Look at the kid in this picture sitting on his (step) dad's shoulder. Look at the happy father, proudly holding his boy, while on leave from the war in Afghanistan. The woman behind
the camera created the kid. She loves this picture because the father took on the role of daddy to a kid who wasn't his. The kid accepted him as his father even though he knew and loved his birth father as well. This is me and my son, Trae.
This picture was taken around April of 2011, over ten years ago as I write this now. At that time I never would have imagined that my son, now 20 years old and way too big to be put on my shoulder, would teach me one of the deepest lessons in disappointment and yet, here I am writing about it. As a father (or parent) it is a hard pill to swallow when your kid brings you to the point of being disappointed. Before this point I had only imagined what other parents went through when their kid(s) showed them (the parents) something that would be very disappointing to them. That is what "other" parents dealt with because my "pride" who's sitting on my shoulder would never bring me to the table and feed me the sourness of disappointment. This makes me think of what it means to be a father. Let me explain before I get into the disappointment.
As my son grew up, I taught him everything I knew about being a man. I taught him the things my father taught me and the things I learned from those who I considered "good men." I shared with him the stories of strength, resolve, and honor. I taught him the value of his word and forced him, at times, to stay with something because he gave his word to a team or group or whatever he had decided he had to be a part of at the time. My son was not going to quit because that isn't what men do. I taught him boys don't cry but that it was okay to cry if he had a reason. In short, we do cry but for a valid reason which none included crying over something stupid he may have done. I taught him to love strongly and to honor and respect the women in his life especially his mother. One of things I didn't do was force him to live the life or chase the dreams that I failed to attain at his age (whichever age that may have been). He never had to play the sport I loved or join the military that I, his bio father, his step-mother, and all of his grandfathers served in. I taught him that he must live his life because it is, well, his. Now I must say I am using the "I" in this because it is about me, but it was definitely a joint effort with his mom to raise him. His mom and I see things slightly different when raising him. I taught him that, "men don't live with their parents and call themselves men UNLESS he was taking care of his parents!" His mom, while wanting him to spread his wings, also, in my opinion, saw him
like this picture. Never to grow up, locked in the cage of life with the puppies to forever be her little boy. In fairness to my wife, she has never been a helicopter mom or one who tried to keep our son under her (our) thumb. This part is more the generic version of moms and their babies. But this isn't about her; it is about me, the father, and him, the son. So let me carry on with why we are here.
In 2018, my son graduated high school and was headed off to college. I wasn't disappointed. At his graduation I stood with his biological father as two proud dads whose son was
moving into manhood. Neither of us were disappointed. When he went off to college with eyes set on being a doctor, I wasn't disappointed. When he changed his major, I wasn't disappointed. When he changed it again, I wasn't disappointed. When he changed it, hell, I'm not even sure what it is now, but still I am not disappointed. When he chose to move off campus with friends against our advice, I wasn't disappointed. When he moved back in the dorms again, I wasn't disappointed. When he would call his mother every time we started to watch a movie or show, I wasn't disappointed. In fact, my son has always made me proud of the boy he was, the teen he was, the young man he was becoming, and the man he has been developing into. As a father, who taught "Man Rules", I can say I was lucky to not be too disappointed in this young dude. So you are probably wondering how could such a great kid disappoint his father? Well, let me tell you how he brought disappointment to me.
Back in September of 2020, after he and his mom blackmailed me into taking his stupid cat, my son sent me this Facebook message:
Oh I almost forgot to send you a little life update! Also thank you very much for being open to having Larry! I hope you enjoy him and if it doesn’t workout then at least he has more time to find a home up there!! Today is the first day of in person classes so I have Spanish tonight at 5pm, excited for that one! The past three weeks have been solely over zoom everyday so it’s been a little challenging in my more medical classes but not too bad! One of my classes is called pathophysiology so it’s literally the study of disease and how they work so we learn the entire body through the semesters and the most common diseases and how to diagnose and treat them! (That’s my favorite class so far). Work is going good as well! I’m working about 30hrs a week right now because it’s kinda slow, I’m able to work on homework which greattttt! The dorm is coming along nicely as well, roommates are pretty nice. Also, I am currently dating someone, (boy's name here) we started going out about a month ago so we’ll see how that goessss. But other than that I’m doing pretty well just focusing on staying on top of my school work and saving money now that I’m back on campus!!
