The sound of the doorbell was followed by echoing thumps of a basketball on the wooden floor of our front porch. I put my hand up as a visor against the glaring afternoon sun and recognized Louis, my 8-year-old son Harry's friend from across the street.
On Valentines Day, I married my mate of 26 years. As I looked around and saw the love being given and received, reflected in every face, it was a moment made more poignant by the absence of one face in particular. My only brother had chosen to boycott the event.
I wanted him to know that the fashion door would open for him; that as boys got older they gained the freedom to wear whatever they wanted. I needed him to know there were men who had defied the notion of sameness and boredom with what they wore. Harry hung on every word.
Our movie is a romantic comedy with a hero and a hero. Boy meets boy, boy loses boy, boy wins boy. After over a decade of witnessing sanctioned hatred aimed at my son, I wasn't yet convinced that organized religion and LGBT rights could happily coexist.
My mom and dad did something that few people ever do: They walked their talk. They cut ties with their longtime church because they realized that their gay grandson wasn't welcome there. And they set out to find a truly open and affirming church. I knew how hard this was for them.
My son Jason was 18 years old, and we were a mess, both crying and laughing as we sat in my office. I'd just written the dedication to my soon-to-be-published book Hot Target, in which I introduced and capital-O-outed Jason to my hundreds of thousands of readers around the world.
The subtext -- the wondrous, beautiful subtext -- in that one small sentence can fill pages. The main message is: "Mom, I know who I am, and because I know who I am, I won't spend my life crashing around in despair, hurting myself and others, trying to be something that I can never be."
I always assumed the years of hiding my truth from my dad didn't matter, that once I came out to him we'd have all the time in the world to reconcile our opposing viewpoints. Instead, closure was another thing we didn't get to share.
A friend texted me back in May, "Maybe I should send the [Jason Collins] article to [my fiancée's] dad. He is sickened by us getting married. Yes, he said that." I wish I could call a do-over for her. I wish I could rewrite his words. If I could, they would look something like this.
We told our son that he had to choose between Jesus and his sexuality. Choosing God, practically, meant living a lifetime condemned to being alone. So, just before his 18th birthday, Ryan, depressed, suicidal and disillusioned, made a new choice.
"I just wanted you to know that my son's dry cleaning will include an occasional beaded dress or sequined tube top," I explained. "He's a performer, and those items are definitely his, not a girlfriend's."
I don't know if I could ever raise a family of my own someday that is as loving, caring and encouraging as the family I have right now, but I at least want the freedom to try, and with the examples and support of my parents, my grandma and my sister I think it's a possibility.
When my dad left to pick up some dinner, my mom, whom I've been out to for almost two years, said, "Your father saw your Facebook status when I left my Facebook up. The cat's out of the bag." You see, I hadn't told him.
With politicians there is a lot talk of "acceptance" and "tolerance" when it comes to homosexuality. I accept the fact that I have to pay taxes. I tolerate the fact that I have to go to the dentist. Why should either of those words apply to how a parent feels about their child?
Over the holidays I gifted my Muslim relatives with the truth: I'm gay, I'm married, I'm happy. It landed in 28 inboxes three weeks ago and has received a grand total of zero replies. I can only assume that they're too busy celebrating.
At first I'd thought my mom died on my birthday to bring my father and me together. Since then I've realized that her gift was an opportunity to finally find the fortitude and the wisdom to do what she never could. So I left him behind. And that's where he remains: behind me.
I'm not asking for anything. I'm not asking for you to change your political affiliation, or become card-carrying members of PFLAG. I'm not asking you to change the way you act around me, or what you say, or how you feel. All I want, all I ever wanted, is for you to know how I feel.
We wanted to create an easy way for the LGBTQ community and their parents, family and friends to express their unconditional love for one another. By doing so, we've built a concrete reminder that there's a lot of love in people's hearts just waiting to be shared.