Dan Pearce, a popular blogger on a site called Single Dad Laughing, holds a special place in the my heart. I would not be writing here if it were not for him. Over a year ago Dan wrote a blog post called "I'm Christian Unless You're Gay." It was a sensible piece with a core observation about Christians who seemed to lose all sense of their Christian principles when it came to their reactions to gay people. I started blogging with friends whom I met in the discussion section of that article, having caught wind of it early on. The piece went viral, but not before I shared in a post how I was a gay dad who appreciated Dan's work, and how I felt about my sons and my orientation. I wrote again about those feelings later in my own blog piece. Dan commented on his Facebook page, calling me a "rock star Dad."
Now Dan is the rock star (not that he ever wasn't one.) On Tuesday, Nov. 27, he publicly came out as bisexual. He is getting lots of support, all good as far as I can see, but I wanted to write him a special note, as well. Here is my letter to Dan, and I think it applies to other parents who come out:
I am very proud of you. Coming out is a very personal thing, and by doing it publicly, you have helped many others, more than you will ever know.
Both my sons were adopted through foster care. Both are 10 years old; they are just four months apart. My younger son stands a good 8 inches taller than his brother and speaks more like a teenager than a 10-year-old. For that reason they have decided that he is the "big brother" and that my other son is the "older brother."
To me, you are the big brother blogger. You have built your brand on your experience, and I have read your guidance and learned from it. I have my own archives on evoL = and The Huffington Post, but compared with you, I am a mere novice. But on the subject of coming out and being a gay dad, I am the older one. So here is my open letter to you, based on decades of traveling the road you are on now.
First, I already knew, not because of what you wrote about but because of what you did not write about, not because of what you reacted to but because of what caused you to react with stress. I knew, as other LGBT people know when we see one of our brothers or sisters trying to make their way. It is a helpless feeling, because the only option is to let the person find things out for themselves. We can't tell them what they are, because they won't believe us, or they will believe us and then close us out, as if we were the issue. Right outside their closet door.
Welcome to the world outside the closet. It is both an exciting and a scary place. It is also the place where you will find true love -- not just the true romantic love but true love from family and friends. When you live in the closet, every time someone says "I love you," you know it is a lie, not because they are being dishonest but because inside you there is a voice that says, "That is all well and good, but they love who they think I am. If only they knew." Well, now they do. We all do. And we really love the real you. As you take that in, your confidence will grow. Your fear of what others will think and your fear of rejection will be replaced with self-worth and an assertive expectation of acceptance. You have every right to that acceptance.
You will find your world dividing, though, and it will not be as you expect. Many people in your world will come to question their preconceived notions about bisexuality thanks to you, the man they know. Many will surprise you and discard their old beliefs and be grateful for the profound education. (You may have to give them some time to do this.) Others, a few, will go the other way. You have to let them. The sad news is that they were never your real friends. The good news is that now you know. Give others in your life bandwidth. Look at your own road to coming out, one in which you had the guidance of your own internal (albeit mixed-up) feelings. They have to travel the same road you did, but without feeling those feelings, which makes it even harder for them to relate. They will need to hear about your feelings and process them. Be patient. They will wear out your patience, trust me, but you owe them that.
Be aware that when you threw open your closet door, many of your family members may have been thrown out of closets of their own. Whom do they tell? Who can they trust? What will people think of them having a bi brother, son, cousin, dad? There is a difference between accepting you and being out of their own closet. For some, your blog may have already forced them out beyond their comfort zone. But they have someone who can gently and non-judgmentally help them through that: you.
The best of your life is ahead of you, because it is now the life you were meant to have as the real you. No one can make you ashamed of it unless you let them. You must not let them.You are carrying precious cargo, that bundle named Noah, and he will be watching. He, like my boys, has a real person developing in him, too. How much self-worth and self-confidence he allows for himself will be guided, in no small part, by the self-worth and self-confidence he sees modeled by his dad. Here is the wish I made for my sons. It is what I wish for you, Dan, and for Noah:Good luck, Dan. We are here for you.
Someday you will fall in love. As we have talked about, there are men who fall in love with women -- quite a lot of them, actually -- and then there are men who fall in love with other men, like Papa and I did. As you develop into the men you are going to be, your instincts will tell you which of these you are. Your instincts may also tell you that you are both. I don't know. Here is the important point, however: I won't care. I only care that you are happy and the best you that you can be. I care that you strive for your dreams, that you are in touch with the spirit of the universe (I call Him God, but what you call him/her/it will be up to you), and that you treat all people well along the way. I won't care about the gender or ethnicity of your future spouse; all I will care about is that you honor and nurture each other and support each other's value as people, and that neither of you lose your identity behind the desires of the other.