Because I grew up in South Central and went to a public school, people assume that I was harassed for having a gay father. However, I never had a friend tell me that they couldn't hang out with me because my father is gay, and I am extremely lucky for that. Fortunately for me, the Los Angeles I grew up in was accepting.
I have never been ashamed of my father. Ever since he came out to me when I was 7, I've always told my friends that he is gay. Back then, people assumed that gay people have a "look," so I would test my friends by asking them, "Hey, does my dad look gay to you?" Once I told them that he is gay, my friends would just look at me and say, "No way! That's cool!" The only serious question (well, serious to them, and funny to me) came when, with a puzzled look, they asked me, "Wait, so how were you born if dads can't give birth?" I had to explain that, among other things, he isn't my biological father but raised me, and that I see him as my real dad. After that my friends would meet him, and my father, being the loving and silly old man he is, would hang out with them and then go meet their parents.
In my father's time, being gay could have gotten him killed or disowned by his family. But because my dad was the oldest of his siblings, the patriarch, his family respected and supported him. He raised me to value compassion and understanding. I never judged anyone for their looks, gender, race, or sexuality. My father was and still is my teacher, always fighting for human rights and equality.
I don't think of him as a "gay dad." I see him as the man who was strong enough to overcome many obstacles, including addiction, so that he could take care of his brothers and sisters, a man loving enough to raise me as his own even though he is only my guardian by law.
Maybe I could have been raised to hate myself or my dad for being gay, but at the age of 7, I learned from him that there is nothing wrong with "boys liking boys," so he changed my life forever. Some people believe that if a gay person raises a child, the child will end up gay too. My dad once told me, "Never let your sexuality define who you are. Make your own story." I'm definitely an ally, but I'm not queer.
If you were raised to hate, you can also be changed to love. I'm grateful to have friends, neighbors, and family who understand that love knows no boundaries, that love is simply love.
So what was it like growing up with a dad like mine? I guess you can say it was awesome. Oh, and did I mention that he is gay? Not that it matters, but I think it's cool.
This post has been translated from the original Spanish.