Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Monday, August 13, 2012

"Francophile" Takes On His Father

My Dad Was Going to Vote for Romney,
Until I Wrote Him This Letter

This letter from a gay son to his Romney-supporting father was posted by Francophile on Reddit. Feel free to plagiarize with wild abandon to take a similar action. I have added the generic photo, edited the letter for length and corrected several glaring grammatical errors:


Since coming out to you and mom nineteen years ago, I’ve watched you vote for the Republican candidates in every major race. I’ve held my tongue, despite the hurt and anger that came from watching you vote for a party that has made a sport out of demonizing gay and lesbian people, like me, for political gain.

Now, for the first time in our nation’s history, a U.S. President and his party have publicly stated that gays and lesbians are equal citizens and should be protected as such under the law. I know you’re aware that Obama believes gays and lesbians, like me, should have the rights and responsibilities of marriage, and that the 2012 Democratic Party Platform will include marriage equality as one of its tenets. You will never know what it is to be gay in this world at this moment, but I’d bet at some point in your life you’ve known how it felt to have your essential worth validated by someone with authority. I can’t overstate the power of having my president and his party say to me, and the nation, that I am not less than, but equal to every other citizen, and to validate my inherent right to pursue my life with liberty and unimpeded happiness. Never before has this happened. So, never before have I made the argument that you should vote for a Democrat. But today’s a new day.

Four months ago, I sat at my younger brother’s wedding and watched you well up, speaking publicly with pride for the man he’s become and the woman he chose. His life, though certain to have unexpected turns ahead, has a clear path, one available to him simply because of his sexual orientation at birth. Mine has never been so clear. Oftentimes, being gay feels like being a salmon swimming upstream. Our relationships aren’t supported by tradition or institution. Too often role models we could have remain closeted, as openness invites derision. Further, the pressures in carving out a life with another person can often be too much to bear, because of the ever-present fear, instilled in us from our earliest memories, that we’re different and unlovable and/or bad.

Yet the resiliency of my community, in the face of such misunderstanding and hate, is astonishing and inspiring. They’ve taught me to think twice before underestimating the will of the human spirit in its slow march toward progress, whatever the circumstances.

I’m almost forty. Both of my younger brothers are married, enjoying all the rights and responsibilities of that government-issued status. Do you want that for me? Do you believe I should have someone beside me on my life’s journey, legally recognized as my spouse, able to visit me in the hospital, able to make my end-of-life decisions, with whom I’m able to build a financially interdependent life? I have to believe you do. I have to believe you’re too good a man not to.

But – if, like the candidate you’re supporting, you believe marriage should be only between one man and one woman, I feel sorry for us both: you, because it means you’re on the wrong side of history and your own son’s happiness – and me, because it means my father believes I’m “less than.”

In any other election, given any other choice, I’d stay quiet. If you, and others like you, wanted to believe the worst about Obama – a good man, trying to do good work – and vote against your own interests (Romney’s tax and Medicare plans won’t help you), I’d shake my head in wonder and watch you do it anyway. But this isn’t any other election. This election presents a clear choice between two people whose policy beliefs directly affect the course of my life. Let me be clear: A vote for Mitt Romney is a vote against me. There is no argument to counter that fact.

You might want to argue that you’re not a single-issue voter, but when the single-issue is your own son’s equality under the law, I wouldn’t recommend that argument. You might want to argue that, because you live in New York State, your vote won’t ultimately matter since Obama will carry the state anyway. You’re correct. He will. In that way, I suppose, your vote won’t matter. But it matters to me. You might want to argue just because you don’t like the idea of your son telling you what you ought to do. But, whatever else, you know I’m a good man. It’s been said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing;” and I’m a good man who’s never been good at taking action.

Can I change your mind? I hope so. I’m sure Mom would tell me it’s a lost cause, and maybe she’s right. But that would be sad. Because it might be nice one day to have my father stand up at my own wedding, realizing he helped make it happen.

Your Son

UPDATE: The father’s reply, in part: "I will honor your request because you are my son, and I love you. I do support the Democratic position on gay marriage. I hope this is a position that they really stand for and not just a political statement for votes."

Note from your blogger: My own father is deceased, but I remember having a conversation with my mother four years ago after she had returned from wintering in a bigoted southern state. I was able to turn her head, and she changed her vote to support Obama in 2008. All of us need to take part in this. Send this letter to your friends and urge them to do the same.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post and I recycled it to my own blog. IMHO, most people are single-issue voters in one way or another, including yours truly.

    My particular single issue is affordable medical care; not for the 1% who have no problem paying for it themselves, but for the other 99% of us who cannot.

    I am very fortunate to live in a state that recognizes Gay marriage and this is a God-send as long as either my partner or I keep working for our current employers. As we both fast approach retirement age, I shudder to think about how we are going to be able to pay for our medical care.