This morning I read a wonderful and heartwarming article by John Kinnear called “Dear Hypothetically Gay Son“. It is inspired by the horrendous letter that floated about the internet a few weeks ago – a letter from a father disowning his son because he came out (read the letter and listen to a CBC interview with James, the recipient of the letter by clicking here). Although I’m not a father yet, this has made me realize that Out With Dad is my open letter to any future child I might have who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or otherwise not heterosexual, heteronormative or conform to gender-binary.
In April 2009, when an idea struck me that would later evolve into Out With Dad, I nearly dismissed it because I thought this issue was a non-issue today. About twenty minutes of research online taught me how wrong I was. To think, the first storyline I conceived was the daughter (who was not yet named) is forbidden to bring her girlfriend to a school dance. I dropped the idea because I figured that kind of thing would never happen in this day and age. Two weeks later Constance McMillen hit the news with exactly that story. So, it’s that kind of world still, eh?
Yet, I remain hopeful about the future. I have grounds for my optimism: Friends of my generation look at letters like Kinnear’s as common sense. Organizations like A Note To My Kid are popping up all over. Brave people in Uganda hosted a pride parade. Icons like Ellen DeGeneres and George Takei are adored by queer and not-so-queer alike. An entire generation of Torontonians are ashamed to have the homophobic mayor we have (at the time of this writing). Barack Obama, need I say more? And, a small group of mostly straight, mostly strangers, came together three years ago to embark upon a challenging project that would change all of the lives of those involved, and (we’re proud to know) lives others around the globe because of it.
Out With Dad is our open letter of acceptance and love. Thank you for watching, and thank you for sharing.
Coming out as ‘gay’ to my mom was easy, but the show pulls at me in a different way. My problem, is coming out as straight.
I was born Kya, and everyone back home knows me as such, but everyone here at college with me, knows me as James. My girlfriend is supportive of me, but still manages to call me Kya most of the time, due to habit (we’ve known each other for the better part of 10 years). She tries, and that is good enough for me.
I’ve been dealing with depression since I was a child, and it is directly linked to my gender.
This show has helped me to believe that there is always a reason to keep going, even when I am tired of dealing.
I love your show, and everyone in it.
Do you think you would ever have a transgender character? I know you could make something great of it.
You are all a source of hope for all that are graced with the story you portray.
All the love and support I can offer,
Thank you for your amazing comment. We’re so proud that our hard work does help people.
As a matter of fact, we had one transgender character – but not many people noticed. ‘Morgan’, in the first PFLAG episode, is a transgender boy. I don’t like to give too much away, but we’ll be seeing more of him next season.
A Letter to my Real Life Mother. Because this seems to be the only way I can find the words.
I knew you’d need time to process the fact that I’m bisexual, but I didn’t expect you to have more trouble than Dad did. Seriously, all Dad said in response was “I know. You’ve been messing up my Netflix account for months now,” and it broke the ice. We had a good laugh at that, acknowledged that you’d love and accept me no matter what, and moved on. I didn’t realize until a few months later that you were still having trouble with it. It didn’t make sense because Isabelle seemed to think you knew beforehand too. (Why is it that three quarters of the people I’ve told seemed to have known before me? I mean, it makes it easier, but I still wonder what gave it away. It always reminded me of that Friends quote.)
Chandler: I just have to know, okay? Is it my hair?
Rachel: Yes Chandler, that’s exactly what it is. It’s your hair.
Phoebe: Yeah, you have homosexual hair.
I pulled you over during a hike through the woods with the dog and told you that I still wanted the same things I always have. I still want a family someday, kids, and that shiny red Cuisinart in my sexy kitchen (It’ll happen!). No matter who I end up with, a man (which is possible), or a woman (which I have to admit is a tad more likely) that’s where I see myself heading.
You said that you still wanted me to lead the happiest, most successful, easiest life possible, with as few complications as possible. You still support me as you always have, but even Isabelle has noticed the way you push guys towards me, and then go silent when I mention that I find a girl cute. This isn’t a topic I want to actively avoid around you.
