whatever, and talked to him about it when it came up. I’ve always prided myself on being liberal and tolerant, I had gay friends, and even stood up for gay rights against bigots who hated on them in front of them, but my own son felt like he was risking losing my love and support if he told me he was bisexual That he was relieved at my acceptance did, indeed, make me feel like I’d failed him, somehow.

  5. says

    The closest I can come to imagining the feeling is what it’d be like to publicly out myself as an atheist (under my real name), but I’m used to being unpopular. Outing myself to my parents was much easier, since they were very open-minded, and we already had lots of discussions about various issues, including disgust for fundamentalists.

    Of course, if the expectations are more ambiguous, the fear of rejection must be enormous since, with parents, you’re typically dealing with people you’ve known all your life. I’m certainly willing to do my part to try to make it easier for future generations, and speak out against homosexual discrimination whenever I see it.

  6. Nentuaby says

    @Aquaria:

    Sadly, to some extent it’s not even in a parent’s hands. The entire culture works to send these messages. There is nothing about my parents– nothing they’ve ever said, done, or been– that would have suggested to me that they would be less than 100% supportive. Nonetheless, I was irrationally petrified about coming out just because the giant emotional shitstorm is the dominant cultural narrative about the process.

  7. happiestsadist says

    Aquaria: Your experience sounds a lot like what my parents felt when I finally, nervously said what we all knew, but I had never gotten around to announcing. I do think it’s more a failure of society rather than one of parents like you.

    That said, I’m scared as hell to tell my mother about the genderqueer thing, though Dad reacted really well after some initial confusion and 101 educating. Likely for the same reasons as Nentuaby cites, as even “good” coming-outs are nerve-wracking. Also, I hate making announcements about myself in general.

  8. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    I’m pretty anti-military as its currently constructed and used. I’m pro-self defense, but much of what we do isn’t self defense. So I can’t imagine putting myself in a situation where I’m ethically bound to follow an order that I can’t ethically follow. But repealling DADT is nonetheless something I support. I’m happy for this servicemember, even if I don’t trust that the worst is over in the coming out process.

    My family is polite, even kind. They’re conservative economically, but liberal socially. I expected some pushback when I came out, but I was one of the lucky ones. As nervous as I was, I didn’t really have to fear the kinds of things that people from hysterically anti-queer families do.

    So, I told my parents & my mom was good, my stepdad was quiet about it, but never stopped loving me. And my Dad – stopped calling.

    He didn’t rant. He didn’t foam at the mouth. He thought I was acting out to get attention and that I was being rather juvenile, but he was apply to wait until I came to my senses. & I, not seeing foaming at the mouth, was sure that with all the social change, that he would be the one to come to his senses.

    I called him faithfully 4 times a year – father’s day, his birthday, etc. That lasted about 8 years, til we were both at my sister’s wedding & he seriously avoided me. I cornered him to say hello at the reception – politely I did it when a neutral third party was there, to ease things, but you could say that I cornered him, I certainly invited myself into his conversation – and he fled in less than 1 minute having looked me in the eyes not once.

    Then I called less often, but I still called. Then queer marriage started becoming legal & I invited him to my wedding. He sent a note that lied about why he wasn’t coming, I’m sure he thought he was being polite, but I value honesty.

    And so I haven’t called hiim since.

    It’s been 17 years since he called me. It’s been forever since we had lunch together and I came out to him.

    And he’d rather lose his child than respect my coming out.

    Mine isn’t the horror story of being thrown out at 15, but because I had no reason to think that I was losing my father forever, and because there has never been resolution of the “I disown you” variety, it has been this lingering source of pain for going on 2 decades.

    I respect that you say you can’t know what we go through. Sometimes, *I* dion’t even know what I’m going through. He’s in his mid-60s now. Will I see him again before one of us dies? I don’t know. Does he love me? Not *ME*, but does he even still love the child he once knew, or has all the affection we once shared passed too far into the past for him to even recall?

    I don’t know.

    And worse, it’s likely I’ll never know.

  9. fastlane says

    Crip dyke (love the name!): I’m sorry to hear your story, but fear it may still be about as common as the good stories.

    Let’s hope that over the years, the balance changes. And maybe someday your dad will come to his senses.

  10. donkensler says

    I had to cry when I saw this video, because I was never able to bring myself to have this conversation with my dad. I’m sure at some point he figured things out (I was 34 when he died, and had never shown any signs of having a hetero love life), but we lived our own version of DADT – just don’t say the word gay and everything will stay the same. I still feel bad that I never felt able to get it out into the open.

Leave a Reply