Since this is June, you're probably expecting to read another "gay pride" column. Maybe in your own way you will.
But in addition to being the month of gay pride, June is also the month we celebrate Father's Day. And if there is anyone who quietly displays his own brand of gay pride every day, it's my dad.
First you need a little background on my family tree, which could be most closely compared to the gnarled old tree torn apart by a tornado. At 3 months old, I was adopted. At 5 years old, my parents divorced and soon remarried. At that point, my relationship with my adoptive father began to fall apart. To this day, I'm not close with him, his wife or their daughter. Honestly, I haven't spoken to him for more than a few minutes in nearly 10 years.
When my mother, who would pass away in 1990, remarried, she introduced me to the man I would from that point on call my father. He brought two daughters from a previous marriage to our family. He and my mother had two children. And since losing my mother, he's remarried twice, bringing two more stepmothers and four more children to our family. Believe me, even I have a hard time keeping track of everyone.
In the gay community, you hear talk about people's chosen families — a concept I understand too well. I often have a hard time pinpointing exactly why, but somehow over the years my dad and I developed a bond that despite the lack of blood or legal ties binds us together to this day. It's almost as if, despite the lack of the usual familial obligations to each other, we were able to truly choose each other.
Don't get me wrong: My dad and I have our differences. Growing up, we tangled regularly. His expectations were always high. And though he rarely made time to offer support in attaining them, he was always there to step in and enforce the consequences when my performance fell short.
I used to get so frustrated with him. I often still do. He never really understood why I wasn't interested in spending all my weekends working on his beloved "projects" in the yard or the garage. His refusal to allow his children to "act their age" and enjoy time with my friends still is a sore point with me as I watch my younger siblings live through the same experiences.
"It's all downhill from here," my father told me shortly after my high school graduation. While many of my friends headed off for relaxing summer vacations before their college freshman years, my father insisted I work two jobs all summer long to learn the value of the almighty dollar.
With that kind of history between us, I definitely had my reservations when the time came to tell him that I'm gay. Making the transition from three-button to two-button suit jackets was a huge departure for my father — I couldn't imagine how he would react to my news. And I can honestly say that I was prepared for him to pretty much me write me off once he found me out.
So on that evening, nearly 10 years ago, when I sat in the library of my parents' house and told them my big news, my dad and I hit a turning point. The conversation lasted about 10 minutes, after which he promptly told me I needed to start bringing my new boyfriend over to the house.
I don't know if he felt special because I trusted him enough to tell him face to face. Or if maybe he's more liberal than he likes to admit. I don't really care. All I do know is that, despite our differences, he's been there for me every time I really needed him.
Now will my dad ever carry a rainbow flag and join me for a gay pride parade, or would he travel with me to Washington, D.C. to march on the nation's capital? Who knows? I've never asked.
But in his own way, my dad shows me and the world that he's very proud of his gay son. And that's enough gay pride for me.