Between those occasional straight people thinking that because I’m bisexual, I’m a slut, only doing it to turn guys on, just unable to make up my mind, or simply there for all their threesome needs, and those occasional people in the gay community who seem to think I’m copping-out, in denial, or simply don’t exist (yep, your oldest daughter might just be a hallucination. Don’t worry, I’m just as surprised as you are). Yes, I’ve gotten essentially all of these. (I say essentially, because no one has literally walked up to me and said “You don’t exist.) I understand perfectly well that this isn’t the easiest path.
But I’m not going to live the easiest path no matter who I end up with. I’ll make mistakes, and say dumb things that I’ll regret, and probably even dumber things that I won’t. We’ll undoubtedly fight again sometime in the future, and Isabelle will be the dutiful little sister trying to calm us all down. And of course, there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll come up with another idea (almost) as monumentally stupid as using a steak knife to eat an apple “on the cob.”
I might get any one of the auto-immune diseases that dominates Dad’s side of the family. Heaven knows he’s already cursed me with the lactose intolerance. But that’s all just a combination of my mistakes, and the world just being a bit of a bitch to everyone. And if one day I get someone I truly love, who truly loves me out of the whole ordeal, no matter who they end up being, I know that’ll be worth the teaspoon of extra hardship. Just like how Dad, Isabelle, and I was worth everything that came afterwards.
So just let me know if we need to talk about it again. I love having girl talk with you about cute boys, and I don’t want to miss out on that because I’m interested in a woman. Don’t worry, I’m willing to wait you out. It’s worth it.
Forever your Ali Cat
Wow, this is a powerful letter. Thank you for sharing.
I am also bisexual and came out to my parents about 6 months ago (woohoo!). This letter is amazing. It’s witty and playful, but serious at times too. I can really relate to many of the things you wrote. I enjoyed it. Thanks for making me feel like I’m not the only one who feels this way 🙂
Nathans reaction is funny. Seems like he just got all the answers out of the Internet 😛
Trying to go through all emotion after the right order.
i wish someone could told me this,my love me he is not against me but but he would never understand me and that is not enough and my mom ..we are total strangers her parents raise me my sister stop talking to after coming out reading this i realize how unfair it is when everyone is against you,they just accept you and its not that they cant but they dont want to ,so i have to escape all this stuborn
i was so emotional i made so many mistakes in my writing
Oh man… I read that letter and I was like. “We had some good times, but because you choose to follow you’re heart, I don’t want to have any more contact with you”. Even tough he doesn’t use those words, that’s in fact what he is saying. He wanted his son to not follow his hearth and either live alone or marry someone he wouldn’t have feeling for.
I don’t have good relationship with my father, but he would never say something like that. Of course, he said that he would have preferred if I was straight, but my father isn’t good at expressing himself. He’s excused from that.
If my son turned out to be gay. Honestly, I don’t think I would have made a letter. I just think I would have talked to him about it. I would have just said to him “I love you no matter what you are, and I want you to be happy no matter who you’re happy with”. And honestly… I don’t think I would have been in shock either. I would have been in shock if my son was in fact gay and I hadn’t noticed. Then I would be like… “Just give me a moment to think about this”, and then depending on how surprised I was, I would have said the exact same thing. However, I think I would have become very sad. Very sad that I didn’t know. As a father I would have felt sad if I didn’t know my son that well.
Well, my son is now 4 years old, so it’s not possible to know yet. When do children start to develop a sexual orientation? I started to feel attracted to boys when I was about 8-9 years old.
Should you let your kids talk when their ready themselves or should you try to talk to them about it themselves? When is it a good time to talk about it in that case? I remember my mother asked me directly out when I was at children school: “Do you like boys or girls?” I answered “Neither” because I felt like they where hard to understand either of them at that point. And at that point, I didn’t know that boys could be boyfriends. No one had ever tough me that.
Thank you for your kind of “letter” Jason.
I wish all people and all parents would be think like you do and simply accept us how we are.
At some point I went with asking “tolerance” only but by now I realized that tolerance would mean that I am not normal. Because only things not normal have to be tolerated.
Your web-series really is amazing and if only one person is changing from being offensive or abusive toward non-straight people to understanding and accepting then all you did already was worth it.
My two cents…
I think a lot of parents are not judging, but their often like “Oh no! I won’t get any grandchildren”. Well, at least some of them are.