To this day, I'm still not sure that I ever actually came out to my dad.
During the Election of 2008, I was in my freshman year of high school. I wasn't old enough to vote yet, but I was certainly old enough to care. I knew the results of that election - and every election before, and every election to follow - would impact the future of the country, and by extension, my own future. I knew what kind of world I wanted to live in, and was frustrated that I could do little, politically speaking, to influence it.
At the time, I was a proud Democrat. My mind had not yet been expanded beyond my country's strict two-party system. Looking back now, I'm appalled that I didn't care more to research the Democrat candidates' histories, policies, and beliefs. But at the time, I was just excited about the prospect of the country's voters electing one of two huge firsts: America's first Black president, or her first woman president. I wouldn't even entertain the notion that a Republican could be elected. That year, and each election year that followed, the Republican party was running on a platform that included oppressive and marginalizing policies against the LGBTQ+ community. I assumed, naively, that as a country, we had evolved beyond such antiquated beliefs.
Then, I started looking into the state ballot, and I realized how wrong I was. California, a state widely regarded as the country's most liberal, had introduced Proposition 8. Known also as the California Marriage Protection Act, Prop 8 proposed that only a marriage between a man and a woman should be recognized as valid in the state of California.
I consider the day I learned about Proposition 8 to be something of an awakening for me. It awakened the activist in me; it lit a fire within me, and if you were to look at a physical timeline of my life, you can trace the beginning of my transformation into the angry feminist your racist uncle warned you about back to this moment. But it was also then that I started to seriously consider for the first time that I maybe wasn't totally, completely, all the way straight. I remember thinking about girls - platonically, romantically, and yes, even sexually - as far back as the 5th grade. But I had never before entertained the idea that I might identify as something other than heterosexual.
As Election Day came closer, I remember having a conversation with my dad about Prop 8. Something had come up on the news about it, and he had said something to the effect of, "I'm sick of hearing them complain all the time. I'm voting yes out of spite." With tears in my eyes, I begged him not to. I asked him to put himself in their shoes, to ask himself how he would feel if someone had denied him the right to marry the woman he loved based on something he couldn't control - the color of his eyes, his height, the place he was born. Because I couldn't vote myself, I implored him to consider the kind of world he wanted to leave behind for me - one where I, or my sisters, or anyone, could marry the love of their life, no matter what gender that person may be? Or one where innocent, loving people could be denied the same rights and freedoms that he had always enjoyed and taken for granted, freedoms that he would never have to fight for or defend - the simple freedom of being able to marry the person you love, and have that marriage be recognized?
He seemed almost taken aback by my fervor, and I think there was a part of him that must of known the true reason why I felt so strongly about it. He promised me he would vote no. I guess I'll never really know how he actually voted - it's not like I stood over his shoulder and watched him fill in his ballot - but I like to think he kept his promise, and I like to think he's voted on the side of LGBTQ+ rights ever since. At the very least, he's had the good manners to keep his less-than-kind opinions about gay people to himself.
As I got older, I got more comfortable in my sexuality, and I became more open with it. All of my friends knew, and when meeting new people, it wasn't something I lead with, but it was never something I hid either. I came across the word pansexual, and I adopted that as my personal identity - the capacity to be attracted to and love any person of any gender, binary or otherwise.
My sisters knew. My brother-in-law knew, and he must have passed it on to my mother. I'll never forget the day we were hauling our luggage through the airport, en route to Seattle, my mom and myself trailing a few feet behind my two sisters, and my mother turned to me and asked, "So, what does pansexual mean?" My heart nearly stopped, but I explained it with all the awkwardness of a parent explaining the birds and the bees. She listened respectfully, nodded her head, and said, "We probably shouldn't tell your dad."
To this day, I'm still not sure that I ever actually came out to my dad. But I'm fairly certain he knows. And I like to think he's accepted it.
Legacy post -- no takeaway provided.
Legacy post -- no time machine provided.
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