Thank God I Didn’t End Up Like Him

I was talking to my father about my practicum placement and mentioned that my gay boyfriend got placed at an eating disorder clinic. I said that I thought he would be great there since he used to have an eating disorder. My dad said, “Guys don’t get eating disorders.” I told my father that that was not true. My gay boy used to be a compulsive overeater and has since had gastric bypass and lost close to 200 pounds, not to mention all the therapy he has had to learn how to deal with his emotions in ways that don’t involve food. When I said that, my dad said, “Well, yeah but that isn’t a real eating disorder. Guys never get, like, anorexia or anything.” Okay, well yes, it is a real eating disorder, but besides that, I informed him that anorexia was actually pretty prevalent in the gay male community.

My dad’s response? “Well, those aren’t guys.” WHAT? What the hell do you mean “those aren’t guys”? They sure as hell are guys. They are men who happen to like to sleep with other men. That does nothing to take away from their masculinity. And the pressure to look good and be attractive is very high in the gay community, the same way it is for straight females. It explains why gay men are becoming increasingly prone to developing eating disorders. I went on to explain that besides that, the main eating disorder that men suffer from is a new one called “reverse anorexia” in which they work out and take supplements and try to get bigger but they can never be muscular enough. They look in the mirror and see a small, puny guy when they are really very, very muscular much in the same way that an anorexic looks in the mirror and sees a fat person when in reality they are very, very thin.
It amazes me how much homophobic shit comes out of my dad’s mouth. He saw how upset I got over his “not really guys” comment and tried to backpedal a little bit. He explained that he meant that they aren’t “jocks” or “typical guys.” Again, I was speechless. I said, “What kind of massive generalization is that? There are so many people that you probably meet on a daily basis that are gay and you have no idea. Do you know how many professional athletes are closeted? A lot. Those are ‘jocks’.” My dad didn’t believe me. “Gay men don’t play sports.”
You’re right, Dad. All gay men are fabulous little twinks who wear pink cashmere sweaters and skintight jeans and walk their toy-sized dogs around in clothing while their wrist hangs limply at their side. The worst part is that he doesn’t even try to be more sensitive. He KNOWS it bothers me. He has had me in tears with his homophobic remarks before and he doesn’t stop. Honestly? I don’t even think he realizes that what he’s saying is wrong. Like when Lance Bass comes on Dancing With The Stars and my dad says, “My butt hurts just looking at him!” That is NOT okay to say. It’s disgusting, actually.
But he just doesn’t get it. And I’m starting to think he never will. How can I ever come out to a man like that?
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  1. April
    Posted November 20, 2008 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    That's very sad for your dad. What's even more sad is that a lot of the men in your dad's generation think the same way.

    As for coming out to him, I think you should read your post below. Take your own advice. Just be who you are. Either he'll accept it or he won't. I think at first he'll probably just deny that you are what you say you are but then he'll realize that you were serious. And who knows? Maybe you could be the one who helps open up his mind to homo/bisexuality.

    You are wonderful and by what you write, he knows just how wonderful you are too. I think it hurts you when he says that stuff because he doesn't know about you and it makes it harder for you to tell him. Maybe if you told him he wouldn't say that stuff around you, even if he is thinking it in his mind? It's hard to tell. But you never know until you do it.

    Again, my mind is all out of whack today so please ignore anything that didn't make sense. Thanks.

  2. rebekah
    Posted November 20, 2008 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    Come out! And soon! People like your dad (and I have of them plenty in my family), need to know that they love a person who is not straight. Until they do, they'll keep voting for bullshit like Amendment 2 and Prop 8.

    Also, not to be an ass, but women and men who can "pass" are the people we need to come out most of all. You guys are essential to the mainstream acceptance of women and men like me who most certainly cannot. I really hope that you will come out as soon as you can.

    Plus, being honest about your identity feels awesome!

  3. Ms. Inconspicuous
    Posted November 21, 2008 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    *Shaking head sadly*

    I always feel torn between anger and sorrow when people express views like this. Anger because, well, duh, but sorry because there's a whole part of life that they're missing out on–people that are wonderful that they'll never get to know because they're "gay" and not regular "people" to them.

    When you do come out to your dad (and I have the gut feeling that eventually you will, because you're far too *who you are* not to), it might be a great turning point for him. He'll have to readjust his stereotypes at some point.

  4. Apollo Unchained
    Posted November 29, 2008 at 4:49 am | Permalink

    When my older son came out about two years ago, he was your age (23). Actually, he was outed to my wife and I by his younger brother. It was really really hard for me and forced me to reexamine many of my most basic principles. I've left my faith and my church. I've separated from my wife. I am very gradually coming to fully accept my son's choice/preference/orientation, whatever you want to call it.

    I can identify with your description of your dad. Maybe I was never that bad, but maybe I really was. And if I can get over it, he can too.

    And your Dad should be glad that you're bi. I would rather my son was bi than homo, and maybe he is, but not right now.

    And I think it's MUCH easier for straight men to picture women with women, since we agree: women are hot!

    So I'm just saying, there's HOPE! For your dad, and for his understanding. But it may not be easy and it may take some time, and don't be surprised if a lot of shit hits the fan.

    But as a dad, it's better to know than to pretend not to know. That's what I say anyway.

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