Gay Dad?

16 Jan

Dear LetterBalm: I’m 18 years old and the oldest of three kids. I’m living at home and attending the local college, my two sibs are older and on their own. Last year, I walked in on my father who was on a gay Website. He quickly closed his laptop. This has happened several times since then. He lent me his cell a couple of times, and I found out that he’s gay sexting and receiving photos. Explicit stuff – I don’t think he realized how easy it was for anyone to see it. I’m in a bind. I don’t think my mother knows about this. I haven’t said anything to my dad or my brother and sister. It’s tearing me up inside, and I don’t know what to do or say. I want my dad to be happy, but I don’t want our family destroyed.

–Scared for the Future

There are all sorts of uncertainties playing out here: Your mom may genuinely not know. Or, she may have some idea but be reluctant to challenge your dad. She may know and be waiting until you’re on your own to end the marriage. She also may not want a divorce for financial reasons. As for your dad, he may be bisexual or uncertain even at his age about his sexual orientation. He also may have felt that marriage would be less disruptive in his life and would give him children. And, remember: Your father may be gay but may also love your mother very much. This is a huge burden on your shoulders. (You might consider therapy services at your college.) Ms. L.B. says you must have a private discussion with your dad. Rehearse ahead of time, stay calm, don’t let him downplay his actions, and don’t be judgmental. Remember, you want him to be happy, even if it causes pain in the family:

Dad, I have to talk with you about your gay sexting and your gay website activity. I’ve known about this for a long time, and it’s clear to me that you’re struggling with serious identity issues. Dad, I want you to be happy and live a life that’s true to yourself. But I think you’re being disloyal to Mom. I would never say anything to her or to Ryan or Sadie – you have to do that. This has been a difficult burden for me to bear, and I hope you understand how painful this has been. Not about the possibility that you might be gay, but the knowledge that you aren’t living an honest life. Maybe you and Mom have already come to some kind of arrangement in your marriage, and maybe my sibs have figured things out for themselves. But I need you to talk to me. I love you and I’m old enough to understand.

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