This is 90% of the message my son sent me. Now, full disclosure, I took out some part of it as it was personal to him. Now, as you can see my son gave me the run down. He talked about school, roommates, his favorite class, new experience, work, and finally his dating life. I was disappointed.
My son is gay. My boy, who I taught to be a man, is gay. The kid, who I shared all the rules and lessons of life, had just told me over FB Messenger that he was gay. I mean it wasn't even the first thing he told me. It was a throw-in sentence at the end of his quarterly message to his father. I was disappointed. In fact, I'll be honest, I was extremely disappointed. Here I am the father of a gay son with a boyfriend now. Man, I was disappointed. And I knew that he and I would have to have a long and serious talk about life as soon as it was feasible. I mean, he knows not to disappoint his parents.
Oh, I just realized that I didn't actually say what I was disappointed about. I know many of you that have read to this point have formulated an opinion on what I'm disappointed about. Some may even have closed the blog and not made it this far. So let me tell you, those that have gotten this far, what I am disappointed about.
I stole this picture from my son's IG page. It represents what this blog is about. It's him heading to his own unknown on his own two feet ready to take on whatever comes to him. I love this shot. It's a great shot. But, that's not the point. The point is what I am disappointed about, right?
I'm disappointed that someone like my son would worry about telling his/her parents he/she is gay. The line wouldn't be a throw-in on a list of more important things, but some stressed over choice that will probably ruin all the lives involved. In some cases, end the life, literally. I'm disappointed in a society that makes his sexuality problematic and less, in his case, man-like. And that is what disappoints me.
My son's sexuality does not matter. The fact I was compelled to write a blog to talk about this is tragic because so many families are being destroyed over something that is none of their business. I taught my son to stand on his own and to make choices on his own. To not be afraid of the people who would judge him. I told him to be more afraid of not being able to look himself in the eyes at the end of the day.
My son is comfortable in his skin. He didn't need my validation to have his relationship. He didn't need to work up the courage to tell me. He told me when he felt like it. My son accepted HIS life and, in it, he lives it honestly and authentically. I'm not disappointed in my son. In fact, if you look back at no point did I say I was disappointed in him. I am disappointed in us as a society. Some of you may think this is a new thing for me because I am now supporting my gay son. For those who think that I want to share the Facebook post that reminded me I wanted to write this blog. This came in my memories today March 29, 2021 and was written March 29, 2013. Sean’s Thought: It does not matter to me if you are for or against gay people being able to marry. It is your “right” to be for, against or neutral for your own reasons. However, for those who are standing on top of their religious teachings using it as “the” reason for being against I have one simple reminder for you. God does not differentiate between “SINS.” So while it may be an abomination to lay with a man as one would lay with a woman, in the eyes of God, it is equally as wrong to not live as he commanded. In short, do not condemn to hell those who may very well be your roommates in the afterlife. How’s your glass house today? It’s just a thought my friends.
So with that, let me end with this point from a father of an amazing son.
What I learned long ago was my true job as a parent was to raise my kid(s) to be independent, honorable, trusting, loving and compassionate men. My faith was never going to be his own. My sports, my history, my wants for his life, and my desires for what he accomplishes would never be his burden to carry. My job was to teach him to live a life HE could be proud of, not a life that I (or his mother) had to be proud of. My son owes me nothing for raising him. When he stepped out on his own and started paying his way, he became a man. A real man! Once he became a man I became just an advisor to his life and participant in it the way he chooses. Yes, he will always be reminded to call his mother, to respect his family, and to follow the rules under our (his mom's and my) roof because that's what respect is about. As a parent, my job was to let him go and fly away from his nest. So let me say, this is my son, an amazing and caring man who
has learned how to stand and be who he is because that's what he was always taught to be. I will never be disappointed in that! Maybe his little story will inspire someone else to spread their wings and realize they are not tied to a negative or harmful nest. Just a Thought. LETME