This video of a soldier in Germany coming out to his father on the morning that the repeal of DADT went into effect is really compelling. Happily, his father doesn’t say anything other than that he loves him, he’s proud of him and it won’t change their relationship. You can see how nervous the young man is about the whole thing.
I think the reason why it always affects me so much to see my gay friends go through this is because it’s just inconceivable to me. It’s something I will never have to go through, and I can’t imagine how painful it must be to think that your family could reject you. I have never and will never have to go through what they go through, but the thought of it is so foreign to me that it seems like a nightmare. I know so many gay people who have lost friends and family over it and it just kills me even think about that kind of cruelty.
I also know some families who handled it perfectly. One of my best friends had an extraordinary experience with it. He came out to his mother first, who had always been more liberal than his father, and he was terrified of telling his dad. His mom suggested that he write it all down in a letter, send it to him and then call him to talk about it. So he did. He wrote about his entire life, when he knew he was gay, how he tried to deny it for so long, how it made him persecute other gay people in order to convince himself that he wasn’t gay, and how scared he was now to be coming out.
When his dad got the letter, he went into a deep funk. He didn’t speak hardly at all for several days to his wife, just kind of moped around the house being depressed. Finally after a few days, his mom said to his dad, “Look, you can’t be this way. He’s our son and we have to love him and be supportive.” And his dad told her, “I’m not upset for the reason you think I am. I don’t care that he’s gay. I couldn’t care less. What bothers me is that he’s struggled with this since he was very young and we weren’t able to make it any better for him. If we had known, we could have made it so much easier on him and he would never have had to be afraid or ashamed. I somehow made him think that he had a reason to be scared to be honest with me and I feel like I’ve failed him.” And his mom said, “Don’t tell me, tell him.” And he did. It still chokes me up to think about it.
Anyway, here’s the video.