Today I got up, usual time. Brewed the coffee while I showered and shaved. I sat at my computer with my coffee and a towel wrapped around me and opened my emails. The first one was from my Dad...we email each other regularly, so I didn’t think much of it until I opened it and within the first two lines were the words....”son, I know that you are gay”.
The hair on my neck stood up, I think I missed about three breaths, and terror struck me. Not much in life has really shaken me. Getting through the crucible in basic training, serving three tours in Iraq certainly put me in harms way many times...but nothing scarred me more than reading those words.
I was the super son.... played rugby, was accepted to college at 16, finished college in 3 years, cum laude, joined the Marine Corps and after my initial stint was accepted into the expeditionary forces and later the first group accepted into Marine Corps Special Operations. I Found myself in harms way more times than I care to remember and have been recognized several times with bits of metal that I wear proudly.
I’m not saying these things to brag, but rather to paint the picture.
I’m a tough Marine. I’m the poster boy for all that is straight in this world. My look, my actions, the way I walk, talk, and carry myself. The woman I have dated through the years would have no idea of who I really am. Pretending to be straight came pretty easy.
My family knew of the demands placed on me by the Corps. They knew that it pretty much prevented any serious committed relationships in my life. So not having a girlfriend was explained away easily.
I never had any relations with other men until I was 22 years old. Living in the super macho world of the Marine Corps I came to discover myself slowly. I was good at “living” the image and considering I worked in a “Don’t Ask, Don’t tell world”, I needed to keep things secret if I wanted to stay in the Corps. I Never needed to concern myself with any relationships, I was never in one place long enough to develop one. I hid behind the Marine Corps in many ways.
After getting more involved in Second Life and specifically Second Pride, I have used our virtual world as my debut to “coming out”. I was free in SL to be who I wanted, do what I needed,and develop real friends here, both straight and gay and became a part of a gay community for the first time in my life. In Other Words, SL has been my testing ground. It was also where I hid.
Upon reentering the States ( I was out of the US for three straight years) and living in a normal city, with a normal nightlife I did explore the gay scene...around the edges. Now, with the repeal of DADT, I feel freer to express myself and don’t have the fear hanging over me that I’d be “found out”. I told one of my brothers that I was gay, he was surprised, but smiled and said it sorta made sense when he thought about it. Little things sort of came together. He gave me a hug and pretty much said...”no big deal”.
I knew that someday I would have to share it all with my father. I wanted to be able to tell him and not dance around the edges and feel like I was hiding. To my Dad, I am the hero Marine son. He’s so damn proud of me and my accomplishments, I guess I was afraid to “burst his bubble”. I think my fear was more from disappointing him than in any thing else. I knew he loved me, but hell, mothers love their sons that are on death row, I didn’t want to hurt him. Or maybe somewhere deep inside me was a little boy wanting to “do good” and not dissapoint Dad.
I’ll share will you parts of the letter that he sent me. And you too might come to know the greatest man I have ever met....my Dad.
Your brother and I had a conversation earlier tonight. I have to share with you what we talked about and reaffirm to you , in the strongest way I can, that I have loved you in past, I love you now, and I will love you till they throw me in the ground. I know that you are gay. Your brother, and you better know how much he looks up to you, shared with me the concerns you had about telling me about your being gay. About me being disappointed or that it would hurt me. Truthfully, I am a little hurt. I’m not hurt because of who you are, but more so, because you doubted me and my ability to rise above this. Truth of the matter is, I have several times thought that you might be gay, but never really cared one way or the other, except for concern about your health, career and that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell crap.
Son, you have made me proud in so many ways. Your schooling and the PhD you earned, the several times I was privileged to be with you when you were decorated, are proud moments in my life. The way you and your brothers helped me put our lives back together after your mother died. (That’s one thing we both can be dissapointed about, she would have loved to see you in Washington that day, get that medal and be promoted). You have done more than most parents deserve to bring honor and respect to our family. Your brothers and I all respect and admire you more than you will ever know. Your cousins, nieces and nephews idolize you. And we all love and support you in ANY life you choose. You do need to know that I would love you in whatever path you choose in life, you are my son.
I could have waited to talk about this until we met in person, but I wasn’t going to sit on this thing until then. Your sex life is your business. I just want you to find the happiness in your life that I have been blessed with by knowing you and calling you my son. I love you .
After reading his email several times, wiping the tears from my face, I finally relaxed a bit and thought it all through. I felt like a great heavy weight had been lifted from my chest.
I realized that i was the lucky one. I was the blessed son of a father that has character, integrity, and unconditional love. I am looking at him, once again, through the eyes of a young boy who is awed by his father.
I’ve got the bestest Dad in the world!!!