My dad is my hero. And he should be yours too.

18 Oct

I am very proud to have the father I have.

I have known several LGBT people who have had issues with one or both of their parents, and other family members because of their sexual orientation.  Some have been disowned, abused, made to attend therapy, or otherwise ostracized by their own parents because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, or otherwise “different” from what their parents “wanted them to be.”

My parents have both been incredibly supportive of my sexuality — up to and including (eventually) supporting my decision to move 750 miles away for a guy I met on the Internet and loving my partner of five years and including him as a member of our small, close-knit family.

So I suppose incidents like the one I found out about today shouldn’t surprise me all that much… but I was taken aback and left in tears when my mom gave me the details.

My dad is politically and fiscally conservative, and works among many other conservatives in his position as a senior executive of an accounting firm in Michigan.  However, like I mentioned before, he’s been incredibly supportive of my journey of discovering and embracing my sexuality from the time I came out to him (actually right around seven years ago this month).  My dad’s open-mindedness has served him well as a diversity advisor for his firm and the chair of the diversity committee for the Detroit chapter of a large service organization for financial executives

The firm he works for regularly gets listed among Fortune‘s Top 100 Companies to Work For, and as part of that process, staffers from the magazine visit with partners of the firm and share specific feedback that was either highlights or lowlights of the survey results.

One of the more troubling pieces of feedback received in this year’s survey was that a staff member wrote that he had witnessed acts of homophobia among the firm’s employees.  Nothing directed at him but things like “that shirt looks gay” or “that’s gay,” things that we as LGBT people hear more regularly than we’d care to mention.

My dad took this feedback to heart, and when attending a dinner meeting with other firm partners earlier tonight, he addressed the issue, telling the group (of mostly conservative accountants, mind you) that he has a gay son and that hearing that such remarks were occurring in their firm was offensive and unacceptable to him.  Come to find out, most everyone at the table had a gay relative or friend, and it became a major conversation piece for the balance of the evening for the assembled bean-counters.

I point to this one specific incident, but that’s just one of many that my mom has shared with me in recent years, where my dad has stood up, to people he knows well and people he’s just met that ask about his son, that his son is gay and has a wonderful, loving partner.

Knowing some of the sadder stories that come from gay people worldwide, I cannot stress enough how lucky I feel to have the father I do.  As much as people in the LGBT community hope we can blow our horns, write our letters, and inspire change in how the world views members of our community, it is people like my dad — parents, friends and allies — who will help people see our equality and help us find our equal place among the straight, white accountants of the world where we are just us, Americans like everybody else, not the “community” that we are forced by political, religious and social circumstances to envelope ourselves in.

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3 Responses to “My dad is my hero. And he should be yours too.”

  1. serenityluv1 October 18, 2011 at 5:33 am #

    People are so cold and judgemental when it comes to others. I have a family member right now who has shut the family out because of indirect post made on Facebook regarding LGBT! I’m so upset and don’t know how to get this “family member” to learn to not shut everyone out. I have never judged them. I get highly upset when people does ignorant things such as name calling, and criticizing. Its mean and hurtful!
    Anyway~I’m happy to hear you have your parents!

  2. Brandon October 18, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

    You have such as awesome and understanding father. I guess you are one of the luckier ones because we both know some LGBT children could be disowned by their parents when revealed. I wish people would be more understanding to LGBT people/children.

  3. Clare Flourish October 19, 2011 at 2:50 am #

    I am glad that your father behaves like this, and a little saddened that it requires bravery. As you say, most people have gay relatives or friends. In Britain, I am glad to say that this would not be particularly remarkable, that we have moved on a great deal in the last ten years and homophobia is a shameful vice. Gay people are, and are seen as, normal.

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