This is a story about two fathers and their two very different reactions to homosexuality.
Read the first letter and you will want to cry.
Read the second letter and you’ll also want to cry – but they’ll be a different kind of tears.
This was posted on Reddit with the caption: “5 years ago, I was disowned via letter, when I came out to my father. This is how hate sounds.”
The letter has now gone viral and its callous contents reveal just how tough coming out to friends and family can be for a young gay person. It’s easy to assume that in the 21st century homosexuality is broadly accepted in the Western world but this letter reveals that there is still a long way to go.
American blogger John Kinnear shared the outrage we felt when he read the letter on Reddit. And so he decided to do something about it.
John wrote a letter to his gay son, explaining his feelings about his homosexuality. But the thing is, John doesn’t know if his son is actually gay or straight. In fact he hasn’t even met his son yet – his wife is due to give birth in November this year.
But as John’s letter makes clear, regardless of his son’s sexuality he will love and support him. And if his son is gay, then John will be able to pass on these thoughts.
Dear Hypothetically Gay Son,
You’re gay. Obviously you already know that, because you told us at the dinner table last night. I apologize for the awkward silence afterwards, but I was chewing. It was like when we’re at a restaurant and the waiter comes up mid-bite and asks how the meal is, only in this metaphor you are the waiter and instead of asking me about my meal you said you were gay. I don’t know why I needed to explain that. I think I needed to find a funny way to repeat the fact that you’re gay… because that is what it sounds like in my head right now. “My son is gay. My son is gay. My son is gay.”
Let me be perfectly clear. I love you. I will always love you. Since being gay is part of who you are, I love that you’re gay. I’m just trying to wrap my head around the idea. If you sensed any sadness in my silence last night, it was because I was surprised that I was surprised. Ideally, I would have already known. Since you were an embryo, my intent has always been to really know you for who you are and not who I expect you to be. And yet, I was taken by surprise at last night’s dinner. Have I said “surprise” enough in this paragraph? One more time… surprise!
OK. Let’s get a few things straight about how things are going to be.
1. Our home is a place of safety and love. The world has dealt you a difficult card. While LGBT people are becoming more accepted, it is still a difficult path to walk. You’re going to experience hate and anger and misunderstandings about who you are out in the world. That will not happen here. You need to know with every fiber of who you are that when you walk in the front door of your home you are safe and you are loved. Your mother is in complete agreement with me on this.
2. I am still, as always, your biggest defender. Just because you’re gay doesn’t mean you’re any less capable of taking care of/defending yourself. That said, if you need me to stand next to you, in front of you, write letters, sign petitions, advocate, or anything else, I am here. I will go to war for you.
3. If you’re going to have boys over, you now need to leave your bedroom door open. Sorry kiddo. Thems are the breaks. I couldn’t have girls in my room with the door shut, you don’t get to have boys.
4. You and I are going to revisit that talk we had about safe sex. I know it’s going to be awkward for both of us, but it is important. I need to do some research first, so let’s give it a few weeks. If you have questions or concerns before then, let me know.
That’s enough for now. Feel free to view this letter as a contract. If I ever fail to meet any of the commitments made herein, pull it out and hold me to account. I’ll end with this: You are not broken. You are whole, and beautiful. You are capable and compassionate. You and your sister are the best things I have ever done with my life, and I couldn’t be more proud of the people you’ve become.
P.S. Thanks to a few key Supreme Court decisions and the Marriage Equality act of 2020 you’re legally able to get married. When I was your age, that was just an idea. Pretty cool huh?
You can read John’s full blog post here.
It’s hard to know exactly what to say about these two starkly different reactions because it seems like it’s all been said before. Mamamia has outlined the arguments against same sex marriage and exactly why they’re bollocks. We’ve shown you the heartbreak that has come from same sex couples not being able to marry. We’ve showed you the bravery required to come out to your loved ones, with the fear of a reaction like this first letter hanging over you.
But so long as long as attitudes like those in the first letter still exist, we all need to keep the rights of and respect for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people front of mind.
So let’s do exactly that today. Share this post on your Facebook wall, send it to a friend, talk about it with your family and make sure the people you’re close to know that your response to one of them coming out would be along the lines of letter 2 and nothing like the reaction contained in letter 1.