Auntie SparkNotes: I Think My Dad Knows I'm Gay
I recently came to the realization that I’m gay. I’m eighteen, so I suppose realizing now is kind of a bit late, but that isn’t really the issue. I’m pretty fine and comfortable with who I am. I told one of my closest friends, and he is totally ok with it.
My real problem is my family.
When I was figuring stuff out, I bought a bunch of books for my Kindle to try and help explain stuff. Problem is, it all accidentally got billed to my father. Now, some of these titles are very... gay. So unless my dad is completely clueless, he now has a very strong inkling his daughter is gay.
We have not talked about this at all. I was not anywhere close to coming out to my family, and this whole situation is super uncomfortable. I don’t know if I should try and talk about it with him and my mom, or if I should just continue with the sort of uncomfortable, passive aggressive, hostile situation we are in right now. He says he is okay with gay people, but I’m not so sure. He is what I like to describe as a “South Park” racist. He makes fun of people and stuff, but I’m not sure if he means it. The biggest thing that I’ve seen is when we saw a lesbian couple at a sports game. They were pretty affectionate with each other, and my dad WOULD NOT stop talking about them. This kind of behavior seriously makes me question whether or not I should talk to him. I’m leaving for school soon, so maybe I should just leave it till later on... What do you think?
I think you should put on your best pair of rainbow-colored confidence pants, take a deep breath, and realize the impossibility of continuing to hide in the closet when you've already (albeit accidentally) kicked the door off its hinges.
But—and I really, honestly, believe this—you'll be so much better off—all of you—if you accept this situation for what it is and allow yourself to take the next step. Because while I can't say for sure why things have gotten so uncomfy in your household since you accidentally sent your dad an itemized bill for your sexual awakening, I believe I can make a pretty good guess, as follows:
a) Your dad is pretty sure that you're gay.
b) He's also pretty sure that it's not right or fair to bring this up with you until you broach the subject yourself, and
c) The tension you sense in your relationship has less to do with your dad being upset about your orientation, and more to do with the fact that as much as you're looking back at his past comments about gay people and thinking he might be a bigot, he's looking back at them and thinking, "I can't believe I said that," in between bouts of kicking himself for acting like a complete and total butthead in front of his kid.
And it's not that I don't understand your trepidation (because yes, it's totally scary to be outed before you're ready), or that your dad wasn't an insensitive ass about the gay couple you saw at the ballpark (because yes, he totally was.) But unfortunate as it is, people sometimes say and do insensitive, assy things when they think they live in a well-protected bubble that contains no members of a given orientation (or religion, or ethnic group, or whatever). Not to mention that for people who've had a certain kind of upbringing, encountering a real, actual Gay in the Wild can be as shocking and unexpected and curious as if they'd tripped over a unicorn—which may have something to do with his over-the-top reaction. And for the sake of both your comfort at home and your continued relationship with your dad, it's in both of your best interests to give him the benefit of the doubt, to not hold an isolated incident of insensitive assitude against him, and to take him at his word—which he apparently gave freely and unsolicitedly—when he says that he's perfectly fine with gay people.
Especially when, as you've pointed out, continuing to not talk about it just means ignoring the big, gay elephant in the room.
So, my advice is this: go ahead and tell your dad what he already knows. Give him a chance to show you that he's better than one crappy, thoughtless moment. Accept that you may not have meant to come out so soon, but that failing to move forward now just means lingering in the most uncomfortable part of the process. And if things don't go perfectly according to plan—and let's be real, they never do—then remember that any conflicts you encounter were always going to be waiting for you. You're just slogging through them on a slightly accelerated schedule.
What do you think: is there any way this Sparkler can still stay in the closet, or is it time for a talk with her folks? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.