I’ve been looking through old photos recently, and they’ve gotten me thinking about the relationship I have with my father. Our personalities often clashed when I was growing up, and in all honesty, we didn’t get along very well. I didn’t particularly care when he moved out, and with regards to our relationship, I’m a lot happier now.
The thing is, my dad just wasn’t very supportive. He had a good relationship with Tara. She was athletic, and a good swimmer, and enjoyed cycling. But my dad just couldn’t accept that I wasn’t like that. I preferred reading and writing and drawing and singing, to going outdoors and playing sports. But according to him, those weren’t valid interests. He tried to push me with my swimming, and criticised me when I never got any better. Not being very good with confrontation, the only way I could bring myself to tell him my feelings about this was to write him a letter – which he promptly tore up in front of me.
Even now that I’m an adult, he still hasn’t gotten much better. He continually grills into me for not having a job (as though I can control the employment market) or a drivers license (as though his teaching wasn’t what scared me off). And funnily enough, those are the only two things he ever asks me about every few months when I see him. Oh, and one other question – whether or not I have a boyfriend yet. Except for the last time I saw him, when he followed that by asking if I have a girlfriend. Which brings me to my next point.
My dad is a huge homophobe. He goes on about how being gay is unnatural and a disorder, and that he could cure it if he had enough money. Whenever Tara or I call him out for it, he says (and I paraphrase) “[he] can’t possibly be a homophobe because [he’s] not scared of gay people, [he] just think[s] there’s something wrong with them, and anyway [he has] gay friends”. Fine dad, you’re being heterosexist. Whatever you decide to call it, it’s incredibly bigoted. Tara once asked him what he would do if she were gay. He scoffed and told her (and I actually quote this time, not just paraphrase) “don’t be stupid, you’re not gay”. He was right, Tara isn’t gay, but that’s completely beside the point. What if she was gay, and his bigoted attitude was preventing her from safely coming out? What if I was gay, and she was trying to test the waters for me? I’m fairly sure the only reason he asked if I had a girlfriend that time was to appear tolerant with my aunt and uncle in the car, as my female cousin recently revealed to them that she has a girlfriend.
If I ever have children, I am going to try my best to be the most supportive parent possible. It doesn’t matter whether they want to swim, or run, or dance, or sing, or act, or write, or draw. It doesn’t matter whether they like men, or women, or everyone, or no-one. It doesn’t matter whether they are a boy, or a girl, or something else, or none of the above. It doesn’t matter whether they want to be a teacher, or a doctor, or a lawyer, or an actor, or a nurse, or a dancer, or a bartender. The only thing that does matter is how they treat people, whether it be other people or themselves. I vow to accept my children for who they are, because I know only too well how much it hurts when even the small things go unsupported.