Jay and Peter
As a kid, I never felt very connected to my dad. My parents had been happily divorced since I was six and weekend visits to Dad’s place were uncomfortable. Dad was a bloke’s bloke. And I was a mummy’s boy, never interested in the activities he would suggest.
As a teenager I started to realize that I was gay and the tension between Dad and me got worse. He would point out chicks as we drove along Bridge Road and I would feel obligated to pretend to be interested. While nothing was ever said, I knew that he found hanging out together just as hard I did.
By the time I was seventeen, I had put a lot of distance between my dad and myself, and only saw him once a month for dinner or at some family function. I was scared of him finding out my secret.
He had gay friends, so I assumed that he would work out that I was gay from my mannerisms or from the way I talked.
When I came out to my mum just before my eighteenth birthday she offered to tell Dad and I agreed. I think that whether your father is a priest or a Mardi Gras organizer the fear of coming out to him is the same. It’s the fear that – for better or worse – the relationship will change. I always knew my dad would accept me, but would he accept the world I was entering and the man I would eventually become?
Everything changed the day my dad found out I was gay. For the first time since I could talk, we had a real conversation. Dad explained that he was happy I had come out as he always knew and he didn’t know why I hadn’t told him sooner. He always thought that my not coming out to him meant I didn’t trust him and that made him pull away from me.
After spending a lot more time with my dad in my twenties, I discovered that we can just chat and joke about things just like mates. I talk about boys and he does that “dad” thing and takes the piss out of me. We talk about what float I might do for Mardi Gras; we talk about what projects I’m doing at work.
From the day I came out to my dad, we’ve been best friends. And I don’t regret the stage when we didn’t get along because it has made me appreciate our new relationship even more. It’s like having a mate, but this mate has unbreakable love for you, and that’s a great kind to have.